Design a site like this with
Get started

Images and Imagination

Images and Imagination

Electron microscopist and researcher Louise Hughes shares an image of a cell with mitochondria appearing as grumpy or sad faces. Do you see faces in the clouds or everyday objects around you? It’s known as pareidolia. Carl Sagan suggested that it may have been to our selective advantage to quickly recognize faces around us. Some people suffer from prosopagnosia or the pathological inability to recognize faces. Note that microscopy images are false colored (although mitochondria are indeed a related brown in color due to iron containing cytochrome proteins!).

More on pareidolia:

Chosen for #SoG+CuratorsChoice by Rajini Rao who loves art in science. 

Originally shared by Louise Hughes

Faces in EM images are a fairly common feature. It has something to do with how we try to interpret what we are seeing. 

This image shows general cell ultrastructure with mitochondria (two with unhappy “faces” in the cristae structure), Golgi bodies and endoplasmic reticulum. It was taken using transmission electron microscopy, has been inverted and coloured. With a width of 25cm this image would be at 70,000 x magnification. 


Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: