Throughout history, the shapes and lustre of seashells have inspired many a poetic mind. Shells lend themselves remarkably well as metaphors for life, moods, and personalities. Some of us are open, others are closed like oysters. And if we can hear a sound that we imagine to be the sea, when we hold a shell to our ear, it is because of a structure in our internal ear named after the Greek word for spiral shell: the cochlea. The old Tahitians used to say that everything in this world has a shell. Perhaps they were right.