Thursday, January 29, 2015

Beautiful Microscopy Images

These images of a Monocot and Dicot of a flower bud were captured under the Richter Optica U2 digital biological microscope.  The prepared microscope slide Monocot / Dicot can be purchase in the Fruit & Flower microscope prepared slide kit.

Monocot dicot captured under a biological miroscope at 40x magnification.
Monocot / Dicot of flower bud captured under the microscope at 40x.

Monocot and dicot captured at 100x under the microscope.
Monocot / Dicot of flower bud captured under the microscope at 100x.

Monocot and dicot of a flower bud captured at 400x under the microscope.
Monocot / Dicot of flower bud captured under the microscope at 400x.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What is a Microscope Eyepiece Reticle?

Microscope eyepiece reticles are small circular disks that have a ruler, grid or some other measuring format printed on them that can be inserted into a microscope eyepiece. When you look through the eyepiece once the reticle is installed, the ruler or grid is imposed upon your microscopy image.

How to determine if your eyepiece accepts a reticle:

microscope eyepiece
Bottom of the eyepice.

Not all microscope eyepieces are fitted to accept a reticle. In order to figure out if yours does, follow these instructions.

Remove your eyepiece from the microscope and look into the bottom of it. If your eyepiece accepts a measuring reticle, you will see a retaining ring that can be removed.

How to measure the correct diameter of reticle required:

microcope reticle retaining ring
Reticle Retaining Ring
If you see a retaining ring, go ahead and remove the ring. You will then want to measure (in mm) the diameter of the glass reticle that the eyepiece will hold. This is an important measurement as many eyepiece reticles are custom printed and can not be returned. Keep in mind that if you measure the retaining ring diameter, this may be 1mm larger than the size reticle requierd, as the glass reticle must be able to drop onto the shelf in the eyepiece, while the retaining ring will simply hold it in place. Microscope eyepiece reticle sizes are anywhere from 16mm - 28mm in diameter.

How to determine what type of microscope reticle to purchase:

Microscope Eyepiece Reticle
Microscope Reticle
Once you know that your microscope eyepiece can accept a reticle, now it is time to determine what type will best suit your needs. The most common types of reticles are ruler reticles, crossline reticles and grid reticles. For basic measurement a ruler reticle will work well.

Determine if you would like to measure in mm or inches. Also, keep in mind that when using a ruler reticle, the distance that is between the lines when looking through the microscope follows this formula:

Reticle Division ÷  Objective Lens Value = Distance Between Lines

The magnification of the eyepiece itself has no affect on the reticle divisions you will view. For example, if your ruler reticle is 10mm with 100 divisions, your reticle division is 10 ÷ 100 = 0.1mm.

When using the 4x objective to make measurements with the above mentioned reticle, your distance between lines when measuring is: 0.1mm ÷ 4 = 0.025mm.

When using that same reticle with the 100x objective lens the distance between lines is 0.1mm ÷ 100 = 0.001mm.

Many specialized microscope reticles are available including comparator reticles, grain sizing reticles and concentric circles.

Once you have purchased your reticle, you will want to calibrate your microscope. Learn more about calibrating your microscope here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Melon under the Microscope

Cucumis is a genus of twining, tendril-bearing plants in the Cucurbitaceae family which includes the cucumber, cantaloupe and honeydew melon as well as the sugar and winter melon. The images below of Cucumis Staminate Flowers were captured using the Richter Optica U2 biological microscope along with a 3 megapixel microscope camera. The microscope prepared slide is part of the Fruit & Flower Prepared Slide Kit.

Cucumis staminate flower under the microscope at 40x.
Cucumis Staminate Flower under the microscope at 40x magnification.

Cucumis Staminate flower under the microscope at 100x.
Cucumis Staminate Flower under the microscope at 100x magnification.

Flower under a biological microscope at 400x magnification.
Cucumis Staminate Flower under the microscope at 400x magnification.

Monday, January 12, 2015

What is a Compound Microscope?

A compound microscope is another name for a high power or biological microscope. A compound microscope will typically have magnifications of 40x, 100x, 400x and sometimes 1000x. A microscope advertising magnification above 1000x is simply providing empty magnification, and images above 1000x will not be clear. Blood cells, protozoans and bacteria can all be viewed at 400x magnification and it is a common misconception that more magnification is better.

Compound microscope high power objectives.
Compound Microscope High Power Objective Lenses

Students typically use either a compound microscope in biology class, or a stereo dissecting microscope. A stereo dissecting microscope provides lower magnification (typically 10x - 40x) and is used to view anything you might hold in the palm of your hand such as coins, flowers, insects, or a frog. A compound microscope requires the use of slides and cover slips for viewing samples the naked eye can not see such as bacteria or cells.

Stereo dissecting microscope 10x-40x
Stereo Dissecting Microscope

Compound microscope with high magnification
Compound Microscope

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Lily Flowers under the Microscope

Lilium is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants grown from bulbs, all with large prominent flowers.

Photo: Stan Shebs
The following images are of a cross sections of Lilium, part of the Fruit & Flower Prepared Slide Kit. The microscopy images were captured using a Richter Optica U2 biological microscope along with the DCM3.1 microscope camera (3.2 megapixels).
Lily captured under the microscope at 40x magnification.
Lilium captured at 40x under the microscope.

Notice in the image above the center looks to be shaped like a Lily!
Lily captured at 100x under the microscope.
Lilium captured at 100x under the microscope.
Lilium captured at 400x under the microscope.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sugar Swizzle Stick Science Project

Have you ever looked at sugar under the microscope? Under a stereo microscope, sugar looks like this:

Sugar under a stereo microscope at 40x.
Sugar crystals under a stereo microscope at 40x magnification.
Sugar captured under a polarizing microscope looks like this:

Sugar under a polarizing microscope at 200x.
Sugar under a polarizing microscope at 200x magnification.
A fun student science project will allow you to make your own sugar sticks (and look at sugar crystals under the microscope!)

Photo: Deisy Mejía
You will need these supplies:
  • Wooden skewer
  • Clothes pin
  • Tall glass
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
Measure the wooden skewer so that when you hold it straight down into the glass it does not quite touch the bottom of the glass. You will use the clothespin to secure it across the top of the glass. Set the clothespin and skewer aside.

Find an adult to help you boil your water and add about 1/4 cup of the sugar, stirring as it dissolves. Each time the sugar dissolves, slowly add more. Continue stirring. Each time you add more sugar it will take longer and longer for it to dissolve. Keep stirring! Once no more sugar will dissolve, turn the heat off and let it cool for about 20 minutes.

Have the adult pour the hot liquid into the tall glass. Now insert the skewer into the middle of the glass and secure it at the top with the clothespin, so it hangs straight down. Over the next week sugar crystals will form on your skewer!

If you want to make colored sugar swizzle sticks, add a few drops of food coloring to your mixture. Once you are finished making your swizzle stick, break off a small piece of rock sugar and look at it under the microscope. What do your crystals look like? If you capture some good photos email us and we will share them on our Facebook page!