Sunday, 15 November 2009

Biology in proportion

What's the smallest biological object that you can see with your unaided eye? Probably the human egg cell at its biggest. It registers just before the 0.1mm limit at which our eyes can no longer make anything out.

But how big is this cell relative to a bacterium? And what would an approaching virus look like that bacterium? Would it be a roughly equally sized monster, or (if it had eyes) would it have to strain to see the nearing enemy? Or are both scenarios incorrect, with the actuality lying somewhere in the middle?

The point is that it can be hard to get a good feel for how sizes compare when it comes to biology (and medicine). I therefore suggest that you click here and attempt to remedy this. Simply slide the ruler along and you'll fly through a billion times magnification to get a sense of scale. Wonderful!

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