A technicolor serenade to the variousness of this world.
By Maria Popova
Hair is one of the glories of our mammalian inheritance — thermoregulator, camouflage, sensor, and mating call rolled into one. We Homo sapiens can lose more than 100 hairs daily without going bald, because our bodies produce 100 feet of hair substance every day. Structurally, hair is a marvel, as varied as the vegetation of the tropical rainforest and as mesmerizing as the cellular structure of trees.
The Museum of Microscopy at Florida State University has assembled a dazzling gallery of animal hair, from cat and dog to llama and bat, photographed through a microscope under polarized light — a geometric, fluorescent celebration of the variousness of this world, and a lovely homage to the history of the microscope, for the hair on the legs of the flea and the fly had so enchanted Robert Hooke in his pioneering Micrographia.
Complement with the otherworldly micrography of tears, then revisit the story of how the birth of astrophotography — micrography’s mirror-image twin, plumbing the realities of the very large through the telescope as the microscope mined the realities of the very small — changed our relationship to life and death