15 Amazing Things Seen Under a Microscope

Our eyes are some of the most advanced found in the animal kingdom something that gives us an unparalleled view of the world around us what we see though is just the tip of the iceberg it’s time to reveal what’s hidden beneath the surface as we take a look at 15 amazing things seen under a microscope number 15 orange juice is a staple liquid that you’ll find in refrigerators around the world but perhaps the greatest surprise is that it only became widespread in the latter decades of the 20th century after being found to be a palatable way of ingesting nutrients during the second world war it’s now a crucial industry in places like Florida where many tens of millions of gallons are produced each year but rather than being a smooth liquid like it may appear it’s far more complex than you’d imagine that’s because of contains a large number of different compounds from vitamin c sugar and carbohydrates to

potassium thiamine folate and citric acid which all leads to it looking very different under a microscope magnifying the juice by a hundred times reveals a complex crystalline structure that looks more like what you’d expect to see in a mining operation as opposed to a breakfast beverage when it’s looked at with polarized light the different compounds take on wildly different colors this is the case with both smooth and pulpy versions of the drink so next time you take a sip don’t forget that what you’re swallowing is much more complicated than it appears at first number 14 shark skin sharks are the alpha predators of the oceans and strike fear into the minds of any other creatures that they set their sights on of course one of the biggest traits that makes them such efficient hunters is their rows upon rows of sharp teeth but their skin is also integral to their abilities too if you’ve ever run your hand along the skin of a shark you’ll know that it has a very sandpapery texture to it in a way that makes it very different to the skin of any other animal and it’s only when you see it under a microscope that you’ll realize why this is their skin instead of being made up of cells like ours is actually what’s described as a dermal corset that’s arranged as a helical network around their body in simpler terms this means that their bodies are surrounded by a layer of microscopic teeth that are all

arranged in a specific pattern and it performs two main functions the first is that it acts as an external skeleton that’s attached to their swimming muscles and means they’re able to conserve energy and the second is that it gives them a hydrodynamic advantage so they’re able to swim faster through the water with less effort than would otherwise be needed furthermore each tooth-like structure in their skin generates a small swirl in the water as the shark passes through it and this has been found to create a suction effect that gives the shark further thrust that helps it move forwards even quicker just like the teeth in their mouths sharks will quickly replace any parts of their skin that are damaged and some species will grow these dermal denticles in a different shade to give them the ability to camouflage in within certain aquatic environments [Music] number 13 chalk chalk is one of the most commonly used natural substances around the world you’re probably familiar with it from its use on chalkboards or on sidewalks but also in the production of building materials fertilizers antacids and cleaning products while it may seem like a fairly simple substance it’s actually far more complex than most people realize to understand why this is it’s important to know how chalk formed in the first place all of the world’s supplies originated during the cretaceous period between 99 and 65 million years ago when dinosaurs still roamed the earth it was a relatively

calm atmospheric time when there wasn’t much ocean bed erosion in certain places and over millions of years layer upon layer of microscopic organisms whose shells were made of calcite built up on top of each other as they died this further compressed over time and it’s now the only form of limestone that shows signs of compaction and the result is a solid material that can easily be crumbled or where layer can be removed as it’s pressed against a harder substance this history can still be seen in chalk when you look at it under a microscope and it’s only then that the material reveals itself as a marine graveyard with the individual remains of these creatures still clearly visible number 12 tapeworm head tapeworms are ribbon-like parasitic worms that have bodies that are essentially made up of a series of egg packages known as proglottids that are continuously released into their surrounding environment to infect other organisms depending on the species there are various ways in which they enter a new host but once they reach their adult form they will latch on to the digestive tract inside an animal and then will feed on the nutrients that pass by which they then use to produce more eggs several species of tapeworms are able to infect humans too often from eating undercooked pork beef or fish and while the idea of being host to one of these is disgusting enough it becomes even more frightening when you see what they look like up close the worms are made up of three main parts their head called the scolex a short neck and then the body that’s made up of the egg sacs it’s the scolex that looks most startling under a microscope and this is all because of what it’s designed to do they don’t have mouths because they’re able to simply absorb nutrients directly through their body and the head is instead used to hold themselves in position they therefore have rows of hooks or suckers and once they find the ideal position they’ll use these to latch onto the intestine of their host an attachment that once done successfully is almost impossible to get them to release number 11 vinyl record music technology has of course advanced significantly in the past decades while we now mainly stream songs with high fidelity it wasn’t so long ago that we had to rely on cds cassette tapes and originally vinyl records made from a resin called shellac but from the 1940s typically made with polyvinyl chloride vinyl records would become the main way in which music was recorded and distributed during the 20th century instead of being digital like the most popular methods these days vinyl records are analog whereby because of the relatively soft material they’re made from the sound waves are essentially imprinted upon them it’s then simply a case of placing them on a dedicated player where a needle follows the groove in the record and its movement is turned into sound if you hold a record in your hands you’ll be able to see the grooves in it and the starting point while you want to position the player’s needle in the first place but when one is looked at under an electron microscope the

