Gossip meeting “My latest microscopical acquisition”

Saturday 11th January 2020

The first meeting of the year was held in the PA135 Meeting Room in the Natural History Museum and drew a good crowd of members with exhibits. We were pleased to see some visitors too, including Deb Kapell from the USA, known to several of us through Facebook.

A year ago, Lisa Ashby mentioned that she had a Sparkle Science Chemistry Kit and a few people asked to see it. Since then, Lisa has tried it and was disappointed with everything (lava lamp, glitter chalk, sparkly geode and crystal necklace).

Lisa AshbyLisa Ashby

Sparkly heartsSparkly hearts

Nigel Ashby brought a heavy Watson 5:1 zoom stereomicroscope with its trans-illumination base, rather more recent than his usual brass Watson microscopes. To demonstrate its abilities, he used an unusual slide with hundreds of radiolarians suspended in a clear medium over a black disk.

Nigel AshbyNigel Ashby

Irma Irsara with the Watson 5:1 Zoom StereomicroscopeIrma Irsara with the Watson 5:1 Zoom Stereomicroscope

Watson 5:1 Zoom Stereomicroscope leafletsWatson 5:1 Zoom Stereomicroscope leaflets

Slide of Polycystina from BarbadosSlide of Polycystina from Barbados (for Lieberkuhn)

Danny Ferri brought along 4 recent acquisitions, including 2 unusual microscopes. One was the head of a Zeiss comparison microscope, including a pair of objectives but missing the eyepieces and the epi-illuminators. It would need a sturdy stand.

Carl Zeiss comparison microscopeHead of a Carl Zeiss comparison microscope

The other microscope was by Ernst Leitz Wetzlar and was intended for determining melting points. A small container could by heated by electricity or cooled by water, and a thermometer could be observed via a prism at the same time as the specimen was observed through the eyepiece.

Leitz melting point measuring microscopeLeitz melting point measuring microscope

A more conventional item was a Lomo PA-6 drawing attachment, in its fitted wooden box.

Danny also brought a wooden box containing several 6″×4″ slides with huge stained histology and pathology sections. Some of us saw them at Microscopium, but wrongly assumed they were transparencies.

Box of large slidesBox of large slides

Two large sectionsTwo large sections (Left: Hepatocellular carcinoma (hepatoma) in liver. Right: femoral head with trochanter involved by an aneurysmal bone cyst)

Two large sectionsTwo large sections (Left: Bronchial tumour in lung. Right: section of lung, stained with Gomori trichrome)

Jeffrey Silverman kindly provided the details for the photos above. The box and slides have no indication of their origin, but when the slides were shown on Facebook Peter Hodds suggested that they look like the work of German mounter Robin Wacker, circa 1990.

Dennis Fullwood brought along several of his recent acquisitions, including a Wild specimen holder complete with its original black case.

Dennis FullwoodDennis Fullwood

Wild specimen holderWild specimen holder

Dennis used one of the Club’s trinocular Zeiss Standard microscopes to show a few dozen recently-acquired slides, with makers or sellers including Dancer, Darlaston, Arthur J. Doherty, E. Hinton, Hornell, J. H. Redfern, C. M. Topping and Watson. His favourite was a fairy fly by Enock.

Microscope slidesMicroscope slides

Dennis also showed a copy of Innumerable Insects: The Story of the Most Diverse and Myriad Animals on Earth by Michael S. Engel, which is illustrated with images from the American Museum of Natural History’s Rare Book Collection.

Innumerable Insects by Michael S. EngelInnumerable Insects: The Story of the Most Diverse and Myriad Animals on Earth

Phil Greaves reminded us that rotifer expert Eric Hollowday, who sadly passed away on 24th December 2019, had told us about Quekett members carrying large, heavy microscopes in their wooden boxes to Quekett meetings in Burlington House during World War II. These days, most members rely on microscopes owned by the Club, but portable microscopes can still be found at reasonable prices on eBay. Phil brought along a black Lomo МБИ-4 monocular microscope in its wooden box, complete with 8×, 40× and 90× objectives, 7×, 10× and 15× eyepieces, and a CT-12 mechanical stage.

Phil GreavesPhil Greaves

Lomo МБИ-4 portable microscopeLomo МБИ-4 portable microscope

To demonstrate the microscope, Phil used a Vickers microscope lamp and a slide by G. Cornwall of dry rot (Merulius lachrymans) in floor joists, stained with safranin and cotton blue.

Pam Hamer brought a small piece of moldavite that she recently purchased from the Didcot Space Store. Pam provided notes on the material, photographs that she had taken, and a section that she had prepared. Pam used one of the Club’s J. Swift & Son petrological microscopes to show the slide, with illumination from another recent acquisition, an LED lamp intended to replace the mirror in older microscopes (from Amazon).

Pam HamerPam Hamer

Photographs of moldavitePhotographs of moldavite

LED replacement for microscope mirrorLED replacement for microscope mirror

Pam also showed us a jewel picker with a sticky silicone tip that she has found useful for picking up and depositing mineral particles when making slides.

Jewel pickerJewel picker

Graham Matthews brought a copy of Ernst Haeckel: Kunst Formen der Natur – Kunst Formen aus dem Meer by Olaf Breidbach. The text is in German, but the book is worth buying for its 135 illustrations.

Graham MatthewsGraham Matthews

Ernst Haeckel: Kunst Formen der Natur – Kunst Formen aus dem MeerErnst Haeckel: Kunst Formen der Natur – Kunst Formen aus dem Meer

Jacky McPherson brought the Beck stereomicroscope from Harold Hillman’s estate that she bought at Microscopium. It has a large, thin stage which makes it easy to attach some of the micromanipulators that Jacky couldn’t demonstrate properly at the Annual Exhibition. Jacky had 3 micromanipulators attached to the stage that we could try out with some dry diatom frustules. To provide diffused transmitted illumination, Jacky used a Hikari SQ (100×100 mm square, 3.2 mm thick) from Lightly Technologies.

Jacky McPhersonJacky McPherson

Beck stereomicroscopeBeck stereomicroscope

Micromanipulators on Beck stereomicroscopeMicromanipulators on Beck stereomicroscope

Mark Shephard brought a pair of opera glasses made by Beck. They appeared to be a promotional item, with hardly any magnification and some advertising.

Mark ShephardMark Shephard

Paul Smith had ordered a kit of parts to fit the substage condenser of his Olympus BX microscope, but it had not arrived in time so he showed a set of 3 LED COB lights that can be adjusted individually or all at once via a remote control. It costs £5 at Poundland.

Paul SmithPaul Smith

3pc COB Light Remote Control3pc COB Light Remote Control

Alan Wood has been trying to find a way to photograph slides through microscopes at Club meetings and showed two approaches to connecting a camera to a microscope. The more promising seems to be afocal coupling, with a Leitz Periplan 10×/18 eyepiece (from Microscopium) connected via a step-down filter adapter (from eBay) to an Olympus Zuiko 50 mm standard lens from the OM system, with an OM-EOS adapter (from eBay). This arrangement is rigid and parfocal. The other way is eyepiece projection, with a simple microscope adapter (from eBay) from the days of 35 mm SLR cameras that clamps to an eyepiece tube and holds a normal eyepiece, connected to a camera with a T-mount.

Afocal coupling and eyepiece projection adaptersAfocal coupling (left) and eyepiece projection adapters

Report and photographs by Alan Wood

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