Teardrops might not seem too interesting, but within these little beads of saltiness and sadness there’s some pretty interesting stuff going on.
The project started with some good old scientific curiosity. On a Medium blog post, Mikkers explained “science says that every tear has a different viscosity and composition. All tears contain a variety of biological substances including oils, antibodies and enzymes suspended in salt water. But how does this relate to the 'real world.'”
"This tear is harvested after cutting white onions." Maurice Mikkers.
There are three different types of tears: emotional tears, associated with feelings of sadness or joy; reflex tears, which result from irritation of the eye; and basal tears, the ever-present moisturiser that helps keep the eye wet and healthy.
Mikkers wanted to see for himself whether each of these had observable differences when placed under a microscope. He spent an evening experimenting with some friends, whereby he caused them to shed tears – either by cutting onions, eating a hot chili, through sadness or tears of joy. After collecting the drops with a micropipette, he placed them onto a microscope slide and left them to crystallize for a few minutes.
Although there were no clearly discernible patterns between the different types of tears, Mikkers managed to capture the intricate and varying structures of the tears' salt crystals. As he concluded, “So I think its safe to say that the differences in tears that are seen are not showing differences between the origins of crying... Nevertheless they are beautiful to look at.”