by Hannah Keene
When I studied biology in high school, we were only the second class to use the textbook. That was because the electron microscope had been invented and all of a sudden we could see inside a cell. We were only the second year to study the parts of a cell and how they worked. My mathematician husband, 5 years older and 6 years ahead of me in school, went out of his way to never take a biology class. When I asked him why, he said that biology was nothing more than the memorization of long names for small things. My reaction was along the lines of, “What? Are you CRAZY?????? That’s not even remotely what biology is!”
Then I thought about the 6 years difference in when we attended school. That meant that even in his first 2 years at MIT, there were no textbooks that showed, or taught, what a cell was like and the miracle of how it worked. But adding to my complete fascination, my basic biology course at university was taught by a cellular biologist. It was supposed to be a general biology course, but to my delight, he emphasized the workings of the cell in his lectures.
Fast forward all these decades, and we now have high resolution digital photography, which can capture details with such precision that when we enlarge pictures, it is as if we were looking through a magnifying glass, or perhaps even a microscope. For me, photography has the ability to show me the miraculousness of the world, much as the electron microscope did all those years ago.