96 thoughts on “What is this?

      1. I was using my iPad mini at the time; press & hold the “&” key to get the alternative-character pop-up — just “§” in this case.

        The “§” I just typed (now on my iMac) is the key to the left of the “1” key.

        On Windows PCs, you should be able to use [Alt]+0167 (with NumLk on if necessary; ie, hold down [Alt] as you type the numbers on the alternative numeric keypad). 

        On another mobile OS, who knows… ?


          1. I use Windows Character Map, which has a huge selection of useful characters* for any occasion. I can’t remember where I first found it, as I now keep it on my lower taskbar ready for use. I’ve also copied and pasted frequently used characters into a notepad that I keep handy.

            Update: click on the “help” button top right in Windows Explorer, and enter “character map” in the search box (or enter “character map” in the “start”, “search” box), then click on “character map”.

            *Trying hard here to be a useful character myself ;-).

            1. §
              And, most useful you are, too! Thank you, Haggis.
              Funny thing: Character map allows me to find, copy and paste the symbol, but it also provides the same directions Ant did, using [alt]+0167, and that still doesn’t work. Maybe I can learn how to make a macro for a shortcut.
              Thanks, all!

              1. Are you typing the numbers using the numeric keys across the top of the keyboard? That won’t work.

                You have to use the separate numeric keypad at the right of the keyboard, or, if you don’t have that, set NumLk ([Fn]+[ScrLk] on my ThinkPad) and use the “virtual” keypad (789/UIO/JKL/M – the letter keys should have the corresponding numbers on them). (You also have to toggle NumLk off to type normally afterwards! 6therw5se 5t 3662s 352e th5s.)

                Windows Character Map : Start > Run… > “charmap” > OK


                PS. Isn’t it so much easier in Apple OSs?! 😉

              2. Glad to be of some assistance. I had not noticed the alt+0167 instruction, so I tried it just now, and guess what, it doesn’t work. However,I can’t find a NumLock key on this laptop, nor can I remember where the alternative numeric keys are (but see here for a diagram http://fsymbols.com/keyboard/windows/alt-codes/laptop/). I’ve also tried using Fn+Alt and the alternative numeric keys, but to no avail.

              3. Oops. Last comment was in response to Ant’s instruction to use number lock. As for Apple, I’ll get back there, eventually, but it’s going to be awhile. Apple was my first, though: LC III followed by MacBook, in early to mid 1990s.

            2. Same on Linux, use Gnome Character Map which probably comes with most distros. I assume there will be a KDE equivalent for those using the other common desktop.

  1. Ditto on butterfly or moth scales. Note that the number of “prongs” on a scale (if a scale) appears to range from three to five; makes me wonder why.

      1. A worthwhile alternative (clocking in at £15) is “Seven Deadly Colours: The Genius of Nature’s Palette and How it Eluded Darwin” Andrew Parker (Author)
        ISBN-10: 0743259416
        ISBN-13: 978-0743259415
        A good couple of evenings reading about the fancy tricks that are used to give colour to the natural world.
        (ISBNs are for the paperback version, from the tax-dodging online bookshop who are so annoyingly convenient)

  2. They look like microscopic, multicellular scales, but I cannot tell whether they are plant-sourced or insect/animal. I wanted to guess some sort of fruitfly, but I’ve seen their vascularized, membranous wings, so that’s not it.

    1. I can see you’re a literalist. Reminds me of a scene in the movie ‘Wilt’ where a detective says “What’s this?” and thrusts a diagram that looks irresistibly like a naked woman in a pool of blood at Wilt (Griff Rhys-Jones) and he replies sarcastically “It’s a Rorshach ink-blot test”.

  3. I was going to say dragonfly wing scales but then I saw “no prize” and I pouted. Can’t you at least give away vain titles? Like “Lord of the Moth” or something…

  4. I take back my previous answer: knowing JAC, this is a cat enjoying gourmet food while wearing cowboy boots (and thinking about the subject of free will).

  5. As a hobbyist microphotographer, I recognized the artist even if I didn’t identify the subject. Mr. Krebs’ work is also prominent in the Nikon Small World competition, and is always worth a look.

  6. Mobile users can’t find “#35”. There’s nothing to indicate that comment. And scrolling around on a smart phone it’s not easy to find things. 🙁

    Can you link to the comment in the OP instead?

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