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When we think of nature, beautiful vistas and magnificent animals like bears, eagles, or elephants may come to mind. Seldom, though, do we think of the living things we can’t see–the hidden, microscopic world that’s all around us. But if we dare to look close enough we’ll find a different kind of beauty there, one that we are rarely lucky enough to catch a glimpse of.
Dwelling on every surface, nook, and cranny– even within us–are a host of microorganisms too small to be perceived by the human eye. Around us is an entire world that we seldom get the chance to see. Let’s zoom in and take a closer look at our microscopic, underappreciated world!
Before we truly dive into this microscopic world of wonder, we need to address a MAJOR misconception most have about microorganisms. More often than not, the first things that come to mind when we think of microbes are disease-causing (pathogenic) bacteria that make us sick, or viruses that inspire global lockdowns.
The truth is, less than one percent of known bacterial species have the capacity to do us harm! In fact, most bacteria are helpful–even essential to our survival! Microorganisms are nature’s hardest workers. They help us digest our food, give our bodies access to vital nutrients, and even outcompete and destroy the harmful bacteria we typically mistake them for. 1
If your perspective hasn’t changed enough on our unseen microbial neighbors, on a global level microbes vastly outnumber us. These tinier-than-tiny beings make up a whopping 81 gigatons of the Earth’s biomass. For reference, all 8 billion of us humans represent only about 0.06 gigatons! 2 In the context of the human body, the number of microbes living inside you right now may shock you! For every one of your human cells there is a microorganism counterpart, with an estimated ratio of 1.3 microbial cells for every 1 human cell! 3
Although microbes are highly underappreciated, they aren’t the only microscopic things out there! This incredible video from Insider Science shows even more amazing footage from Nikon’s annual Small World Photomicrography Competition, where scientists and hobbyists alike have been submitting the most breathtaking microscopic footage since 1975! 4
The competition celebrates a stunning array of images, revealing the breathtaking beauty and intricacy of the microscopic world. Exploring these images and videos can truly open our eyes to the wonders that exist beyond our limited vision.
If you want to check out more videos from one of our favorite creators, check out Insider Science’s YouTube channel and take a deep dive into the world of science!
Want to see more?
If you’re as curious about these stunning images as our team was, head over to the Nikon Small World website. There you can explore endless galleries of photos and videos of the microscopic world all around us. The clips in the video above are from the 2018 Small World in Motion competition and I could watch the clip of the zebrafish nervous system growing all day. And while I know video often takes the spotlight, don’t miss out on looking through the photo submissions as well, check out the 2019 winner featuring a turtle embryo. This is the kind of website you could get lost in for days in absolute awe of a world that’s all around us that we hardly ever get to see.
With a whole new world to explore just beyond your vision, where will you venture next?
While it may not be obvious, this microscopic world we rarely appreciate can teach us some pretty amazing lessons when we bring our findings to our macroscopic life! Here at the Goodness Exchange we take a special pride in showing you the many unnoticed things all around us there are to appreciate, so stay curious and check out our amazing library of content that will revitalize your appreciation for the world around you!
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Your appreciation shouldn’t stop with the natural world, as we’ve learned from these tiny critters, amazing things can come from the most unexpected sources, so the next time you notice good being done around you, pay it forward! You never know how hard something may be for another person, or how appreciated (or not) they are. Keep empathy close, take a step back, and use that extra microgram of energy to give even the tiniest of things some recognition for the amazing things they do for us!
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- “Bacterial Infections | Effective Health Care (EHC) Program.” Ahrq.gov, 2017, effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/health-topics/bacterial-infections#:~:text=Most%20bacteria%20won’t%20hurt,give%20the%20body%20needed%20vitamins.[/ref. Accessed 29 June 2023 ↩
- Frank, Adam. “We Know How Much All Life on Earth Weighs. Here’s Why That Is Important Information.” Big Think, Big Think, 22 Sept. 2022, bigthink.com/13-8/earth-biomass-distribution/#:~:text=Microbes%20. Accessed 29 June 2023. ↩
- Sender, Ron, et al. Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body. no. 8, Aug. 2016, pp. e1002533–33, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002533. Accessed 29 June 2023. ↩
- https://www.nikonsmallworld.com/ ↩
- Insider Science. “Award-Winning Footage of the Microsopic World around Us.” YouTube, YouTube Video, 27 Sept. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyXrtODhJEA. Accessed 29 June 2023. ↩