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Friday Whatsit — March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010

What you see depends on how you look

My very first college biology class had a theme.  Officially it was molecular and cellular biology, but unofficially it was “what you see depends on how you look.”  It was this running theme in our textbook.  At the time I thought it was kinda dorky.  OK, I still think it’s kinda dorky.

Now that I have the opportunity to work with people from a wide variety of biology sub-specialties, I noticed that their perception of what was going on in an experiment (what they saw) was greatly influenced by their educational and research background (how they looked).  Often we get two or more groups from different disciplines who are interested in the same topic.  Most of the time they approach the question from entirely different angles based on their background.  Part of my job is to bring those groups together to share information.  The change in perspective often leads to new insights and breakthroughs for both groups.

The Friday Whatsit feature

Every Friday afternoon (OK, probably some Friday afternoons) I’ll post a science-related image that shows an everyday object from a new perspective.  Submit your guesses in the comments section and the first person to guess correctly will get. . .  well, the satisfaction of knowing they were the first person to guess correctly.  I’m on a budget, what can I say?  The official answer will be posted on Monday.

The First Friday Whatsit

Friday whatsit for March 26, 2010

What is this?

I’ll start you off with an easy one.  You probably see this guy every day, you just never knew he was there.  You can see it with the naked eye (barely) but in this image he’s magnified 800 times.  The object he lives on is common in American life, but some people have started to question its usefulness and value.

What is it and where can it be found?  Post your guesses in the comments and I’ll post the correct answer on Monday.


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