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Five Tiny Microscopy Pleasures

Following on from five tiny histology pleasures where you (hopefully) created the perfect slide, now comes those moments in viewing and imaging which (almost) restore your faith in research.

1. Free! It’s free!

Turning up at the microscope you have booked in the imaging suite to find it both free and clean. I often dreamt that one day, just one day I could turn up at the time I had booked and image my slides. I would be interested to know if such a scenario has ever existed in the history of laboratory equipment booking systems. Can anyone tell me if this has actually happened to them?

2. The perfect slide

The pleasure of imaging a beautiful section of tissue in which your detection antibody stain and the counterstain are the perfect balance of color and contrast. The slide you could explore for hours and hours (or perhaps that’s just me being a geek again!). The slide which may just contain the elusive answers to that research question.

3. Peace

During your whole booking, you are not interrupted once. Not by someone looking for you, not by someone just wanting a ‘quick look’ at a slide they’ve just found. Worse still, your supervisor has actually found where they ‘hide’ the microscopes in your institute/workplace and wants you to “quickly show them” your latest research findings and explain how these fill in the blanks in the research paper you were meant to have finished two months ago.

4. The magic of confocality

The beauty and magic of a confocal image being scanned right before your eyes. You’ve searched the section on your slide looking for the area where you think your antibody of interest should have bound. A quick check with the mercury vapour lamp, a final focus and you’re ready. You bring up your laser and imaging setting and hit ‘Find’. The confocal quickly scans, making adjustments each time and then, the magic happens (well, hopefully!). The lasers start their final scans, the photons collected by the photomultiplier tubes- an image constructed.

5. I did that!

Seeing your image in print. In a digital world, there is still pleasure and satisfaction to be had when one of your key images appears on a poster. Or better still, in a journal article. Or better still- on the cover of the said journal! If you enjoy imaging your sections, you may be interested in becoming a digital photo-microscopist. You can read Jason Erk’s five minute guide here.

What makes you happy in microscopy and imaging?

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