8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope

A really powerful microscope is the sort of thing nobody would buy for entertainment, yet we can't shake the feeling that if we had one, we'd use it all the time. That's because, as we've proven several times over, the most mundane crap in your house is transformed into surreal, freaky, trippy, and sometimes terrifying works of art when viewed at a microscopic level. It's like seeing into an alternate universe.

Don't know what we mean? Well, check out the mind-blowing close-up views of ...


8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

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For decades, chalk was used in classrooms to spread knowledge to large groups of students, and in recess to spread the myth that hopscotch was fun. It turns into powder when you use it, so up close it probably just looks like, what, sand or something? It can't be too exciting ...

But Up Close:

PLOS Biology

It kinda looks like we should be worshiping it.

Huh. Apparently, chalk is a bunch of tiny little soccer balls ... if soccer balls were made out of dead bodies, that is.

Yes, those yarmulke-looking things are actually the shells of dead microscopic organisms like foraminifera mixed with the corpses of sea algae. So the next time you see a chalk outline of a murder victim, just know that it was created with the help of about a billion teeny-weeny corpses. It's pretty much the ultimate counter to that circle-of-life crap that Disney likes to shove down our throats.

Kosher Salt

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope

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Kosher salt is the slightly chunkier cousin of regular salt, so named due to its ability to soak up the blood of various meats, rendering them kosher. It's pretty much Dracula in salt form.

But Up Close:

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Museum of Science, Boston

The microscopic ancient Mayans sacrificed many innocents here.

Wait, when did Dracula leave Transylvania and move to an ancient temple? Because that's exactly what a crystal of kosher salt looks like. This isn't food; this is something a tiny little Indiana Jones would invade while searching for long-lost religious artifacts that will melt Nazis' faces off.

Dr. Gary Gaugler / Science Photo Library

We'll be shocked if that thing isn't filled with wee little Predators and Aliens.

And here's another shot, lest you think the first one was just a lucky angle. Nope: Kosher salt, across the board, is made out of tiny pyramids. So the next time the office racist starts ranting and rambling about some vast Zionist conspiracy, show them these pictures as proof that, if they've ever ingested kosher salt, they now have little Illuminati pyramids floating around inside them. Then take cover, because exploding heads tend to be quite messy and sticky.

Orange Juice

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

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No false advertising here: This is juice, and it is very much orange. No other juice is that straightforward. If you ever call tomato juice "red juice," for example, you're either a baby, insane, or a straw man we just created for the sake of this joke.

But Up Close:

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope

This is what a screwdriver looks like if you replace the vodka with LSD.

As it turns out, orange juice only contains the slightest hint of orange. In fact, it looks more like Jackson Pollock's busted windshield than something you pour down your gullet whenever you're sick with the flu.

This picture is courtesy of our old friends at Bevshots, who magnify dried droplets of various drinks and then photograph the results. They tend to stick to alcoholic drinks mainly, but occasionally venture into the world of non-booze, as long as you can easily mix it with booze, as is the case here.

So now you know; enjoy a tall glass of yellow-purple-blue-green-red-pink-orange-brown-silver glass shards, liquefied into juice form and then turned solid orange somehow, in the morning. It's part of a complete breakfast.


8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
Emmanuel Boutet

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Beautiful, precious, unique specks of icy poetry, perfect to romp around in with childlike joy. Or miserable little tundras that cause mass chaos at the grocery store, back up traffic for miles upon miles, and force you to waste precious hours shoveling out your driveway. Take your pick.

But Up Close:

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
Science Musings

That big one in the center has acne.

Oh, bullshit; no way that's real. That's one of those construction-paper deals that schoolchildren make when the teacher has a migraine or a hangover, right? Nope, it's very much an actual snowflake in all its microscopic glory.

But here's the kicker: It doesn't even look like a good snowflake. Seriously, you'd think a real snowflake, even up close, would still look the friggin' part. Instead, it looks like something little Johnny crapped out in two minutes so he could get back to eating the clay. We all know nature isn't perfect, but we're shocked that something so beautiful and crystalline would actually garner us a C-minus in art class.

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
U. S. Department of Agriculture

"Now, Creation, you can do better than that. No recess for you today."

Insect Anatomy

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

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But Up Close:

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Wikimedia Commons

Dear lord, someone squared a scorpion.

