Bournemouth Natural Science Society

Joint meeting with the Quekett Microscopical Club

Saturday 6th July 2019

The meeting was held in Bournemouth in the Lecture Hall of the Victorian building that houses the Bournemouth Natural Science Society and its museum, with exhibits from members of both organisations. The museum’s collections include natural history specimens (plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, eggs and shells), fossils, rocks, minerals and archaeological artefacts including a 2500 year old Egyptian mummy in its sarcophagus.

Bournemouth Natural Science Society MuseumBournemouth Natural Science Society Museum

Jacque Bainbridge brought a wide variety of specimens, including a butterfly, britttle-stars, fossils and insects in amber, for us to admire using magnifiers, a small Bresser stereomicroscope and a Lomo МБС-9 stereomicroscope.

Jacquie BainbridgeJacque Bainbridge with a visitor

Jacquie Bainbridge’s exhibitJacque Bainbridge’s exhibit

Jacquie Bainbridge’s specimensJacque Bainbridge’s specimens

Joan Bingley brought a small stereomicroscope with built-in illumination so that we could examine 2 very different types of sand that she collected on her recent holiday in Iceland. One sample was black, which is normal for Iceland, and the other was yellow.

Thanya Nirantasook with Joan Bingley’s exhibitThanya Nirantasook with Joan Bingley’s exhibit

Joan also brought the Quekett Shop with books, notelets, leaflets and ties for sale, and CDs and spare copies of the Bulletin and the Journal to give away.

Quekett ShopQuekett Shop

Ray Chapman brought a set of Open University slides of thin sections of rock that we could admire using his Vickers M70 polarising microscope. With its polariser, analyser and rotating stage, we could see the colours that geologists can use to identify minerals in thick rock sections. Ray also brought the Open University set of rock samples and 2 relevant books, Atlas of igneous rocks and their textures by W. S. MacKenzie, C. H. Donaldson & C. Guilford and Atlas of sedimentary rocks under the microscope by A. E. Adams, W. S. MacKenzie & C. Guilford. He also brought a huge calcite crystal to demonstrate birefringence by showing a double image of printed material viewed through the crystal.

Ray ChapmanRay Chapman (left)

Ray Chapman’s mineralsRay Chapman’s minerals

Brian Darnton makes his own slides, and is best known for his foram slides although he used to make microphotographs and has recently started making slides of plant hairs and fern scales for viewing with polarising microscopes. He also brought along some of the LED illuminators that he makes.

Joan Bingley and Brian DarntonJoan Bingley and Brian Darnton

So that we could examine the slides, Brian brought a black and brass monocular by Henry Crouch and a black and chrome monocular by Beck.

Brian Darnton’s exhibitBrian Darnton’s exhibit

Brian Darnton’s slidesSome of Brian Darnton’s slides

Brian has made lots of slides of forams dredged up by HMS Porcupine, and showed some of the slides and some notes about the expedition.

Brian Darnton’s slidesMore of Brian Darnton’s slides

Brian also showed photographs of a stained glass window in a church that includes biological specimens including amobae, forams and fossil fish.

Stained glass with biological designsStained glass with biological designs

One of the microphotographs in Brian’s collection was made by George Clarke, who ran the microscopy section of Brunnings at 133 High Holborn; it shows the Natural History Museum in London.

MicrophotographMicrophotograph of the Natural History Museum [Slide by George Clarke]

Ray Gibbs brought some live specimens, Paramecium caudatum that he has cultured and some freshwater flatworms. The flatworms were in a jar with a magnifying top, and are interesting to biologists because they can regenerate whole organisms from tiny parts of their bodies. Some of the Paramecium were on a slide under his small Bresser Biolux microscope fitted with a camera instead of an eyepiece so that we could see them on his laptop computer, and Ray also had some phase contrast photomicrographs of them. Ray brought a book, Collins Field Guide to Freshwater Life by R. Fitter & R. Manuel.

Ray Gibbs and Jeremy PooleRay Gibbs and Jeremy Poole (right)

Ray Gibbs’ exhibitRay Gibbs’ exhibit

Pam Hamer is interested in geology and in the geological slides in the Quekett’s collection. Many of these were made by C. F. Caffyn and later donated to the Club, and we have recently found a small book with black and white photomicrographs taken by Caffyn of slides that are now in our collection.  Pam showed one slide that she has re-photographed in colour for a comparison.

Slide by CaffynSlide by C. F. Caffyn

It is not easy to make thin sections of rocks, so Pam has experimented with grinding just one surface flat so that it can be examined under a microscope

Pam Hamer’s slides and mineralPam Hamer’s slides and mineral

Grenham Ireland uses a plankton net to collect specimens from Poole Harbour, and used a Chinese inspection camera connected to a monitor to show us a sample teeming with marine copepods. The camera was mounted on a copy stand, instead of the flimsy stand supplied from China.

