Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The mysterious world of microscopic insects

Written by Marye Wood, CNN

It’s not every day we get to take a closer look into the inside of a snail, shot through a microscope. But in case you didn’t know, microscopes are really awesome.

The US Military’s U.S. Army Research Laboratory recently teamed up with Planetary Resources , a publicly traded venture fund based in Redmond, Washington, to offer a chance to delve even deeper into the creatures closest to our fingertips and see the microscopic world as never before.

The first call came from artist Matthew Hessel, whose interest in the observatory inspired the project. During a press tour at the Lincoln Memorial National Monument in Washington, DC, just outside the U.S. Army research lab, Hessel explains that these microscopic creatures are just as important in their day-to-day lives as the ones we humans spend looking at them through big spectacles.

“Obviously, for us the light they produce is the same light that we see through our eyes,” Hessel says. “But it’s not really, and for them, for the organisms that live outside us, it’s very important for them to have the possibility of producing light.”

1 / 7 Visiting this 31-foot (9.8-meter) ‘huge off-the-shelf’ custom-built DFG-104 evaporator-based digital microscope, the Grandorgan is found in a library of about 10,000 exquisitely studied specimens from archaea, bacteria, rhododendrons, melaleuca, fungus, worms, seeds, bacteria, microorganisms, algae, spores, hosts and aggregates. Credit: Courtesy Steve Wilson/U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases

Little wonder, then, that Planetary Resources decided to make it their mission to help visualize this emerging field of study for those who might not otherwise be well-versed in the wonders of our tiny brethren. The Lab provides free training classes to both biologists and engineers so that everyone can understand the delicate steps involved in building a microscope to fit their needs.

Hessel says he hopes the film project reveals “the immense potential that microscopes hold for exploration and education, and the incredible distance this technology still has to go to empower these remarkable advances.”

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