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Electron Microscope Reveals Hidden World of Ordinary Objects in New Book of Photographs

Electron microscope images of poppy seeds (left) and toothbrush bristles (right)

July  29, 2009

Pacific's Barbara Plowman has a unique way of looking at the world-through the lens of a scanning electron microscope. A technician in the dental school's research lab, this scientific work sparked her interest in scanning and photographing ordinary objects — from poppy seeds to toothbrush bristles —and colorizing the black-and-white images.

Finding herself with some spare time over one winter holiday break, Barbara decided to create compile a selection of her favorite "extreme close-ups" into a book. Text was kept to a minimum to let the pictures speak for themselves.

Of her motivation for making these pictures and publishing them, Barbara says, "I wanted to make people aware of the inner realm that the microscope can show. It's almost postmodern, the way that everyday objects transform into this whole other world."

Plowman earned an Associate Arts degree in the Electron Microscopy program from San Joaquin Delta College, a bachelor of arts degree from UC Berkeley where she majored in Zoology and a Master of Arts from San Francisco State University in Creative Arts (Interdisciplinary).  This is her second foray into book-writing, having previously authored a children's book while in graduate school.

For more information, contact Barbara Plowman at

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