Pharyngula

Holiday microscope shopping

Since Phil has suggestions for holiday telescope shopping, I have to offer some suggestions for microscope shopping. If you really want to get a kid interested in biology, a microscope is a great gift, but I’ll give you the price tag right up front: $150 is probably the minimum to get a decent, low-end student scope.

First, a few don’ts. Don’t buy a microscope at a toy store, unless you want cheesy, cheap plastic junk. And probably the most important advice: don’t judge a microscope by the highest magnification. You’ll see lots of ads that shout “1500x!!!”, but trust me: you can’t get a good 100x objective (they get the 1500 by multiplying the 100x objective lens by a 15x eyepiece) for the prices most people can afford. I do most of my professional microscopy work with a 40x objective and 10x eyepieces — you can see much more with a hiqh quality, low power objective than you can with a high power, low quality objective.

When you’re shopping around, most of what you’ll see are called compound microscopes. These are the traditional kind of microscope you’ll see, and they’re often sold with sets of prepared glass slides. You’ll need slides in order to set up specimens, the specimens have to be very thin, and you visualize what you’re looking at by shining light through the specimen — this is called transmitted light microscopy.

You don’t want one of those.

I’ve owned several compound scopes, and they’re wonderful and they give great images…but it takes more prep work (in most cases) to set up the specimens, and you’re going to be much more limited in the range of things you can look at. Imagine that your kid catches a fly and wants to look at it; you can put the wings on a compound scope, but anything else, you’re going to need to cut thin sections or mount bits and pieces on a slide. It’s not fun for most young’uns.

What you want to be able to do is pop the whole animal on the scope and look at it in closeup. You want what is called a stereoscope or a dissecting scope. It’s an instrument that looks something like this:

i-d27451181affec29d87606fea6c76d0f-stereozoom.jpg

(That’s not the $150 model, I’m afraid—it’s the several thousand dollar high end model I use in my lab.)

These beauties have several features that make them a perfect scope for the young student. First, note the working distance, the space between the specimen and the lens. It’s tens of centimeters, enough space for someone to put their hand under there and look at nifty dermal papillae or scabs or their pet gerbil, without squishing or cutting them into thin sections. On a compound scope, you’ve got fractions of a millimeter.

It also uses epi-illumination, or light from above, and what you see is light reflected from rather than transmitted through your specimen. Again, this is to the immense benefit of the pet gerbil. It’s really that easy to use: put the object you want to examine on the base, turn on an illuminator (a desk lamp will work, even), and focus. No great delicacy required, nor do you need to do any special preparation. If you want to do transmitted light illumination, you can buy elevated stands with a glass plate where the black disk is above, and shine light from underneath.

A Leica Wild M3 stereozoom like the one above is overkill for student use, but you can find lots of good scopes at a range of prices at scientific supply houses. Look for educational microscopes; the student models are usually built to be fairly tough and low maintenance. You can find them at these fine institutions (I get no kickbacks from these referrals).

One other thing I’m sometimes asked is about photomicrography — you see something really cool in the scope, so you want to take a picture of it. There are inexpensive scopes with cameras built in, like the QX-5…which is sold in toy stores and looks it, and I can’t really recommend it unless you really want something quick and dirt cheap. You can also get good stereoscopes with built-in digital cameras, but camera technology is improving so quickly that it often means you are paying more than it’s worth to get an obsolet camera system.

I recommend getting really cheap at first and just getting a tripod. Take the camera you use for home photography, and just aim it down one of the eyepieces and take a picture. You’d be surprised at how well this often works. It’s hard to do well with a hand-held camera, though, which is why I suggest using a tripod.

Alternatively, there is a good market now for camera adapters for microscopes. These typically consist of a metal sleeve that attaches to the lens of your camera, and then slides over the eyepiece tube. Zarf Enterprises is the source for a range of different adapters, or if you’re good at shop and know how to mill metal, you can make your own.

Here’s one example of a picture I took a while back, of a freshly eclosed white mutant Drosophila. I just happened to find this pretty pale fly as I was working through my stocks, and on a whim, put her on the stereoscope and snapped a picture — it really is fast and easy.

i-965e9a52f515abb684e38fc546448389-white_drosophila.jpg

It’s also easy to zoom in and look at details, like the bristles on the head. Those microscopes that advertise 1500x magnifications sound impressive, but really, at that mag you’d be staring at a cluster of cells in one small part of a bristle, if you could even get something as large as a fruit fly’s head under the objective, and in a cheap scope, it would be a blurry smear.

i-b3fd37a74927b4fa096bd2062dd2b4d2-white_drosophila_head.jpg

Go ahead, give a kid a nice little microscope for squidmas (or christmas, if you choose to celebrate it) this year. It’s a wonderful way to get the little rascals excited about biology, and you’ll be entertained as they scurry about the house looking for the grossest, creepiest things they can find to look at. The joy on a child’s face as they look into a spider’s eyes for the first time…it’s priceless. Oh, and when they discover the parasites living in their eyelashes…!

Comments

  1. #1 Houdini's Ghost
    November 30, 2007

    Thanks, this is great. The Canon recommended a good microscope for the budding young scientist — and I liked the idea but didn’t really know where to begin. Thanks to this post, a certain little girl and arthropod-lover I know will be disappointed when she doesn’t get a Wii this squidmas.

  2. #2 Galbinus_Caeli
    November 30, 2007

    I had a microscope and a telescope as a child. The former had a far more profound effect on me. The ability to pick something up and then examine it more and more closely is a pretty amazing thing.

  3. #3 skyotter
    November 30, 2007

    i’ve been thinking of getting an “EyeClops” for a friend’s 6-year-old. it’s a 200x and plugs in to show the image on a standard TV. they seem to run $40-50

    i’m hoping the “video game” feel will help keep his interest

  4. #4 Coturnix
    November 30, 2007

    I was lucky that a bunch of teaching scopes in the Department were replaced a few years ago and a few were just given away so I got one. My kids love it. A new one of that quality would probably cost in the thousands.

  5. #5 John Vreeland
    November 30, 2007

    Never having studied biology formally, I recently ponied up some money for a decent microscope myself. The best source for subject materials turned out to be my aquarium. Eventually I started removing the excess plant cuttings from my living room pond and tossing them into a separate small well-lit tank that has spawned a great trove of hydras, flatworms, nematodes, snails, and algal mats. Not to mention a couple of small creatures I have not yet identified. I feed it nothing but sunlight and plant waste from the other tank and in turn it has formed a dense invertebrate ecology.

  6. #6 ShavenYak
    November 30, 2007

    Thanks… my little girl keeps asking for a microscope. I haven’t seen Phil’s article, but I bet it starts the exact same way – don’t judge the ‘scope by its magnification. I had figured that was probably going to be true for micro as well as tele.

    We’re done with our shopping for Yak Shaving Day, but perhaps a microscope will be one of her birthday presents.

  7. #7 Mike P
    November 30, 2007

    Houdini’s Ghost #1,

    I swear there must be a market for some kind of Wiicroscope. Like a game that involves a functioning microscope that connects to the Wii.

  8. #8 Dawn
    November 30, 2007

    [Looking to Buy a Microscope?

    We certainly are. Maybe not this year but sometime soon and I’ve read page after page of recommendations to try and educate myself. Then comes PZ over at Pharyngula…]

    Thank you! We’re going to have to buy a microscope soon for our homeschooling and this post is very much appreciated!

  9. #9 Gabe
    November 30, 2007

    Awesome, PZ. It’s wonderful not only for analysing insects or other small animals, but great to identify and toy with flower parts, if you have a young botanist at home 😉

  10. #10 Mike Huben
    November 30, 2007

    Instructions for viewing your own facial Demodex mites are on page 177 of E. O. Wilson’s “The Diversity Of Life”. However, you’ll want a compound microscope instead of a dissecting microscope. Showing off your own facial livestock is one of the great joys of owing a microscope. But somehow the line “Want to come up and see my mites?” never seemed to work with the women.

  11. #11 Noni Mausa
    November 30, 2007

    Yes, I would love a stereo microscope again someday. I had a cheap one as a kid and loved looking at pond scum wildlife and watching brine evaporate and crystalize.

    Meanwhile, here’s an interesting item:

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/9955/

  12. #12 Galbinus_Caeli
    November 30, 2007
  13. #13 tceisele
    November 30, 2007

    One thing you can do is put a macro lens on a digital camera, like the one I describe about halfway down this page. I started with a Canon Powershot A95 camera, got an adapter for it that would allow addition of supplementary lenses and filters, and used a “macro coupler” to mount a reversed lens from an old 35 mm SLR camera. On a rigid mount that I scavenged, this is almost a microscope – it can take pictures of things like this mite, which is only a bit over 1 mm in diameter. This rig is of course no match for a real stereomicroscope, but it isn’t bad considering that I cobbled it together from stuff I mostly had laying about for about $30. Plus, it gets you pictures. The Canon Powershot A-series cameras have a pretty decent macro mode, and the newer ones will let you do pretty well even without the supplemental lenses, provided you have a solid mount.

  14. #14 Paul Crowley
    November 30, 2007

    This is the wrong way around – you can look right at whatever it is, but you have to go through pain to get a photograph? When will they sell a $150 dollar microscope that doesn’t have an eyepiece but plugs into your PC?

  15. #15 No One of Consequence
    November 30, 2007

    I wish you would have posted this last year — We bought a decent compound microscope, but I think this type would have been much more fun for the kids.

  16. #16 Glenn
    November 30, 2007

    Great, with a microscope like that, the kids can see the irreducible complexity of the fly eye for themselves!

    (I’m just kidding, PZ, please don’t disemvowel me…)

  17. #17 Dwimr
    November 30, 2007

    My parents got me a cheap microscope when I was little. It must have worked, because now I’m a pathologist. I just got an Olympus BX-41 microscope for 4 grand. It kicks ass.

  18. #18 Jaycubed
    November 30, 2007

    I would recommend one of the several inexpensive ($5-30) plastic microscopes available; both for younger children who might destroy a more expensive model, and as a knock around portable to carry on outings. It matters far less if they get lost or destroyed.

    These can be found in most good (ie. smaller, local, non-chain) toystores as well as some of the big-box chains. Even “cheesy plastic junk” has its uses.

    I have bought several for the children in my life (I’m a non-breeder), and kept one (a $30 model which can be used with or without a stand) for myself. While nowhere near the quality of a good lab microscope, it gets a lot more use. They can be simpler to focus, even if the image quality isn’t as good.

    Personally, I’m not crazy about TV microscopes. Best use comes from something you can carry around and use on the spot.

  19. #19 BruceJ
    November 30, 2007

    I’d actually recommend the Proscope rather than a traditional microscope (and this from someone whose actual degree is microbiology!)

    Much more portable, rugged (they let cops use it in the field 😉 and you can look at stuff in situ, as well as capture movies (aim it at some bread yeast in a petri dish, and let it go for a while. Cool beans stuff!).

    Plus, your kids can play CSI:The Neverending Spinoff.

    Works with Macs and PC’s (their Mac software, in fact is WAY useful for ANY usb camera attached to the mac…and free to download.)

  20. #20 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    Paul@13:

    Can you go $199? Check out:

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/923a/

    ThinkGeek is generally a great place to browse for geeky squidmas gifts. I have a friend who really needs a capsaicin molecule T-shirt!

  21. #21 Brownian, OM
    November 30, 2007

    Now that we’ve covered telescopes and microscopes, tell us everything you know about the following:

    Cinemascope
    cystoscope
    electroscope
    electrotachyscope
    endoscope
    fibrescope
    finderscope
    fluoroscope
    gastroscope
    gonioscope
    gyroscope
    horoscope
    iconoscope
    kaleidoscope
    kinescope
    kinetoscope
    laryngoscope
    oscilloscope
    Otoscope
    periscope
    phenakistoscope (phenakistiscope)
    praxinoscope
    Rotoscope
    spectroscope
    stethoscope
    stroboscope
    teleidoscope

    I’ve got a sixteen-year-old niece who wants to be a doctor, and I figure early exposure to endoscopy will make or break that career.

  22. #22 dorid
    November 30, 2007

    This is cool. My youngest got a compound microscope from my eldest last year. I haven’t been impressed by the commercially availble stuff packaged for kids (even the stuff from the Smith!) I have to agree, it’s probably worth the money to go for something with some quality. I grew up with my own microscope, and I always wanted my kids to have one, too.

  23. #23 Jebus
    November 30, 2007

    I’ve been kind of interested in getting a microscope for some time. A total newb question has ben nagging me though; Why ar’nt all microsocoped directly connected to computers (with their large screens and advanced capabilities for orientation etc) these days? For me it seems like a nobrainer..

    /M

  24. #24 Andrew Cooper
    November 30, 2007

    When a young teeanger I bought (with my own money, $150 if I recall correctly) a decent American Optical stereo microscope. I was able to get a good scope, used, through an aunt who worked in a research lab at the time. I used it for examining my rock collection and anything else that was handy.

    These days I earn my living as an electrical engineer, that same microscope still has a space on my electronics workbench where it is used for soldering surface mount components and inspection of small assemblies.

