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  #1  
Old 11-22-2011, 03:40 PM
brujaja brujaja is offline
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What can I see with 500X magnification?

My little niece wants to be a scientist, bless her heart; so for Christmas I've bought her a 500X video microscope.

I'm wondering about certain interesting minutiae, and whether they can be seen at that magnification:

1. Can you see amoeba in water? Rotifers? (hee hee, I love rotifers. I had a bunch of sea monkeys, all called "Rotifer" except one who was "Scooter.")

2. She has said several times that she is interested in studying blood. Can you see a red blood cell at 500X?

What else?
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  #2  
Old 11-22-2011, 03:47 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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You can see all those at 500x magnification or less. Red blood cells can be seen well at 400x magnification as long as the microscope is of reasonable quality. Amoebas take about the same and those are some of the smaller things she is likely to want to see. Many plant cells don't need near that level of magnification.
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  #3  
Old 11-22-2011, 03:51 PM
brujaja brujaja is offline
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Woo hoo! How about fern & mushroom spores? Hey, and I have a big piece of silicon microchip stock that was meant to be cut into tiny squares -- can she see the tiny circuits?

Oh, one more thing -- will they be better seen on a glass slide, or a mirror?

Last edited by brujaja; 11-22-2011 at 03:52 PM..
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  #4  
Old 11-22-2011, 04:21 PM
CC CC is offline
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Strictly speaking, this is not an answer to your question. But depending upon the age of the child, a 500x microscope can be minimally educational. This is because there is a conceptual disconnect between what a person can see with the naked eye and what can be seen in the microscope. To a younger child, there is basically no cognitive connection between what's seen and the knowledge of what one is looking at. The "picture" in a 500x microscope has no realistic connection to anything in the child's life. For this reason, for younger children, at least, a lower power scope is capable of teaching the child many more things about the world. For younger children, experiences that are closer to the observable world are much more meaningful.
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  #5  
Old 11-22-2011, 04:34 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
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Spermatazoa. Or so I have heard.
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  #6  
Old 11-22-2011, 04:59 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is online now
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That's more than enough magnification to see microscopic organisms from large protozoa down to quite small bacteria.

There are educational science catalogues that offer lots of stuff to view, and you can buy slide sets containing tumors, normal histology and so on (this is one example, though I have no familiarity with this particular company).
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  #7  
Old 11-22-2011, 05:48 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Could someone tell me what is the cheapest microscope available that will allow you to see these things clearly?
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  #8  
Old 11-22-2011, 05:54 PM
VOW VOW is offline
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I'm not familiar with a video microscope. Back the the day, ol' Leeuwenhoek and I used an optical 'scope, and light had to be able to pass through the specimen on the slide.

There's a nifty trick to do with two glass slides and a drop of blood to get a single cell layer for viewing. You use the edge of the slide and smear the drop, and essentially use surface tension to hold the second slide on top of the first.

Red blood cells are really cool, a doughnut shape. If your niece can provide the blood drop herself, it makes it that much more fascinating.

I remember chasing after my baby sister after she fell down. I didn't care about giving her comfort for her split lip, I just wanted a drop of that blood!


~VOW
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Old 11-22-2011, 06:18 PM
obbn obbn is offline
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Possibly my ex-wife's soul or her sex drive?
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  #10  
Old 11-22-2011, 06:42 PM
brujaja brujaja is offline
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Argent Towers, they seem to run about $35 on eBay, with shipping. Either they're 35 and the shipping is free, or else they're cheaper but with the shipping add up to 35.

They seem to mostly be coming from overseas, probably a little longer wait.

Last edited by brujaja; 11-22-2011 at 06:43 PM..
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  #11  
Old 11-22-2011, 06:51 PM
brujaja brujaja is offline
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Oh, and CC, you raise a very good point; and she is only six. I believe in her case she may be equipped to appreciate what she sees. For one thing, it goes from 50X to 500. Also, I am somewhat of a subversive auntie, , and I have always explained about the inner workings of things. (I was her nanny til she was 5 1/2.)

When we were watching "A Wrinkle In Time," she asked me what a tesseract was. I stopped the movie and explained to the best of my ability. I believe she understood. <happy sigh> She is awesome!
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:36 PM
AaronX AaronX is offline
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How about Brownian motion? In an experiment I used polystyrene spheres but I believe the original was with pollen. I think you'll need to give some space between the slide and cover glass, so you can use a reinforcement ring to make a well.

Or grow brine shrimp!
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  #13  
Old 11-22-2011, 08:00 PM
brujaja brujaja is offline
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Really? How awesome is that?!

