View Full Version : Things to look at with a microscope...

03-05-2003, 09:52 AM
I was given a microscope that hooks up to the computer it's one of these (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000059TF3/103-0648244-7183849).

I'm well aware that it isn't exactly lab quality, but I've had some fairly reasonable results with the 'usual' stuff (sugar, salt, hairs, torn paper, pinheads, headlice(don't ask), leaves etc), but I'd like some interesting ideas for other things to examine (with the kids, so probably not certain bodily fluids ;) ).

The software is excrable - it hijacks the display settings to 640x480 and is built around this terrible 'skin' interface with sound effects that can't be turned off (Hmmm, actually maybe I can delete the .wav files...), but it has a time lapse function; I'm thinking about letting a piece of bread go mouldy under the lens and snapping pictures every couple of hours.

Any suggestions?

03-05-2003, 09:56 AM
Cloth looks really neat with a microscope! You can see the tiny little weave!!

Also, salt looks pretty cool!!

03-05-2003, 10:28 AM
Check out the Birefringence (http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/Birefringence.html) on deli meat in your fridge. Birefringence is the gasoline-type sheen on the sides of meat....

Put an Ant in a bottle cap with a little oil in it.

Mold looks really neat.

Go and find some used Computer mother boards from different used computer dealers. Broken mother boards are best. and look for chip art.

Check out these (http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/micro/gallery/computers/computer.html) Mangetout. And then go to the home site and check out other cool molecular expressions....

**I got a similar microscope for christmas last year, can ya tell?

03-05-2003, 10:28 AM
I actually have one of those - got it the first year it came out. I just turn my sound down or off.

Feathers are very interesting. I use them to make interesting backgrounds for photo montages, etc.

Tiny bits of leather.
string and sewing thread
Printed paper - interesting to see how the ink penetrates or doesn't.
foam (rubber and plastic)
garden dirt
bits of snack foods such as potato chips, etc.
slivers of meat both raw and cooked

(I may be an OLD broad but I love toys.)

03-05-2003, 11:11 AM
Michael Jackson - now, to see if he really has a nose.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
03-05-2003, 11:18 AM
A drop of pond water has a whole world in it. I used to use an old-fashioned microscope, & thought what I saw amazing!

03-05-2003, 11:22 AM
I would look at different 'kinds' of water.

Pond water
Tap water
Rain water
filtered tap water

03-05-2003, 11:36 AM
Well, if I were a guy I think I might look at some, um...sperm.

03-05-2003, 01:36 PM
I've got one of these and it is great fun. I got it for my kids, but I enjoy it as much as they do.

One thing that really helps with it, especially on the highest magnification, is additional light. I've got a small halogen desk lamp that I am able to bend down close to the platform on the scope. It make a big difference.

Different kinds of bugs are fun to look at. I either put them in the refrigerator first to slow them down, or kill them with a bit of ether on a rag in a closed container. Moth or butterfly wings are remarkable (you can find them on the grill of a car during warm weather.)

03-05-2003, 02:55 PM
....your dick?

I'm SORRY!! I'm SORRY!!! The devil made me do it!!


03-05-2003, 04:15 PM
If you can illuminate the object from the top it is fun too look at you skin. It is amazing what a cut looks like when magnified. I made my wife gag when I showed her a cut I had on my cuticle. That cut was a day old so I used my pocket knife to make a fresh one on the back of my hand (very superficial), I was not disappointed.

03-05-2003, 08:39 PM
I second the recommendation that you check out a drop of pond water. Do you have any protoslow (sp?)? Protoslow is this cool stuff that gets motile microorganisms on slides to hold still so you can see them!

Check out water from different areas of a nearby pond or stream. Try to take samples from as wide a variety of aquatic habitats as possible. Rushing water, slowly moving water, and stagnant water are all very different environments, so they'll each yield different micro-menageries of wee beasties. The water near the top of a lake or stream is a very different place for a critter to set up shop than the water near the bottom is. Therefore, you get a different grab-bag of critters if you sample at different depths. Water that has any kind of scum or coloration in it often has some pretty cool stuff in it, too.

If you're not completely terrified of insects, spiders, and their various creepy-crawly cousins, check out various bug body parts. They're pretty amazing. Really! And see if you can get yourself some water bears. (There are some good web pages with instructions for finding and looking at the little guys. Try Googling "tardigrada" and see what you come up with.) If you'd like suggestions for how to catch a bewildering array of incredibly cool teeny-tiny critters you didn't even know existed, I'd be happy to help you out. Just send me an e-mail, and I'll tell you anything you want to know about collection methods. (Incidentally, most ways of catching these little guys are cheap, low-tech, and don't require a heck of a lot of effort.)

In spring and summer, check out the little stalks that come up on the grass in your lawn. Grasses have flowers, although they're very small, and most people don't notice them. Some of them look incredibly gorgeous under magnification. So do lots of fungi.

If you'd like, you can take a look at some of your own cells by swabbing the inside of your cheek and rolling out the resulting residue stuff onto a slide.

Have fun with your new toy!

Myron Van Horowitzski
03-06-2003, 02:01 PM
Spread a bit of clear nailpolish on a slide, and carefully push it against an orb spider web. Wow.

Tiny seeds and pollen are cool, too.