  25. #25 Fatboy
    November 30, 2007

    The QX-5 is $150? I picked it up at a garage sale for $5, and would have never guessed they charged that much for it. If you can find it for under $10, it’s probably worth it, but not any more than that.

  26. #26 Paul Crowley
    November 30, 2007

    #20 – never mind that, what about Electroscope Galvanascope Hydroscope Polemescope Telescope Microscope Seismoscope Periscope Polariscope Kaleidoscope and Stethoscope?

  27. #27 Andrew Cooper
    November 30, 2007

    Jebus,

    A microscope with a camera port is slightly more expensive than most student scopes, but standard with many, if not most, upper end scopes. Combine that with a decent digital camera, connect the camera to the computer, and you have just what you asking about. Hard to find a real lab without such capability on at least a few of their ‘scopes. Everyone needs pretty pictures for their publications.

    It is also still true that the human eye sees better detail and across a wider range of illumination than a camera does under most situations, without a lot of fuss in the setup. Thus most microscopes are still human vision based; cheaper, faster, easier. Simpler can be better.

  28. #28 Jebus
    November 30, 2007

    Thank you very much Andrew.

    Now i’m of to the simple task of religiously brainwashing myself into believing I actually need one, instead of just wanting. =)

  29. #29 octopod
    November 30, 2007

    Mike @#10: what kind of women you hanging around, then? Sheesh, no accounting for taste. I’d be there in about two seconds.

  30. #30 MikeM
    November 30, 2007

    What about simply using a close-up lens set on a digital camera? Our digital camera is already a 10X zoom. You can buy a close-up lens set with 4 lenses (up to 10X) for under $30. Would you get reasonably good results with something like that?

  31. #31 Bruce Thompson
    November 30, 2007

    Want to see my photomicrographs?

  32. #32 Fernando Magyar
    November 30, 2007

    That was extremely helpful as I’m looking for something like that for my 12 year old.
    Another place to look would be on ebay if you know what you are looking for of course.

  33. #33 Jim
    November 30, 2007

    I’ve been telling my non-majors biology students for years that our government should be issuing each citizen at the age of five a microscope. The world would be a better place. A nice binocular would be a good thing too.

    Cheers,
    Jim

  34. #34 Ms. S
    November 30, 2007

    Microscope – crap, the one thing I forgot when I wrote a post about holiday science gifts recently 🙂 No, seriously, I had a microscope as a kid. I think it only went to 100x – this was a long time ago, practically in the days of Leeuwenhoek – but I remember being really impressed by the butterfly wing samples that came with it in the package. Early exposure to stuff like this is really important.

  35. #35 Mus
    November 30, 2007

    Well that’s fine and all, if the microscope is meant for a little kid. But what if you’re a sophomore in college majoring in biology? Would a 40x-1600x compound microscope being sold at ~$350 be worth it? I wouldn’t want the really high powers to be

    I used to have a cheap compound microscope, and loved it. I’ve used stereo microscopes, and frankly I think they’re mostly useless. It might have been because the school ones were cheap, but the only thing I liked about them was the fact that I could look at the sweat glands in my hand. For most other things, you can just use a compound microscope in low power and shine a light from above. Works fine in my experience…. or just use a loupe.

  36. #36 skblllzzzz
    November 30, 2007

    I’ve wanted a microscope for myself from the first moment I looked through an Olympus at school some forty years ago. I realised going cheap would be pointless. So, many years later, I got me a complete Lomo set for the price of a bare Olympus frame. I stopped at the UV option though, that would have doubled the price ;-).

    Today, at my astronomy club, we always have two Zeiss stereo microscopes out besides the telescopes themselves. They are a BIG hit with kids and adults alike. Any scrap of dirt becomes worth looking at under a good microscope. We also have a QX5 at hand to take pictures which we then can send to visitors by email. For an impression of an event look here.

    @Brucej: Big thanks for the ProScope software tip; I didn’t realise it accommodated other devices as well.

  37. #37 Monado
    November 30, 2007

    Thanks! I’ve been thinking lately that my House o’ Junk lacks a microscope.

    I’m watching a “surgical snakebot” on Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet science show do pericardial heart surgery on an experimental subject. They can use the “snake” to slip between the heart and its surrounding membrane to cauterize tissue that triggers irregular heartbeat. If it works, it could be working on my brother-in-law in a few years.

  38. #38 SMC
    November 30, 2007

    If you really want to get a kid interested in biology, a microscope is a great gift

    Nuts to the kids, I want a microscope of my own.

    So, any good suggestions for decent bacteriological microscopes? And how hard is it to retrofit one with a darkfield condensor?

    As far as taking picture, here’s a cheap and easy trick: Get a digital camera, click the “close up pictures” switch (the one used so that you can focus on objects a foot or so away), and stick the camera’s lens right up to the eyepiece. I’ve used this trick to get microscope images before – I suspect it also works for telescopes and the like.

  39. #39 Mus
    November 30, 2007

    SMC- I haven’t tried this myself, but this site might come in helpful: http://tinyurl.com/335xtd

  40. #40 windy
    November 30, 2007

    As far as taking picture, here’s a cheap and easy trick: Get a digital camera, click the “close up pictures” switch (the one used so that you can focus on objects a foot or so away), and stick the camera’s lens right up to the eyepiece. I’ve used this trick to get microscope images before – I suspect it also works for telescopes and the like.

    I second that advice. A slim compact camera, like this one, works great when you stick it to a stereoscope’s eyepiece. You can even make videos!

  41. #41 Boko999
    November 30, 2007

    Driveby post. Has anyone noticed this:

    ‘The evolution debate in Polk County is drawing national attention. A posting on the popular science blog Pharyngula said Polk “may be our next trouble spot. They have a creationist majority on the school board.”

    http://www.theledger.com/article/20071121/NEWS/711210437/1004

  42. #42 Willy
    November 30, 2007

    My first microscope was something from a Montgomery Wards catalog as an Xmas gift. Got it and a couple boxes of premounted specimens. I was six years old.

    A couple decades later I get work as a field industrial hygienist doing airborne fiber counting at asbestos abatement sites. My scope was a Canon set up for phase contrast. I trimmed the plastic lenses from an old pair of polarized sunglasses so I can set it up with cross polars to see some very pretty colors with crystals & minerals. When my company closed my office I was given the scope as a fine parting gift.

    A few years later a friend traded a B&L zoom stereoscope for some air montioring services. That unit rocks…I’ve begun a collection of dead bugs and sands from around the country (and trying to get sands from around the world.)

    I also got a couple ancient single mag inspection scopes from LabX.

    I’d like to get a hold of an SEM.

  43. #43 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    It is also still true that the human eye sees better detail and across a wider range of illumination than a camera does under most situations, without a lot of fuss in the setup.

    A fact which continually annoys the hell out of me, given the discrepancy in contrast, detail, and quality between the epithelial cells I see on the slide, and my photomicrographs of those same cells. Are there any workarounds or tips for improving the photos (as opposed to image manipulation in PhotoShop, which I understand is not kosher for illustrations for publications)? It’s a Nikon DXM1200 camera and scope with ACT-1 software, if the specifics matter, but generic info would also be helpful.

    I’d welcome any tips or pointers anyone knows about getting better-quality photomicrographs (meaning cutting down on the discrepancy between what I see and what I shoot) on the spot.

    Thanks in advance!

  44. #44 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    Oh, 99% of the epithelial cells are Pap-stained, with the occasional Giessen or Giemsa stain, if those specifics would play into any solutions.

    Again, thanks–I suspect the only answer, really, is “get better equipment”, but still want to check if there’s something else I could be doing until then.

  45. #45 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    Nikon DXM1200

    the camera is a digital camera.

    what you have to realize is that the camera essentially “photoshops” the image before you even see it, unless you bypass the camera’s internals entirely.

    the only thing I can suggest in an immediate sense is to make sure you are using the highest quality lens possible, with a good contrast ratio (that includes the scope). However, I have always found the most accurate reproductions are done by shooting in RAW format (only stores the raw image pixels, with no in-camera processing), and doing all the processing yourself in photoshop. I know, sounds like too much work, and is certainly not the “on the spot” recommendation you really want, but there it is.

    it simply always takes a bit of work to get a photo to match your own eyes’ (well, technically brain’s) impression of a scene. I’m sure the software you use, along with the camera, automatically tries to give pleasing and consistent results, but there is such variation in contrast, color, lighting, etc., even when taking slide shots, that relying on such will not always give the results you want.

    If you think you are at the end of being able to get good images with your current setup, and want to move on to editing the raw data yourself…

    If you need help with setups or workflows that ease the process and give you good results, just email me (I left it in the other thread you tried to contact me in).

    Personally, I gave up relying on a digital camera’s own electronics to give me a pleasing result about a month after I started using digital cameras to begin with. I only shoot in raw any more.

    it’s more work to do it yourself, but not hard to learn (especially with the raw editing tools around these days) and I am always more pleased with the end result.

  46. #46 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    Nuts to the kids, I want a microscope of my own.

    LOL

    yeah, I do miss the Zeiss dissecting scope I owned 20 years or so ago (foolishly, I donated it to the biology lab at my old high school).

    too damned expensive to get a really good scope any more.

    I do occasionally see some good deals on scopes on Ebay.

    might try starting here, if nobody has mentioned it already:

    http://www.microscopestore.com/

    they have a decent used section.

  47. #47 Jaycubed
    November 30, 2007

    Nuts to the kids, I want a microscope of my own.”
    Posted by: SMC

    That seems to be the general tone of most of these posts. If you want to help educate a child it is necessary to think like a child rather than act like a child.

    Little wonder that science education is in such a bad state.

    .

  48. #48 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    Ichthyic, once again you demonstrate that I can always count on you for excellent information.

    The info on raw format was very illuminating–clearly, I have some learning to do about what’s under the hood of the camera which I had just taken for granted.

    However, I have always found the most accurate reproductions are done by shooting in RAW format (only stores the raw image pixels, with no in-camera processing), and doing all the processing yourself in photoshop. I know, sounds like too much work, and is certainly not the “on the spot” recommendation you really want, but there it is.

    Sounds like what I had envisioned just isn’t doable–to take an example from the old days, I was expecting to hear something like “make your aperture more narrow to increase your depth of field” to improve the photo as I took it. But it sounds like I was operating under the wrong “paradigm”.

    If “on the spot” isn’t the way it works, then I need to adjust the way I think of it, and I admit that it’s daunting to think about reshooting >5000 bear pap smear slides, but if that’s what has to be done, then that’s what I have to do. But I do have a question if editing raw files in PhotoShop after the fact is going to raise any eyebrows when it comes time to publish? That would be my only concern, after I get over the idea of reshooting that many slides in raw format.

    but there is such variation in contrast, color, lighting, etc., even when taking slide shots, that relying on such will not always give the results you want.

    yes, neither the PI nor I are pros at microscopy, and although we suckered^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hrecruited a pro cytotechnologist into helping us, it’s clear that we were both learning as we went. But I have gotten to the point that even to my untrained eye, the image looks so much better in the eyepiece than the same one on the screen that I realize I need to do something.

    If you need help with setups or workflows that ease the process and give you good results, just email me (I left it in the other thread you tried to contact me in).

    I will–I was already saving it in my surgery plan for an anticipated return to diving, but will be in touch much sooner.

    it’s more work to do it yourself, but not hard to learn (especially with the raw editing tools around these days) and I am always more pleased with the end result.

    I’m going to get used to the idea of reshooting that many slides, and really, my only concern is that I don’t want to be seen as improperly manipulating the images. If this is kosher in publication circles, then I’ll commit to learning it and carrying it out.

    Thank you, Ichthyic–you are, as always, a generous fount of useful info!

  49. #49 Thanny
    November 30, 2007

    http://shopping.discovery.com/product-15101.html?endecaSID=11693939E538

    A bit too toyish for adolescents, but a good sturdy microscope for younger kids that does both kinds of lighting.

  50. #50 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    Little wonder that science education is in such a bad state.

    ummm, what’s that now?

    You’re way off base here.

    microscopes are an expensive tool, and many of us miss the ones we had in our labs at various places.

    you not only missed the tone, you missed the message, and then made a hugely erroneous statement besides.

    yikes.

    one thing you COULD salvage out of that morass, is that indeed one of the reasons science education is on ever shakier ground is the lack of funding for things like microscopes to begin with.

  51. #51 Hank Roberts
    November 30, 2007

    Good thread.

    One note — it’s possible to make an incredibly good magnifier out of scrap, using one of tose little penlight bulbs that have a glass lens at the tip (threaded base, AA-size old penlights). I found this in either Popular Mechanics or SciAm sometime in the 1950s. Take the bulb, put it in cloth, break the tip off, knock the little sharp bits off the lens part with a file, set it in the little hole in a fender washer in a bit of glue.

    To adjust it, you mount the the fender washer on a thin springy board or bit of metal, with one end fixed to a board, and the middle part held up on a spring with a screw down through it (or a bolt and wingnut) so you can move the lens up and down. Put a bottle cap on a nail at the end under the lens to drop your sample into.

