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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Doesn't even require a microscope

I was just sitting around, doing some writing I'd rather not be doing, and it came over me to go get a cup of coffee.
Whoa, too fast there. I had one of those before-lunch moments of stars in the eyes. Or more like little squiggles that dart like fireflies and disappear.
I love that phenomenon. What you're seeing is actually the red cells moving through the capillaires of the retina. Really. Pay attention, and you can tell they repeat the same tracks. And that their appearance is in sync with your pulse. That's what that is: watching your own blood go around.

4 comments:

Just me said...

Huh! I always wondered what that was! :)

Thanks for your comment on my blog!

EastwoodDC said...

I never knew that. I'll have to pay more attention the next time I'm light-headed.
Not quite the same thing, but I recall some times when I could hear my own pulse.

sciencegirl said...

I actually learned this in a moment of serendipity at the Exploratorium near Paris, not in school.

marc aurel said...

There's a sound lab near the Beaubourg called I.R.C.A.M.. I went there years ago into an anachoic(sp?) chamber. Not only could I hear my pulse, but also the squishing sound of blood going through vessels. I was wondering if I could hear the blinking of my eyes when, unfortunately, another tourist in with me had a panic attack and we had to leave. I think that the combination of floaters and capillary squiggles form pictures for artists that spring from their unconscious. A bit like the swirls that form on the white noise of a TV tube, but much more colorful and detailed. I love the way in which you appreciate the beauty, while clearly explaining the cause.