by Theodore R. Frimet
…and puddle ducks
A while ago, I acquired a Swift phase contrast microscope. It became a replacement for my failed attempt to revive a binocular, standard light version. It did not, however, replace my single ocular Reichart-Jung, which continues to give me the occasional Waa-hooh ! It takes the brain, a few days, to synchronize the binocular views, though.
Invariably, without some acquired experience, a first time user for a binocular version, might very well become quickly disenchanted with the view. Almost. I almost quit the scope. I lingered on, adjusting the inter-pupillary distance, while making some small, unnecessary eye-to-lens distance shifts. All was well, within a few days, perhaps a week, or two. I do not remember.
Janet has, of course, been very supportive. There never would be a quarrel of selling off one microscope, and then acquiring another. Let’s keep it between you, and me, though, that a phase contrast view has been my dream, in the makings, for many years. And it finally became prioritized, care of eBay. And of course, my former bino ‘scope became someones enchanted value of the day.
About two weeks ago, I recalled that I had acquired a pencil set. It was purchased to expand my ever recurring art desires in pastel, oil, acrylic, watercolor, and charcoal. It lay forgotten, in a bag, not retrieved since our trip to the South of France, in the Principality of Monaco, and of course, Paris. The pencils made their appearance only twice, on that single solitary trip of ours. One was to capture the inner court of our state room, and the second to capture a beach side scene. Both at Monaco. The beach scene probably survives, somewhere in the cavern of my closet. While the former was given as a gift to the hotel concierge. It was at that point, where the hotel thus increased its four star rating, to a five star. Or so I felt, at the time. Happy thoughts, and good times.
Where is the tie-in for Astronomy, you query? Well, look over our first paragraph. And relish in the thoughts that astronomers are known for their take on binoculars for the beginner, as well as for the intermediate user. And those of us that are advanced, are quick to espouse the binocular hands held version for a quick peek into the night sky, where a more elaborate set-up would simply take too darn long.
And now the epiphany. My binoculars do not take hours, days, or weeks to adjust to. There must be something incorrect with the Swift! By now, of course, having my biological vision auto-adjusted, has probably done something to my human depth of field view. I wouldn’t know, of course, as I stream through most of my daily life, leaving the interweaving of reality to my hind brain, and turn off the fore-brain. Yes, I steer from behind, with rear wheel drive! Perhaps I should invest in an all wheel version just as Janet has in her Nissan Rogue. I dunno.
And then there is mention, in the third paragraph, of a sell off. Yes, come clean, all of you! How many telescopes have you acquired, and told your significant other, friends or family, that the old scope will be sold off? Some do, some don’t? Doubtful. You are all complicit in the conspiracy of telescope inventory. Yes, you say there is merit in that old scope, even in the sixth or seventh one that you hold near and dear. You find utility in each and every one of them. Well, perhaps not that third telescope. It can go.
Will you accept a diminished amount for that dear scope that you once cherished? Believe you, me, that when we depart into the great abyss that is the Heart and Soul of Orion, your second hand telescopes will find their way to Earth bound friends, and charity alike. Do part with what you have now, and do so quickly and on the cheap.
Puddle Ducks and Benjamin Bunny, alike, were initially imagined by Beatrix Potter to appear on her pages as black and white images. Ms Potter preferred this thought, upon greeting her first publisher. She desired to make her first new book financially available to as many people as possible. Her publisher, knew better as a printer, that by limiting the illustrations that many could appear on one sheet. Together, they would drive the immense publishing costs down. Beatrix, not knowing that this was possible, was very pleased to find out that she could publish in color, and make her first book very affordable! Imagine, dear amateur, if you unleashed your inventory, onto thirsting eyes, and did so at the scale of economy of Beatrix. Telescopes for all ! Eyes, new and old, will begin to see anew, and at very, very affordable prices.
Ah, the pencil set. I recalled I had it, somewhere, found it and liberated it, once again. All that was needed was a quick stop at the craft store to purchase a small format sketch book. I am an artist, although not a very good one. I find it very effort intensive to look into the microscope, and draw what my eye sees. By making the sketch, I know that I am reinforcing a learned view into the environment of the very small. It can be very rewarding. So I wait for the reward. The epiphany. And it comes. Some days the effect is stronger than others. Today it was a triple wave of goose-bumps. You know, the same you get when you peer into the night sky for that evasive cluster of star light wonder!