    It’s a daylight/bright light tool, quite useful, simple and adjustable. Those tiny little lenses are the same kind the original telescope makers used, just drops of glass allowed to cool. You get close to 100x.

    Someone can probably find the original article somewhere. Just a reminder, look for the old burnt out light bulb in a junk drawer. You don’t ever throw anything _out_ do you?

    Of course a little searching will find a lot of similar ideas, and there’s a lot more junk optics around now than when I was a kid with one neighbor and three miles of piney woods to the next house. Scrounge.

    Oh, here’s something using a similar lens:
    http://www.mindspring.com/~alshinn/
    “… This microscope looks very much like the one in the museum at Utrecht (circa 1690). It has a lens made of a 2mm dia. glass ball, a power of about 180X, and surprisingly good resolution…”

  52. #52 Carlie
    November 30, 2007

    Willy, you sound like the guy who traded up from a paper clip to a house! 🙂

    If anyone’s interested in photomicrography the easy way, get thee to ebay and pick up a Nikon Coolpix 4500. That was the last one they made that was easily compatible with microscope oculars (using adapters, of course, which you’ll also have to scavenge) but they ROCK. Incredibly easy to use and really good pictures.

  53. #53 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    But I do have a question if editing raw files in PhotoShop after the fact is going to raise any eyebrows when it comes time to publish?

    again, if someone raises a stink, then they haven’t a clue how digital cameras work to begin with, as what the electronics in camera do when you take a picture is to essentially run very similar algorithms to what photoshop does in order to process the raw image into one mostly satisfactory to a general consumer.

    One could even argue that chemical processing of physical media coming from a film camera does much the same thing. there are many ways to develop a piece of film that can drastically alter its end appearance. Generally speaking, there are accepted “processes” (that are even named and numbered), in order to give standardized results in a film lab. Those processes, as I’m sure you know from any roll of film you’ve ever taken to be processed, do not always give the most accurate result.

    It works analogously inside of a digital camera; it’s just that the chemical processing of film images is replaced by software manipulation of digital information stored on an image chip. The digital camera manufacturers program their cameras to give a ‘standardized’ result that is generally pleasing to the majority of consumers (certainly NOT always the most accurate).

    Indeed, I could make a better argument that far more accurate results are obtained by bypassing the generally klunky software routines built into the digital camera in favor of using the far more powerful and precise tools available on a home computer. Again, analagous to film in that developing a roll of film yourself using your own equipment can often render more accurate results.

    Now, from a legal standpoint, it could be argued that a fixed processing scheme that produces standardized results, accurate or not, might be preferred. this does help remove the “subjectivity” out of the equation, and allows for easier reproducibility. going even farther, some photo publications, though no journals i have run into yet, actually require submission of raw images to begin with. Likely you should always check with the specific journal you intend to submit to wrt to their image submission rules.

    However, if you are intending to make your digital image actually resemble as closely as possible what YOU see when you look through the scope, you really have to do the processing yourself.

    you can always get a third party to check your work from time to time, to see if they think your reproductions are accurate from their standpoint.

    Moreover, you can standardize your process quite a bit, especially when taking lots of very similar images, and you can even record your actions if others wished to reproduce them for themselves.

    er, this is getting a bit more detailed than I wanted to go into here though.

    just shoot me an email and we can continue there.

  54. #54 Kevin
    November 30, 2007

    maybe you should do a follow-up post after the holidays and see what kind of reactions the recipients involved had.

    I just bought my 8 yr old grandson an eyeclops, a “bionic eye” that advertises 200X magnification and hooks up to the TV. It may not qualify as a scientific instrument but it looks like a good combination of fun,learning, and being able to gross out grandma and little sister.

  55. #55 Kurt
    November 30, 2007

    The past couple of years I’ve gotten microscopes for my kids, one traditional compound microscope and one dissecting scope, and I have to agree that the dissecting microscope is much more useful and fun for exploring things found around the house and in the yard. And holding a digital camera up to the eyepiece works reasonably well for taking pictures.

    This is more or less the same scope. (The particular model I got has since been discontinued, but this one is almost identical.)

  56. #56 Mollie
    November 30, 2007

    thalarctos, it’s okay to manipulate images in Photoshop for publication. It’s just not okay to selectively manipulate them — you can brighten the entire image, for example, but you can’t selectively brighten the gel band you like or erase some cells in the field that unfortunately don’t fit your hypothesis.

    The Journal of Cell Biology has a good basic primer here:
    http://www.jcb.org/cgi/content/full/166/1/11

    I am not sure if seeing that article requires an institutional login.

  57. #57 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    I am not sure if seeing that article requires an institutional login.

    nope.

    it’s available in pdf format too.

  58. #58 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    thanks for the pointer, Mollie–that looks like a very good place for me to start.

  59. #59 Jaycubed
    November 30, 2007

    “Little wonder that science education is in such a bad state.
    ummm, what’s that now?
    You’re way off base here.
    microscopes are an expensive tool, and many of us miss the ones we had in our labs at various places.
    you not only missed the tone, you missed the message, and then made a hugely erroneous statement besides.”
    Posted by: Ichthyic

    I do not think I am offbase and stand by my comments. This thread is about buying a microscope for kids. The vast majority of the comments have to do with the fantasies of adults. By ignoring the practical needs of children for their own fantasies, I think this is counterproductive to the education of children. Just because one is a scientist, or even an educator of adults in science, it doesn’t mean they understand the educational needs of children.

  60. #60 Ichthyic
    December 1, 2007

    I do not think I am offbase and stand by my comments.

    oh by all means, continue to stand by a pointless and egregious interpretation of harmless off color commentary.

    By ignoring the practical needs of children for their own fantasies, I think this is counterproductive to the education of children.

    LOL

    you’re a complete ignoramus if you think that’s what those comments meant.

    it’s an off color remark meant as a joke, fool. hardly intended to imply we should short change kids in favor of our own fantasies.

    perhaps there is a cultural divide here, but if not, I think you should stop before you embarrass yourself further.

  61. #61 SMC
    December 1, 2007

    Pssst, jaycubed – Adults need education too. Science isn’t just for children, and it’s not just children who can benefit from some homebrew education. (Why is it that even after all these years, any invocation of “for the children” automatically makes so many people forget that adults are people too?) There’s really no rational reason to keep the thread limited to child-safe equipment, and indeed would argue that trying to exclude eager adults who can pass along their interest in science is itself extremely counterproductive to the science education of children.

    If you have somehow genuinely missed the desperate need for adults with an eagerness for and interest in science right now, try reading the news sometime.

    Besides, while very few people have the combination of wealth and foolishness required to buy very expensive scientific equipment for children who are likely too young to really appreciate it (such as a good bacteriological microscope – I know what kind of a mess *I* would have made of trying to use an oil objective when I was younger…), having interested adults with such tools makes it a lot more likely that one will be around to provide access and supervision should a child become genuinely interested. That’s kind of important when your local 8-year-old wants to look at something that needs to be heat-fixed (for example), unless you feel comfortable with 8-year-olds playing with Bunsen burners unsupervised.

    How this “ignores the practical needs of children” and is “counterproductive to the education of children” I really don’t see. Or were you just assuming that any adult who expresses an interest in the thread is going to sit on their porch with their stuff all day, yelling at the kids to get off of their lawn?

    P.S. Thanks, Mus – I was wondering if it could possibly be as easy as that…

  62. #62 DrYak
    December 1, 2007

    Thalarctos, one of the reasons I’ve found why the image you see through your eyes and the pictures are different is that the focal length for the camera tube and the eyepieces are not the same. When working at any sort of magnification even a few mm will result in an out of focus image. If you have live image capability it is often better to do your fine focus “on-screen”. You might check the camera mount it might be adjustable or you might need to mill a new one. That said, I agree ith the earlier comments – try take pictures in RAW format, or, if that isn’t available, in tiff. If you’re forced to use jpeg use the lowest possible compression and highest quality setting.

  63. #63 Brain Hertz
    December 1, 2007

    Thanks for this. I have a quick question:

    For camera adapters, what is the typical eyepiece barrel outside diameter?

    I have all the necessary adapters to attach two of my cameras to my large selection of telescopes… was wondering whether eyepiece diameters would be the same…

  64. #64 ~!@#
    December 1, 2007

    You can get decent stuff on ebay if you’re patient. I bought a demo Oly SZX-9 system for … well, I don’t want to say. But before that I bought a minty Bausch & Lomb Stereozoom for $300. Used B&L Stereozooms are ubiquitous on ebay (they are widely used in the electronics industry) and solid gear. You’ll also find them rebranded as Leicas. They are much better than the Chinese junk they peddle at Ward’s, Microscope store, etc. Cheaper, too.

  65. #65 Peeper
    December 1, 2007

    If you DO want a transmitted light compound microscope for looking at blood cells and the like, the cheapest basic cytology-quality microscope I’ve found new is the LW Scientific “Revelation III”, available for $455 from labessentials.com, and microscopesusa.com and greatscopes.com will price-match. Mechanical stage (ESSENTIAL for any sort of prolonged use), achromatic optics, critical (Abbe) illumination with adjustable iris, coaxial focus with infinite fine focis. Has a nice coarse focus stop that lets you rack down the stage, change the slide, and pull it right back into focus.

    It comes with a couple of condenser filters; I leave the blue filter in all the time to compensate for the reddish light from the dimmed bulb.

    Usage notes:
    – Adjusting the condenser is essential, and most people don’t know how. First, focus it; it should be very close to the slide, and the ground glass pattern should be almost in focus; blur it just enough to not be distracting. Never touch that condenser focus again unless you start using microscope slides of different thickness. Second, adjust the iris for the desired contrast. You will need to re-adjust every time you change magnification. (If you take out the eyepiece, you can see the iris. The iris should be between fully open and halfway closed, as seen through the eye-tube.) Third, use the dimmer to adjust the brightness. Adjusting the first changes the other two, but do NOT use it for that purpose! Repeat: adjust image contrast using the little hidden iris lever. Do NOT use the large obvious condenser focus knob for the purpose!
    – On mine, the condenser was not well centered. I adjusted the setscrews holding it in place to center it in the field of view. (Again, take out the eyepiece and look down the tube to see the iris.)
    – Learn how to parfocalize the microscope, so things stay in focus when you change magnification. To do that, focus on something at high power (100x or 400x) using the main focus knob, then go down to 40x, and adjust each eyepiece focus to bring it into focus. If you had to make a large adjustment, repeat the process.

    Also remember that while slides can be washed and re-used, and cover slips too if you’re careful, they are basically disposable. Get lots. And don’t break yourself on the microscope; it’s MOST of the cost, but leave enough for a few extras like stain. (A basic three-component “diff-quick” type stain is all you need to start. But neat housekeepers beware: it’s called “stain” for a very very good reason! It can leave permanent marks on stainless steel and porcelain.)

  66. #66 Diane
    December 1, 2007

    How old is old enough? My 8 yo nephew is old enough, but show no particular interest in small things (he’s into building things and hates bugs). My 4 yo nephew loves bugs and art, but he’s has trouble standing still for more than a few minutes. I’d like to get the older one a scope now, but I’m tempted to wait until the younger is old enough to enjoy it himself. Any ideas?

  67. #67 Warren Terra
    December 1, 2007

    It’s on the pricy side for a toy or even for most classrooms, but at about $1000 the Motic K400 is a pretty good Chinese knockoff of the classic Wild M5A stereomicroscope.

    I don’t know how sturdy it is in the long run (I use a twenty year old Wild daily, and suspect the Motic won’t make it that far), but it’s much better than a cheap plastic Zeiss dissecting scope I saw.

  68. #68 Fernando Magyar
    December 1, 2007

    Hello Ichthyic,
    Man is there anything you don’t have expertise in? Sheesh! that is really good information you gave thalarctos re image editing, especially with regards using RAW format. I spent a decade in the 90’s working as a digital graphics consultant, went on to other things then a few years back spent 2 years working for ACD Systems Ltd., when I joined the company they had just purchased Deneba Software who had developed a high end scientific graphics package called Canvas. ACD See is more geared to mass market photo editing but their software is pretty decent and cost effective even for that. The current version of Canvas is Canvas 11 unfortunate ly they have discontinued their support for the Mac platform but their Windows version now includes their scientific module add on right out of the box. Don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this app but it has some really fabulous features. I fear that since the science market is a very small niche for ACD See they haven’t been keeping it up to speed as much as they should. Too bad cause this product is the swiss army knife of scientific image editing and creation. I did a year of tech support on it so I got to learn it in depth. I do not work for ACD See any longer but highly recommend it despite some quirks and a very very steep learning curve which is really because it does so many different things.

  69. #69 Carlie
    December 1, 2007

    Brian – 23 mm for compound microscopes, 30 mm for dissecting scopes is the standard size. Slightly smaller adapters can usually be accommodated with enough label tape, but you do lose some field of view that way.

    Kodak put out a nice little book a few years ago called “Photography through the microscope”. It was before the digital revolution so is film-centric, but it has step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to align the scope properly, Kohler illumination, what’s wrong if your pictures look like “x”, etc. Great thing to have around.

