Google's Advanced Image Search offered its usual variety of pictures. Naturally the images which would have been closest to the sources of Ackerman's inspiration were all under copyright. I did the best I could with what was available--even pushing the copyright envelope with small details of select photographs.
(I'll remove any detail if the copyright holder objects to its inclusion in this entry.)
I hope you find Diane Ackerman's account and the accompanying drawings and electron microscope renditions fascinating. Maybe even inspirational.
"DelanceyPlace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context."
This is the selection for September 15, 2014
"The Human Age by Diane Ackerman. The incredible developments unfolding at nanoscale"
(An extract from DP's extract follows)
"I'm stirred by the cathedral-like architecture of the nanoscale, which I love to ogle in photographs taken through scanning electron microscopes. One year in college, I spent off-duty hours hooking long-stranded wool rugs after the patterns of the amino acid leucine (seen by polarized light), an infant's brain cells, a single neuron, and other objects revealed by such microdelving.
"How beautifully some amino acids shine when lit by polarized light: pastel crystals of pyramidal calm, tiny tents along life's midway. Arranged on a slide or flattened on a page, they glow gemlike but arid. We cannot see their vitality, how they collide and collude as they build behavior. But their nanoscale physiques are eye-openers, and more and more we're turning to nature for inspiration."
(from page 179)
The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us
Author: Diane Ackerman
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Copyright 2014 by Diane Ackerman
ISBN-13: 978-0393240740 ISBN-10: 0393240746
amino acid leucine
MolToys.com: Amino Acid Beads
(Evidently someone at MolToys was similarly inspired.)
an infant's brain cells
source: Carlsville Project
a single neuron (a)
source: Neuron and Astrocyte
"Neurons or nerve cells are the basic functioning components of the brain. Scientists study neurons to understand how they organize, connect to one another ..."
a single neuron (b)
source: From Mirror Neurons to the Mona Lisa. Visual Art and the Brain
Presented by the Science & the Arts at CUNY Graduate Center & the New York Academy of Sciences.
Supported by the David Schwarz family & the National Science Foundation
Reported by Catherine Zandonella | Posted March 22, 2006
"A painting or sculpture has the power to evoke strong feelings.... the most important body part involved in our response to art is the brain... it is the brain that controls the experience of what we see... what is it about the brain that makes us respond to art?"
a single neuron (c)
source: The Brain's Highways: Mapping the Last Frontier
Are neurons organized like roads?
May 22, 2012 |By Partha Mitra
"The authors claim that there exists a surprising and pervasive degree of
geometric regularity in the long-range neuronal trajectories in the brain.
They report that throughout the brain’s white matter is to be found a grid-like pattern of fibers crossing at right angles. The brain’s superhighways, the authors tell us, form a three dimensional analog of the streets and avenues in New York City, running at right angles to each other."
Me: It sounds like the authors fantasized an analogy based on their original image. I wonder if it was Friday? :-D
Source of picture: Van Wedeen, M.D., Martinos Center and Dept. of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University Medical School
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