Scale: How we measure up?

Are you so busy that you haven’t got time to listen to a friend, read a blog, have margin in your life? Today I explore the microscopic scale, and find a world of life beneath my microscope.


I looked at very young damselfish under the dissecting scope. One of the little guys is in the glass petri dish above. He is actually the last one that is still alive. One of the researchers in the lab is using damselfish as a model organism in understanding bioaccumulation of toxins from dinoflagellates up through the food web in the salt water aquarium.


Here is a picture I took through the microscope. It is amazing how much color and detail they have. Really quite nice, accept he is the only one that is still alive. All the other damselfish have died. Today we attempted to dissect the tiny gut and see what they ate and possibly determine why they died. There are a million reasons the fish could have died and we were unsuccessful at identifying the cause. In fact we couldn’t tell what the dead fish ate because they were already starting to decay in the aquarium. As I looked at the dead tiny fish under the microscope I could see tiny nematodes digging about its eyes, and face, and I could see microscopic rotifers swimming around the dead damselfish.


It was amazing that another world exists in the microscopic realm that we are not aware of every day. The hair on the back of my neck stood up at the thought that some day nematodes, and bacteria will decay and eat away at my flesh, (hopefully a long time from now) But I digress.

I had a meeting today and I have a rough idea of what my research plan is for the next five weeks. It sounds like a lot to do. I will be culturing and upscaling two species of algae. I will then learn how to perform nutrient assays on the media, and determine how much nutrients the colonies are using. After recording colony density, and nutrient uptake for about two weeks I will use thin layer chromatography to separate the pigments in each species of algae, and I will use GC-MS to analyze total lipids and the percentage and type of fatty acid in each type of algae. I will blog more later about the implications of learning these techniques.

But in the mean time I will not say that I am busy. I will savor my time here. I will take time to sit and watch the colorful bee catchers, and kookaburras, and birdwing butterflies.

“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”

This quote comes from the Opinionator blog on the NY times web page referring to “The Busy Trap”.  by TIM KREIDER

As the title of this post suggests, we realize and acknowledge, either as a boast or a lament that we are so busy, or we choose not to be.

2 Responses to “Scale: How we measure up?”
  1. craig says:

    I appreciate your insights. ‘A hedge against emptiness”, a power full thought. Why do we fear the emptiness, there is no such thing. God’s spirit can fill our emptiness. LVYA

    • Mr. Chopp says:

      Thanks for your insights and your timely reminder. Eternally speaking emptiness would be a function of one’s system of beliefs. I wasn’t thinking quite so deep, and referring to our uneasiness with relaxation, and taking time to have margin contrasted with the need to fill every moment with activities. The blog I linked to (the opinionator), though I don’t agree with the authors conclusions, is well written and brings up some interesting points.

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