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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Look into a Microscope

It was 1674, and Dutch draper, surveyor, and wine inspector Anton van Leeuwenhoek was looking through an odd instrument he had fashioned from metal tubes and little glass balls. This was not the first microscope ever, but it was a vast improvement over previous ones.

What he saw in this simple instrument rocked the scientific establishment (not to mention the church) to its core: "animalcules" he called them; "protozoa" I called them in school. The single-celled beasts like amoebas and paramecia that we can now see with the cheapest of dime-store microscopes.

And what a thrill it is to see them, even without realizing how news of their existence rocked the world.

If the little critters aren't your thing, how about flower parts? Or feathers? Or parts of dead insects found? Mr. Van L. enjoyed looking at bee's jaws and stings. How about a fly's wing?

I'm against killing for the sake of viewing, but plenty of material can be found without committing murder. A drop of one's own blood (taken in a sterile manner); salt, celery, and other kitchen stuff; the algae in dirty water from outside; dirt itself.

And what do you get from all this? A new perspective.

There's a whole world around us that we never see, and it's thrumming with life. The intricacy of things on the minutest level might be just the thing to knock us out of our doldrums.

So take a close look at the "world in a grain of sand." Enlarge (heh heh) your view of the world we live in. Look into a microscope.

You'll be happier.

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