Good Reading : March 2006
The image on the cover looks like rows of matches standing to attention on one of those old-fashioned matchbooks once given away in restaurants and bars. Other images inside resemble delicate pink buttons or lozenges; a colony of strange worms sensing the air with eyeless heads; a jumble of fragile sheets of exquisitely coloured paper; a cluster of blue cotton-balls covered in bits of pink tissue; a close-up of knitting wool or embroidery yarn. Except that they’re nothing of the sort. They are, respectively, cells that cushion the human brain; red blood cells; papillae on the tongue; kidney stone crystals; a human embryo three days after fertilisation; and overlapping nerve fibres. And they’re typical of the extraordinary images – mostly scanning electron micro- graphs – in Inside the Body: Fantastic Images from Beneath the Skin. From individual cells, the building blocks of life, to the startling architecture of major organs, these micrographs, X-rays, ultrasounds, angiograms, ther mograms, gamma scans and macrophotos reveal the inner beauty of our bodies, until now hidden or accessible only to surgeons. Marvel at the works of art that are our cells, tissues, systems and senses, and vow to appreciate them all the more in the future! The rough texture of the upper sur- face of the tongue is due to these small projections, called filiform papillae. They help in the mechanical processing of food and also transmit tactile information to the brain. what a piece of work is man (and woman) The most abundant cells in vertebrate blood, red blood cells are disc-shaped cells that transport oxygen from the lungs to all the body cells. They also remove carbon dioxide produced by cells in respiration and transport it back to the lungs, where it is exhaled. The red colour is due to haemoglobin. Three days after fertilisation, a human egg has divided to form a cluster of eight large rounded cells called a morula (Latin for black- berry). The smaller spherical structures (centre right and left) will degenerate. At this stage the morula is still in the Fallopian tube, making its way towards the uterus.