  70. #70 Barn Owl
    December 1, 2007

    #18-

    Personally, I’m not crazy about TV microscopes. Best use comes from something you can carry around and use on the spot.

    My thoughts exactly. I had a very inexpensive compound microscope as a kid, and I would have used it rarely, had it been attached to or dependent on something indoors. There was a small battery-powered lamp, but outdoors I could get decent trans- or epi-illumination with sunlight and the mirror, or with a freebie penlight. Worked great for pond/bayou invertebrates, insects, feathers, and plant pieces. I kept the microscope throughout grad school and postdoc, and recently cleaned up the objectives and eyepieces, and gave it to a friend’s kid. I’ve got two Zeiss stereomicroscopes, and a Zeiss Axiovert with a digital camera, to count neurons and score comets in my lab all day now, so it was time to pass on the little compound ‘scope.

    $150 is “dirt cheap”??? That’s well out of range of many people I know…never mind the $300+ “inexpensive” stereomicroscopes in the links.

  71. #71 Jon
    December 1, 2007

    I will never forget seeing cells and their nuclei in my first scope as a kid, and then later learning what the hell I was looking at.

  72. #72 booger
    December 1, 2007

    The gerbils thanks you…mine always hated the ‘thin slices’ part.

  73. #73 Chris Booth
    December 1, 2007

    I recently got this compound microscope for my daughter:

    http://www.meade4m.com/4mshop/08005.html

    Meade, Celestron, and now Orion also make microscopes. This compound microscope with five prepared slides were a brilliant success with my 13-year-old. Suspicious at first: Her face said “My daddy’s a geek and this will be boring, but I’ll go along because it is new.” That turned into a loud excited “WOW!” The first slide was of a fly’s leg, and the first look, through the lowest magnification, sold her.

    Another recent science-hobby purchase that was a great success was a Thumler’s tumbler. The first batch came out beautifully, and her excitement as she selected just-right stones and set them as jewelry, or went through each and every stone figuring out her favorites, and which to give to which person as a gift was delightful. Even as we speak, the tumbler is grumbling away in the next room, working on petrified wood and sundry beach stones.

    http://www.thumlerstumbler.com/

    (We got the two-drum A-R2. It allows you to run two different sets of stones at one time, and have them overlap, so that there is less time between revealed wonders: It keeps it exciting. Some stones take less time, so they can stagger. It brings together science, aesthetics, and crafts, and is a great hobby for a kid.)

  74. #74 Bill Arnold
    December 1, 2007

    I’ve given as gifts a few high-quality hand lenses (e.g. 7X or 10X triplets), which run from $35-50. The junk hand lenses I had as a kid were useless in comparison.

  75. #75 blondin
    December 1, 2007

    Don’t be a cheapskate! Get your kid one o’ these
    http://www.olympusconfocal.com/java/confocalsimulator/index.html

  76. #76 Jaycubed
    December 1, 2007

    Dear Icyhtic & SMC,

    Out of the 75 comments posted here only six (by my quick count) have to do with the realistic needs of children. This thread was started to talk about microscopes for children. That comes out to 90%+ of the comments being about the fantasy wishes of adults, rather than the needs of children. This is rather typical in our society where the fantasies of adults are projected onto their children.

    I do not disagree with the need of science education for adults. But how an adult learns and how a child learns are two separate processes. We do our children little favor to think of them as little versions of ourselves. And, yet again, the express purpose of this thread is the needs of children for practical science education which can be assisted via the use of a microscope.

    We as a society tend to use our children as props for our own egos and disregard what might be best for them. It is readily apparent that most of the “adults” posting here are more interested in (metaphorically) masturbating to pictures of $4000 super-scopes than finding what would best help their children to see & learn. This is little different from those right wing trolls (metaphorically) masturbating to their favorite expensive toys pictured in gun or truck magazines.

    Diane,
    Pick up a throwaway plastic scope for the 4yo. (see comment #18). The sight of the young one playing with it will do more to encourage the older one’s interest than anything else you could do.

    ps. Ithyic
    I see you still enjoy juvenile name calling. I know how excited you get from the word “masturbating”, so for the simple-minded I have specified the metaphorical nature of the use of the term.

  77. #77 ~#^$
    December 1, 2007

    #76 seems to enjoy the sound of his voice (“we as a society blah blah blah”) but does not speak from knowledge or experience. An excellent way to turn a child off microscopes is to buy for them a cheap throwaway plastic scope–or even inexpensive Chinese knock-off. If you want to buy your child a toy, buy him or her a toy he or she can at least have fun with, like a doll. Because there’s nothing more frustrating than looking through a microscope in anticipation of a world of wonders and seeing, after a lot of squinting and other difficulties related the cheap construction of the instrument, nothing, or at least nothing worth looking at. If you’re going to buy a microscope, buy a good one. If you can’t afford a good new one, buy a good used one. For compound microscopes, if it’s not Olympus, Nikon, Leitz, Leica, Bausch & Lomb, Wild, Spencer, American Optical, or Reichert, don’t buy it. A used Leitz or American Optical made in the 60’s for doctors and medical students costs as much as a new Motic or Celestron or other brand of Chinese knock-off, and is much better. Better optics, better build, better components and accessories.

  78. #78 charley
    December 1, 2007

    This thread made me haul out my childhood scope, a small Bushnell compound which used to give me hours of pleasure looking at volvox, hydra, rotifers and the like. I peered in and swung the mirror toward the light and…What the heck are all those tangled strings of crap gliding around?! Soon I realized they were eye floaters somehow brought into amazing clarity by the scope. Giant gobs of junk polluting my eyeballs that weren’t there when I was young. I don’t need any more reminders of my physical deterioration. This thing’s going back in the closet.

  79. #79 Bonzo
    December 1, 2007

    Great thread.

    Like PZ I have an industrial quality stereo scope that I use in my lab primarily for investigating crystals for X-ray crystallography.

    I discovered recently that you can buy a camera attachment that drops into the eyepiece and then attaches to your computer via USB. For under $200. And it takes reasonable enough pictures that I have used them on a scientific poster.

    So if you have a child who is interested in computers and microscopy, I highly recommend this as a possible way to incorporate a camera for not too much money.

    (I also picked up a polarizing scope, mono, for peanuts. This would be a great scope for a student with a serious interest in geology. A couple of years ago the Minnesota Microscopy Society used to hold workshops to show folks how to prepare slides. As PZ points out this is a lot of work and is probably only for a very highly motivated student.)

    Ciao,

    Bonzo

  80. #80 Bill Arnold
    December 1, 2007

    My 4 yo nephew loves bugs and art, but he’s has trouble standing still for more than a few minutes.
    I’d seriously consider getting a 4 year old a good 7X hand lens of the sort carried by many field scientists. Everyone in the house will end up borrowing it. It’s not a microscope but it will show detail that cannot be seen with the naked eye, and it’s super easy to use, fairly durable, and can be worn with a lanyard. The cheapest I could find in quick search was from Belarus, $30, the BelOMO which looks rather nice, with a large 28mm lens.

    The 8 year old could use a durable low-magnification microscope along the lines suggested by PZ. If (when) a genuine hunger for more magnification develops, it can be accommodated.

  81. #81 Ichthyic
    December 1, 2007

    masturbating to pictures of $4000 super-scopes

    more way off BS.
    you really like making an ass of yourself, eh?
    whatever floats yer boat, i guess.

    I thought it might be an issue of some kind of cultural misunderstanding, but I see you’re just an insistent moron.

    oh well.

    perhaps you should think about taking your concern trolling someplace else?

    just a thought.

  82. #82 Ichthyic
    December 1, 2007

    Man is there anything you don’t have expertise in?

    LOL

    Lots!

    it just happens to be that I’ve been forced to be quite adaptable in order to make a living over the years, and have had several different careers in the meantime.

    There are a lot of people with science educations in the same boat, several of whom I see post on this blog and related.

    for example, of the 6 people that were in my lab when I was a grad student, only one currently has a position in academia, the rest aren’t really doing anything even close to the research they were doing as a grad student (er, last I checked, anyway, and that was 15 years after I left that lab).

    Not saying that all of those 6, including myself, haven’t spent at least some time doing research since (I’ve had two different gigs since, for example, the largest being involved with behavioral/demographic work on sharks), but for those of us without permanent positions in academia, the issue becomes less “publish or perish”, than “adapt or die”.

    Not saying it’s impossible to make a scientific career in biology outside of academia, but it ain’t easy, that’s for sure. If I had it to do over again, I sure as hell would have listened more closely to my advisor about garnering a position within academia instead of trying outside of it.

    enough about that.

    ACD See is more geared to mass market photo editing but their software is pretty decent and cost effective even for that.

    I used to use that quite a bit once upon a time, mostly as just quick image viewing/organization software. I too would still recommend it. However, I find i have narrowed my purchases to only the things I absolutely need in intervening years, or have switched to open source stuff instead, and haven’t played with it for a few years now.

    Moreover, most of the OSes (XP, Linux flavors, OSX) these days have sufficient image organization tools built right in, and basic image manipulation software also included. For anything more complex, I usually just make my own organizational databases with HTML front ends.

    I use GIMP (open source), and photoshop for the rest. Adobe is becoming a black hole for anything related to image processing software anymore, even to the point of RAW processing software, so it’s hard to avoid as a required purchase for serious photo editing.

    It wouldn’t surprise me a bit to hear that Adobe had made a bid for ACDsee systems at some point in the last few years.

    I hope they become one of the few holdouts!

  83. #83 windy
    December 1, 2007

    Out of the 75 comments posted here only six (by my quick count) have to do with the realistic needs of children.

    There are way more than six comments that are either about kids or, product tips that can be useful when buying something for a kid. By my count, this is one of the most on-topic comment threads ever…

  84. #84 Pete Dunkelberg
    December 2, 2007

    About RAW format, isn’t there some in-camera processing, sharpening the image for instance? Also, I think RAW is required by National Geographic, which means buying one of the few cameras that have the option. Even digital SLRs don’t often have it.

  85. #85 Barn Owl
    December 2, 2007

    #80-

    I’d seriously consider getting a 4 year old a good 7X hand lens of the sort carried by many field scientists. Everyone in the house will end up borrowing it. It’s not a microscope but it will show detail that cannot be seen with the naked eye, and it’s super easy to use, fairly durable, and can be worn with a lanyard.

    Great suggestion, and a realistic alternative for a budding naturalist of any age whose family can’t afford to spend several hundred dollars on a stereomicroscope and associated gadgets. You could always combine the hand lens with a couple of inexpensive field guides, new or used; the Golden Guide series has books on pond life, insects, seashells, etc., each of which is about $7 new. Richmond Publishing Co. has a series of Naturalists’ Handbooks that are fantastic resources for inexpensive field biology endeavors, but unfortunately for us ‘mericans, they’re pretty specific for the UK. An older child can certainly learn to use an informal dichotomous key to identify trees, insects, shells, etc., and I’ve collected a number of such keys over the years with minimal $$ outlay.

    Why not buy a child a good hand lens, a dichotomous key or field guide, and then take him or her to the local nature center, arboretum, beach, pond, or fossil site, for a field biology adventure? Seems more realistic and engaged than buying a kid an expensive microscope, a digital photography set-up, and imaging software (assuming they have a home computer), and waiting for the publication-quality photomicrographs to appear for your next grant proposal or peer-reviewed journal article. And it doesn’t kill those of us with access to research-quality microscopy equipment to host tours or demonstrations occasionally, so that groups of kids can see how scientists work day-to-day. You don’t even have to let the kids touch your toys or get their grubby eyeprints on your stuff, if you worry about that sort of thing. Some adults struggle with looking through microcope eyepieces, in any case, so just display everything on a computer monitor.

  86. #86 Fernando Magyar
    December 2, 2007

    Re 84 Pete, check this out. You do not need a special camera to be able to get a RAW file.

    “http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/RAW-file-format.htm

    The RAW file format is digital photography’s equivalent of a negative in film photography: it contains untouched, “raw” pixel information straight from the digital camera’s sensor. The RAW file format has yet to undergo demosaicing, and so it contains just one red, green, or blue value at each pixel location. Digital cameras normally “develop” this RAW file by converting it into a full color JPEG or TIFF image file, and then store the converted file in your memory card. Digital cameras have to make several interpretive decisions when they develop a RAW file, and so the RAW file format offers you more control over how the final JPEG or TIFF image is generated.

  87. #87 Jaycubed
    December 2, 2007

    Out of the 75 comments posted here only six (by my quick count) have to do with the realistic needs of children.

    There are way more than six comments that are either about kids or, product tips that can be useful when buying something for a kid. By my count, this is one of the most on-topic comment threads ever…
    Posted by: windy

    The key point is the word “realistic”. The vast majority of the posts have to do with fantasy buying for adults…computerized scopes, photomicrography, $4000 microscopes, etc. The posts here are about the fantasies of adults rather than what would be most useful for a child.

