What is it?

Discussion in 'Main Forum' started by Prometheus, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. Prometheus

    Prometheus Administrator Staff Member


    Hint: ruler markings are millimeters. Go!
  2. Ozgrom

    Ozgrom Member

    A very fancy gallstone?
  3. Fireeater

    Fireeater Member

    Looks kinda crystallized, makes me think of kidney stones, but that big?! Ow!
  4. Prometheus

    Prometheus Administrator Staff Member

    It's very crystalline, which is a rather unusual feature.
  5. Prometheus

    Prometheus Administrator Staff Member

    Almost forgot about this....

    It is indeed a gallstone! Score one for Ozgrom.

    Gallstones come in many shapes and sizes, but they usually don't have such obvious crystalline structure like this one does. I believe (but I'm not sure) it's cholesterol crystals. I know that microscopically cholesterol forms cuboid crystals with corners all at right angles to one another -- a feature you can see in the photo (the squared off "notches" on corners).

    Kidney stones are actually much smaller -- rarely more than a few millimeters across.... although they can feel like you're passing a rhinoceros.
  6. Ozgrom

    Ozgrom Member

    I knew it wasn't a kidney stone because my wife is a factory for those. It also did not appear to be a mineral or inorganic compound I am familiar with.

    Not to mention your doctor'y-ness made me lean heavily towards the human body as an origin. :)
  7. Pretty to look at, but nasty!
  8. Prometheus

    Prometheus Administrator Staff Member

    Interesting -- This thread has more views than almost any thread on the entire forum. So if you're fascinated by it, it seems you're not the only one! It is still one of the most interesting gallstones I have ever seen (and I have seen thousands).
  9. Prometheus

    Prometheus Administrator Staff Member

    Ok, here is a new one. It's something I caught by my garage door:


    Yes, it's a scorpion, but that's not the question. The question is what kind of scorpion is it? And is it harmless or not? I will tell you it's a fully grown adult, and the tape measurer is in both centimeters and inches, so take your pick.
  10. Prometheus

    Prometheus Administrator Staff Member

    Too hard? Ok, I'll give you the answer:

    This is an Arizona Bark Scorpion. It's one of the smallest scorpions -- adults are generally 2-3 inches long and the juveniles can fit inside the edges of a dime. They are commonly found around housing and development projects since it turns out we humans give them really great hiding places, with all the junk and debris we generate. They are one of the few scorpions that can climb -- buildings, trees, walls, or anything fairly rough. They cannot climb glass or plastic.

    However, despite their small size, this is actually the most venomous scorpion in North America. Compared to other scorpions they have very small, slender pincers, and so they depend on their venom to do most of their dirty work.

    While potentially lethal for humans, no one has died from a scorpion sting since the 1960's, and their venom is somewhere between that of a wasp and a black widow in toxicity. Black widow bites generally make you sick as hell for a few days, by the way, so try not to get bit. The sting from a Bark Scorpion is quite painful, and can cause numbness up to about a week. But the treatment for most is a cold compress and ibuprofen for pain -- that's it. Small children may need to be watched more carefully (and there is an antivenom for ones that get severe symptoms), but even most children do not need any formal medical care for stings.

    But I kill them anyway. This guy got a rubber mallet to the head not long after the photo was taken. It's my way of saying "No, you're not welcome here." So if you ever come to visit me, you may want to wear a helmet. ;)
  11. Prometheus

    Prometheus Administrator Staff Member

    Here's an photo of a microscopic slide I saw yesterday. It looked pretty surprised to see me. :eek:


    Bet you don't know what it really is, though...
  12. Ozgrom

    Ozgrom Member

    MY first guess is a tissue, I immediately thought of a carcinoma, but I have no idea what those reds dots are.
  13. Prometheus

    Prometheus Administrator Staff Member

    It is definitely tissue, but it's not a carcinoma or any kind of tumor. The plus signs on the bottom or the image are on the edge of the glass slide and just indicate that the glass is positively charged so that tissue sticks to it better. The image is enlarged but not magnified -- it's just a photo of a glass slide.

    And yeah, what are those red dots? ;) They might be import in figuring out what it is...
  14. Prometheus

    Prometheus Administrator Staff Member

    Ok, here's the answer:

    It's a cross section of an umbilical cord and a roll of amniotic membranes. The umbilical cord (normally) has 3 blood vessels, and the red dots are blood inside blood vessels. You can also make out smaller blood vessels in the membranes below the umbilical cord (which is on top). The membranes are rolled up like a cinnamon bun, which is standard procedure believe it or not...

    I wouldn't expect people to know this, but just FYI the cord is normal but the membranes were inflamed (something called acute chorioamnionitis).

  15. Ozgrom

    Ozgrom Member

    Wow, I would have never guessed!

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