01 December 2010


I can do science, me! One of the staff members of the Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) lab had a Brainiac button with that text. Nerd territory! My favourite. Anyway. On the Isle of Wight I had found a foram that we didn't expect there, and of which we had no good pictures. So I should take them myself, using SEM. And that had been dangling somewhere at the bottom of my to do list, until Maria announced she would go and take pictures of some as yet unidentified species she found in Portuguese sediments. So I tagged along!

The first thing to do is mount whatever it is you want pictures of on a "stub". That's a bit of a faffy job, as you want to get many different views of your bugs. And laying them on their belly or their back tends to be straightforward, but on their side might be a bit of a challenge. But we managed! I first had to go get the right microslide with forams, as I had brought the wrong one, and as I had to go back to the lab anyway I looked for my second brush, so we could work more efficiently, yet didn't find it. Later that day I found out Maria had nicked it!

So with bringing the wrong fossils, dropping samples and all the clumsiness in the world we got our stubs ready. Next step is "pimp my foram"; have a metal film precipitate over them! The result is very pretty. And then you're ready to stick them into the vacuum chamber of the SEM.

My stub; it's about half a centimetre high and wide. Notice the 8 forams!

It's fun to fiddle around with an SEM. Getting your forams portrayed at their best! Using a whole array of buttons and dials and the likes. First we did Maria's together, and then she left, so I could do my own.

Me only pretending to work the SEM: the foram on the screen is one of Maria's. She took the picture. Mine are prettier!

You get your stub with you packaged like this: stuck to a bit of blue tack in a vial lid, so they're protected. You can still see the forams!

Now I know how it works. I should check of what other foram we have no pics! It's fun to make them! And there must be lots that we have insufficient documentation on...

And on special request: a foram! Helenina andersoni, to be precise...


Maaike said...

Een hele post over het fotograferen van forams, en dan geen foto van een foram! Nou ja!

Margot said...

Sorry! Ja ik bedacht al dat dat wat dubieus was. En ik denk niet dat het geeft als ik er eentje online zet. Mooi issie he?

Maaike said...