The microscope blog

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This gallery contains 14 photos.

Diatoms taken using a Lomo anoptral phase system 90X 40X

Here it is, my first perfect piece of lacquering. It’s been six months since I started this mission. I have messed around with lacquer recipes, I have altered resin proportions, I have tried different polishing methods, different cloths and brushes, different temperatures and finally I have success.

One of the keys to success has been a sunny day – not generally something I can control but it certainly makes a difference.

Getting the finish on the metal right has been challenging. I don’t want the microscope to look like a reproduction but I don’t want it to be full of pits and bumps either. Restoring an antique microscope has to be done sensitively, I’m going for old but in good nick, not brand-new-reproduction made in a  Chinese factory.

Using an acid dip has been advantageous, it does not make the surface perfectly smooth (it does the opposite really, by etching it); no, it blurs things a little. It draws the eye away from areas which are particularly rough and gives the impression of a better finish. It also gives a higher sheen. EDIT: I have abandoned this practice because it is ludicrously dangerous.

I’m very pleased. Now I have to do the rest of the microscope to the same standard.

No flash was used on these pictures. 

lacquering 3 lacquering 2 lacquering 1


I just did some perfect lacquering! it’s taken six months to achieve but I’ve done it!!!

I have been fighting with this lacquering for so long. I have put it on, taken it off, put it on again…

Every time I have had streaks or runs or patches or it’s been okay but too thick (and hence a funny orange colour).

I figured it was best to give up on this microscope and change over to a simpler style of microscope with fewer fiddly bits. A little Royal Society of Arts microscope. I deccided to have one last bash and it worked.

It seems to come down to two things – the cloth must be very moist bbut not dripping with lacquer and the lacquering must be done quickly, ideally within 20 seconds.

I’m in the process of stripping another not quite perfect part of teh microscope now. I’m not going to strip the focus knobs though, they are very fiddly and I need to move on. I don’t want to get bored and lose interest.

Perfect lacquering song (only the alcohol is in the lacquer, not me)

How to respond to nasty emails.

I received a nasty email yesterday from someone on a message board. I had said something he did not like. I fear a touch of sarcasm may have been mistaken for rage but that’s not unknown when many different cultures meet. Perhaps I should have inserted a winking smiley face? My mistake.

The thing I find odd is that the person who sent the nasty email did not comment on my post. I have never had any interaction with him on the message board, I have never exchanged an email with him, I have no idea who he is. He was very keen to tell me how important he is and how confident he was  about being able to tell (from a single post) that I am an arrogant trouble maker. He was absolutely sure that other people as important as him would feel the same. He also said that Spock’s Sister is an arrogant and provocative username which shows I have problems. I haven’t figured that out yet. What’s not to like about Mr Spock?

I was very upset by the email so I sent to a close friend to see what his opinion was. He said it was the nastiest email he had ever seen.

As yet, I have not responded to the email. I very much doubt that anything I say will change this man’s mind. I did a little googling and found the article posted above. It was surprisingly helpful. It says do not respond (check), ask for a second opinion (check), talk to the sender face to face (not possible), send an email confirming the details of the conversation (not possible), reflect.

I am currently reflecting. I am reflecting on my blog, my vast readership of three people will likely not be too disgruntled about this. During my relection I briefly considered a diagnosis of narcissism, but I don’t know the chap from Adam so that seems a little unfair. Not that such things bother him.

Ah well, I shall content myself with a few songs. Songs can be very good for getting things out of your system. Music therapy.

Live motile diatoms

Just some diatoms that I filmed on the M4000 today. Very busy little things. A quick google informs me that they move using an actin/myosin system. Little tiny muscles, cute.

400x magification.

I have been looking at pond water and have come across some protozoans I have never seen before.

The first is Pleuronema, it looks like a paramecium but I couldn’t figure out what the “flagella” were. Turns out they aren’t flagella, Pleuronema fishes for food using a net of cilia. Rather interesting little beastie, I made a video of it.

Here is a picture of the other beastie I found, a Loxophyllum, it glides in a most beautiful way. It’s quite large. The pictures below were taken using a 20X objective whereas the video was taken using 40X. I wasn’t able to video the Loxophyllum because it was quite swift as well as elegant.







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