Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It's sad when you can't see the cells for the floaters

I have floaters. They've been my companions for at least 32 years. I can distinctly remember sitting on the brown cordoroy couch my mom had in the '70's, watching my "water marks" floating around in the sun. I don't notice them much in the ordinary way. One of them is a black speck and I notice it most when there are gnats in the room, since it looks JUST. LIKE. ONE.

Today I got up close and personal with several microscopes. Looking for cells. Which look just like most of my floaters. I had to ask the TA teaching the lab if she would mind helping me focus 2 of the fireplacing microscopes because the frelling floaters just kept getting in the way (cheek cells and smooth muscle cells). Turns out, that once the microscope was focused properly, the smooth muscle cells looked like a beach at low tide, with a sort of feather pattern. Neurons look like jelly fish and lilac leaf stomas look like a place where a tree would be in a brick walk way. Best of all was looking at the cells from a living plant (stuff moves around inside them!)

8 comments:

Phantom Scribbler said...

I have floaters, too. They only bother me occasionally when I'm driving long distances... or when I'm trying to find the bug in the room!

Yankee, Transferred said...

Oh, yeah, floaters...I got 'em. Drive me nuts sometimes.

Noneuclid said...

I don't know if I have floaters, but I know I never did see what I was supposed to see under microscopes. I always loved James Thurber's description of his inability to see the things he was supposed to draw in his essay "University Days":

"I passed all the other courses that I took at my University, but I could have never pass botany. This was because all botany students had to spend several hours a week in a laboratory looking through a microscope at plant cells, and I could never see through a microscope. I never once saw a cell through a microscope. This used to enrage my instructor. He would wander around the laboratory pleased with the progress all the students were making in drawing the involved and, so I am told, interesting structure of flower cells, until he came to me. I would just be standing there. "I can't see anything," I would say. He would begin patiently enough, explaining how anybody can see through a microscope, but he would always end up in a fury; claiming that I could too see through a microscope but just pretended that I couldn't. "It takes away from the beauty of flowers anyway," I used to tell him. "We are not concerned with beauty in this course," he would say. "We are concerned solely with what I may call the mechanics of flars." "Well," I'd say. "I can't see anything." "Try it just once again," he'd say, and I would put my eye to the microscope and see nothing at all, except now and again a nebulous milky substance.----a phenomenon of maladjustment. You were supposed to see a vivid, restless clockwork of sharply defined plant cells. "I see what looks like a lot of milk," I would tell him. This, he claimed, was the result of my not having adjusted the microscope properly, so he would readjust it for me, or rather, for himself. And I would look again and see milk.

...

So we tried it with every adjustment of the microscope known to man. With only one of them did I see anything but blackness or the familiar lacteal opacity, and that time I saw, to my pleasure and amazement, a variegated constellation of flecks, specks, and dots. These I hastily drew. The instructor, noting my activity, came from an adjoining desk, a smile on his lips and his eyebrows high in hope. He looked at my cell drawing. "What's that?" he demanded, with a hint of squeal in his voice. "That's what I saw," I said. "You didn't, you didn't, you didn't!" he screamed, losing control of his temper instantly, and he bent over and squinted into the microscope. His head snapped up. "That's your eye!" he shouted. "You've fixed the lens so that it reflects! You've drawn your eye!"

halloweenlover said...

I won't tell you what I initially thought you were talking about when you said "floaters". I've never heard of that before!

purple_kangaroo said...

I have floaters, too, and I totally know what you mean by sitting around watching them. I play with mine, sometimes, because moving my eyes certain ways can make them slide across my vision and then I can make them swim around things.

Jenny said...

Man I hate floaters. I'm always brushing away imaginary lint and gnats.

Suburban Turmoil said...

That sounds so cool. The cells, not the floaters. I need to get me a microscope!

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