Monday, October 31, 2011

Small World Images

I have posted some amazing images on my blog that come from the NikonSmallWorld site. They host an annual photomicrography competition of photos taken with the aid of a light microscope. Every day they post an image of the day. This link takes you to the gallery.

This image below is a "Brainbow" transgenic mouse hippocampus taken by Dr. Tamily Weissman at Harvard University in 2008.

The image below is a "Brainbow" mouse brain stem with auditory pathway axons taken by Dr. Jean Livet from Institut de la Vision in 2008.

The image below is of the wing scales of Urania riphaeus (Sunset moth), taken by Charles Krebs of Charles Krebs Photography in 2008.

Below are Discus fish scales, taken by Dr. Havi Sarfaty from the Israel Veterinary Association in 2009.

This next one is a flow pattern in draining soap film, taken by Dr. Tsutomu Seimiya at Tokyo Metropolitan University in 2009.

There are many more astonishing photos; go take a look!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Looking for Leaves

We are now halfway through a fourth consecutive month of rain. Last month, there was more rainfall in the first three days of September than the usual average for the entire month. People who have lived here for thirty or forty years say that they cannot ever recall another summer as rainy as this one. "Consequence of global warming," mutters my friend Robert.

Today around mid-afternoon, the clouds lifted a little and it brightened up. No actual sunshine, mind you -- just high cloud cover and diffuse light. Time for a walk, or, "the W-thing," as I said in front of the dogs in a vain attempt reduce their pre-walk frenzy.

So off we went, the dogs and I. For the first block, Kate ran in tight circles barking repeatedly in a high-pitched piercing manner, and Sophie chased her trying to bite her. The usual, in other words.

Once the dogs settled down, I had time to notice the brilliant fall leaves: yellow of the poplar trees, ranging from cadmium yellow light to cadmium medium, and maple leaves in red, scarlet, and yellow. The big yellow maple leaves reminded me of my annual childhood fall endeavour. I used to go out and collect autumn leaves, the most colourful, unblemished ones that I could find, then bring them home and iron them between sheets of wax paper. Do children still do this?

Perhaps I thought I could keep the leaves forever, preserved this way. Somehow I could stop time and freeze their beauty.

Of course those tattered little squares of wax paper are long gone. Now I am walking down the hill on the other side of middle age.

But when I look at the profusion of autumn's colours, my eyes sharpen as I enthusiastically scan the bushes to either side of the rutted track, looking for the loveliest, least blemished leaves. Turns out, it wasn't the collecting or preserving of the leaves that was most important; it was the looking.