Gossip meeting “My latest microscopical acquisition”

Saturday 13th January 2018

The first meeting of 2018 opened with an innovation that arose from chatter in the Club’s Facebook group, PowerPoint presentations sent by members who live too far away to attend or have items too awkward to carry. This was well received and will be encouraged at suitable meetings in future.

Gordon Brown’s latest acquisition was far too big to bring to the Museum, so he sent a PowerPoint presentation to allow us to admire his photomicrography bench, built by R & J Beck Ltd for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in 1953–1954.

Click the arrows to see the next or previous slide; click the symbol at bottom right for a larger version

Brian Stevenson lives in the USA, so he sent a PowerPoint presentation of his latest acquisition, a brass Nachet et Fils “Grand Modele” c. 1855, a complex microscope with lots of accessories. This French company collaborated with Vickers in the 1970s, and continued in business as NACHET VISION until 2010.

Click the arrows to see the next or previous slide; click the symbol at bottom right for a larger version

After some interesting discussion of the presentations, the members introduced the items that they had brought, and then we were able to examine and discuss them.

Dennis Fullwood brought some interesting books and a microphotograph on a slide.

Dennis FullwoodDennis Fullwood

The Folio Society edition of Robert Hooke’s Micrographia includes full-size reproductions of all 38 plates.

Flea drawing by HookeFlea drawing by Hooke

Desmids by HaeckelDesmids by Haeckel

The other books that Dennis brought were Freshwater Benthic Diatoms of Central Europe by Marco Cantonati, Martyn G Kelly & Horst Lange-Bertalot, and Parasitic Wasps by Donald L. J. Quicke.

Dennis also brought a slide that he had recently purchased on eBay, a microphotograph of Professor Quekett. The glass was badly cut but the photomicrograph was good, and we could admire it using a 4× Planapo objective on one of the Club’s Zeiss Standard microscopes and displayed on the large television.

Slide with microphotograph of Professor QuekettSlide with microphotograph of Professor Quekett

Microphotograph of Professor QuekettMicrophotograph of Professor Quekett

Over Christmas, Pam Hamer enjoyed an Aldi Christmas pudding with flecks of gold and wondered what the flecks would look like under  microscope.

Pam HamerPam Hamer

Mini Christmas puddingsMini Christmas puddings [by Pam Hamer]

She prepared slides using Entellan or glycerine mountants and a dry mount. The flecks turned out to be effect pigments (as used in eye shadow) with a layer of titanium dioxide on a silicate substrate. Pam used the Club’s Prior stereomicroscope to show her slides with transmitted and reflected light.

Slides of gold pigmentsSlides of gold pigments

Gold flakes (unmounted, transmitted light)Gold flakes (unmounted, transmitted light) [by Pam Hamer]

Gold flakes (unmounted, reflected light)Gold flakes (unmounted, reflected light) [by Pam Hamer]

Gold flakes (mounted, transmitted light)Gold flakes (mounted, transmitted light) [by Pam Hamer]

Gold flakes (mounted, reflected light)Gold flakes (mounted, reflected light) [by Pam Hamer]

Information on the Kobo Products website shows that different colours are produced by different thicknesses of the titanium dioxide layer. At 70 nm a pearl colour is produced, then a slightly thicker layer gives a gold colour. Iron oxides can be used to give a more golden colour.

Pam also brought a reflected-light illuminator, perhaps made by Cooke, Troughton & Simms (CTS), that has a male RMS thread for attaching to a body tube or nosepiece and a female RMS thread for an objective. The two black tubes allow for focused or unfocused light, and the chrome-plated slider introduces a prism or mirror into the light path.

CTS reflected-light adapterCTS reflected-light adapter

Jacky McPherson’s latest acquisition is a Zeiss Standard (similar to the ones the Club uses) equipped for phase contrast.

The microscope was fitted with a Wotan 6v 10w G4 halogen bulb (probably the original) which failed over the holiday. While waiting for the proper Osram 64223 replacement, Jacky found an unbranded 6v 10w G4 with a reflector. After removing the reflector it just about fitted, and Jacky took this photo of the diatom Pinnularia viridis under phase contrast:

Pinnularia viris (phase contrast, LED bulb)Pinnularia viris (phase contrast, unbranded bulb) [by Jacky McPherson]

When the Osram bulb arrived, Jacky fitted it and took this photo under the same conditions:

Pinnularia viris (phase contrast, halogen bulb)Pinnularia viris (phase contrast, Osram bulb) [by Jacky McPherson]

So far, nobody in the Facebook group or at the meeting has been able to explain the colour difference. It was not possible to centre the unbranded bulb because of the size of its envelope and the position of its filament.

Wotan, unbranded and Osram 6v 10w G4 bulbsWotan, unbranded and Osram 6v 10w G4 bulbs (left to right) [by Jacky McPherson]

Jacky has been advised that her lighting is not adjusted properly, and that diatoms are not a good test of phase contrast, so she has tried a very thin specimen, cheek epithelial cells:

Cheek epithelial cell (phase contrast)Cheek epithelial cell (phase contrast) [by Jacky McPherson]

Mary Morris hasn’t acquired anything recently, but she brought some very nice slides from her collection and used the Club’s latest acquisition to show them. In 2015 at the Warnham LNR excursion, John Tolliday impressed us with a C-mount video camera (14 megapixel 1/2.3 inch sensor) fitted with a 0.7–4.5× zoom industrial inspection lens. Other members have bought them since, and now the Club has one too. The small LED ring-light is not good for use with slides, but it is easy to use other lamps.

