Wednesday, 28 December 2016

‘Flowers’ beneath the surface

Bryozoans - commonly called moss animals - form plant-like colonies. There are about 4000 species of bryozoans, which occur in both fresh and salt water, from the tropics to the polar regions. In this case the video shows a fresh water variety. They attach themselves to every conceivable surface providing grip. The colonies of bryozoans are formed by a large number of individual animals, which are also called zooids. Any zooid, which usually is not yet a millimeter in length, is locked up in a ‘shell’, which can be box-shaped, oval, vase-shaped or tube-shaped, depending on the shape of the colony.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

No watch without a microscope

For years magnifiers and microscopes are needed for the manufacture and repair of watches. Who does not know the familiar image of the watchmaker wearing a magnifying glass for one eye. He is peering in stooped posture into the interior of a watch as if there is a big hidden secret inside.

Friday, 2 December 2016

A colon, why?

Human colon | SMZ171 stereomicroscope | Moticam 10

In the large intestine (colon) resorption takes place of the remainders of the digested food and liquid, which makes the stool thicker and makes it gliding by the addition of mucus. The wall of the large intestine consists of the typical layers for the digestive tract: the mucosa, submucosa, muscularis and serosa. The lumen is subdivided by numerous crescent-shaped folds.

Human colon | BA410E PlanAPO 10X | Moticam 10
The mucous membrane of the large intestine is a single layer of thick cylindrical epithelium, which consists of numerous absorptive cells with a brush-like edge, amongst which goblet cells are embedded. The latter do not have a brush-like edge and produce mucus especially at the bottom of the tubular crypts. The crypts are straight tubular and run down from the surface through the mucosa. With the depth, the number of goblet cells increases, while the absorptive cells become flatter and diminish in number. The connective tissue of the lamina propria fills the space between the crypts. The muscularis mucosa is composed of an inner ring and an outer layer of smooth musculature. The submucosa is a loose connective tissue with solitary lymph nodes, larger blood vessels and groups of fat cells.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

How to chase away nightmares

Citrine is rare in nature. In the days before modern gemology, its tawny color caused it to be confused with topaz. Today, its attractive color, plus the durability and affordability it shares with most other quartzes, makes it the top-selling yellow-to-orange gem. In the contemporary market, citrine’s most popular shade is an earthy, deep, brownish or reddish orange. It’s an attractive alternative not only for topaz, but also for yellow sapphire. The finest citrine color is a saturated yellow to reddish orange free of brownish tints. According to legend it is the symbol of friendship and is able to chase away nightmares.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Breathing through your roots?

Mangrove is a type of forest in the tropics and subtropics, located along a low coast or a river, which is submerged at high tide, is sheltered and muddy, has a salty soil and is characterized by a vegetation consisting of trees and shrubs with breathing roots or aerial roots.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Diamonds are forever

The first diamonds were discovered more than five thousand years ago in India and have held mankind for many enigmas since then: how was it that diamond was harder than any known matter, what was the composition of this mineral, etc.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Feather facts

Feathers appear to have evolved from scales and are composed of B-keratin. Scales and feathers develop in a similar fashion. In actuality, birds have both feathers and scales. You can find scales on the legs and feet of most birds.

Feathers are incredibly strong and yet are incredibly flexible. To allow both lift and forward movement, feathers can bend at almost a right angles.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Some remarks about FLUORESCENCE

In standard light microscopy FLUORESCENCE is clearly one of the most challenging methods. It requires a clear understanding of the scientific background as well as a proper microscope setup: there are many options to miss a satisfying image result. As the costs of a traditional Mercury illumination setup (still the most flexible approach) are remarkable, a beginner in FLUORESCENCE should take his time to evaluate the adequate microscope & filter hardware.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

When leaves are falling

The images show the prepairation of the cleavage of tissue at the base of the petiole. During the perspiration, ions, which are introduced via the roots, constantly remain behind in the leave tissue, which accumulate over time to such an extent, that they slow down the photosynthesis.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Learning from rats

The rat proves science daily services in areas such as surgery, cancer, heart disease, embryology, diabetes, paraplegia, addiction etc. In research, in the twentieth century, the rat has been partially displaced by the mouse, which is smaller, propagates faster and is easier to manipulate genetically. But because of its greater pharmacological similarity with humans and his larger body - useful in surgeries – the rat has maintained himself in the lab.