complexity of their shape becomes even clearer it’s amazing to see that something so simple in relation to what’s used today was able to work so well there are many believe that imprints like these are able to result in a much better sound quality than the best digital methods that are now available number 10 kosher salt depending on how it’s produced salt is available in different types and while it may often seem like an uninteresting substance at a macro level things get far more interesting under a microscope in particular kosher salt which is also known as cooking salt or rock salt is surprising because unlike table salt it’s far coarser and doesn’t have anywhere near as many additives made mainly of sodium chloride and its purest form it’s known for having a cleaner flavor and because of the crystal sizes it can also be used for brining meat or even able to clean cookware because it isn’t ground down so much this type of salt looks incredible under a microscope when various different shapes become visible what you see will depend on the process used to make it but instead of having cubic crystals it’ll typically be either flat and plate like or in some circumstances when it’s been created by evaporating salty water the crystals will be hollow pyramids it’s such a commonly used substance that we rarely ever give it a second thought too but the fact that salt looks so impressive under magnification shows just how unexpected the microscopic world truly is number nine dandelion dandelions are a group of flowering plant species that are mainly found throughout europe and north america where they’re often seen growing in meadows and fields as

yellow flowers at first that then transform into a seed head what you may not realize though is that instead of just being one flower they’re technically classified as being a collection of small flowers that group together into a composite flower head known as a floret and that’s why when they transform they’re able to produce so many seeds that are ready to be carried into the wind or against the fur of a passing animal just from looking at them normally you can see that they have a few structures that have developed to help them spread but once you see them under a microscope everything becomes clearer when they’re in their flower form the seeds are growing at the base and above this is a tuft of white fiber around a stalk that will become part of the white ball that eventually forms above this is a yellow floret and at the crown of the flower is the stigma with multiple lobes that are covered in pollen it’s because of these structures that dandelions are so popular with insects which are tempted in by the nectar and get pollen grain stuck on them and they transport that to the next flower they feed from equally as impressive though is when the dandelion turns into a seed ball because it’s then that you see each seed is actually covered in a series of tiny spikes not only do these allow them to attach to passing animals but once they’ve been dropped they help the seed secure itself to the ground so it can begin germinating [Music] number eight peacock feather there are three species of peacock two of which are native to asia and one of which originated in africa and for good reason they’re known for being some of the most ornate and spectacular of all birds this is because of the lavish feather trains that the males grow in order to attain the attention of potential mates which display an array of iridescent colors they are spectacular enough to see at normal size but while from a distance

you only really see the pattern of the eye shapes a microscope reveals far more complexity the incredible colors are formed by nanostructures within the feathers that are each a different color and will change their intensity depending on what angle you’re looking at them from when magnified by 500 times you begin to see every minute line and curve of the feathers with the distinct bundles of barbules and the unique coloration of each segment with greens blues golds and more it’s quite difficult to photograph these in such detail because of the way the iridescent colors are so highly reflective it is amazing to see in such detail that the mesmerizing colors of a peacock simply aren’t the result of pigments like you may expect but of interactions with light that reflects in different ways depending on how you look at it and surely means that an already spectacular creature becomes even more impressive number seven ensuite and cacoxanite most natural compounds that are dug from the ground look no more interesting than any other piece of stone or rock but depending on their chemical makeup they could well be hiding something beautiful on a microscopic level this image shows two minerals ensuite and cacoxanite under five times magnification it’s unlikely you’ll ever heard of them because they’re not particularly sought after cacoxanite for example is a golden colored mineral made up of iron phosphate and aluminum that’s often found in regions where iron ores are extracted its name in latin means bad guest in reference to the fact that its presence will reduce the quality of iron that smelted from the ore so it’s usually seen as bad news whenever it’s seen ensotite is a dull boring mineral that’s made of manganese and oxygen and it’s often found in larger manganese deposits around the world and it has for a time been used in production of cathodes used in zinc carbon batteries but this

is being phased out in favor of synthetic alternatives together though these two minerals complement each other in a way that almost seems organic in the image and shows that beauty can be found in almost anything so long as you look hard enough number six sea water it’s one of the most abundant substances on the surface of our planet but have you ever given much thought to what’s actually in seawater of course the big difference that we all know about it in comparison to fresh water is that it contains salt and on average it has a salinity of around three and a half percent it also contains a huge number of other chemicals with the main ones being magnesium sulfur calcium potassium bromine and carbon beyond its chemical makeup seawater has a huge biological content too with various types of free swimming bacteria diatoms and countless other microbial species that are far too small to detect with the human eye it’s only under a microscope that you see just how many different creatures and elements there actually are anytime a sample has been taken from any part of the water column on earth similar results are found with algae tiny fish eggs worms bacteria and many more usually found each time next time you are in the ocean and open your mouth just think of this and quite what you might be letting inside your body number five might mites are one of the most common causes of allergies around the home and the more you learn about them the more you’ll surely want to be rid of them for good instead of referring to specific species the name is a catch-all for a number of types of microscopic arachnids that are closely related to other spiders but usually grow no larger than three one-hundredths of an inch long far smaller than can be seen with the human eye when you see them under a microscope though it’s clear to see how spider-like they actually are although their bodies