Let's just say that if you weren't running away from these unlikable pests beforehand, you're about to start real soon. Insect body parts, as seen through a microscope, are pretty much the stuff of horror flicks. Take the tiny fruit fly, for example. Annoying, but hardly menacing, right? But then you look at the above close-up photo of their feet and they suddenly look like they can fuck up you and everything you love with one well-timed swing.

The bugs that can hurt you are no less terrifying. Ticks spread their filthy Lyme disease by stabbing you with their mouths. The part of a tick's mouth used to stab prey is called a hypostome, and it ain't pretty.

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
MicroLab Gallery

"Oh yeah, like your tongues are so fun to look at."

That's the black-eyed tick, not that it matters much. A tick is a tick, and they all hate you. Now observe the mouth-knife of the deer tick:

University of Minnesota

Easily the most dangerous insect in any prison fight.

So yeah, ticks fucking stab you, in case you needed one more reason to despise them. But at least their weapon looks cool. Here's a mosquito's stinger up close:

UNSW 5 o0kV 13.3mm x550 SE 9/30/2009 100um Ben Knight-Gregson

Turns out the dreaded mosquito is content to kick our ass with a goddamn Capri Sun drinking straw. So when you manage to destroy one with a well-timed book smash, consider it a mercy kill.


8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images

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It's water. Pretty much the entire planet is made out of it. It's the reason Earth isn't just some barren rock dancing lonely around a gigantic space furnace. It's the No. 1 reason you're alive today, unless you drown in it.

But Up Close:

It's not so much the water itself that's freaky; it's the inhabitants. All 247 quadrillion of them (give or take).

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
N. Sullivan / NOAA / Department of Commerce

So like the Bronx, but less salty.

These are diatoms, a catchall term for the various dead algae bits floating around the ocean and, almost inevitably, down your throat. Yep, if you've ever swallowed seawater, this was your dinner. And, to be fair, some of it looks delicious, especially that doughnut-looking fellow slightly above center. It looks like a chocolate-blueberry concoction that you could have for dinner while convincing your sad ass that the blueberry flavoring counts as your fruit intake for the day.

Unfortunately, the rest of it looks like old cigars and various types of industrial waste.

Fly Ash

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
Sigma Sales Company

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Fly ash is one of those things you see all the time, but probably have no idea what it does. It's basically ground-up coal that we use to reinforce concrete. So even though it just looks like a bunch of dirt, it's pretty much the only reason sidewalks, streets, and the foundation of your house are still standing. So the next time you see a pile of ash just hanging around, remember to thank it. Just don't get too close, cuz it's kind of incredibly radioactive.

But Up Close:

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Did someone just shine a halogen light in our eyes?

Fly ash, underneath it all, looks exactly like a dead planet. Its surface is littered with craters and barren, rocky islands of varying shape and size, the lack of atmosphere and sunlight result in a cold, all-black surface, and any life that somehow manages to emerge is almost immediately extinguished. Either that or it's a whimsical bubble machine party ... it depends on what kind of imagination you have, we suppose.

Shark Skin

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
Albert kok

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Sharks are fascinating creatures: They die if they ever stop moving, they can smell one tiny drop of blood in a body of water the size of an Olympic pool, and babies will eat each other in the womb until only one remains. But their skin? It's just dull gray flesh, so who cares, right? Skin has to be the one and only uninteresting part of a shark.

But Up Close:

Nope. Their skin is extremely interesting. Namely because it's made out of teeth.

8 Ordinary Things That Look Insanely Cool Under a Microscope
George Lauder

The only reason you rarely see sharks at petting zoos.

Great holy fuck. This shouldn't be part of an animal. This thing is literally nothing but teeth. Its teeth are probably covered in tiny teeth.

Those small scales, by the way, are called denticles, and they help the shark reduce drag while it swims, allowing it to move around the ocean and eat everything as smoothly as possible.

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Australian Museum

If you zoom in on these close enough, you probably find more teeth.

Dustin Koski would also like to warn people of the numerous ways Breaking Bad is coming true. Evan V. Symon is a moderator in the Cracked Workshop. Here is his Facebook and his new book, The End of the Line.

For more awesome images, check out The 8 Manliest Images on the Internet and 15 Images You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped.

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