It's like wearing X-ray goggles, but better. Caltech researchers have created two new techniques that allow them to identify individual cells within 3D, intact organisms or tissues. And the results are jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Researchers have already applied the techniques to a biopsy of skin from a human patient. By staining cancer cells and making everything else transparent, they could clearly visualize the network of cancer cells in three dimensions.

You'll want to click to enlarge each one of these to appreciate them in high resolution.

A 3-D visualization of fluorescently-labeled kidney cells within intact kidney tissue. By making certain cells fluoresce while everything is else made transparent, researchers can identify the position of specific cells without dissecting the tissue.


As with the kidney visualization above, this image features stained brain cells in three dimensions.

A compilation of several images of differently-stained cells reveals the complexity in a single cross-section of intestinal tissue.


Another cross-section through intestinal tissue, in this image blood vesicles are dyed green and cell nuclei are dyed blue.

All images via Bin Yang and Viviana Gradinaru, used with permission.