I was looking to get more out my microscope.

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Jonnyvine
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I was looking to get more out my microscope.

#1 Post by Jonnyvine » Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:39 am

I bought a brand new microscope early this year and I’ve already looked at quite a few household objects and some pond life. I was hoping there is more to owning a microscope rather than just looking at random cells. Can anyone recommend experiments I can conduct at home? Something that is relatively cheap and doesn’t require any equipment? For example, experiments that would require me to check progress on a weekly basis?

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Jonnyvine
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Re: I was looking to get more out my microscope.

#2 Post by Jonnyvine » Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:46 am

Side note:

I am interested in rotifers and was wondering if I can culture some and separate them into a small petri dish to research any information that I can observe, like eating habits ect…

I work Mon-Fri so the only free day I get is Saturday and on Sundays I do other stuff.

Hobbyst46
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Re: I was looking to get more out my microscope.

#3 Post by Hobbyst46 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:36 am

Several forum members have set up beautiful static/stable ecosystems, aquaria that are mostly self-supporting and require very little care. Just search "ecosystem" in this forum and at least 3-4 useful threads are shown. Detailed descriptions and photos have appeared in the past 2 years.
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MicroBob
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Re: I was looking to get more out my microscope.

#4 Post by MicroBob » Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:58 am

Hi Jonny,

I too would recommend a pond aquarium. Other ideas would be to monitor a certain pond for it's inhabitants over the year. I know people who have done this over decades and are able to quantify how cetain species have developed. This also includes the introduction of new species coming from other parts of the world.

Also interesting: The Universiy of Hamburg entertains a big algae collection. Some desmidacaes have been collected 50 years ago and are grown and cared for since then.

A very prevailing topic would be micro plastics and it's interaction with plants and animals.

Bob

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75RR
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Re: I was looking to get more out my microscope.

#5 Post by 75RR » Fri Dec 14, 2018 2:21 pm

Another area you might find interesting would be to join a local conservation group that is monitoring Stream Health.
The collecting and identification of the prevailing micro-fauna helps establish the overall condition of the waters.
The variety of diatoms to be found is considered to be a key indicator of water quality.
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coominya
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Re: I was looking to get more out my microscope.

#6 Post by coominya » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:48 pm

Jonnyvine wrote: I was hoping there is more to owning a microscope rather than just looking at random cells.
If you are an amateur that is serious about science there certainly is. A lot of it may seem boring at first glance though, like keeping a written log of your more interesting observations, perhaps in an A4 spiral bound with enough room to do a rough sketch of some specific detail that catches your eye. Simply observing or taking nice pictures is great, but for my brain to be satisfied with the hobby I need to employ some of the habits the professionals use.

I usually begin with the kohler illumination setup but then vary this in pursuit of more detail or a different perspective. I often work in conjunction with Bing images to identify my subject "if I can", and experiment with darkfield stops. There are lots of tasks aside from looking through the eyepiece for me, and all of these, including simply reading literature, keep me involved with the hobby.

I have a nice SCT telescope as well, but though haven't taken it out under the night sky in over a year I keep the hobby moving along by regularly reading text books on the subject and looking at star charts. In my opinion you don't even need a microscope to have microscopy as a hobby. Having microscopes is simply the icing on a beautiful cake. Alas there are many people who buy optical instruments, and after a flurry of activity put them aside, never to be touched again. This happens I believe because they have no depth of commitment to the hobby, and depth of commitment involves mental work.

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SutherlandDesmids
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Re: I was looking to get more out my microscope.

#7 Post by SutherlandDesmids » Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:43 pm

I'd advise you to take up a special field. ''Science'' is an immense subject and has been far, far too large for one mind to master since it properly began.

You're interested in rotifers, so I'd make that my speciality were I you. I regret I have never cultured rotifers, so I defer to the far more experienced and talented workers here.

You do have to prepare to take an awful lot of notes and drawings. I take great pleasure in that sort of thing, not everyone does to begin with, but I believe eventually everyone reaches the stage of sheer fascination and delight in every new observation made.

You mention random explorations -- choosing a specialism is one way to stop them. Buy some books about rotifers. Learn about their anatomy (and often wonderfully bizarre lives! The Bdelloidea are an example of parthenogenesis much more interesting, perhaps, than the Cladocera (cyclical parthenogenesis), they represent obligate parthenogenesis. In fact, there are no males and reproduction is entirely asexual, yet they have diversified greatly -- a real puzzle!).

The universe is random and purposeless, so I am not trying to smuggle in teleology (spit!), but e.g. Floscularia happens to appeal so much to the aesthetic tastes of the human race that no-one could not enjoy drawing it.

There is a detailed F.B.A. (Freshwater Biological Association) key for planktonic and semi-planktonic forms, I am sure there are others. If the specialist textbooks defeat you, take a step down the ladder and read an introductory biology textbook through, followed by a general book on freshwater biology and then attack the rotifers again.

Once you know a little, talk to other rotifer specialists via the Internet, go out on sampling trips, make notes of the species you find and everything else you observe. There is so much for the amateur to do, at the most simple but immensely valuable level by extending our knowledge of rotifer distribution. Even in the twenty-first century I would wager my new microscope that there are hundreds of hundreds of habitats which have not had their rotifer-fauna catalogued. There must be a good dozen ponds near anyone's house (city parks if you're not a country mouse like me) and I am convinced very few will ever have been sampled. A large scale map helps, I am currently trying to splice Ordnance Survey maps to cover the entirety of the civil parish I live in. Six figure grid refs. a must.

You'll be making a real contribution to scientific knowledge, and in my view of the world there is no higher purpose than that.
“If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg.”

-- Apsley Cherry-Garrard, 'The Worst Journey in the World' vol. ii p. 578

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Jonnyvine
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Re: I was looking to get more out my microscope.

#8 Post by Jonnyvine » Wed Dec 19, 2018 11:50 am

Thank you everyone for your advice.

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cuxlander
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Re: I was looking to get more out my microscope.

#9 Post by cuxlander » Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:55 pm

@MicroBob,
Also interesting: The Universiy of Hamburg entertains a big algae collection. Some desmidacaes have been collected 50 years ago and are grown and cared for since then.
I have a rather old water sample from spring with demids (M. rotata and Netrium) still healthy and multiplying, although pH and mS are far beyond Desmids' preference.
What do the University Desmid carers do to keep them healthy?

Cheers,
Hans

MicroBob
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Re: I was looking to get more out my microscope.

#10 Post by MicroBob » Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:26 pm

Hi Hans,

we used desmids from the university at least two times for group meetings, last time April this year, but I never talked to the university staff myself.
As far as I know the desmids are kept in water and reproduce very slowly there, sometimes only twice per year. In certain intervals they start a new culture. A couple of years ago they thought about freezing the cultures to cut the effort for keeping them. Most of the desmids have been collected in the 1960s by one woman who travelled many parts of the world and brought home what she could find. I could put you in contact with someone of our group who knows more and who could name you a contact person at the university. It is possible to get samples from them, at least for us. A couple of years ago they thought about freezing the cultures to cut the effort for keeping them.

Bob

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