19th Century 'Elixir of Long Life' Found
Dr. Jan Michels, Christian-Albrechts-Universi
It might sound a bit cramped, but there's an entire world of organisms that can call a drop of water their home. And, up close, they look practically out-of-this-world. Each year, the Nikon Small World competition sets out to collect some of the best microphotography. Take a look at some of this year's most stunning images of creatures that live in water. This photo from Dr. Jan Michels of Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel in Kiel, Germany shows Temora longicornis, a marine copepod, from its ventral view at 10 times magnification.
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Frank Fox, Fachhochschule Trier/Nikon Small W
This microphotograph shows the diatom Melosira moniliformis at 320 times its size.
Jonathan Franks, University of Pittsburgh/Nik
This algae biofilm photographed up-close makes what's usually referred to as "pond scum" look like art.
Michael Shribak and Dr. Irina Arkhipova, Mari
This Philodina roseola rotifer was alive and well when this microphotograph was taken.
Dr. Ralf Wagner/Nikon Small World
This microphoto shows a water flea flanked by green algae.
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Warfare in a water droplet! This microphoto shows a Hydra capturing a water flea at 40-times magnification.
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Dr. John H. Brackenbury, University of Cambri
One of the ultimate human pests -- the mosquito -- begins life as larvae, here shown suspended in a single droplet of water.
Gerd A. Guenther/Nikon Small World
Ever wonder what sex between two freshwater ciliates looks like magnified at 630 times its actual size? Now you know!
Joan Rohl, Institute for Biochemistry and Bio
This freshwater water flea is shown at 100 times its actual size.
Wolfgang Bettighofer/Nikon Small World
Closterium lunula, a kind of green alga, is shown here. This particular specimen came from a bog pond, according to the photographer.
John Gaynes, University of Utah/Nikon Small W
While it may resemble a visitor from outer space, this is what a zebrafish embryo looks like under a microscope, three days after being fertilized.
Dr. Carlos Alberto Muñoz, University of Puer
This microscopic crustacean appears yellowish-orange because it is mounted in Canada Balsam with crystals and other artifacts.
The elixir of long life is a bitter, alcohol-heavy concoction — if you trust a 150-year-old bottle unearthed at a hotel construction site in New York’s Lower East Side.
The site, once a German beer garden and music hall called the Atlantic Garden, contained hundreds of liquor bottles dating from as far back as the 1850s.
Among them was a greenish glass vial that was believed to help people cheat death.
Intrigued, the team behind the find at Chrysalis Archaeology tracked down the historic recipe in Germany. They found it in a 19th-century medical guide.
The ingredients included aloe, gentian, rhubarb, Spanish saffron, Zedoary (white turmeric), and one part water to three parts alcohol.
“Many of the ingredients are still used in herbal medicine or as natural remedies,” Alyssa Loorya, the president of Chrysalis, told Discovery News.
Aloe has an anti-inflammatory effect, gentian root and powdered rhubarb help digestion, the Zedoary (white turmeric) spice is said to purify the blood and help cell regeneration, while Spanish saffron is used to treat a number of health conditions, including depression.
With the tiny Elixir of Life bottle held less than an ounce, it’s likely that the bitter potion was taken one drop at a time.
Loorya’s team also unearthed another bottle that contained a popular 19th-century medicinal drink.
It was labeled Dr. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters and it was indeed bitter.
The drink turned out to contain gentian root, orange peel, cinnamon, anise, coriander seed, cardamom seed, peruvian bark, gum kino, grain alcohol, water and sugar.
“We read Dr. Hostetter’s was so popular that it was served by the glass in bars throughout the U.S., including Alaska,” Loorya said.
Since both the Elixir of Life and Dr. Hostetter’s formulas required copious amounts of alcohol as a medium, “it may have been difficult for consumers to determine whether the active ingredients were actually effective,” Loorya added.
To discover the drinks’ actual taste and effects, Chrysalis is planning to brew them by the end of the month.
“We’re hoping to have a tasting party,” Loorya said.
Meanwhile, it is possible to find the “miracolous” recipes on DNAinfo.
Image: The vial containing the Elixir of Long life (left) and the bottle containing Dr Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters (right). Credit: Chrysalis Archaeology.