Tears of laughter (left), watery eye tears, like from cutting an onion (right).
Tears are an expression that sprout from a broad range of emotions — from sorrow, to joy, to because of this damn commercial:
But are different tears chemically distinct, or are they all made of the same salty stuff?
“One day I wondered if my tears of grief would look any different from my tears of happiness — and I set out to explore them up close,” explains researcher Rose-Lynn Fisher on her website.
Thus, The Topography of Tears was born — a study of 100 tears photographed through a standard light microscope.
“The project began in a period of personal change, loss, and copious tears,” says Fisher. “The random compositions I find in magnified tears often evoke a sense of place, like aerial views of emotional terrain.”
Her tears revealed something amazing: that emotions alter the chemistry of water, hormones, minerals and other compounds when we cry.
So different kinds of tears are, in fact, made of different (amounts of) stuff. These photographs are both beautiful and, at times, unsurprisingly kind of sad. Click the arrows to see more, and click here to see more of Fischer’s unique work.