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Website of the Week — Molecular Expressions

Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations.

The first microscopes were built in the Netherlands more than 400 years ago. Today, microscopes are one of the most fundamental tools of science, at home in classrooms, research labs and industry.

For practical tips on using microscopes and a stunning gallery of microphotographs, take a look at Molecular Expressions, online at

DAVIDSON: "There's over 700 review articles on all the various aspects of microscopy. As a matter of fact, in some universities it's replacing textbooks. But there's also interactive tutorials that help students actually learn the basic concepts, make it much more simple than trying to read through texts and think in their minds how these things work."

Michael Davidson runs the Molecular Expressions website at Florida State University.

He says most of the visitors to the site are students of one sort or another, from youngsters all the way up to advanced biology graduate students who come looking for help in mastering the latest microscopic imaging techniques to get them through their studies or research.

DAVIDSON: "Many of the biology students who visit the website are more interested in their biology, as they should be, rather than microscopy, and so what we try to do is serve as a vehicle so that they can quickly understand the concepts that are going to be necessary for them to do their experiments."

Some of the microphotographs have an exotic beauty, and in fact Molecular Expressions' other role is as an online store to sell images both for scientific and artistic purposes, and sometimes it's hard to say which is which.

DAVIDSON: "I don't know that there is a line to be drawn. When you look through the microscope and you see these wonderful, colorful patters and features, that does have an artistic sense to it. And I've seen some of this abstract art that very much resembles what we see in the microscope, and in that sense I guess you could call this art."

Whether your interest is the techniques of microscope use, the science that microscopes can reveal, or the captivating images — and be sure to check out the Silicon Zoo — your destination is Molecular Expressions at, or get the link from our site,