Last edited by brujaja; 11-22-2011 at 08:00 PM..
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  #14  
Old 11-22-2011, 08:01 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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It sounds like the microscope has already been purchased, but you might want to check the quality of the image it generates - the magnification is only part of the issue. As a kid (30 years ago), I had a toy microscope that produced very large blurry images... I'd have been better off with less magnification and more resolution.
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  #15  
Old 11-22-2011, 09:45 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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If I had to guess, those cheap 500x microscopes are abheration city. Good optics are pricey, not $350 pricey not $35 pricey.
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  #16  
Old 11-22-2011, 10:11 PM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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I think a pocket microscope that can do 100x would be nice.

http://www.amazon.com/Carson-MM-200-...ref=pd_sim_t_3

There are also some digital microscopes on the same link. For a child a digital microscope with a composite video link might be better, so they can plug it into the TV. For an older child, a USB cable is better, since they can take screen shots to document their project.

I actually assembled digital microscopes that could resolve down a fraction of a micron, but those were for work and the components cost thousands of dollars. Taking pictures to document defects was still really handy.
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  #17  
Old 11-22-2011, 11:28 PM
brujaja brujaja is offline
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Wow, JoelUpchurch, that's some mad skillz there!


Did you take any pictures for fun, hmmm?
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  #18  
Old 11-23-2011, 01:45 AM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CC View Post
Strictly speaking, this is not an answer to your question. But depending upon the age of the child, a 500x microscope can be minimally educational. This is because there is a conceptual disconnect between what a person can see with the naked eye and what can be seen in the microscope. To a younger child, there is basically no cognitive connection between what's seen and the knowledge of what one is looking at. The "picture" in a 500x microscope has no realistic connection to anything in the child's life. For this reason, for younger children, at least, a lower power scope is capable of teaching the child many more things about the world. For younger children, experiences that are closer to the observable world are much more meaningful.
Cite? My Dad was teaching biology when I was a kid (around 5) and I knew perfectly well what a microscope was and could do. My brother too. Maybe if you are raising monkeys you might have a point.
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  #19  
Old 11-23-2011, 02:19 AM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VOW View Post
I'm not familiar with a video microscope. Back the the day, ol' Leeuwenhoek and I used an optical 'scope, and light had to be able to pass through the specimen on the slide.

There's a nifty trick to do with two glass slides and a drop of blood to get a single cell layer for viewing. You use the edge of the slide and smear the drop, and essentially use surface tension to hold the second slide on top of the first.

~VOW
And they used to do it that way back in the day when you went to the lab for a blood draw, and right there on the spot the lab tech would squirt some blood from the syringe onto the slide, smear it out like that, and look through the microscope to count all the cells there. They had a little hand counter like they use to count the people at the entrance to museums. And the technicial would let me look through the microscope.

Today of course they just send the blood out to somewhere else where it's all done by some kind of automated machine.

Last edited by Senegoid; 11-23-2011 at 02:20 AM..
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  #20  
Old 11-23-2011, 02:21 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronX View Post
How about Brownian motion? In an experiment I used polystyrene spheres but I believe the original was with pollen.
We used smoke from an extinguished match at school - at 500x magnification, the smoke particles are little white dots, zooming and zagging about.
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  #21  
Old 11-23-2011, 02:27 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
Spermatazoa. Or so I have heard.
I was going to suggest that, based on the thread title alone, but it might not be quite so appropriate a thing to show a small niece...
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  #22  
Old 11-23-2011, 09:20 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Another point to prepare her for - like anatomy, microscopy is not as pretty and precise as textbooks like us to believe. Even if the microscope is good enough to give sharp detail, microbes tend to look more like scribbled black-and-white hand drawings of tiny things jumping around, not glossy multicoloured pretty pictures like science book illustrations - just as real dissection looks more like a bowl of chopped liver rather than the nice colour-coded diagrams from textbooks. Of course, other than the moon, stuff through a home-sized telescope looks nothing like the planetary probles and hubble long-exposure pictures lead us to believe.

If you are lucky, you can get some interesting sights from things like crystals and cells.

The fascinating thing about science is that you can see this stuff for real, not that it looks pretty. Age 6? She will definitely need some help getting some samples prepared to the point where she can see anything notable.

Last edited by md2000; 11-23-2011 at 09:21 AM..
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  #23  
Old 11-23-2011, 09:54 AM
Washoe Washoe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CC View Post
This is because there is a conceptual disconnect between what a person can see with the naked eye and what can be seen in the microscope. To a younger child, there is basically no cognitive connection between what's seen and the knowledge of what one is looking at.
Can you provide a cite for that? I was about four or five years old the first time an individual atom was imaged; I remember my father coming to me with the then-current issue of Science and showing me the picture. I understood what I was looking at, despite being notably disappointed with the resolution. (“Geez, Dad—it just looks like a stupid blob. Why can’t I see the individual protons? And where are the fucking electrons?”)
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  #24  
Old 11-23-2011, 11:43 AM
obbn obbn is offline
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Originally Posted by obbn View Post
Possibly my ex-wife's soul or her sex drive?
*tap* *tap* *tap* Is this thing on? ...................... *cricket noises* .......
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