or Dinner With Biologists
We sat down to dinner. Thanked God for the food. Then Younger Daughter said excitedly:
YD: Did I tell you guys about my eyeball dissection?!
Husband (equally excited): Tell me about it! I have to give a lecture on the eye tomorrow! I was going to buy eyeballs, but I didn’t get around to ordering them.
YD: The surprising thing was that the cornea is milky and blue! First, they gave us safety scissors. We had to cut off the sclera and the fat and muscle surrounding the eye. It was almost impossible to do with safety scissors!
Me: I can tell this is going to be a really appropriate topic for dinner conversation.
Husband: Why did you have to cut the muscle off?
YD: We had to get into the back guts of the eyeball.
Me: (I put down my fork.)
Husband: It seems to me you could have just made an incision instead.
YD: It’s kind of tough material to make an incision through. And… safety scissors.
Husband: Does the eyeball collapse when you cut the incision?
Me: (I blanch.)
YD: The aqueous humor gushed out! After we got all the aqueous humor out we were supposed to cut the eyeball in half, but once again, safety scissors didn’t work.
Me: (I give up all hope of enjoying my dinner.)
Husband: You need a scalpel for that!
YD: I know, right? We were also able to dig around in the cornea and yank out the iris.
Me: (I try to decide to stick it out, but I can’t eat.)
YD: A really cool thing happens when you do remove the aqueous humor. You can see the tapetum.
Husband: Did you talk about the pigmented epithelial layer?
YD: No, but we saw the (something anatomical).
Husband: Did you see the optic disk?
YD: Was that the white thing hanging off the eyeball?
Me: (I lose my appetite completely.)
Husband: No. (He gives a description of the optic disk.) I was going to get some eyeballs, but I won’t have time to dissect one in class. I have to explain the whole thing in 50 minutes.
YD: That should take about ten minutes.
Husband: But I have to explain how the eye works and how the information is transmitted in the brain.
(Husband proceeds to give his lecture about how the left visual field projects onto the right side of the retina. This includes use of the words “optic chiasm.”)
Husband (in full professorial mode): Do you know how the receptors transform the inputs into signals? (He explains, using the words opsins and retinal. Then proceeds to talk about the pupillary light reflex, Edinger-Westphal nucleus, ciliary ganglion, acetylcholine, and muscarinic receptors.)
Husband: … the lens gets fat when objects are close, and then adjusts to thin whenever the object being focused on is far away.
Me (finally something I can understand): Then why can’t my eyes focus up close any more?!
Husband: Because, when you get old the lens gets all crusty and can’t focus as easily.
Me: I knew I should have done a better job at cleaning.
Husband: I have to explain ALL THIS tomorrow.
YD: (asks about other biological stuff)
Husband: (explains, using the words pyramidal motor system, extrapyramidal motor system, ATP, glucose, sphincter. YD is appreciative.)
Husband: Perhaps tomorrow we can talk about the vestibular system! Isn’t biology fun?!
Yes, the conversation did include that many exclamation points. Biologists can be very enthusiastic people.
And a dear reader asked recently if I actually write my family's conversations down. Why, yes, I do. More on that after I get the ChristmaHannuKwanzaa gifts bought and wrapped, cookies baked, cards sent, desk cleaned, menorah located, and stockings located.