Uterus of rat with fetus | Stereomicroscope SMZ171 | Moticam 10

Laboratory rats have bicornuate uteri and weigh between 200 and 400 g. There are numerous different "strains" with slightly different gestational features. A commonly

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A bio-indicator for air pollution

Growth of lichens on trees: Bio-indicator for clean and contaminated air. Lichens are dual beings, developed from a symbiosis of algae and tiny fungi. Fungi and algae alone are dependent on moisture.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Rock from the depths of the earth

Basalt belongs to the group of igneous rocks. Igneous rocks are formed when hot liquid magma (lava) from the depths of the earth, is forced to the surface by volcanic forces and flows like a mudslide directly over the earth's surface, where it cools down and solidifies. Basalt is used in the road and hydraulic engineering in particular, as a result of its favorable mechanical properties.

Basalt as (geological) young volcanic rock, gets a fine-grained structure when cooling down relatively rapid. It is interspersed with small circular hollow vesicles. The color ranges from dark gray via gray-black to dark blue. Basalt is very solid and

Monday, 1 August 2016

Introduction to Darkfield illumination - Slider solution

For transparent samples in light microscopy, dark field illumination is a simple and affordable contrast method. The idea of this technique is to display and to emphasize border structures, means abrupt changes of the refractive index within the sample. Especially for single-celled organism in fresh or sweet water environments, with a refractive index close to water, this contrast method gives aesthetic and informative images.

Dark field emphasizes borders and isolated, single structures, flagella of protozoa and tiny particles. The comparison of a diatom sample in bright field and dark field clearly shows this:

How such an image is achieved? We need to eliminate the direct light which ordinarily passes the specimen and which is responsible for the bright background in bright field illumination. For objectives with a Numerical Aperture ≤ 0.65 this

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Tiny packages that contain all information necessary for life

Chromosomes are the packages that hold DNA. They play an essential role in genetics - they are the parcels of genetic material that are passed down from parents to children and together contain the full set of inherited instructions that an embryo receives.

Monday, 18 July 2016

The microscope objective - the key issue for best image performance

Different samples require different microscopes. This rule refers to the fact that an opaque, bulky sample with a reflective surface needs another treatment than a transparent, unstained smear from the cavitas oris. The microscope stand offers the necessary space for a correct positioning of the sample and all options for the appropriate illumination method.

 The microscope objective is an even more specific item. Here we talk about the required resolution power (= numerical aperture), but also about cover glass correction, immersion method and working distance.

1. The standard upright microscope for transmitted light is constructed for glass slides with a 0.17mm cover slip. This restriction is indicated on the objective sleeve:

Cover slip thickness indicated on Motic's Plan UC Fluor objectives

The cover slip has to be placed on top of the sample. A slight pressing of a dissecting needle will help to avoid too much embedding medium (water, etc.) between sample and cover slip. The embedding medium in this case works as an

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Tar spot (Rhytisma acerinum)

The microscopic image shows an infected leaf with sclerotia. A consequence of monoculture.

Just like buildup of mold on pine needles and on the leaves of the willow, an ascomycete (Rhytisma) is the cause of tar spot. From late summer to autumn, round black mold deposits are growing on the leaves of several species of maple, which overwinter on the ground after the falling of the leaves. In spring distribution

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

When you still need a microscope to see Giant structures

Giant chromosomes can be observed in the salivary glands of certain two winged flies (Diptera) and were first observed by Balbiani in 1881 [1]. These chromosomes are oversized and develop from standard chromosomes when specialized cells

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Rheinberg illumination

An interesting variance of darkfield is Rheinberg illumination, discovered in 1896 in London by Julius Rheinberg. The major difference between darkfield and Rheinberg illumination is color. Whereas in darkfield, the background is black and the subject is white, Rheinberg goes a step further and creates a colored background and a colored subject.

Monday, 27 June 2016

MOTIC’s New Tablet Solutions: enabling computer-free digital microscopy

Tablets and handheld computer devices are common place in every corner of working life. In schools, clinics or industrial applications, data gets captured, processed and transmitted using Android, Windows or iOS tablet devices.

Bringing this technology and flexibility to proper use in microscopy, Motic’s new Moticam Tablet solutions enable the user to choose the perfect solution for their circumstances. Following on the footsteps of Motic’s recent products to enable computer-free digital microscopy, the Moticam BTU8 and BTU10 feature a fully

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Dutch live with water

 Micrasterias Rotata and Papillifera | Motic AE31E inverted Microscope | Moticam HD stack

The Dutch have to live with water, because of their country lying below sea level for the greatest part. What does this have to do with microscopy?

Every year the Dutch are spending billions of euros in dikes, canals, rivers, bridges, locks, waste water purification, water quality monitoring, water research and innovation. Dutch water know how is being applied all over the world.

 Micrasterias  Papillifera | Motic BA410E upright Microscope | Moticam 10

A major activity is the continues monitoring of the state of the zoo- and phytoplankton in rivers, streams and other aquatic areas, in order to watch over the

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Steeling food?

