9 Normal Things That Look Trippy Under a Microscope

#4. Zinc Oxide

Via Wikipedia

You have tons of this stuff in your house, even if you don't have actual bottles labeled "zinc oxide" sitting around. It's a common ingredient in everything from breakfast cereal to medicine, from concrete to sunscreen. And despite being fancy enough to have both a "z" and an "x" in its name, zinc oxide is just another plain white powder.

Which is too bad, considering that when you zoom in to the nanoparticle level, zinc oxide looks like this:

Via Francisco Rangel/FEI/fei.com/Rex Features
So that's where Everlasting Gobstoppers come from.

Man, it's a real shame that our human eyeballs are so shitty, because we can't think of a single instance where coating a scantily clad beachgoer in mesmerizing purple flowers wouldn't be an improvement.

#3. Polio

Via UMN.edu

Polio is the terrifying virus that ruined countless lives and made work way more difficult for FDR's photographers. With effects ranging from paralysis to death, the polio epidemic had Americans seriously shitting their pants by day and having iron-lung-filled nightmares by night, until Jonas Salk released a vaccine in 1955. It's kind of weird to think that the whole time, we were fighting this:

Via Vaccinenewsdaily.com

Awwww! Wook at the wittle pink puffball! We could just hug it all day. This cute little fella is so adorable, we want to adopt it and name it Pauly and buy it a little collar with its new name engraved on the tag. What's that, wittle Pauly? You want to come home and live with us? Well of course you can! What's the harm in that?

#2. Cigarette Paper


You've probably never given much thought to cigarette paper before, and for good reason. After all, it's just paper, right? It's the stuff wrapped inside the paper that's important. Well, actually ...


OK, we're calling bullshit on this one. We know damn well that's not cigarette paper -- it's really some painstakingly CGI'd Star Wars movie set or something. We're sure some furry midgets are about to jump out from behind those crystal spires at any moment.

Except that totally is cigarette paper. Those blue crystals are actually an additive that helps keep the cigarette lit, because they release oxygen when burned. But we'll be damned if it doesn't look like Shelob should be hiding out in there somewhere, just biding her time until she can make a tasty hobbit meal out of Frodo -- and probably looking forward to enjoying a nice smoke afterward.

#1. Dust


Dust is also underappreciated on the whole -- for example, dust is vital in the formation of clouds, and thus for the existence of rain. Also ... well, that's mostly it, but that's pretty big, goddammit. But close up, it looks fake as hell.

Via Microcosmos, by Brandon Brill

Yes, before you ask, the color was added after the fact (electron microscopes don't see in color). Still, look at it. Shake out your keyboard and you've just created the ultimate Honey, I Shrunk the Kids obstacle course. But wait, what's that trying to nonchalantly hide out behind some neon pubic hairs toward the top of the frame?

Via Microcosmos, by Brandon Brill
Oh man, ftaghn this.

Oh God, whose idea was this? We have a feeling that tonight in our nightmares, micro-Cthulhu and his little orange friend Spike are going to be chasing our miniature selves through a keyboard labyrinth. And there is no Escape key.

When not being continually saddened by Google Images searches, Evan V. Symon can be found on Facebook.

For more tiny things that are amazing upon closer examination, check out 8 Amazing Works of Art You Need a Microscope to Appreciate and 12 Things You'll Wish You'd Never Seen Under a Microscope.

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