Nancy Piatczyc’s Microscopic World

By Meagan Goldman ’16

This article was inspired by Art of Science, an initiative to gather and exhibit scientific images from students, faculty, and staff. For more information, visit the Art of Science site.

“It’s endlessly fun looking at these things,” says Nancy Piatczyc while enlarging a black and white image on her computer. As the image focuses, striations appear. Without context, it might be difficult to identify what it shows: a tiny fragment of wood magnified thousands of times by a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The wood is from a ship, likely British, that sank near the New York harbor around the time of the Revolutionary War. The SEM images will help biology professor Hank Art identify the wood from which the ship was built.

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