Collotheca ambigua is a rotifer species in the family Collothecidae. The scientific name of this species is first validly published in 1883 by Hudson. Rotifers are extremely common and can be found in many freshwater environments and in moist soil, where they inhabit the thin films of water surrounding soil particles. Their habitats may include still water environments, such as lake bottoms, as well as

Monday, 30 May 2016

A safe and easy way to operate a Fluorescence microscope for beginners

LEDs are everywhere. This technology is going to roll around also the world of microscopy. For basic illumination purposes, LED technology is already established. Traditional workers will regret the death of the old fashioned Halogen light sources with their emotional high percentage of long wavelengths: think about a candle-light dinner. But LED technology is going to answer this lack of atmosphere by the offer of a large choice of color temperatures. May be this helps.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Extremely tiny but very useful ‘hair’

Ciliated epithelium is a type of bodily tissue that is lined with “ciliated” cells, which are basically cells that have small, hair-like protrusions known as “cilia” that can either help the cells move along the tissue or can help debris and waste move along the surface of the cells. Cilia typically move in one direction in a wavelike

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Color fidelity and fast live image: the new Moticam 1080 Full HD Multi-Output camera is waiting for you!

Turning an ephemeral microscopic image into solid data has become the norm in working with microscopes. But the focus in daily work flow may vary. Sometimes in first instance a speedy live image with true colors for presentation purposes and discussion is needed, and the possible database may be of minor importance. In industrial QC the quantification of saved image data is the key issue. Thanks to its multi-output configuration the Moticam 1080 covers both demands. HDMI and USB signal even can be used to run the camera on HDMI and PC screen in a parallel mode.

Moticam 1080 is dedicated to the presentation and documentation of microscopic results with a clear focus on fast live image and maximum colour fidelity. The impressive 1080 (60P) HDMI live image perfectly fits to the presentation of

Monday, 2 May 2016


These organisms are unicellular and live in fresh water. Some of these organisms are photosynthetic, producing their own food, while others are heterotrophic, eating small organisms.

Euglena acus

The Euglena (genus) acus (species) is a type of Protista which lives in fresh water ponds during warm seasons. The Euglena acus produces its food through

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Motic Images Plus 3.0 – a fresh approach for a powerful microscopy software

The marriage of light microscope and digital camera is a story of success. During the last decade, Motic’ digital products expanded into areas and markets where digital microscopy has been out of reach due to its price perception. One necessary component of this success is a powerful yet easy-to-handle software which covers concordant requirements in medical, educational and industrial applications. From the beginning, Motic Images Plus software supplied useful tools to optimize a fast live image for storage as a still image, image sequence or video. In a second step, a number of quantification tools enable multiple measurements ready to be exported for further use.

Color fidelity is a self-evident expectation on any digital camera. The new Motic Images Plus 3.0 software comes with an interactive White Balance and Background Balance in order to optimize the image background in terms of color temperature or shading. The characteristic of CMOS sensors is responded by a Color Correction tool.

A calibrated Scalebar in the live image helps for a first estimate of size and can be saved as an overlay; a variable Grid may replace the pattern of various counting chambers. But also Interactive Measurements are now possible within the Live image. The necessary calibration slide is integral part of Motic’s All-in-One camera concept and causes no additional costs.

Once the image data are saved, nearly all geometric figures can be used to outline structures to be quantified. Export of these data is possible in Excel or *txt format. An Image Comparison (recent image versus database image) is a helpful option in industrial Quality Control.

Motic Images Plus 3.0ML will start shipping as standard with the new upgraded Moticam Plus cameras (that will come out in the next coming months) as well as the new multi-function HDMI camera, the Moticam 1080.

As is normal practice with Motic, each end-user can upgrade their existing Motic Images Plus 2.0 to the new 3.0 anytime, anywhere, and free of charge. This sleek, new and thought-out software package is running with an identical interface on Windows, Apple or Linux operating systems and certainly empowers your microscope to be a more efficient scientific tool. Even more as Motic Images Plus 3.0 is a real Multilingual software; a change of language is done within a second.

Click here to download the new Motic Images Plus 3.0. 

Monday, 25 April 2016

This is not a pink cube

There is controversy on whether cobaltocalcite is a mineral on its own or if it is not. It can be described either as calcite mineral containing cobalt or as spherocobaltite containing calcium. It surely is a calcium and cobalt carbonate and, as it happens with spherocobaltite, it is pink, vitreous and it always grows incrusted on a matrix.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The retina, a bio-chip on the back of the eye

The structure of the eyes is in its basic form the same for all mammals. The function and operation of the eyes of mammals is thus also broadly similar.

