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World's smallest microscope? (IV)

In the previous issues of our magazine we were discussing a tiny half thumb sized transmitted light microscope. Here, once more, a total view of it:

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Fig. 1: The ultra-small stand-alone pocket microscope. Height 27.1 mm, maximum diameter 20 mm, diameter at base level 16 mm (16 mm is similar to typical diameters of very small coins, like e.g. the U.S. penny). Weight 19.8 g.

Remaining questions are about usability and image quality, in particular tardigrade image quality ;-).

Photomicrographs might be considered as purely documentary by the more scientific minded personalities, simply depicting the characteristics of tiny detail. But on the other hand, modern technology has raised the image consumer expectations: nowadays an image should have some aesthetic quality, too. As a consequence we might decide to use a bigger, classical benchtop microscope and work with backlight - in order to get a clean black background and vivid color:

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Fig. 2: An almost ideal tardigrade clutch (nest of eggs). Even though the tardigrade mother had to leave its old "skin" for moulting and egg deposition there is little visual evidence of the tedious parental work. It is difficult to tell from the image where the actual exit opening was.
On the other hand many details of the old "skin" like thorns, filaments and claws have been preserved in the remains. And we have five nice globular eggs, each measuring ca. 0.1 mm in diameter. Modern digital image with high contrast and high color saturation.

But possibly fig. 2 is slightly idealizing the tardigrade existence. Brilliance and color provide some glamour to the tardigrade clutch. There is little indication of disorder, asymmetry, illness etc. When looking at a similar clutch in transmitted light it is becoming clear that a typical tardigrade egg deposit might as well appear in a different manner, closer to real life:

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Fig. 3: A similar clutch as the one shown in fig. 2, but in transmitted light. This photograph was taken by means of a big MEOPTA benchtop "scientific" microscope.

But our half thumb sized microscope is well able to catch the basic essentials as well:

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Fig. 4: The clutch as shown in fig. 3, but photographed through our tiny microscope. This image is not as beautiful as the previous results but the typical characteristics of such an egg deposit are still visible.

BTW: the tiny microscope is able to show what such an an egg deposit looks like when running dry, too:

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Fig. 5: Dry tardigrade egg deposit, photographed through the instrument shown in fig. 1. No wonder that it is difficult to find those egg deposits whenn studying dry moss cushion samples before wetting.

In a nutshell, the tiny microscope might come in handy outside, in the field - but its use is not as simple as the one of a benchtop microscope. Normally you would prefer wide field eye-pieces in order to find those delicate objects within your samples. On the other hand a 100x magnification like this one is enough for many practical tasks.

In any case, a wonderful James Bond like gadget to boast with!

© Text, images and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
The Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of the German language monthly magazine  Bärtierchen-Journal . Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.

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