Tears Under Microscope

Has anyone given this phenomenon a good debunking/confirming? I couldn’t find it on Snopes, and something about it doesn’t sit well with me, but I can’t put my finger on it.

Interesting pictures and article.

I don’t think it necessarily needs debunking.
The article states that differences in slide preparation and technique result in different appearing images. Tears do have some different components based on what caused them.
While the author may be mildly inferring that tears caused by joy look different than tears caused by grief, I think she is making more of an artistic statement than a factual one.

“Additionally, because the structures seen under the microscope are largely crystallized salt, the circumstances under which the tear dries can lead to radically dissimilar shapes and formations, so two psychic tears with the exact same chemical makeup can look very different up close. “There are so many variables—there’s the chemistry, the viscosity, the setting, the evaporation rate and the settings of the microscope,” Fisher says.”

She admits that she did nothing about “all other things being equal”, she doesn’t control the variables, there’s no science in it.

The behaviour and structure of very small things, such as dead cells, degraded cell nucleus, and even just regular dust (dust from tyres, brakes, fire, exhaust, and that sort of thing) is largely unknown… Remember “new forms of life” lady… got these sorts of shots of very tiny things … dust and debris… and said that it looked like life… so it was life…
Well this is someone who sees the salt crystals look like life and says “yeah but they are just salt crystals”.

From the project page.

There is no phenomenon being described, so nothing to be confirmed or debunked.

Which phenomenon? That dried tears will look differently depending on a host of circumstances? Or that they make a nice artistic statement on emotion? What, exactly, do you think needs debunking here?

That that is indeed what dried tears look like under the microscope, I can attest to, myself. I’d bet they look even funkier under polarized light.

And that different chemical compositions of body fluids lead to different drying patterns isn’t just true, it’s the basis of medical tests and even home fertility test kits.

Do they have pictures of the dried Tears of a Clown, When There’s No One Around?

I hear they look Sad.

Having published microscopic images in peer-reviewed scientific articles, I can tell you that this is not how you’d go about it. First off, you’d need to make sure that your samples are collected and prepared in exactly the same way every time. Images also need to be collected and processed identically, ideally on the same microscope with all the same settings, if you want to do any sort of comparison between them. Next, if you see variability in each sample (like this chunk over here looks feathery, while this bit over here looks more like cubes), then you need to document and report that. The image that you actually put into your paper needs to be representative while illustrating the point you’re trying to make. You also need to state explicitly that it IS a representative image, or if it’s not, explain how and why.

She’d never make it through our journal club alive.

Do you often review art projects there?

Which has what to do with art?

This woman sounds like she’s trying to combine art and science.

While it is hinted at, I don’t see her claiming tears shed for different reasons have reproducibly different appearances when viewed as dried images under the microscope.

It would be interesting to see if anyone has confirmed under rigorous experimental conditions that reasons for tears (grief, joy etc.) can be discerned by their biochemical makeup. Color me doubtful.*

**Just don’t get all weepy about it…

Tongue-in-cheek, people.