10/31/2012 09:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Hidden Beauty (PHOTO)

A high school friend just sent a devastating image of a collapsed beachside bar at the Jersey Shore, pummeled by the waves. It's the spot where my classmates celebrated a joint 50th birthday party this summer. You can't open your computer today without checking out Superstorm Sandy images. So it was a breath of fresh air, so to speak, when I got one non-rainy image in my inbox yesterday, sent by the Wellcome Collection in London. I receive their monthly newsletter of fascinating scientific images.

As the newsletter said:

[This image] was on our long-list and everyone loved the vibrant colours and repeating patterns, until we realised exactly what it was and one of our judges (no names) referred to it as "bum wallpaper." The image by Spike Walker is a section through mammalian rectum showing groups of mucus-secreting goblet cells surrounded by a central duct. The Mucus is stained Alcian blue.

When I asked the Wellcome if I could use the image on my blog, they said I could, for free! I responded that the last time I posted a beautiful cell image, my kids were upset because it was part of the pathology report of my benign breast cyst. I wanted to do an inside/outside kind of thing (my breasts from the inside next to my breasts from the outside), but my son nixed that plan. In my thank-you email to the Wellcome, I thanked them for the photo and added, "My breast is as pretty as your rectum." Of course, I meant microscopically and stained, but Eliza, my 12-year-old, said when she saw the email, "Now you have to stop. It's not even funny. It's just weird." Actually, just pretty. Check out the bum wallpaper:


Credit: Spike Walker, Wellcome Collection