20 June 2013

New microscope

I have been working with microscopes and foraminifera since 2001. I never had a microscope that allowed me to zoom in as much as I wanted. If you see a foram, your hand almost automatically goes to the knob that adjusts the zoom levels. And tries to rotate it past its furthest point. Is it just me? No. If I show someone else a foram, I see their hand make that very same motion.

It became worse when I was in St Andrews for a foram workshop; if I showed an expert a foram I struggled to identify, on a microscope equivalent to what I used myself, the expert would typically say "I have no idea what that is, I need higher magnification". And one expert had his microscope there; that indeed was a better model! I was envious.

And then Roland accepted that job in York. And with the job came budget to buy a microscope. So we figured out what that impressive microscope in Scotland had been, and what the modern equivalent of that was. And in order to do that, we were visited by a representative. He didn't have any microscopes with him, but be told us of the best of the best. We were very impressed. Until he gave the price. We then decided to go for a simpler model. That disappointed the chap. Suddenly the price was negotiable! And some mailing up-and-down later we received confirmation that somewhere in July, our snazzy new microscope would be delivered.

That day came. The microscope arrived less than an hour earlier than the man who would assemble it! He installed it on my desk in about an hour, and then we could have a look.

 The beast

For looking AT forams, this thing was clearly the bee's knees. But for looking FOR forams, which involves rummaging through a sample, it clearly wasn't. Our sample trays only just fir underneath its objective! No space at all left for browsing through the sediment with a seeker. And we need that.

 The amount of space you have for sample manipulation, with a pencil for scale

The gentleman then showed us the specifications of different objectives, and different oculars, that we can have instead of what's now next to me on the desk. With different parts we will probably be able to get more rummaging space, while keeping sufficient magnification. In early July he'll be back! And when he leaves, I think I'll finally have a microscope that does what I hope it does! Exciting...

1 comment:

Natasha Barlow said...

The theory does look great - it looks very shiny - but in practice...! Hope it gets sorted!