Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lactobacillus under the Microscope

Lactobacillus is a genus of gram-positive rod-shaped bacteria that is a major part of the lactic acid bacteria group. Most bacteria in this group convert lactose and other sugars to lactic acid. In humans Lactobacillus is present in the vagina and the GI tract, where they make up a small portion of the gut flora. Typically Lactobacillus bacteria are benign, except in the mouth where they have been known to cause cavities and tooth decay.

Lactobacillus bacteria under the microscope at 40x magnification.
Lactobacillus under the microscope at 40x magnification.
These images of Lactobacillus were captured with a Richter Optica high power compound microscope using a microscope digital camera.

Bacteria captured under a Richter Optica microscope at 100x magnification.
Lactobacillus captured under the microscope at 100x magnification.
The Lactobacillus rod-shaped bacteria is part of the bacteriology microscope prepared slide kit.

Bacteria under the microscope at 400x magnification.
Lactobacillus under the microscope at 400x magnification.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Marijuana Microscope

Growing marijuana or identifying marijuana is often made easier with the use of a microscope. The marijuana microscopes shown below are popular among marijuana growers and marijuana inspectors.

Cannabis leaf, Cannabis Sativa
Photo: Jon Richfield

Handheld Marijuana Microscope

The handheld 25x microscope is a great tool for viewing buds while they are still on the marijuana plant. This is helpful for determining when to harvest the plant. The handheld USB microscope shows a live image on the computer and you can capture and save the images.

Stereo zoom marijuana microscopeStereo Marijuana Microscope

The stereo microscope is available with either dual magnification (less expensive and 10x and 30x is usually the best combination of magnification) or zoom magnification (around 10x - 40x). Using a stereo microscope is one of the best ways to view buds and leaves. The LED light is a good illuminator to use as it does not heat up and won't damage the plants.

Digital LCD stereo marijuana microscope
Digital Stereo Marijuana Microscope

Digital stereo microscopes are available with either a tablet LCD display (simple to use and easy to capture and save images), or a microscope USB camera connected to the marijuana microscope. Digital microscopes allow you to capture and easily email images, or even make measurements with the software, add annotations to images and save them.

Marijuana under the microscope image
Photo: David Downs
The microscope image above is of Cannabis Trichomes, which contain the plant's main active ingredient: the Cannabinoids.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Motic Trace Forensic Microscope Software

Motic Trace is a forensic software that removes the need to purchase expensive comparison microscopes. Simply connect two or more Motic microscope cameras or Motic digital microscopes to your computer and get immediate live comparison imaging. Turn your existing microscopes into comparison microscopes. This is a perfect solution for forensic science teaching or forensic departments with a limited budget.

Motic Trace forensic microscope comparison software.
Motic Trace Software

  • Compare images side by side.
  • Overlay several live images.
  • Resize & rotate images independently.
  • Match fingerprints from live or saved images.
  • Check handwriting for authenticity.
  • Compare two pieces of fabric.
Simply connect two or more Moticam cameras or Motic digital microscopes to the computer and get an immediate live comparison through the Motic Trace Software. The software allows you to create reports with accurate measurements and editing tools.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top 10 Holiday Science Geek Gift Ideas

Have someone in your life who loves science? Here are top ten great science gift ideas for the science geek, both young and old.

Glass Galileo Thermometer

The Galileo thermometer consists of a sealed glass tube that is filled with water and several floating bubbles. The bubbles are glass spheres filled with a colored liquid mixture. This liquid mixture may contain alcohol, or it might simply be water with food coloring. Attached to each bubble is a little metal tag that indicates a temperature. A number and degree symbol are engraved on the tag. Learn more about the glass Galileo thermometer here.

Glow in the Dark Constellations

Select from a number of different constellations and transform your ceiling into an astronomy learning room! These constellations are especially fun for kids, as they can learn a bit about astronomy when they go to bed each night. View a number of constellation options here.

Vacuum Coffee Brewer

No other coffee maker has fascinated passionate coffee drinkers like this one. Its exceptionally effective vacuum brewing method extracts all precious oils of your favorite coffee. The vacuum brewing process is entirely sealed off so no aroma can escape. In addition, the brewing time and temperature are perfectly calibrated, ensuring a perfect cup of coffee with each brew. Plus, it just looks scientific!

Kids microscope gift ideas Microscope

Whether you are young at heart, or looking for a gift for a kid, microscopes make fun holiday gifts for the science geek in your life. Biological microscopes are perfect for viewing slides, bacteria in pond water, or the nuclei in your cheek cells. A stereo dissecting microscope is great for viewing flowers, insects, or even dissecting a frog. View a microscope gift guide here.

 Test Tube Spice Rack

Dean and Deluca makes a very nice (and slightly pricey) test tube spice rack that is perfect for any scientist who also loves to cook. We also found some great instructions on how to make your own test tube spice rack here. If you have a bit of time, you can make your own test tube spice rack and customize the labels with your own personal touch.

Science Museum Gift Cards

Most local science museums offer gift cards for either entry into the museum, or to the museum gift shop. Many times outings are more memorable than tangible gifts, and this could be a gift for the entire family.

Da Vinci's Catapult Wood Kit

No matter what age you are shopping for, this gift is a winner. Da Vinci's Catapult Wood Kit takes over an hour to assemble and will catapult small items up to 100 feet. This honestly might be a great gift for the executive in your life who spends some frustrating hours at a desk. Probably not a good gift for small children, as there are too many small parts that could be a choking hazard. You can find Da Vinci's kit here.