As I am drawing the view of a motor neuron, at 400x, phase contrast, I make observations post haste. The visual is now one of what is on the paper, and not relied upon from the birds eye view at the scope. That magical eye hand connection that has been forged into the recess of my neurological essence, breathe life anew. I look at the extrusions of cellular material making up the axons, as they reach out on the sketch paper below – surrounded by glial cells. And I wonder where all the astral-cells have gone to?
I ponder the relationship that all cells have in common. And of course, come to the conclusion that all cells are the same. Yes, structure is different, here and there. Yes, our genetic differentiation has turned off some pathways, and turned others on. And yet, here we are. All biological beings composed of basic cellular units. One cell, is not superior to any other. My goose bumps now comes in waves.
When I compare the singularity of cellular make up, at they eyepiece, I find all images not being the greater, nor the lesser. When I extrapolate what I see, and fail me not – our tissues, organs, and systems are neither more or less the complex. If we, by extension, think of other completely self contained biological beings as being more or less complex, we fail in our theory to suggest that one is grander than the other. My neurological complex is more capable of my cats. So, we must be superior? Well, my cats’ biology contains within features that are far superior in many ways. So why do we make comparison by way of neurology, when all life, it would seem, is in need of equal recognition? Yes, we are separate, and we are all same. Our cells are very telling.
Our brains, and sensory based systems, coupled with cognition permit our experiencing a wide sense of who you are. Cells. Evolution has driven them to exact from our environment all that we can perceive to be real. Could there be a universal evolution that transcends our minor standing in the Cosmos?
For others it would take a leap of faith to comprehend that the universe evolves. For amateur astronomers, it is pretty much a more simpler fare. What then is the cellular system that makes up the universe? At first, I thought, stars. Then it occurs that the material that accretes and in basic theory requires a blasting gravitational shock wave to coalesce into a vast self-igniting massive sight of brilliance. I relish for a brief moment in permitting my mind to recreate stellar nurseries. And then my mind drifts to Earth. Planets. Could they be the cell that we build up our universe with? There are so many. I thought, no, wrong banana peel. Yet, the thought of planets took hold. If cells communicate with each other (they do by the way – interstitially and all the time) then our cell of an earth must have tell tale signs of an intra-universal conversation.
Does it ring out if struck? Where are our vibrations, from the core of our very planets existence. Does our geology ring out with a regular tune of life, singing out to the void that, “we are here”? Perhaps not. Don’t worry. Be happy. It is in your very cellular make up to contribute a conversation to the universe.
We are remote, and separate and all so distant from every other galaxy, known or not. Not to worry. Even the saplings root system reaches out laterally and most aggressively in the absence of water. When nature does not provide us with the nourishment of life’s sustenance, our cells are programmed to begin its inevitable search. The cooperative birthings that we are of our planets geology coupled with the living representation of spent stars of old, both fuels the saga and sanguine search thru our Cosmos. And where the light fails, we are programmed to reach out and become anew.
You are, remember, made up of the stuff that stars are made up of? And even though that you do not burn the wick at both ends, your biology has made a compromise with organelles, such as mitochondria, to power you up with immense fortitude and the certainty of a battery at large. What combination of microcellular life or elemental material is then necessary to communicate across the void? What is within the earth and its inhabitants that enable us both to speak across the vastness of spacetime?
I think it is you, dear amateur. You embody the richness of energy and capability to transit spacetime. You all are enablers of consciousness and communicate with and thru the depths of space. Hearken all my Benjamin Bunnies, and Puddle Ducks! Whenever, and where-ever you peer into the night sky, you make connections that others are simply unaware of. It is profound, that you all make the connections of inter-galactic intelligence possible at the eye piece. It is a scary thought, though, that I am part of that consciousness. You are always transcendent. Even when the skies are cloudy. When you steep your soul at the scope, you appear with all your being, your Gaia, Sol, our great Spiral, and Local Group. Perhaps we are not cells. Perhaps we have evolved to be something more. Yes. We are a string of pearls.