Monday 1 September 2014

The video suite on understanding and using the light microscope

I've used light microscopes for more than 40 years. Professionally, as a life science researcher at the cutting edge of plant molecular biology, as a microscopist in my spare time and as an artist specialising in photography through the microscope.

Rock sample using crossed polarisation filters.
So the following video suite is part of my practical answer for those who do need and want to use a compound light microscope effectively.

The microscope “driving lessons”

Practical, immediate assistance and instruction is given in the first three videos:

By following these three videos, you will feel competent enough to handle working on a compound light microscope using visible light, over the objective range from 10×to 40x (100x to 400x magnification). Then, if you need a quick reminder, simply watch the video 04.

Some background microscope “mechanics”

If the curiosity overcomes you and you want to understand more about using the microscope, then watch videos 05 through to 09 at your leisure.

If there is one painful realisation, it is that most people who need to use a compound light microscope do so without realising its full potential. It is simply assumed that any life science graduate or post-doc knows how to use a microscope properly. In most cases we weren't shown how or the memory lies forgotten in the distant past.

However, most people do not want to know all the ins and outs, the complex theory and optics underlying microscopy. We simply want to use it properly. Like driving a car, we want use it and are not immediately interested in the mechanics of the internal combustion engine behind it.

So, fellow microscopist and author, Lewis Woolnough and I set out to make these videos – with Louise as our test subject. We had no script as such, just bullet points, studio, camera and a desire to get our message across simply to Louise in instruction and conversation.

Our apologies if we occasionally lapsed into microscope expert speak!

These videos accompany and complement our book nearing completion, “Understanding and Using the Light Microscope”, which will be available in printed and digital form soon.

If you have any feedback – please write to me, Chris,

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