The retina which is located on the back of the eye, is composed of very closely spaced light-sensitive cells that are in connection with the brains via the optic nerve. The light signals that reach the light-sensitive cells, are transferred to the brains via the optic nerve. The brains takes these signals and translates them into the picture what is happening before our eyes.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Quick setup guide for upright microscopes


Before switching on the microscope, plug-in the microscope to the power supply (1). Once this is done, switch it on (2) and gradually increase the intensity control (3).


Before adjusting the interpupillary distance, place the sample on the specimen holder, and select the 10X objective (4).

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Some ideas about the FIELD of VIEW

To judge the performance of a microscope, the FIELD of VIEW (FOV) is a criterion of interest. What is this “FIELD of VIEW”? In a technical sense, we are talking about the diameter of the INTERMEDIATE IMAGE, created by the objective or, in infinity systems, by the cooperation of objective and tube lens. This intermediate image is enlarged by the eyepiece, acting as a magnifying glass. The labelling of the eyepiece shows the actual FOV in combination with its magnification, e.g. 10X/23 for a standard 10X eyepiece with FOV 23:

Finite and infinite optical system. In the Infinity Concept please note the parallel rays between objective and tube lens.

Especially in stereo microscopy, where large samples come as standard, a large FOV is appreciated for a better sample overview before going into details. But how much “more” do I see at a glance in a FOV 23, in comparison with a FOV 20? Is it worth to choose a more expensive model, or is the less expensive solution sufficient?

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

A cactus takes breath at night

Most plants have their pores (stomata’s) open during the day to take in carbon dioxide, and use sunlight as a catalyst for the photosynthesis. But in the desert, plants with pores open during the hot days, lose much water through evapotranspiration. So, succulents use a modified version of photosynthesis called CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism).

CAM plants open their stomata’s only at night when it is cooler so there is less evapotranspiration. Because there is no sunlight to act as a catalyst, carbon dioxide is stored as an organic acid, principally Malic Acid (C4H6O5). Carbon dioxide is

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Azurite to malachite

This is a photo from an azurite, or at least of what it is left from it. The blue mineral surviving mayhem of green invaders is our protagonist today. It is one of the two copper carbonate hydroxides, but as it can be seen on the photo, it is not the most stable.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

You can find it on rotting fruit

Rhizopus is a genus of common saprobic fungi on plants and specialized parasites on animals. They are found on a wide variety of organic substrates, including "mature fruits and vegetables", faeces, jellies, syrups, leather, bread, peanuts and

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Magnification on screen

One of the most frequently asked questions about digital imaging is:
what is the total magnification showed on the screen?

To answer this question, we need to know four things:

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Xanthidium armatum ‘inverted’

The use of an inverted microscope for observation of phytoplankton, actually belongs to the standard. The image which is shown here, has been taken with the Motic Inverted Microscope AE31E. A 35 mm cell culture petri dish with a high precision glass bottom was used. This combination has some advantages over the use of an upright microscope:

Friday, 19 February 2016

MITOSIS: Multiplication by Division

Our body contains trillions of cells (thousands of millions) but everything started from a single cell. This unit cell has the amazing ability of dividing into two, and then four, and then eight and so on, in time becoming a complete organism. The process through which cells divide and divide as to multiply in number and become a complete organism, is known as Mitosis.

During Mitosis, the parent cell divides to form two genetically identical daughter cells. In order to assure a perfect copy of the genetic material in the daughter cells, the parent cell has to duplicate the chromosomes first; this step is called the

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Feulgen stain, still indispensable for microscopic research

Robert Feulgen (1884–1955) was a German physician and chemist who, in 1914, developed a method for staining DNA (now known as the Feulgen stain) and who discovered that DNA is located in the chromosomes and also discovered plant and animal nuclear DNA ("thymonucleic acid") congeniality. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Painting with crystals

Preparing a normal or time lapse video of a crystallization process under the microscope is not easy. Focusing problems, formation of too big crystals and getting the interesting part right under the objective, often gives you a headache.

With the technique described below, most of these headaches can be overcome:

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

This is a photo of a chalcedony interacting with white Tungsten light. It is special because it almost shows all the colours of a rainbow. To do so, the crystal needs to have the exact geometry and to be placed at the exact position to interfere with each of the colours separately.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Ants, the world’s barely visible largest biomass

Ants are a group of colony-forming social insects, which belong to the order of Hymenoptera. Ants have been able to adapt to very different habitats; where they occur, ants are the dominant life form on the bottom. It is estimated that the total biomass of ants is greater than that of any other animal species on earth.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Just stones?

Tumbled stones are small pieces of rocks and minerals (usually about one to five centimeters in diameter) that have been processed in a rock tumbler to produce smooth, rounded and highly polished pebbles. Most stones that a person can find will not tumble with good results. The rocks and minerals used to make tumbled stones are specially selected for their color, translucence, appearance and ability to