    Children learn by playing and exercising their imagination. That is far more likely to happen to a kid with a magnifying glass in their pocket or a piece of “cheesy plastic junk” that they carry around with them. Children learn far more if they are shown the bare basics and then allowed to putz around by themselves: they will seek adults out to ask questions and consider it fun. Sitting with an adult as they lecture to them about what they see in an expensive microscope that they won’t be allowed to use “without adult supervision” is a lousy way to encourage learning science. It is much more likely to turn them off.

    If you are thinking of buying a microscope for a child that you would be worried about the child dragging around and maybe losing or destroying, then you are not thinking about the child.

  88. #88 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    The key point is the word “realistic”.

    sweet plastic jeebus on my dashboard, give it up already.

    do you actually enjoy belaboring a misbegotten point?

    not only were/are you off in your commentary here, you are continuing to make a fool of yourself by trying to defend it.

    hint:

    NOBODY agrees that the point you insist on foisting here is appropriate, accurate, or even relevant.

    now THIS:

    Children learn by playing and exercising their imagination. That is far more likely to happen to a kid with a magnifying glass in their pocket or a piece of “cheesy plastic junk” that they carry around with them. Children learn far more if they are shown the bare basics and then allowed to putz around by themselves:

    can be the basis for a productive discussion.

    do you have references to support your learning model?

  89. #89 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    About RAW format, isn’t there some in-camera processing, sharpening the image for instance?

    it depends on the camera (a big part of the problem), but typically the standard, over the last 5 years or so, has been no secondary processing whatsoever (one does, of course, have to assign a preliminary color space, for example).

    no noise filtering, sharpening, white balance, color adjustment, etc.

    there is a lossless form of compression (which is noticeable if you produce an uncompressed TIFF, for example), but that’s about it. the rest is supposed to be interpreted via an external raw processing program that understands how the specific camera deals with storing unprocessed images. Again, how and what exactly is done depends a great deal on the specific camera involved, and one has to build literally hundreds of profiles in order for a commercial raw processor proggy to be viable.

    there is an movement to support an open standard for raw, which in part is driving how the camera manufacturers program cameras to produce raw images, and in part is driven by Adobe’s own model of the raw standard (based on DNG).

    http://www.adobe.com/products/dng/

    (wherein Adobe of course misinforms readers about the rather large open standard movement)

    http://www.openraw.org/
    http://www.rawformat.com/

    where we see the discussions of open raw standards.

    no doubt in the end Adobe will win the battle of the standard for raw, if for no other reason than the fact that every time a company is successful in producing software for raw processing using the open standard, they buy them up.

    there’s a fair summary on WIKI of the raw format too.

    so, bottom line, just exactly how much processing is done for a raw format image depends on the specific digital camera we are talking about, but the general direction in more recent cameras is towards the absolute minimum in processing.

    for those really interested in discussing this stuff (or anything related to photography, including micro-photography) further, I highly recommend the photo forums over on the Popular Photography magazine’s website:

    http://forums.popphoto.com/

    there are a great many threads discussing the issue, and a lot of helpful people there.

    I know that there are several folks there extremely well versed in micro-photography as well.

  90. #90 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    About RAW format, isn’t there some in-camera processing, sharpening the image for instance?

    it depends on the camera (a big part of the problem), but typically the standard, over the last 5 years or so, has been no secondary processing whatsoever (one does, of course, have to assign a preliminary color space, for example).

    no noise filtering, sharpening, white balance, color adjustment, etc.

    there is a lossless form of compression (which is noticeable if you produce an uncompressed TIFF, for example), but that’s about it. the rest is supposed to be interpreted via an external raw processing program that understands how the specific camera deals with storing unprocessed images. Again, how and what exactly is done depends a great deal on the specific camera involved, and one has to build literally hundreds of profiles in order for a commercial raw processor proggy to be viable.

    there is an movement to support an open standard for raw, which in part is driving how the camera manufacturers program cameras to produce raw images, and in part is driven by Adobe’s own model of the raw standard (based on DNG).

    http://www.adobe.com/products/dng/

    (wherein Adobe of course misinforms readers about the rather large open standard movement)

    http://www.openraw.org/

    where we see the discussions of open raw standards.

    no doubt in the end Adobe will win the battle of the standard for raw, if for no other reason than the fact that every time a company is successful in producing software for raw processing using the open standard, they buy them up.

    there’s a fair summary on WIKI of the raw format too.

    so, bottom line, just exactly how much processing is done for a raw format image depends on the specific digital camera we are talking about, but the general direction in more recent cameras is towards the absolute minimum in processing.

    for those really interested in discussing this stuff (or anything related to photography, including micro-photography) further, I highly recommend the photo forums over on the Popular Photography magazine’s website:

    http://forums.popphoto.com/

    there are a great many threads discussing the issue, and a lot of helpful people there.

    I know that there are several folks there extremely well versed in micro-photography as well.

  91. #91 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    About RAW format, isn’t there some in-camera processing, sharpening the image for instance?

    it depends on the camera (a big part of the problem), but typically the standard, over the last 5 years or so, has been no secondary processing whatsoever (one does, of course, have to assign a preliminary color space, for example).

    no noise filtering, sharpening, white balance, color adjustment, etc.

    there is a lossless form of compression (which is noticeable if you produce an uncompressed TIFF, for example), but that’s about it. the rest is supposed to be interpreted via an external raw processing program that understands how the specific camera deals with storing unprocessed images. Again, how and what exactly is done depends a great deal on the specific camera involved, and one has to build literally hundreds of profiles in order for a commercial raw processor proggy to be viable.

    there is an movement to support an open standard for raw, which in part is driving how the camera manufacturers program cameras to produce raw images, and in part is driven by Adobe’s own model of the raw standard (based on DNG).

    http://www.adobe.com/products/dng/

    (wherein Adobe of course misinforms readers about the rather large open standard movement)

    http://www.openraw.org/

    where we see the discussions of open raw standards.

    no doubt in the end Adobe will win the battle of the standard for raw, if for no other reason than the fact that every time a company is successful in producing software for raw processing using the open standard, they buy them up.

    there’s a fair summary on WIKI of the raw format too.

    so, bottom line, just exactly how much processing is done for a raw format image depends on the specific digital camera we are talking about, but the general direction in more recent cameras is towards the absolute minimum in processing.

    (sorry if this becomes multiple posts, I forgot that if there are more than 3 links in a post, it automatically gets held for PZ to gander at first).

  92. #92 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    for those really interested in discussing this stuff (or anything related to photography, including micro-photography) further, I highly recommend the photo forums over on the Popular Photography magazine’s website:

    http://forums.popphoto.com/

    there are a great many threads discussing the issue, and a lot of helpful people there.

    I also recall that there are/were several folks there extremely well versed in micro-photography as well.

    If he’s still hanging about there, look for Dr. Jalapeno – he can direct you to just about anything your heart desires wrt to photography topics in that forum.

  93. #93 windy
    December 2, 2007

    The vast majority of the posts have to do with fantasy buying for adults…computerized scopes, photomicrography

    Only if you think that a USB microscope is never an appropriate present for a child. Even if they cost less than a Nintendo Wii (did you even look at the links?) and many kids have their own computers these days. I think you’re just taking it personally that people scoff at the cheap plastic stuff. Nobody said that hand-held lenses are useless, but they are not the same as a microscope.

  94. #94 Jaycubed
    December 2, 2007

    “hint:
    NOBODY agrees that the point you insist on foisting here is appropriate, accurate, or even relevant.
    Posted by: Ichthyic”

    hint:
    Perhaps because they are thinking about themselves rather than thinking like a child. We do not think rationally about our own children. The results in our society are quite apparent. Religion often speaks to people as children, whether they are youngsters or adults. Perhaps religion is so good at perpetuating ignorance because they are speaking to children more effectively than does science. Perhaps that is why nearly half of all Americans believe that the Earth is 5000 or so years old despite the overwhelming evidence of science. Perhaps that is also why most of the rest believe a Fairy is still directly responsible for creating themselves even if the Earth is as old as science purports.

    And I have no problem with nobody agreeing with me. Being correct is not democratic: if it was then the god of Abraham must have created & still rules the universe (90%+ in U.S. and 55% worldwide believe this. Do you?)

    “do you have references to support your learning model?”

    I would start with the classic Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga. Also good are The Ambiguity of Play by Brian Sutton-Smith and Roger Caillois’ Man, Play and Games. I would also recommend spending time with children who are not your own, as everyone knows that your own child is “special”; they are the smartest, cutest, most talented, bravest…etc. child in human history.
    .

  95. #95 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    Being correct is not democratic:

    indeed, but if one thinks one is correct in the face of constant evidence to the contrary, one starts to look like one has a Galileo complex.

    Perhaps because they are thinking about themselves rather than thinking like a child.

    wrong.

    We do not think rationally about our own children.

    irrelevant.

    The results in our society are quite apparent.

    irrelevant.

    Religion often speaks to people as children, whether they are youngsters or adults. Perhaps religion is so good at perpetuating ignorance because they are speaking to children more effectively than does science. Perhaps that is why nearly half of all Americans believe that the Earth is 5000 or so years old despite the overwhelming evidence of science. Perhaps that is also why most of the rest believe a Fairy is still directly responsible for creating themselves even if the Earth is as old as science purports.

    completely and utterly irrelevant.

    you’d sound far more intelligent without the ridiculous, completely irrelevant rants.


    I would start with the classic Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga.

    primary lit, please.

    books rarely interest me.

    have you actually studied learning in specific, or just read books about it?

    In specific, I want to see the study that supports the idea that giving one child a plastic toy scope will encourage the other towards an interest in microscopes.

    seriously, I’m genuinely interested – has nothing to do with the unrelated idiotic ranting on your part, which you really SHOULD drop in favor of what you could possibly share about cognition and learning.

  96. #96 Jaycubed
    December 2, 2007

    The vast majority of the posts have to do with fantasy buying for adults…computerized scopes, photomicrography

    “Only if you think that a USB microscope is never an appropriate present for a child. Even if they cost less than a Nintendo Wii (did you even look at the links?) and many kids have their own computers these days. I think you’re just taking it personally that people scoff at the cheap plastic stuff.
    Posted by: windy”

    Of course a computerized/USB microscope can be an appropriate present for a child. A child who has learned to explore the real world beforehand, who knows how & where to go to find things worth looking at in a microscope before he sets down in front of the computer screen yet again. Cost or effectiveness is not the issue; and of course I looked at every link in this thread, both the ones in the original article and the ones in individual posts. Personally, I liked the USB microscope and have been aware of similar models for some time.

    I take it personally that most adults are so self-centered that they raise their children poorly, because I interact with those children. We give our children plenty of things, most of which ARE cheap plastic junk. I would rather some of that plastic impact them in a positive fashion than encourage them to spend their time with the Bratz or trying to score high in Halo3.

  97. #97 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    I take it personally that most adults are so self-centered that they raise their children poorly

    but you are NOT drawing rational support for that conclusion from ANYTHING in this thread.

    stop it already.

  98. #98 Jaycubed
    December 2, 2007

    Icthyic,

    You present absolutely no evidence to the contrary, only naysaying. “You’d sound far more intelligent with some evidence to support your idea, whatever that really is, as you present no ideas or evidence of your own, merely shouting “irrelevant”.

    What is really more surprising is your expressed contempt for the learning of others. “Books rarely interest me”. The fact that this is a boldfaced lie, as evident from the vast amount of book learning that you have exhibited in your many posts on many subjects only makes you look foolish.

    If you want to actually learn something, you should start with reading the core literature on the subject. Homo Ludens is that core literature.

    As for my personal credentials, it is 35 years plus of Psychiatric Nursing and Special Ed teaching, as well as being “Weird Uncle Jim” to children ranging (at present) from 45 to 2 years old.

  99. #99 Carlie
    December 2, 2007

    I’m sorry, is there a problem with wanting to buy a toy that the whole family can appreciate? Is it bad to get something that you want to be interested in with your child, so they can see you being excited about nature and share that excitement with them? Do all toys have to be explicitly labeled as belonging to the child (if it’s cheap) or the parent (if it’s expensive)? I see a very false dichotomy in saying that spinoff comments about expensive microscopes mean that the children have been left in the dust; on the contrary, it means that the adult is interested enough to invest some serious dough and expose their children to really good-quality materials. Sure, not everyone can afford it. Particularly, those of us on assistant professor salaries can’t afford it. But I don’t get my children crappy-quality plastic scopes precisely because I don’t want them to be frustrated with the technology and abandon it.

    I can’t believe no one’s dragged in the famous quote by Woody Allen: “…can the human soul be glimpsed through a microscope? Maybe, but you’d definitely need one of those very good ones with two eyepieces.”

    or the longer one by James Thurber: “”We’ll try it,” the professor said to me, grimly, ‘ with every adjustment of the microscope known to man. As God is my witness, I’ll arrange this glass so that you see cells through it or I’ll give up teaching. In twenty-two years of botany, I -‘ He cut off abruptly for he was beginning to quiver all over, like Lionel Barrymore, and he genuinely wished to hold onto his temper; his scenes with me had taken a great deal out of him.
    So we tried it with every adjustment of the microscope known to man. With only one of them did I see anything but blackness or the familiar lacteal opacity, and that time I saw, to my pleasure and amazement, a variegated constellation of flecks, specks, and dots. These I hastily drew. The instructor, noting my activity, came back from an adjoining desk, a smile on his lips and his eyebrows high in hope. He looked at my cell drawing. “What’s that?” he demanded, with a hint of a squeal in his voice. “That’s what I saw, ” I said. “You didn’t, you didn’t, you didn’t!,” he screamed, losing control of his temper instantly, and he bent over and squinted into the microscope. His head snapped up. “That’s your eye!” he shouted. “You’ve fixed the lens so that it reflects! You’ve drawn your eye!”

