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Microscopes versus telescopes

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

From a long New Yorker article about the quest to build a basic cell, by James Somers:

“People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours, calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing except that cell,” the physician Lewis Thomas wrote, in his book “The Medusa and the Snail.” But telescopes make more welcome gifts than microscopes. Somehow, most of us are not itching to explore the cellular cosmos.

Well, I am itching. Astronomy probably is more popular than cellular biology, but that’s partly because it’s just so much more difficult to “explore the cellular cosmos.” You cannot buy a microscope powerful enough to reveal cells the way a surprisingly cheap telescope can reveal Jupiter or the Andromeda Galaxy. If only!