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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/204

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If We Had Eyes Like Microscopes

��By Edward F. Bigelow

��CERTAIN writers, chiefly Dean Swift and his followers, have taken pains to impress upon their readers the fact that if they had microscopical eyes, all beauty would disappear. The most delicate skin viewed by such eyes would be rough and repulsive; the whole world would be filled with disagreeable sights.

On the other hand many enthusiastic mi- croscopists teach and believe that beauty is increased by the micro- scope. According to them, if we had micro- scopical eyes, a world of beauty unimagined would be open to us, and every object would appear to be perfect and beautiful.

The disputed facts are like those in many other cases: each is right from his own point of view. The microscope does de- tract from the beauty of some things, and re- veals new beauty in others. The appear- ance of nature to a microscopical eye would not be much dififerent from its appear- ance to what we now consider the normal eye. At present, some things are un- pleasant to look at; yet we are living in a world of beauty — everywhere.

In some things nature will not bear close scrutiny. In others, she has hidden beauty that is revealed only by the microscope. Among the most beautiful of fmely constructed objects, few are perhaps more attractive than a mos- quito's wing. Its tiny scales become more and more beautiful and wonderful as we increase our magnifying power.

The utilitarian reader may ask, "Of what use are such things?" They are .good to be themselves. It is better to take the world as it is and to study it, than so often to ask, "Why." It would

���The delicate mosquito's wing re- vealed through microscopical eyes

��be difficult to explain the reason for the existence of many of nature's common objects. In regard to the mosquito's wmg with its feathers, we can only surmise that these scales may be useful in preventing the air from slipping off too easily; the slight roughness may give the wing a firmer hold on the air. For a similar purpose a bird's wing is feath- ered, and this reason is brought into more conspicuous prom- inence by the fact that a fish's fin is free from scales.

Here, aside from its reason for existing, the microscopist finds a realm for delightful in- vestigation ; the further afield he goes with his high -power objective, the greater the scope of inquiry. It is im- possible in a photo- micrograph such as the accompanying, al- though it is a remark- ably good picture, to show the minute de- tails, becau.se the struc- ture is so hyaline or transparent, that it is not easily photo- graphed. Under high powers the wing becomes even more h\'aliiie.

If the reader will think of a room full of smoke, he will understand this. If a small quantity of this smoke-laden atmosphere be taken in a phial, the blueness will become invisible, or at least inconspicuous. When viewing a mosquito's wing it is difficult, under high magnification, to have enough material to make much imiiression upon tile plate; but in a comjiound micro- scope the light may be so adjusted that, while the wing may appear almost per- fectly transparent, there will yet be suffi- cient material to make a distinct image in the eye. There seems to be nothing too minute for the microscope to reveal.

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