aren’t as segmented as larger species the front of their body isn’t a head and doesn’t have any eyes or the brain but is instead a retractable feeding mechanism that will either be used to suck up particles or bite into animals more than 48 000 different species of mites have been recorded although it’s believed there could well be over a million and they’re found almost everywhere from the soil plants and caves to fresh water and in our homes dust mites for example thrive within warm environments and feed on the flakes of skin that we naturally shed huge colonies can form in mattresses and their presence can trigger responses like asthma or other allergies if you happen to have a natural response to the proteins that they produce number four sand when you’re walking along a beautiful beach your focus is usually out across the calm blue waters or the stunning scenery that you’re surrounded by but arguably the most varied and spectacular thing of all is the sand beneath your feet to the naked eye it rarely looks like anything more than an orange white or brown substance that gets caught between your toes but it’s been formed over many years and contains plenty of surprises sand is defined as being a granular material that’s made up of divided particles of rock and minerals in places like the caribbean the sand you see is predominantly made up of the remains of animals that have lived on the reefs in the past few million years so contains pieces of coral and calcium carbonate shells you can see this very clearly when you look at a sample of sand under a microscope and one of the most exciting things about this is that you’ll always find something new and different when you magnify the sand from a different source coral sand for example is very different to the type you’ll find in a desert which itself is distinctly separate from what’s found on a volcanic beach or the

shore of a lake number three velcro originally invented in 1941 by a swiss engineer hook and loop fasteners which most of us know by the brand name velcro have become commonplace around the world in various different products offering a simple form of attachment that can be easily ripped apart and then reattached few people ever really consider how it works and microscopes were crucial to the process right from the start when you look at velcro under magnification you see that it’s made up of two parts the section made up of hooks and the one made up of the loops when the scrambled loops are placed into the hooks a large number of them become entangled which provides a secure hold but they’ll also easily release when pulled in the right direction rather than being developed by a fluke though the inventor of this style of fastening looked to nature and actually investigated the way that seeds of certain plants would get stuck to his clothes under a microscope he saw they were covered in hooks that were latching onto the hoops within the fabric that he was wearing and this gave him the idea to artificially replicate it number two digger wasp eyes digger wasps are a large category of wasp species that behave in a slightly different way to the ones that we often encounter instead of building large colonies and nests they instead build smaller nests in pre-existing underground cavities or burrows that they dig themselves into soil or sand anywhere that the ground is made up of a loose material is a potential home for a digger wasp and because of where they live they’re far more likely to be seen flying closer to the ground than any other species feeding on grubs and larvae the females paralyze their prey with their sting and then drag it back to their burrow where they and their offspring can feed they don’t tend to live in larger groups though so each individual will have its own nest that’s at least fortunate if you’ve noticed more than 10 digger wasp

poles in your yard because that means there’ll only be 10 of them rather than many many more they do however quickly multiply and the competition in the insect world for similar food sources means that they’ve developed a few attributes that give them an advantage over the rest one of which is their eyesight a microscopic view shows just how complex they are where they have three main eyes and a triangular formation that are used for seeing objects in the same way that we do but a series of other smaller eyes that instead are responsive to changes in brightness and can quickly detect movement to either help the wasp hunt or to evade a possible predator number one snow there’s nothing quite like looking out across the countryside when it’s covered in a blanket of snow at least for the first few days after it’s fallen it’s a wonderful sight but it’s even more incredible when you look at it under a microscope snow usually forms within clouds when water particles are suspended in the atmosphere and because of the low temperature turns into individual ice crystals as they fall these begin to merge and then undergo further changes once they land on the ground and begin to compress you may have heard that no two snowflakes are ever the same and while this is true things get even more bizarre when you magnify them images of snow taken by an electron microscope which is capable of magnifying by up to a million times shows the

an incredible variety of snowflakes there are those that take on what you’d consider being a traditional snowflake shape but rounded ones flattened ones tree-shaped hexagonal ones and many many more researchers have also found that based on electron microscope images you’re able to narrow down the exact region where it fell to because the water composition and environmental conditions are unique even to the point where it’s been found that snow scene at the ice caps of mars is very different thanks to its composition of water and frozen carbon dioxide.