Ways of seeing: some observations on the viscosity of water

I came across this murky and leaf filled puddle today in Old Down Wood (Hampshire). Macroscopically it is unexceptional, mundane even, and so easy to overlook amongst the bluebells, birdsong, and beneath Spring’s vulnerable new greenery.


The Leaf Filled Puddle


However, when a few scant micro litres of this murky fluid are viewed using my portable Newton NM1 microscope, and at 200-400-times magnification, a thriving and dense microbial ecology is revealed (please see videos below).

I suspect that there is more biodiversity in this puddle than in the rest of the visible woodland, and I can’t resist extrapolating this observation, multiplying the volume, to a few millilitres, to the puddle, to all the puddles in the wood, and then beyond this. It is in these moments that I find a biological sublime amongst this multidinous frenzy of usually invisible commerce and exchange

Moreover, the magnifications used here reveal the viscous nature of water. As the larger animalcules move, they move the smaller microorganisms, as if they have a gravitational pull, or that the water has some elastic property. Water is the agency that interconnects all infusorial life here, as it is the medium that supports the biochemistry of our own bodies.





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