    Both good reminders that bad-quality scopes can be much, much worse than a good hand lens. If I had to spend less than $50 on a way for my child to view things, I’d much rather get him a good hand lens, or even something like an Eyeclops, than a cheap compound scope in a kit.

  100. #100 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    What is really more surprising is your expressed contempt for the learning of others.

    LOL

    i see.

    nevermind, I see you are infected by some sort of mental disorder that causes you to automatically make erroneous assumptions in order to justify making a rant.

    good luck with that.

  101. #101 Jaycubed
    December 2, 2007

    “(1)I’m sorry, is there a problem with wanting to buy a toy that the whole family can appreciate? (2)Is it bad to get something that you want to be interested in with your child, so they can see you being excited about nature and share that excitement with them? (3)Do all toys have to be explicitly labeled as belonging to the child (if it’s cheap) or the parent (if it’s expensive)? (4)I see a very false dichotomy in saying that spinoff comments about expensive microscopes mean that the children have been left in the dust; on the contrary, it means that the adult is interested enough to invest some serious dough and expose their children to really good-quality materials.
    Posted by: Carlie”

    Let me reply to your comments in sequence:

    1) Not at all.

    2) Not at all, this is an especially good thing.

    3) Nope.

    4) The problem is this; are you willing to let the child drag your toy around and use it in the way the child wants to use it? Are you willing to let the child damage your “really good-quality materials” in the process of learning. Frankly I doubt it. And it is the adult “fussiness” over the value of the material objects involved which can negatively impact learning. It is precisely by acting like a child that the first steps of learning take place. From this comes a desire to seek more knowledge. It is not something that can be prescribed by an adult. Children learn far more from doing silly or stupid things than they are ever taught by adults.

    We, as a society, have abandoned the very idea of teaching our children how to learn. Instead, our schools teach them things and test them on how well they remember those things.

    If you want to get a good quality microscope for the family, or even just for yourself, I think that is a wonderful idea, and highly encourage it. But, this is different from what is best to encourage a child, especially a young child, to enjoy learning. Get them something for their use. Something they can use and abuse on their own.

  102. #102 Jaycubed
    December 2, 2007

    “I see you are infected by some sort of mental disorder that causes you to automatically make erroneous assumptions in order to justify making a rant.
    good luck with that.
    Posted by: Ichthyic ”

    As each statement I have made concerning you is based on your statements, which I accompany with your relevant quotes in my posts, and your responses have no supporting facts or ideas, merely childish reactions (“wrong”, “irrelevant”, “completely and utterly irrelevant”, “ridiculous, completely irrelevant rants”), it appears that it is you who might be suffering from “some sort of mental disorder that causes you to automatically make erroneous assumptions in order to justify making a rant”.

    ps.
    Another thing I find suggestive about your posts are the words you use in full capitals. “you COULD salvage”, “NOBODY agrees”, you…SHOULD drop”, “NOT..ANYTHING”

  103. #103 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    Another thing I find suggestive about your posts are the words you use in full capitals. “you COULD salvage”, “NOBODY agrees”, you…SHOULD drop”, “NOT..ANYTHING”

    the only conclusion you should take from that is that I was trying to get you to engage on something relevant, that you yourself expressed an actual interest in sharing (mechanisms of learning in children).

    my mistake.

    again, good luck with that disorder of yours.

  104. #104 Sven DiMilo
    December 2, 2007

    We, as a society, think this thread has become a real eye-roller.

  105. #105 Tara
    December 2, 2007

    Holding a digital camera up to the eyepiece of a microscope often works great! I am a veterinary technician and I often take pictures of interesting things I find in urinalyses, or of good representatives of different types of parasites (and pseudo parasites) to show new staff members when training them. Works like a charm!

  106. #106 dustbubble
    December 2, 2007

    Oh dear, what a kerfuffle. Perhaps I can be of some assistance on the price issue?
    It’s winter in Morris now, innit? Stick an empty bucket or tub of some sort outside. Skin it up with Saranwrap (or whatever it is you lot call Clingfilm), like a drum. Tip a load of water on it. Go away. Next morning you’ll have the biggest, cheapest magnifying glass in the world. Plus it keeps the little buggers fit, carting it about :^)
    Might need to tweak the membrane tension to get the right curve.

  107. #107 thalarctos
    December 2, 2007

    Dear “Weird Uncle Jim”–may I call you “Hector”?

    It is readily apparent that most of the “adults” posting here are more interested in (metaphorically) masturbating to pictures of $4000 super-scopes than finding what would best help their children to see & learn. This is little different from those right wing trolls (metaphorically) masturbating to their favorite expensive toys pictured in gun or truck magazines.

    What you call “masturbating to pictures of $4000 super-scopes” I call investigating the reproductive cycle of a critically-endangered species of bear in an attempt to help their dismal reproductive rate. A goal, which if it succeeds, will improve this world for adults and children alike. So there may have been a time when we could have shared common cause, and I would have been interested to hear about a possibly good point you had about learning and cognition.

    Now, though, I’m putting you in my killfile because your earnester-than-thou hectoring is just too tedious to take. I’m not even going to bother taking offense at your comparison of my endangered species work with right-wing gun nuts–it’s so laughable as to not even muster any irritation over. But if you find you’re not getting the results you want when it comes to persuasion, you may want to consider just how alienating your concern-troll style and your pissing all over your own good points are to people who might–at one time–have been interested in engaging with you.

  108. #108 Carlie
    December 2, 2007

    The problem is this; are you willing to let the child drag your toy around and use it in the way the child wants to use it? Are you willing to let the child damage your “really good-quality materials” in the process of learning.

    Depends on the age of the child. I don’t think it hampers exploratory play to instill healthy respect for equipment into kids. I wouldn’t let a preschooler on a decent scope alone, but I took my kids in to see things on my research scope when they were that age and we all had a blast. They picked the stuff to look at, I set it all up, they controlled the focus and stage with me right there to make sure everything was ok. A couple of years later one had to do a Flat Stanley story and my child wrote (and directed the photography of) Flat Stanley goes to the lab and looks at himself and other things under the microscope.
    I know when I was a kid, I was in awe of neat expensive toys, and thought it was a great thing when I was allowed near them, and felt very responsible. I would think that would enhance the experience, not detract from it. The scope doesn’t have to be dragged through the mud on the hike; you use a hand lens in the mud and collect things to bring back home for the good looks. Learning can be messy, but it doesn’t always have to be.

  109. #109 Barn Owl
    December 3, 2007

    #94 Jaycubed-
    Perhaps because they are thinking about themselves rather than thinking like a child. We do not think rationally about our own children. The results in our society are quite apparent.

    FWIW, this perennial NOBODY (LOL) agrees with you.

    If you’d care to discuss ideas about science education for children (and the many, many ways in which even well-intentioned adults screw it up) further, without the injured outrage, projection, self-promotion, and capslock e-screaming, then click on my screen name to contact me. (To paraphrase a great Married To The Sea webcomic, you can contact me through “checking out my sh***y blog…”)

  110. #110 Jaycubed
    December 3, 2007

    It is always easy to criticize those who have beliefs that are different than your own, such as I.D. proponents and fixed-Earthers. It is quite difficult to look in a mirror and see one’s own, even if well intentioned, failings.

    It is easy to blame those who are obviously anti-science for negatively effecting the quality of science education. But even those of us who are pro-science bear a powerful role in the failure to teach our kids about the scientific method and the world view that it leads to.

    One of the main sources of our failure is the focus on things. Our schools do not focus on process, they focus on things. Competence in process is ignored while the regurgitation of things (such as dates & names) is tested & rewarded. Most of these posts in this thread are adult masturbatory fantasies about things, even if they are “scientific” things.

    I would contend that the failure of our schools to teach science is more our fault than those with openly anti-science agendas. Those people have organized & used the political process to push their agenda. Those of us who are pro-science have been essentially reactive to their agenda rather than proactive with our own.

    Part of this is due to our sense of self-righteousness; after all, we know the evidence, the facts are on our side. We can see the self-righteousness of our opponents but not our own. This makes us lazy.

    I contend that a lot of the resistance to the ideas that I have expressed are due to a sense of personal shame & denial; the realization that despite our lip service to the needs of children, we adults are far more concerned with our own fantasies than with what best serves our children.

    It is not my intention to make friends or be nice with my posts. It is also not my intent to get people angry. In this particular post is my intent to encourage people to look at their own failings in the education of their own children and children at large. Those failures are real and they are ours. No amount of finger-pointing at religious groups or pseudo-scientists will decrease our part in this failure.

    Thalarctos,
    I am glad that you are doing useful scientific work with your microscope. Your comment (as well as the long parts of this thread where you & Icthyic give each other a reacharound by showing off your “expertise” re, microscopes & digital processing), however, shows more about your sense of self-importance than about your concern with the education of children. Your comment reinforces my statements that the adults in this thread are posting about themselves & their fantasies rather than the educational needs of children. I was unable to find anything in your posts related to science education for children via microscopy. It is all about you. Your fantasy that I compared your adult scientific work to the desires of “right-wing gun nuts” is so silly that I could hardly take offense. Sorry you feel the need to plug your ears up against ideas you don’t like.

    Carlie,
    I am glad that you spend the time & energy with your children to get them interested in science. I also do not disagree that children can & should develop a “healthy respect for equipment”. By some age this is obviously necessary. But children at the age where the love of science is developed (under 6 or 7) are not likely to have the level of concern that an older child might have or that a parent might demand.

    Barn Owl,
    To which “capslock e-screaming” are you referring? The only all capital word I have used in any of my nine posts on this thread is my statement that “We give our children plenty of things, most of which ARE cheap plastic junk.” All other “capslock e-screaming” in my posts are quotations from others. If I am projecting about those who have responded to my posts with insults & demands to shut up, I have provided data from their own posts to justify my conclusions. I certainly do feel “injured outrage” about the state of science education, don’t you? If I wanted to engage in self-promotion I would imagine that pissing people off by pointing out their part in our, often well intentioned, failures to teach our children how to learn would be a poor way to achieve that goal.

    Icthyic,
    I forgot to thank you earlier for one comment that you made as an attempt at an insult, “indeed, but if one thinks one is correct in the face of constant evidence to the contrary, one starts to look like one has a Galileo complex. Galileo was, of course, correct despite the constant evidence (the screaming of others) to the contrary.
    .

  111. #111 Sven DiMilo
    December 3, 2007

    OK! Uncle! I’ll buy the cheapo scope to show I’m thinking of The Children!
    We, as a society, beg you to shut up now.

  112. #112 Jaycubed
    December 3, 2007

    “OK! Uncle! I’ll buy the cheapo scope to show I’m thinking of The Children!
    We, as a society, beg you to shut up now.
    Posted by: Sven DiMilo”

    I’m sure you would rather have me shut up than for you actually think about my comments. But saying “shut up” is not discourse, it is cowardice.

    Come up with some data to disprove my comments if you want to post to a science blog. I can accept my part in our society’s failure to successfully educate our children: it appears you would rather deny your own culpability.

    ps.
    Buy whatever you think is best, but think about the child you buy it for, not your sanctimonious “The Children” and not your personal fantasies. If you buy an expensive toy or tool for yourself, that’s fine too. Just don’t pretend you’re doing it for your child.

  113. #113 Sven DiMilo
    December 3, 2007

    yeah…My bad. Sorry I got so sanctimonious there for a second.

  114. #114 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    Galileo was, of course, correct despite the constant evidence (the screaming of others) to the contrary.

    so you ARE suffering from a galileo complex.

    I figured as much.

  115. #115 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    Sure, they laughed at Galileo. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

  116. #116 Jaycubed
    December 3, 2007

    “yeah…My bad. Sorry I got so sanctimonious there for a second.
    Posted by: Sven DiMilo ”

    Despite your feeble attempts at irony; if you were actually literate, you would know that sanctimonious means “pretending to be pious”(ie.“to show I’m thinking of The Children”‘). Sanctimonious accurately describes your comment.

    Say what ever you wish, but I believe in what I have been saying, I am not pretending. I have defended my ideas and have had little more than demands to shut up in rebuttal.

    The sad fact is, some of the posters here are as closeminded as those you would find on any right-wing blog/news site. They attack different ideas with “shut up” & ad hominem attacks. If I make anything like an ad hominem attack, such as questioning your literacy, I provide data from your own writing to support my contention.

    .

  117. #117 Jaycubed
    December 3, 2007

    Galileo was, of course, correct despite the constant evidence (the screaming of others) to the contrary.
    so you ARE suffering from a galileo complex.
    I figured as much.
    Posted by: Ichthyic”

    Not at all, it was you who compared me to Galileo. I never compared myself to Galileo.

