I first read “The War Of the Worlds” by H.G Wells as a young teenager, and its opening lines were my first, and career defining, introduction to the wonder and hidden power of microbiology. Here are those lines:
“that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”
I followed my early passion and became a microbiologist, and in a sense am now that “man with a microscope”. If I take a drop of water from the cat food bowl (left outside without cat meat in it) above and observe under a microscope, I know that it’s lenses will reveal to me a frenzied world of microbial, as so eloquently described by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
” So in a single drop of water the microscope discovers, what motions, what tumult, what wars, what pursuits, what stratagems, what a circle-dance of Death and Life, Death hunting Life and Life renewed and invigorated by Death … a many meaning cypher.”
I’ve been searching for a way to represent the dynamic but invisible worlds that I see, beyond simple videos, and to express Coleridge’s words. I think that I might have come quite close now with the process below
The photographs below are of a droplet of water taken from the cat food bowl at 100-times magnification, using a process that illustrates the activity of its microbes, rather than the microorganisms themselves, by capturing their manifold activity trails. They remind me of images of radioactive decay, or atomic particle collisions, as they are seen using cloud chambers, and thus I have a strong sense that each species reveals its self as a unique biological wavelength and frequency. What would other waters reveal?