Outer space, or underwater?
This cluster of cells is a chain of diatoms (glass-like phytoplankton) called Asterionella. They get their name from the distinct star shape of the linked chains. Asterionella is one of more than 25 different kinds of phytoplankton that the Exploratorium Living Systems lab staff might spot in a single water sample collected here at Pier 15 during the Spring Bloom.

This work is part of the Ocean Observatory Project, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Maybe you can recognize
the symptoms and the signs
a broken heart
is very well defined
from a dead look in the eyes
and chest pain lingering
to an inability
to take joy in anything

gives a name
but the prognosis
doesn’t change

you feel the same

whether or not
you’re positive of what you’ve got
when a cure isn’t sure
it still hurts alot
(living to lie, we’re holding out hope though you feel like you might die.. you’ll survive)

Now you have to sort through all the options they have given you
relying on suggestions that don’t guarantee remission
like a pin cushion you’ve been stuck in many places
I know that it feels like an oasis compared to the crisis you’ve been faced with

I never thought it would take this long
to get over you
now you’re gone…


Today’s alga is asterionella.

Source: NOAA Photo Library on Flickr.

Asterionella is a genus of freshwater diatoms, usually forming star-shaped colonies of individuals.

A diatom is a unicellular alga of the Chromalveolata Kingdom which, to be honest, means nothing at all to me because this is clearly using a taxonomic system updated since my high school biology class. Anyway, diatoms are unique in that they have a hard cell wall made of silica called a frustule; although frustules take many shapes, they are usually almost bilaterally symmetrical, but never perfectly symmetrical. The fossil record suggests they appeared around the early Jurassic. Only male diatoms have flagella to get around with.

Asterionella organisms are unicellular, of course; each cell/organism is about 60-80 micrometres long (a human hair is 90 micrometres wide) and 2-4 micrometres wide. They are tiny. Usually eight such cells will gather into a colony, but sometimes as many as 20 individuals will attach. These colonies are usually star- or spiral-shaped. They have no way of moving themselves, and so rely on the whims of gravity and water current.

Posted by Christian H.