    I merely thanked you for the comparison.
    .

  118. #118 Barn Owl
    December 3, 2007

    #110-

    To which “capslock e-screaming” are you referring? The only all capital word I have used in any of my nine posts on this thread is my statement that “We give our children plenty of things, most of which ARE cheap plastic junk.” All other “capslock e-screaming” in my posts are quotations from others. If I am projecting about those who have responded to my posts with insults & demands to shut up, I have provided data from their own posts to justify my conclusions. I certainly do feel “injured outrage” about the state of science education, don’t you? If I wanted to engage in self-promotion I would imagine that pissing people off by pointing out their part in our, often well intentioned, failures to teach our children how to learn would be a poor way to achieve that goal.

    I was referring to the capslock tactics, projection, and self-promotion in the posts of others, not in yours, Jaycubed…I thought that was obvious, but then I’m learning that teh Interwebz is really not my medium.

    *shrugs*

  119. #119 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    Barn Owl, perhaps you missed that Jaycubed essentially insulted everyone who had posted on this thread based on this, one, comment:

    Nuts to the kids, I want a microscope of my own.

    #38 by SMC.

    Jaycubed, based on that single, off color comment, then proceeded to indict all of us of not caring about children’s education, and being obsessed with masturbation over “4000 dollar microscopes”.

    perhaps you don’t take offense at horribly erroneous aspersions cast on your character, but I do.

    kindly take your concern trolling and shove it.

  120. #120 Barn Owl
    December 3, 2007

    kindly take your concern trolling and shove it.

    Your favorite comeback, isn’t it, Ichthyic? Someone disagrees with you, or fails to recognize your (undoubtedly) superior intellect and vast experience, and he or she is either a “concern troll”, or NOBODY, or an idiot.

    But I realize you’re a special little favorite here, full of expertise and wisdom on ever so many topics, so it’s probably good advice.

    Btw, I’m surprised you didn’t pull your usual compulsive triple or quadruple posts just now-it’s like some sort of situational internet tic.

  121. #121 thalarctos
    December 3, 2007

    Jaycubed, based on that single, off color comment, then proceeded to indict all of us of not caring about children’s education, and being obsessed with masturbation over “4000 dollar microscopes”.

    Yeah. I had killfiled him, but then took a look at his latest comment when Mr. thalarctos asked me “What’s this about you and Ichthyic and reacharounds?”.

    I’m not piling on anymore on anyone who is so bitter and damaged about what he missed out on in childhood that a group of adults congenially sharing information threatens him to the point where he’s got to hector us, not to mention the blatantly sexual imagery on a thread supposedly about children (masturbating, reacharounds). After all, there but for the grace of loving, caring adults, go I or any one of us.

    I will, however, defend myself against one blatant lie, so as not to assent by silence, but I won’t continue the debate–it simply wouldn’t be sporting.

    P[1]:

    “It is readily apparent that most of the “adults” posting here are more interested in (metaphorically) masturbating to pictures of $4000 super-scopes than finding what would best help their children to see & learn. This is little different from those right wing trolls (metaphorically) masturbating to their favorite expensive toys pictured in gun or truck magazines.”

    P[2]:

    Your comment reinforces my statements that the adults in this thread are posting about themselves & their fantasies rather than the educational needs of children. I was unable to find anything in your posts related to science education for children via microscopy. It is all about you.

    and P[3]:

    Your fantasy that I compared your adult scientific work to the desires of “right-wing gun nuts” is so silly

    So I was one of the adults in his invidious comparison (P[1], P[2]) at the same time that I wasn’t one of the adults in his invidious comparison (P[3]). P and !P, in other words. And creepy sexual crudities like “reacharounds” is just icing on the illogical cake.

    Sad. This was a really good and educational thread for a range of ages, up until then.

  122. #122 Jaycubed
    December 3, 2007

    Barn Owl,

    You are correct, I did misread your post. Thanks for pointing that out.


    Iycthic,

    My interpretation was not from a “single off color comment”, despite the fact that I quoted it as representative of the tone of most of the posts in this thread. My comments were based on carefully reading every post in this thread. I acknowledged that several posts were concerned with what is best for children’s learning. Most posts were not, even if lip-service was paid to the needs of children.

    If you think my comments were insulting, show me where, using full quotations rather than the cherry-picking you usually like to perform. The only thing approaching an insult that I can find that I didn’t document concerned you & thalarctos’ mutual admiration/reach-around society. Here we go: “Ichthyic, once again you demonstrate that I can always count on you for excellent information.”, “Thank you, Ichthyic–you are, as always, a generous fount of useful info!”. As neither of these posts, as well as several others, have anything to do with the stated topic, I think my chacterization is accurate.

    I have repeatedly criticized the tone & content of many of these posts. That is not insulting. I have offered both suggestions for improving the chances of helping a child learn to love science & references/data to support my contentions.

    My comments were indictments, not insults like you love to toss around. If you have evidence to rebut my indictments than present it.

    I have often found you to be thin-skinned, always ready to “take offense at horribly erroneous aspersions cast on your character”. What you do not do is provide evidence that my assertions (rather than aspersions) are untrue.

  123. #123 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    Btw, I’m surprised you didn’t pull your usual compulsive triple or quadruple posts just now-it’s like some sort of situational internet tic.

    That was actually explained in one of the multiple posts itself (multiple links, if you might recall – see #91 -, and for future reference, if you put more than 3 hyperlinks in a post, it automatically gets held back), and if you bother to look, isn’t exactly a pattern myself or anybody else here regularly exhibits.

    so, since you decided to take a poke based on a lack of reading comprehension, I suggest you take your poke and, well, shove it.

    you also failed to note the effort (#95) I made to try to get a discussion rolling from what jaycubed knew about children’s education in general (to discuss in specific the references he cited), which actually might have been an interesting discussion. Instead he chose to focus yet again on his erroneous contentions.

    I haven’t called you an idiot.

    yet.

    but if you insist on misreading the exchange, and ignoring all explanation of it, I’d be happy to, assuming you want to continue in the same vein.

    past that, I rather think whatever value there was in continuing here has long gone.

    jaycubed can think whatever erroneous things he wishes, but I for one am certainly never going to stand by and say nothing about it when he decides to spew his BS publicly, and then follow up by saying that his erroneous contentions are the basis for “what is wrong with education”.

  124. #124 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    The only thing approaching an insult that I can find that I didn’t document concerned you & thalarctos’ mutual admiration/reach-around society.

    funny, but if you hadn’t started off with your idiotic and erroneous assumptions, supposedly based off of “careful” reading (more BS), and instead started off by starting a discussion about chilren’s education in general, citing references on point, you too might have had someone give you kudos for your contribution.

    instead, you chose to focus on a malignant misrepresentation based on some fantasy interpretation of the comments in this thread, got blasted for it, and instead of backing off to something more productive, chose to dig yourself into an ever deeper hole.

    I highly suggest you think twice before jumping in with such non-productive nonsense in the future, but given you don’t even understand what a galileo complex is, I rather doubt you capable of such in anything other than random fashion.

    again, I say, good luck with that.

  125. #125 Sven DiMilo
    December 3, 2007

    Despite your feeble attempts at irony; if you were actually literate, you would know that sanctimonious means “pretending to be pious”

    You’re unbelievable. I’m actually literate enough to look it up in my trusty 1949 Webster’s New Collegiate: “Making a show of sanctity; hypocritically pious.”
    I can also run the Google. Here’s one from Cambridge Univ. Press: “acting as if morally better than others”
    Here’s another: “excessively or hypocritically pious”
    Yet another: “1. Making a show of being morally better than others. 2. hypocritically pious 3. Holy, devout.”

    So you’re right…I was being sanctimonious in the sense of pretending to be a puffed-up self-important jerk, acting hypocritically pious on purpose in, you know, a feeble attempt at irony.
    The difference is, you’re not kidding. You really are a pompous prick!

    p.s. You might want to look up the proper use of the semicolon before accusing too many people of illiteracy.

  126. #126 Rey Fox
    December 3, 2007

    thalarctos:
    “What you call “masturbating to pictures of $4000 super-scopes” I call investigating the reproductive cycle of a critically-endangered species of bear in an attempt to help their dismal reproductive rate. A goal, which if it succeeds, will improve this world for adults and children alike.”

    Jaycubed:
    “I am glad that you are doing useful scientific work with your microscope. Your comment, however, shows more about your sense of self-importance than about your concern with the education of children.”

    Wow. On thalarctos’ behalf, fuck you.

  127. #127 thalarctos
    December 3, 2007

    The only thing approaching an insult that I can find that I didn’t document concerned you & thalarctos’ mutual admiration/reach-around society.

    funny, but if you hadn’t started off with your idiotic and erroneous assumptions…

    Oh, for fish’s sake, Ichthyic, are we having *more* reacharounds? Do I have to get him out of my killfile again to see what else I’m being accused of?

    The only thing approaching an insult that I can find that I didn’t document concerned you & thalarctos’ mutual admiration/reach-around society. Here we go: “Ichthyic, once again you demonstrate that I can always count on you for excellent information.”, “Thank you, Ichthyic–you are, as always, a generous fount of useful info!”. As neither of these posts, as well as several others, have anything to do with the stated topic, I think my chacterization is accurate.

    Well, I’m used to being told I’m rude on the interwebs, but this is certainly the first time I’ve been accused of blatant politeness. I can see why Hector is so upset.

  128. #128 thalarctos
    December 3, 2007

    Wow. On thalarctos’ behalf, fuck you.

    Thank you very much, Rey. I really appreciate the defense, and I apologize in advance for the reacharound.

  129. #129 Jaycubed
    December 3, 2007

    thalarctos’

    You claim “I wasn’t one of the adults in his invidious comparison (P[3])”, yet Proposition #3 was directly addressed to you. In fact it was not only in the same post (#110), in the section specifically addressed to you, but in the same paragraph as Proposition #2, about which you state, “I was one of the adults in his invidious comparison (P[1], P[2]).”

    In Proposition #1 (post#76) you would also be “one of the adults addressed as you had posted several comments completely irrelevant to the subject of microscopes for kids, but instead had already engaged in the “reach-around” behavior I discuss in post#122.

    I don’t know if taking Logic 101 might help you, but getting simple facts correct might.

    As for, “blatantly sexual imagery on a thread supposedly about children, if all else fails reach for the straw man. This is not a post for children, it is a post for adults. As there have been blatantly sexual insults directed towards me, I find criticism about my use of sexual metaphors to be specious. I consider the vast majority of human behavior in modern societies to be masturbation: in simple terms it is self-stimulation for one’s own pleasure. Icthyic & Thalarctos clearly like to stimulate each other for their shared pleasure, hence the accuracy of the reach-around metaphor.

  130. #130 Jaycubed
    December 3, 2007

    Dear Sven DiMilo,

    And your evidence for your projection that I am being pompous or pious is what?

    The fact that I criticize? Or that I criticize people who believe they are “scientific” like you.

    The fact that I offer both ideas why, in general, science education is failing and suggestions that might improve it? Or that I point out all of our culpability in this failure.

    I accept my part in this failure, and have done work of my own to improve it, yet nowhere in my posts have I previously bragged about or even mentioned it. I have not said I am better than others: instead I have presented ideas that are obviously unpopular to some of the posters on this thread. There has still been no rebuttal of my contentions, just naysaying & insults & demands to shut up. I am not being pious in my statements. I am open to ideas, but none have been forthcoming.

    The piety appears to be yours.

    You (& Icthyic & Thalarctos) remind me of “The Scientific People” in Al Bester’s The Stars My Destination. They all spoke scientific, but it made no sense. They had the form, but not the substance of science. They diddled themselves & called it science.

  131. #131 windy
    December 3, 2007

    Nuts to the kids and their microscopes, this is hilarious!

  132. #132 Sven DiMilo
    December 3, 2007

    It’s your style, man. You show up in a fun little thread about what to buy kids for Xmas presents, and just because a couple of people who know something about microscopes are conversing with each other about it instead of addressing the important issues you want to talk about, you start castigating them for being self-centered and ignoring the true needs of children (to which you are evidently uniquely privy). Then you try to hijack the whole thing into a generalized condemnation of the failings of we, as a society, in science education etc. and you do it all in a condescending, humorless, and, yes, sanctimonious (in, I am sure, the non-hypocritical sense of the words) tone. People try to let you know that your attitude isn’t appreciated and you respond by striking back in, if possible, even more dismissive fashion.
    It’s not that you criticize, it’s where and when and how you criticize. You’re doggedly oblivious.
    And, by the way, I’m pretty sure that, on this thread at least, I have not been pious or trying to sound scientific in any way. In fact, all I’ve been doing is making fun of you.
    Well, you asked.

  133. #133 Jaycubed
    December 3, 2007

    “It’s your style, man.
    …your attitude isn’t appreciated and you respond by striking back in, if possible, even more dismissive fashion.
    It’s not that you criticize, it’s where and when and how you criticize. You’re doggedly oblivious.
    Posted by: Sven DiMilo”

    Style and attitude are important in science in what way? I always thought it was content that was important in scientific or political discourse. Where is the content of those who criticize my style & attitude? I sure haven’t seen any in these posts.

