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Microscope – by Tabitha

22 Apr

Like Justyna, I had a microscope as a kid which sat on the shelf in its box. The great failing of microscopes is that you can only look at things on slides, which is really limiting, unless you like performing biopsies.

But I was also given a little handheld microscope, with a light, through which you could look at absolutely anything, and at quite impressive magnifications. It looked like this:

Those of you with children should go out and buy one of these RIGHT NOW. I don’t think any gadget from my childhood brought such prolonged educational joy. You can use it on the family dog, on things you find in the garden, your siblings, foodstuffs, and various parts of your own body. When I was a kid, I had a disgusting corn on the heel of my foot, and I would pass hours investigating it with this microscope. I also, less revoltingly, discovered that images in books are made up of tiny coloured circles thanks to the same device.

I still have this handheld microscope, and as an adult have used it to investigate all kinds of moles and ingrown hairs and various suspicious bugs.

Its most notable use was after a trip to the Pittwater YHA with Anthony many moons ago. We acquired an alarming number of ticks while we were there, and spent the evenings removing them with the special tweezers the YHA supplied for just this purpose (GROSS!). When we returned to Simmons Street, I noticed I had a little pimple on my head, and over several days, fiddled and picked at it, to no avail. Eventually I asked Anthony to inspect it with the microscope. I remember his fateful words: “It’s moving.”

That is correct. A tick had lodged itself into my skull, and I had been idly playing with it for days.

I feel like this post has made me sound like a revolting human being. But I can assure you, under a microscope, we all are.



Microscope – by Justyna

21 Apr

Physics was too abstract. Biology a bore. Chemistry I actually didn’t get. And geology wasn’t popular enough to be taught at my school. I do remember carving up a horse’s eye and sticking bits of it under the microscope though. The stench in the lab was amazing. The slippery eyeball indeed a sucker. That’s my memory of science in high school. Of course there was also Mr Tobe, the science teacher, who managed to collect bits of saliva in the corners of his mouth when he spoke. The saliva was of a chunky variety with bits of stringiness that stuck to the upper and lower lip for gross effect. It’s the saliva that should have been collected and placed on the glass plate thingies and examined under the microscope. It was always a topic of conversation and fascination amongst us all. Come to think of it Mr Tobe looked EXACTLY like Tobias in Arrested Development.

For some reason this week’s topic microscope has made me think of gore and how I cannot handle it at all. I spend most of a Game of Thrones episode hiding behind my hands. When we were holidaying in Albania a couple of years back and visited a market, I couldn’t handle the raw meat smell and the draped pig skin and intestines hanging out of sloppy buckets. I dry wretched instead. But do you know what makes me wince the most? The human eye. When you pull down the skin to reveal the red bit. I shudder at the sight. And kids who used to flip their eyelids inside out were my worst enemies. I rather be punched with full force to my gut than see a flipped eyelid.

When I was ten or so my dad bought me a toy microscope. It was money nicely wasted. It didn’t interest me at all. It stood on my bookshelf in its original packaging gathering dust. He should have had bought me a Babysitters Club book instead. To add to my collection.

Microscope – by Karen

21 Apr

Check out Finn’s manly response to this miniature snake Richard found in the garden today. A young Steve Irwin in the making!

Since it seemed all botanical and microscopy,  I thought I would write about the snake for this week’s topic. After its ordeal with us, we did release it back into the garden pit, but someone else on the internet put theirs under a scope:

“It’s a thrill to see two black minute eyes staring back.”

Wikipedia tells me there are scales over those eyes, which is why the snake gives off a very blind vibe. I’m surprised Richard (who discovered it while digging) actually realised it was not an earthwormy, centipedey type of thing. But the way it wiggles gives it away. So strange to see something so small move like a snake. It also feels dry and smooth to the touch, and you can see the tiny scales.

Woe betide you if you are a biologist of my acquaintance. With surprising frequency, I will be discovering strange animals and bringing them to your attention on Facebook for immediate identification.

Microscope by Beth

20 Apr

Finding microscope a difficult topic for no good reason.

So I give you this lesson in perspective.