Friday, January 22, 2010

God Through A Microscope

At 1/500 the thickness of a human hair, ordinary detergent bubbles are one of the thinnest substances visible to the naked eye.

Ordinary fungus, common on bread or cheese, magnified 560 times

A ripe strawberry.

These tiny specimens are helping scientists at Amgueddfa Cymru research climate change that took place 34 million years ago.  When Antarctica went into the deep freeze.

Household dust: nutritiously rich in hairs, skin flakes, clothing fibers, and even - at the center - the intact fragment of an insect's compound eye.

Sweat droplets on a hand, produced after an hour's exercise.


Perfect diatoms. 
Chunks of these marine algae help give face powder its distinctive smooth feel.



Sperm on the surface of a human egg.

6-day old human embryo implanted.


Red blood cells

Sondra Barrett found God through a microscope

March 07, 2005|By David Ian Miller, Special to SF Gate
Are spirituality and science incompatible? It's an age-old question with no easy answers. To some the acrimonious debate over whether to teach about the Bible in America's biology classrooms is reason enough to believe these two sides are mutually exclusive.
Yet science can also be a doorway to the spiritual realm. Take Sondra Barrett a self-described "hardcore scientist" who had no interest in spirituality but became convinced of a higher power while examining human blood cells as a UCSF cancer researcher in the 1970s.

Since then Barrett 64 has used her microscope to photograph everything from caffeine molecules to chicken soup to pinot noir. As a scientist and an artist she sees these images as evidence of the sacred revealing the invisible forms and forces at work in everyday life. Tell me about your religious background. Did you grow up with a particular faith?
I was raised Jewish but basically rejected organized religion as a young adult because it seemed hypocritical to me. At that time [the early 1960s] women couldn't become rabbis and we weren't counted as part of a minyan (a prayer group). I turned instead to the religion of medical science. Only what was provable was real to me. Life was cells and molecules -- it was purely physical. I wouldn't define myself as an atheist but I had no spiritual leanings at that time.
But eventually after completing your Ph.D. in biochemistry and beginning your work as a cancer researcher you became a spiritual person. What changed for you?
Two things altered my deeper view of the world. One was the microscope. I always find it surprising that a tool of science would lead to my ever growing spirituality but that's what happened. Seeing living cells up close I was captivated by their intelligence energy and order. It opened a window for me to the sacred world. The other factor in my spiritual development at this point was working with children whose disease leukemia I studied as a research scientist. Through this work I was forced to see human beings as more than just physical and spending time with one of those children when he died made me look at life and death in much larger terms. I began asking myself about why disease happens. What purpose did it serve in these children? This pushed me to investigating alternative ways of looking at life including Buddhism, shamanism Taoism and other mystical traditions.


Garlandless Judy said...

Tag, standing & Badger - I left responses to your comments on the last post (the 5-day old one). I don't think I'll ever get caught up on blog reading, or any other reading that I need to do. Hope you have a nice week-end.

Tag said...

Take 'er easy GJ. I'll be coming back often to look at these. Right now I'm almost speechless with the incredible beauty of the universe both macro and micro.

Tag said...

Thanks very much for these BTW.

Doozyanner said...

Wow, some of these gave me goosebumps. Incredible pictures and fascinating journey of spiritual growth. Thank you for sharing.

LimesNow said...

GJ ~ what a collection of glorious, awe-provoking images! I've said in commentary before that I'm a little intimidated speaking about spiritual matters because I am not so very far along in my journey. Frankly, I don't even particularly seek the answers to the important questions all that frequently. However, looking at these microscopic images reminds me that there is some "organizer", some "keeper of order" that watches over all the miracles we brilliant humans don't even think about or know about.

I had a little Snickers (no, not a 3 Musketeers) at the 4th image. I'm all about connecting with other humans, finding the little strands of commonality, sending and receiving messages of connection. So I was reading that the tiny specimens are helping scientists . . . and I sat upright in my chair. For there on your blog were two words that spoke directly to me in a language most people don't understand. "Amgueddfa Cymru". You see, I knew that was the National Museum of Wales. I'm of Welsh descent and I recognize a few words. And I thought, "There's GJ connecting with me from her blog." There has to be some meaning, some reason you chose the images you did! I thank you for a beautiful post.

standing on my head said...

god is in the details.
-mies van der rohe

Garlandless Judy said...

Oh dear, I forgot to respond to your kind comments.

Tag, glad you liked the pictures.

Doozy, thank you so much for stopping by via the Limes bus. I appreciate your comment.

Limes, glad to hear of your connection through the Welsch Museum. There's always a reason we choose what we do for our posts. I'm glad it resonated with you.

standing, I never knew who said that. Thanks for the quote.

Cris Winters said...

I just found your blog while searching for named images of a lovely algae I saw near Key Largo. (Have not found its name yet.) Your thoughts and images are so much what I love to think about and see! Thanks.

Busana Muslim said...

Nice post, thanks for sharing this wonderful and useful information with us.