Mary MorrisMary Morris

Mary Morris’s slidesMary Morris’s slides

Stephen Parker has been searching for a research-level Prior (James Swift) MP3500 polarising microscope for about 20 years. He recently acquired one that was complete apart from the circular adapter for the middle of the rotating stage to support small slides. This seems to be missing from all used MP3500 microscopes and is impossible to find on eBay. Then at Microscopium in October 2017 Stephen found a bag full of the adapters, so if any other users of the MP3500 want an adapter, Stephen can provide one.

Stephen ParkerStephen Parker with his recently-acquired adapter

Stephen also brought a wooden box of slides that he bought at the Antique Scientific Instrument Fair in October 2017, and used his Newton Nm1 portable field microscope to show them.

Stephen Parker’s exhibitStephen Parker’s exhibit

Robert Ratford recently drove down to Southampton University, which had offered two Leitz 1212 rotary microtomes and one American Optical 820 rotary microtome free to any Quekett member who could collect them. While he was there, Robert spotted a copper hotplate for slides on its way to a skip and rescued it. It was made by Laboratory Thermal Equipment Ltd, who are still in business but don’t make slide hotplates any more.

Robert RatfordRobert Ratford

Paul Smith brought a kit that used to be sold by the Science Museum for making a cardboard microscope that can magnify up to 30×.

Paul SmithPaul Smith

Science Museum microscope kitScience Museum microscope kit

Bryan Tabor bought a small Olympus digital camera about 20 years ago that was easy to carry around and worked very well, but it is now showing its age. Inspired by John Tolliday’s article on the Olympus Tough TG-4 on pp. 16–20 of the April 2017 issue of the Bulletin, Bryan has now bought a Olympus Tough TG-5 with the LG-1 Light Guide and other accessories. In “microscope” mode, it can magnify up to 44×. It came with only brief instructions, and the comprehensive PDF manual that can be downloaded from Olympus warns that it was written for a pre-production camera that may not be the same as the final marketed version.

Bryan TaborBryan Tabor

John Tolliday explained that acupuncture needles are very fine but are too flexible to be useful for arranging the appendages of very small insects. He had found a way to make them suitable by inserting most of the length into a glass capillary tube and then heating the tube with a cigarette lighter designed for walkers so that it melts and holds the needle in place. Commercial microloops are too big for picking up tardigrades, and John explained how to make suitable ones with nichrome wire. John’s brief talk would probably make a good article for the Bulletin.

John TollidayJohn Tolliday

Micro probes and loopsMicro probes and loops

Nigel Williams showed a simple dissecting microscope produced by Prior, London, serial no. 12129, retailed by W&J George and Becker (1944–1954). To demonstrate it, he used a slide of the head of a sawfly (Trichiosoma lucorum) mounted without pressure by Fred Enock, lit by a free-standing IKEA Jansjö LED work lamp.

Nigel WilliamsNigel Williams

Simple microscope by BakerEnock slide on a dissecting microscope by Prior

Enock slide labelEnock slide label [by Nigel Williams]

Head of sawfly, by EnockHead of sawfly, by Enock [by Nigel Williams]

Alan Wood brought an uncommon Olympus lamp, the VM-LSG Reflected Light Illuminator. It is a very similar concept to the Bausch & Lomb Nicholas Illuminator, mountable on the transformer or on the stand of a stereomicroscope, and provides a bright focusable circle of light that is good for revealing surface structure. He bought it for just £3, extremely dusty and with lots of paint marks on the mains lead, from a stand at the AES Annual Exhibition in September 2017. The transformer (TL), lamp house and bulb (8-C103) are also used on other Olympus equipment.

Alan WoodAlan Wood [by John Tolliday]

Alan compared the VM-LSG illuminator and an IKEA Jansjö LED wall/clamp spotlight using his Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope and a feather, a coin and a screw with dirt in the threads.

Olympus VM-LSG Reflected Light IlluminatorOlympus VM-LSG Reflected Light Illuminator

The VM-LSG is present in only two of Alan’s collection of Olympus microscope documents, the VM brochure from 1980 and instructions from 1985. It is a nice illuminator, and it is a shame that there are not many of them around.

Olympus VM-LSG Reflected Light IlluminatorOlympus VM-LSG Reflected Light Illuminator (from 1980 VM brochure)

Alan also showed the 2018 Royal Microscopical Society calendar, which includes photos by 3 Quekett members (Howard Lynk, Jeremy Poole and Alan).

Geometric microengraving on a slide by Washington TeasdaleGeometric microengraving on a slide by Washington Teasdale [by Howard Lynk]

Head of Salticus scenicusSEM of head of Salticus scenicus (Clerck) [by Jeremy Poole]

Wood from teak (Tectona grandis)Tangential section of wood from teak (Tectona grandis L.f.), stained with safranin, slide by Ernie Ives, 10× objective

Report and most photographs by Alan Wood

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