Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

The incredible beauty of crying: what your tears look like under a microscope

tears hero.PNG

Unfortunately, most of the time, when we cry, it's not for a pleasant reason. Maybe we've had an argument with a friend, or a tough day at work, or are just feeling weepy and need to let our feelings out. Crying can make everything better. But did you ever stop to think about those tears we hastily wipe away with our fingers, each drop quickly relegated to a tissue and forgotten about? 

One man did, and the results are beautiful.

Dutch artist Maurice Mikkers, a qualified Medical Laboratory Analyst, decided he needed to use both his creative and technical side after graduating. Now a professional photographer, Mikkers uses his scientific background to explore the mundane - and unearth its hidden beauty. 

After stubbing his toe on day, Mikkers got the idea of examining his tears under microscopic lenses - and the result intrigued him so much, he embarked on a whole series of microscopic tear photos, which he called 'The Imaginarium of Tears'.

Tears

In an essay on Medium, Mikkers explained the origin of his project.

"It all started on the 10th of January 2015, when I was working on the crystallisation of Diclofenac. When walking back from the kitchen to my desk with the crystalised Diclofenac slide. I bumped my toe really hard against the table. So while in pain, there was was only one thing on my mind; Capturing the tear rolling down my cheek with a micro pipet. Right after it was captured, I dispensed the tear it into little drops on a microscope slide. Hoping it would maybe also crystallise just like my other subjects and show its true beauty.

"At that moment I had no clue what technique I had to use to make the tear visible. So I tried several light techniques underneath my microscope. The first technique was the bright-field technique (the one you often use in high school). Next up was the polarisation technique (which I was using for myother crystallisation images). Both gave very beautiful and different results, but something was missing. So I installed the dark-field condensor in my microscope to see what it would do.

"I still remember that moment when I was looking trough the microscope, after the the dark-field condensor was installed. I was stunned, the tear lid right up on the dark background. It was shaped like a little planet, and its landscape showed beautiful patterns and shapes. At that moment I was surprised and “hooked” at the same time. And felt like a ‘planet tear'."

Tears

Mikkers' fascination with the result led to him vigorously cutting onions to capture more tears, and over the coming weeks, he recruited volunteers to make themselves cry and to see what their tears would look like up close, from a friend whose father was very ill, to his sister, who was feeling frustrated at work.

Tears

Speaking to Indy100, Mikkers said that he wanted to see if different types of tears formed differently. But while he found no difference in the tears those whose family members were sick, and those had simply eaten something spicy, every single tear was different "because of the oils, enzymes and antibodies unique to the composition of each tear."

Tears

One day, Mikkers would like us all to be able to order a tear kit for our own home use, so we can capture our tears, whether of happiness or sadness.

As he writes, "Hopefully one day I will find a way to give you the option of sending in your tear. Because I believe everyone should be able to share his or her tears. Because tears are stories. And stories connect us on a deeper level. So since everyone has their own story, I hope that I can visualise your story in the near future even if you are not able to donate it on location."

Tears

You can read more about Mikkers here, and watch a video of how he conducts the experiments below.

Related

12107451_996716233707633_833602482_n.jpg

Meet the new wave yogis shunning the mat

girl_wine_rt.jpg

Generation XXX: is there such a thing as feminist porn?

addiction.jpg

Five ways to tell if you’re addicted to Facebook

308_feat_prickly_lead.jpg

Why are we all so prickly nowadays?

ThinkstockPhotos-141733451.jpg

The gender pay gap extends to sellers on eBay

ONLINE_ARTICLE.jpg

This is what 30 looks like to women across the world

SELFRIDGES.Rainbow Bagels (4).jpg

Rainbow bagels are here to brighten up your breakfast

books.jpg

The most gripping new reads of March

power of makeup.jpg

Burn survivor uses #powerofmakeup to share empowering message

Comments

More

New social platform wants to make sure nobody’s lonely this Christmas

“It’s like Tinder, but for Christmas”

by Amy Lewis
07 Dec 2016

How to buy bubbles: 8 incredible Champagnes under £30

Fantastic fizz

by Amy Swales
07 Dec 2016

Holiday hack gets you 18 days off work in a row, using just 9 days

And for our next trick we’ll turn 9 days of annual leave into 18…

by Kayleigh Dray
07 Dec 2016

Say hello to London’s first ever vegan fried chicken shop

Sounds impossible, is actually genius.

by Amy Lewis
07 Dec 2016

Revealed: the 25 best companies to work for in 2017

Time to brush up on your CV?

by Sarah Biddlecombe
07 Dec 2016

13 white wines that aren't Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc

Sick of the usual suspects?

by Victoria Gray
07 Dec 2016

You need to watch this unlikely Christmas advert hit

We’re not crying, we just have something in our eye…

by Kayleigh Dray
07 Dec 2016

Your new £5 note might be worth £50,000 if it has this secret doodle

There are four notes in circulation with a tiny hidden addition

by Amy Swales
07 Dec 2016

Son shares mum's struggle to sell crafts: Twitter comes to the rescue

This may restore (some of) your faith in 2016.

by Amy Lewis
06 Dec 2016

The Great Christmas Bake Off: The eight contestants making a comeback

The Great Christmas Bake Off is reuniting all our old faves…

by Kayleigh Dray
06 Dec 2016