The microscopic world loves to deceive us. This image, for instance, looks like an icy landscape on an alien planet, but it’s actually a thin film of wax, sandwiched between two glass microscope slides and illuminated using linearly polarized light.

Image Copyright: Aongus McCarthy

“Frozen Landscape” was created by Aongus McCarthy of Heriot-Watt University, an optics researcher whose work lies in developing new imaging technologies. McCarthy has managed to turn his profession into a hobby, by playing around with microscopes and light polarization to produce stunning images. You can find more of his work featured on The Optical Society’s website.