Flower prepared slide is part of the microscope prepared slide kit from Microscope World.Microscope Prepared Slide Kit

Know someone who already has a microscope? An inexpensive and fun gift is simply a new prepared slide kit. With eight kits to choose from covering everything from botany, zoology, histology and bacteriology, you're sure to find a microscope prepared slide kit for the scientist in your life.

Low Temp Stirling Engine Model

This little stainless engine can be used to teach teenagers and older students how heat engines work. Or for the scientist with a desk, the engine is fun to watch. This low-temperature-differential Stirling engine works with hot water, ice water, a combination of hot water with ice cubes, or a hair dryer. The bigger the temperature differential the faster it runs. You can view Stirling engines here.

Super Strong Rare Earth Magnets

Rare-earth magnets are strong permanent magnets made from alloys of rare earth elements. Developed in the 1970s and '80s, rare-earth magnets are the strongest type of permanent magnets made, producing significantly stronger magnetic fields than other types such as ferrite or alnico magnets. The term "rare earth" can be misleading as these metals are not particularly rare or precious; they are about as abundant as tin or lead. You can find rare earth magnets here.

Happy holiday scientist shopping!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Insect under the Microscope

Insects are great creatures to view under a stereo dissecting microscope. You will want to start at the lowest magnification and work your way up to a higher magnification. If you have a compound biological microscope, use the lowest setting to view your insect under the microscope.

Bee captured under a stereo microscope.
Aphid captured under a compound biological high school microscope.
The Aphid shown above is part of the Zoology, Entomology and Insects prepared slide kit.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Phytoplankton under the Microscope

The ocean is vast and today we are going to focus specifically on Phytoplankton under the microscope. The term Phytoplankton comes from the Greek word "Planktos" which means wanderer or drifter, exactly what Phytoplankton do in the ocean, as they are unable to swim against major ocean currents.

Phytoplankton thrive near the surface of the ocean since they are organisms that make food from sunlight (known as photosynthesis). Through the process of photosynthesis, Phytoplankton play a large role in the ocean, which contributes to climate and the air breathed each day! Phytoplankton produce about fifty percent of the oxygen you breathe every day, and Diatoms (a single-celled type of Phytoplankton) also help reduce greenhouse gasses. Scientists collect Phytoplankton from the ocean using nets in order to study the organisms.

There are a number of ocean animals' life cycle that depends on Phytoplankton for their existence.

Ocean life cycle including photoplankton.
Example of the ocean life cycle involving Phytoplankton.
In one single teaspoon of ocean water you might find over a million Phytoplankton. When conditions are ideal, Phytoplankton can grow in such massive numbers that the bloom can be seen from outer space.

Diatom under the biological microscope.
Diatom under a biological microscope.
Diatoms are another type of plant-like plankton that come in varying shapes including zigzags, ribbons, and fans. They have a protective cell wall made of glass, and their spines help prevent them from sinking. Diatoms also form chains which help keep them near the surface.

You will need the following items to view plankton with the microscope:
  • Plankton - visit a local pond, stream or the ocean. Gather some water, preferably with larger particles in it, look for pieces of seaweed, kelp or plants.
  • Petri Dish
  • Toothpicks to move the plankton around while viewing.
  • Stereo Microscope
  • Optional: Microscope camera for capturing images.
Place your sample water in a jar and leave it in a sunny area. Pour some water into your petri dish. The more water in the petri dish means that any plankton will move around more and you may be able to observe them swimming. Less water in the dish makes for easier viewing, as the plankton will not move around as much and therefore won't swim out of your field of view.

When viewing the plankton under the stereo microscope you may need to switch between incident and transmitted light in order to get the best view. Using a frosted glass stage plate is usually most effective for observing transparent specimens such as plankton. If you are primarily using light from above, switch to the black or white stage plate.

Finally, if you have access to a biological microscope, you may want to put a small sample of water on a depression slide with a cover slip and look for Phytoplankton at a higher magnification.

Phytoplankton under the microscope at 40x.
Phytoplankton captured under the microscope at 40x magnification.
Source: Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) is a Science and Technology Center headquartered at the University of Hawaii. Parts of this post are from the Microscope in Middle Schools Project. They have an exceptional collection of Phytoplankton images.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pollen under the Microscope

The following images of pollen were captured by Hanny van Arkel, a biology teacher in the Netherlands, using a student microscope. You can view more of her pollen images here! The flowers with the pollen on them were brought into class by Hanny's twenty-six 13-year-old students.

Pollen captured under microscope at 100x
Pollen under the microscope at 100x magnification.
Pollen microscopy image at 400x
Pollen under the microscope at 400x.
pollen microscopy image at 400x
Pollen under the microscope at 400x.
Pollen under the microscope at 400x
Pollen under the microscope at 400x.
Pollen at 400x under microscope
Pollen under the microscope at 400x.
Thank you to Hanny van Arkel and her entire Biology Class for sharing these microscopy pollen images. If you have some images you would like to share, please email us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bacteria under the Microscope

Rhizobium Meliloti (also known as Sinorhizobium Meliloti) is a gram-negative, nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Rhizobium Meliloti forms a symbiotic relationship with legumes.

The images below were captured using the U2D digital biological microscope.

Bacteria under microscope at 40x
Rhizobium Meliloti under the microscope at 40x.
Bacteria under the microscope at 100x
Rhizobium Meliloti under the microscope at 100x.
Bacteria under microscope at 400x
Rhizobium Meliloti under the microscope at 400x.
The Rhizobium Meliloti prepared microscope slide is part of the bacteriology prepared slide kit.