Grenham Ireland with visitorsGrenham Ireland (centre) with visitors

Grenham also used his Olympus VMT stereomicroscope to show larvae of polychaete worms that he had picked out of the main sample. Grenham brought a book, Coastal Plankton: Photo Guide for European Seas by Otto Larink & Wilfried Westheide.

Grenham Ireland’s exhibitGrenham Ireland’s exhibit

Steve Limburn had an impressive display of antique microscopes, slides, accessories, chemicals and books, some belonging to the Society and some from his own collection. The slides caught the attention of Pam Hamer, and she helped Steve identify some of the makers using Microscopical mounts and mounters by Brian Bracegirdle. Interesting slides included some made by Andrew Pritchard, with their red sealing wax still in good condition, and some old sections of coal.

Pam Hamer and Steve LimburnPam Hamer and Steve Limburn

Steve Limburn’s microscopesSteve Limburn’s microscopes

Steve Limburn’s chemicals, slides and accessoriesSteve Limburn’s chemicals, slides and accessories

Pam Hamer has been researching early lady microscopists, and so she was interested to see a copy of Objects For The Microscope by L. Lane Clarke.

Objects For The Microscope by L. Lane ClarkeObjects For The Microscope by L. Lane Clarke

Jeremy Poole is one of the few enthusiasts who owns a scanning electron microscope, and he had a diagram explaining how they work. He is also keen on spiders, and showed prints of lots of parts of spiders, and a rolling display on his laptop.

Jeremy Poole’s exhibitJeremy Poole’s exhibit

Jeremy is learning how to colour scanning electron micrographs and brought along 2 large prints, one of which showed a diatom.

Jeremy Poole’s coloured SEMsJeremy Poole’s coloured SEMs

Alan Wood used his Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope and an LED ring-light to demonstrate 2 lighting techniques, shadowless reflected light and transmitted dark-ground illumination. His specimens included insects, lichen, peacock ore and slides.

Alan Wood’s exhibitAlan Wood’s exhibit

The shadowless illuminator was assembled from an upward-pointing LED ring-light covered by an inverted kitchen bowl to reflect light down onto the specimen. A ring of white paper and and piece of white foam-board with a circular hole were used to keep direct light from the ring-light entering the microscope.

Construction of shadowless illuminator from LED ring-lightShadowless illuminator, showing (top left) specimen pinned into a Plastazote disc, (top right) ring of white paper, (bottom left) inverted bowl with base removed, and (bottom right) the complete illuminator.

With a small weevil, a desk lamp produced very different lighting from the shadowless illuminator, with more reflections and little sign of the blue iridescence.

Small weevil using a desk lamp and a shadowless illuminatorSmall weevil using a desk lamp (left) and the shadowless illuminator (right)

With a bluebottle, there were no shadows and no reflections in the wings, but the out-of-focus pin is just visible.

Bluebottle (Calliphora vomitoria) using shadowless illuminationBluebottle (Calliphora vomitoria) using shadowless illumination

Using the same kitchen bowl and LED ring-light as the shadowless illuminator but with a black background for the specimen and a piece of black foam-board with a circular hole provides transmitted dark-ground illumination for microscope slides placed on the foam-board. Alan showed a slide of a mosquito larva that had been prepared without pressure, and it gave an excellent stereo image.

Construction of dark-ground illuminatorDark-ground illuminator, showing (left) black disc, (centre) inverted bowl with base removed, and (right) the complete illuminator

Dark-ground mosquito larvaLarva of a mosquito (Culex pipiens L.) with dark-ground illumination (slide by T. Gerrard & Co.)

After a break for lunch, we packed up our exhibits, put away the tables, and set out chairs ready for the talk. Joan Bingley, President of the Quekett, presented 2 books to the BNSS and a copy of  The Quekett Microscopical Club 1865–2015 to the speaker, Dr Anton Page.

Anton is the manager of the Biomedical Imaging Unit for the University of Southampton and Southampton General Hospital, and his talk was entitled Microscopy in the Biomedical Imaging Unit – 2D & 3D imaging.

Anton PageAnton Page

Anton introduced us to the range of imaging techniques used in the Unit, including light-sheet microscopy, confocal microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, live cell imaging, micro computed tomography and electron tomography. They also have a high-resolution slide scanner, and stereo and compound microscopes equipped for bright field, dark ground, phase contrast, polarisation, fluorescence and DIC.

Anton explained what they use the different types of equipment for, and showed us lots of photographs (including 3D) and videos, including ones to which students had added music.

Report and photographs by Alan Wood

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