Summer 2009 Mystery Image
Image by CJ Kazilek
This is one of our pictures of a single pollen grain. It was taken using a scanning-laser confocal microscope. These microscopes take many images of a sample at different depths. Each image, or as we call them slice, is saved and later the entire group of images are put back together using a computer. The final image has much more detail than a standard microscope. You can learn more about how confocal microscopes work at The Paper Project.
What is the purpose of those "bumps" on the surface?
That's a good question. If they actually have a function it could be one of the following.
- They may be left over from the process that formed the pollen grains or may have to do with the way they were packed together.
- They may also have some quite prosaic, molecular level function like holding water (by capillary attraction) close to the outer surface of the grain long enough to allow hydration.
- They may be a method of "directing" the growth of the pollen tube on germination.
- They may be low frequency interstellar communication antennae.
We are not quite sure if they have a function. Maybe you will be the scientist that finds out.
If you are curious, here are some numbers from our list of guesses.
- 21% Brain or brain cell
- 18% Cell
- 11% Egg
- 11% Pollen
- 11% Virus
- 7% D.N.A.
- 3% Atom
Some of the creative single answers are listed below.
- Ants underground
- The formation of DNA, the pink strands being the nucleotides
- A cell covered with flat worms
- Brain cells while watching color T.V.
- Part of the brain that detects color
- Maybe a virus or a type of sea animal that lives deep in the ocean and makes its own light.
- It's the egg of a T. Rex in the mutational, evolutionary, stage as described by a fictional novel.
To download a computer wallpaper of this image, right click on this link or image and save it to your computer.