    You are correct in your statement, “It’s not that you criticize, it’s where and when and how you criticize. I am criticizing those who consider themselves of a scientific bent, questioning the reality of their personal belief systems. That is dangerous work.

    My criticism of Icthyos’ & Tharlactos’ posts is that they are irrelevant to the thread. It would have been easy for them to make their exchanges off this thread after their initial questions. That would have been polite rather than self-serving. They are both regular show-offs on Pharyngula who love to stroke each others egos.

    My posts have been focused on the issue of how we adults fail in science education by putting our own desires before the needs of children, specifically in regards to a microscope for a child. In no way do I claim “to (be) evidently uniquely privy to the true needs of children”. Instead, I have repeatedly challenged those criticizing my posts to provide data or evidence to rebut by contentions. None has been presented. If you have a better idea, let’s hear it. If you think that we, as people concerned with good science education, have no part in the failure of instilling the process of scientific thinking into our society’s children then you are a fool, and there is less hope than ever for our children.

    I suspect what really pisses people off are my reminders that we are all part of this society, that all children should be considered “ours” and that we can’t blame a part of society (those “others”) for the failure of the whole. And it is always easier to blame others than to examine ourselves. It conflicts with our sense of individualism.

    I am hardly “doggedly oblivious”. But I am doggedly determined to promote the needs of children in learning science because the result is so important.

    I’m offline for the night now. I’ll check in tomorrow to respond to any further insults (hopefully not) or (hopefully) informed criticisms.

  134. #134 Whitney Houston
    December 3, 2007

    If you have a better idea, let’s hear it.

    This goes out to my man, Jaycubed…

    I believe the children are our are future
    Teach them well and let them lead the way
    Show them all the beauty they possess inside
    Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
    Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

    Everybody searching for a hero
    People need someone to look up to
    I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
    A lonely place to be
    So I learned to depend on me

    I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
    If I fail, if I succeed
    At least I live as I believe
    No matter what they take from me
    They can’t take away my dignity

    Because the greatest love of all
    Is happening to me
    I found the greatest love of all
    Inside of me

    The greatest love of all
    Is easy to achieve
    Learning to love yourself
    It is the greatest love of all

    I believe the children are our future
    Teach them well and let them lead the way
    Show them all the beauty they possess inside
    Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
    Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

    And if by chance, that special place
    That you’ve been dreaming of
    Leads you to a lonely place
    Find your strength in love.

  135. #135 Bobby Brown
    December 3, 2007

    Whitney! Get back in this house right now!

  136. #136 prismatic, so prismatic
    December 3, 2007

    Per Jaycubed (various posts):

    As neither of these posts, as well as several others, have anything to do with the stated topic, I think my chacterization is accurate.

    You are correct in your statement, “It’s not that you criticize, it’s where and when and how you criticize. I am criticizing those who consider themselves of a scientific bent, questioning the reality of their personal belief systems. That is dangerous work.

    My posts have been focused on the issue of how we adults fail in science education by putting our own desires before the needs of children, specifically in regards to a microscope for a child.

    Sven DiMilo and others have already done a great job of pointing out how you had some genuinely good points that could have made for a nice addition to the discussion at hand. (When I started reading this thread last night, 60 Minutes was rerunning its segment about Nicholas Negroponte’s cheap, durable laptops for third world kids–something that seemed very resonant.) But this thread has become a train wreck precisely because you’re practicing the same sins of which you accuse others, except with a great deal more drama added to the mix. The original topic was holiday microscope shopping. I can accept that “microscopes for bears” or “my groovy lab setup” or what have you embodies a certain amount of thread drift (and, dang, that never happens here), but so does your insistent tugging toward your preferred topics. Obviously, your topics are related to the thread in some way–“objects to help kids learn science” does have at least one concept in common with “how we fail our kids and undercut them from learning science”, just as “microscopes for bears” and “microscopes for kids” have at least one concept in common as well–but that doesn’t mean you’re hijacking the thread any less than they were. And given that the original focus (sorry) of the thread was heavier on optical technology than on social policy or the need to engage in some sort of allegedly constructive self-criticism, it seems you have hijacked the thread rather more than did the folks you were originally complaining about.

    If you have a beef with some of those people, that’s fine. If you have points you think should be debated in various contexts, that’s fine. And it seems to me that much of what you have to say about children and science is worthy of deeper consideration. I think it’s wonderful that you’re so passionate about the goals you expressed at the end of #133–the world needs more of these. But Sven was absolutely right: “It’s not that you criticize, it’s where and when and how you criticize.” It’s telling when you say “[s]tyle and attitude are important in science in what way? I always thought it was content that was important in scientific or political discourse. Where is the content of those who criticize my style & attitude?” There was talk of Galileo awhile back–presumably you already know that he did not get in trouble for his astronomy so much as for overstepping his good work and straying into biblical exegesis. You might reflect on this, and the inherently political nature of all forms of persuasion about the rightness of some point of view, when you criticize others for straying from the alleged main point while having undertaken far more of that business yourself.

    –pr

  137. #137 Brownian, OM
    December 3, 2007

    I was going to say:

    For the record, PZ’s original post uses the word ‘student’ at least as much as it does ‘kid’. Last time I checked, students come in all ages. A technical discussion about high-end microscope technology is not out-of-place here.

    Neither is a discussion about early childhood education. But that topic could have been brought up without the attack on the other, Jaycubed. You could have said something along the lines of “those fancy ones are nice guys, but let’s not forget that the littler ones might enjoy something more durable to call their own,” and made the same point without causing such a fracas. People would likely have been much more receptive. Maybe you were cranky?

    but Prismatic, so prismatic already said it, so I’ll just warn you not make us have to step in here, because then we’d be like bailiffs on Night Court and two of us would have to die within the first three seasons, there’d be a fight over who would get to play Dan Fielding, and PZ would have to learn magic tricks and become a fan of Mel Torm.

    I don’t think any of us here want that.

  138. #138 Sven DiMilo
    December 4, 2007

    Style and attitude are important in science in what way? I always thought it was content that was important in scientific or political discourse.

    Ah, now I see the problem. We’re not doing science here, see, we’re commenting on somebody’s weblog. Glad to get that straightened out.
    Also, style and attitude do play a role in scientific discourse. Anyone who has witnessed, at a conference, the sorry spectacle of a self-aggrandizing tenured ego berating a grad student after the poor kid’s first-ever talk knows what I’m talking about. And hey–isn’t that what you’re talking about too? Putting the educator’s wants, needs, and ego ahead of what best serves the education of students?

  139. #139 SwelP
    December 4, 2007

    I have never visited this site before. A science teacher recommended it when I mentioned I was looking for science oriented gifts for my 4 & 6 year old nephews.
    At first I wondered what was going on here, but I read through all the posts and I have to agree with Jaycubed.
    What I see is a lot of selfcentered adults dreaming about cool toys.
    I’m not surprised. I work as a teacher’s aide and regularly have to deal with clueless parents.
    What really bothered me though are the bullies you have here.
    Icthyic and Tharlactos in particular are like the bullies I see every day on the playground.
    They know it all and protect their “turf” by threatening & ganging up on those who might challenge them.
    “Shut up” is their main argument.
    When I read some of the comments they made about each other, as crude a word as “reacharound” may be, it made me LOL.
    Imean, “Icthyic is there anything you don’t know?”
    Get a room guys.
    I think Jaycubed is right in much of what he wrote.
    When you deal with thickheaded people who know they are undoubtedly right you sometimes have to knock loudly to get the message across.

  140. #140 thalarctos
    December 4, 2007

    Icthyic[sic] and Tharlactos[sic]

    It’s funny how this new person who’s “never visited this site before” misspells both our handles exactly the same way Jaycubed does, but whatever.

    If we bother you somehow, that’s exactly what killfiles were designed for. PZ has instructions here. But you should spell both our handles correctly if you want the killfiles to work.

  141. #141 Sven DiMilo
    December 4, 2007

    heh, is that a sock I smell?
    Oh, yeah, the Bobby Brown comment (#135) cracked me up.

  142. #142 SwelP
    December 4, 2007

    What fun.
    I knew I was going to be flamed for posting this by the faceless bully boys.
    If I misspelled your name wrong “exactly the same way Jaycubed does” it might be because I cut & pasted it from his post.
    You sound a bit paranoid as well as foolish.

  143. #143 PZ Myers
    December 4, 2007

    Uh, SwelP, just so you know — I’ve got more info about commenters than the regular readers, and I happen to know that both you and jaycubed are posting from the same IP address. Not smart.

    I think you’ve just jumped the shark, guy.

  144. #144 SEF
    December 4, 2007

    “pwned!” is the correct youf response, I think. 😀

    Perhaps there should be a PZ variant, though, if he’s going to take over the culture in the culture wars: eg pzned!

  145. #145 Jaycubed
    December 4, 2007

    Sorry I wasn’t here earlier. It’s bill paying day.

    I must say I wonder who Swelp is? I snag my internet access from a semi-public wifi sight (where friends don’t let friends drink). I love directional antennas.

    It truly is a small world.

  146. #146 Sven DiMilo
    December 4, 2007

    so long, J^3, and thanx for the laffs

  147. #147 thalarctos
    December 4, 2007

    You sound a bit paranoid

    Coming from a psych nurse and special ed teacher’s sock puppet, that doesn’t sting or gaslight me so much as it makes me very glad that I’m not among the vulnerable populations entrusted to your care.

    For their sake, I hope you have a lot more ethics and integrity in meatspace than you do online.

  148. #148 SwelP
    December 4, 2007

    I don’t like your implication.
    Perhaps you little boys would like to follow me around
    online.
    I stopped for coffee & e-mail in Santa Rosa this
    morning.
    After spending the day in traffic, I am in San Jose
    now visiting with family.
    If you are really that paranoid I will drop a line
    from Paradise when I get home.
    You seem clever enough to track me.

  149. #149 SwelP
    December 4, 2007

    I don’t like your implication.
    Perhaps you little boys would like to follow me around
    online.
    I stopped for coffee & e-mail in Santa Rosa this
    morning.
    After spending the day in traffic, I am in San Jose
    now visiting with family.
    If you are really that paranoid I will drop a line
    from Paradise when I get home.
    You seem clever enough to track me.

  150. #150 Jaycubed
    December 4, 2007

    I have a pretty good idea who SwelP is now from her destination, although what she was doing across the street from me this morning without calling I would like to know. A little surprised she didn’t pick up the Jaycubed reference. Not surprised she came to my defense though even without recognizing my handle. I’ll have to call my ex & see if she invited her down.

    Smaller & smaller world.

  151. #151 PZ Myers
    December 4, 2007

    You’ve been busted. Stop digging…it’s painful to watch.

  152. #152 Swelcubed
    December 5, 2007

    We, as a society, resent the implication of sockpuppetry by us, as a society. We, as a society, must have just happened, purely by chance, to post identically worded and misspelled opinions from the same coffee shop in the same small world. And we think we know each other too! These sorts of absolutely fortuitous coincidences happen all the time to us, as a society. And we’re not sure what you mean by “digging.” What, are you paranoid? As a society?

  153. #153 grinch
    January 26, 2008

    Hey – I picked up a USB “cheapy” off Ebay for $100. Not only is it a microscope, but a makeshift endoscope (depending on how big your nostrils are):

    http://www.metrak.com/tmp/nose.jpg

    It may not be the greatest fidelity but it was enough to gross out the kids.

    One problem is that to take a single picture, you click a button on the body of the unit which can blur the picture.

  154. #154 John Bradford
    February 16, 2008

    I came to this blog to gain some information on microscopes, and you can not believe my shock to watch it develop into a slagging match. On a scientific instrument blog!! For The Love Of God!!
    shame on you.

  155. #155 PZ Myers
    February 16, 2008

    Swelp/jaycubed? Is that you?

  156. #156 John Bradford
    February 16, 2008

    Havingg said that I tried the amera / tripod setup with a Sony Cyber at 25x on a ladybug and it worked really well with a bit of adjustment. Better than the adaptor for the stereo, though not the compound. That was great. Going to try video of flight prep next.

  157. #157 Estetik
    December 2, 2008

    Willy, you sound like the guy who traded up from a paper clip to a house! 🙂

    If anyone’s interested in photomicrography the easy way, get thee to ebay and pick up a Nikon Coolpix 4500. That was the last one they made that was easily compatible with microscope oculars (using adapters, of course, which you’ll also have to scavenge) but they ROCK. Incredibly easy to use and really good pictures.

  158. #158 kelly
    January 4, 2009

    Hi everybody! If you want to download any film, music, clip or soft I would recommend you to visit http://megaupload.name/
    Find al the necessary information there!

  159. #159 a.emregenc
    February 11, 2010

    this information most important for me.
    thanks…
    sepetli Platform
    Snnet K?yafetleri
    Snnet K?yafetleri
    Sepetli Vin
    sepetli Platform

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.