Scale dependent Resolution. A) On the molecular level, individual molecules and aggregates thereof can be distinguished and are referred to by using count-nouns (i.e. 'molecule'; 'molecule aggregate'). B) On the organelle level, individual organelles can be distinguished and are referred to by using count-nouns (i.e. 'organelle'). Individual molecules and aggregates thereof, however, are usually not distinguished anymore and one refers to them by using mass-nouns, such as 'portion of molecular substance'. One can distinguish extra-organelle from intra-organelle portions of molecular substance. C) On the cellular level, individual cells can be distinguished and are referred to by the count-nouns 'cell' or 'cell cluster with ECM' (or its resolution-dependent countable representation 'cell cluster with portion of ECM'). Individual organelles, however, are usually not distinguished anymore. Instead, one refers to the extracellular matter as non-countable 'portion of ECM', whereas the intracellular matter represents a granular mixture of non-countable organelles and cytoplasm and is referred to as 'portion of organelles and cytoplasm'. Both represent mass-nouns. D) On the organ level, individual cells are usually not distinguished anymore. Instead, one refers to the matter contained in organs as a 'portion of tissue', which is the resolution-dependent non-countable representation of 'cell aggregate with ECM'. 'Portion of tissue' therewith represents a mass-noun. ECM: extracellular matrix.
Vogt BMC Bioinformatics 2010 11:289 doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-289