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The Microscope - Volume 60, First Quarter 2012


On the cover: The Microscope marks its 75th anniversary in 2012. Since the first issue rolled off the press in 1937, it has been published continuously, first in Great Britain and then in the United States. See the Editorial, 75 Years of the Microscope, by Gary J. Laughlin.


Editorial | 75 Years of The Microscope

Gary J. Laughlin
The Microscope 60 (1), p ii
Excerpt: This year marks The Microscope’s 75th anniversary. Founded in Great Britain by Arthur L.E. Barron, the inaugural issue rolled off the press in August 1937 as The Microscope subtitled as The British Journal of Microscopy and Photomicrography and incorporating The Entomological Monthly. Barron, considered one of Britain’s finest microscopists of the time, was Editor for 25 years with editorial and publishing offices in London.  Full article (PDF)


Effect of Size Reduction Processes on the Apparent Fiber Content of Rock Samples

D.R. Van Orden, J.M. Wilmoth and M. Sanchez
The Microscope 60 (1), pp 3-9
Abstract: Natural occurrences of asbestos and potential exposure to such materials have drawn significant public and regulatory interest in recent years. Revisions to a published analytical method, CARB 435, that incorporate inappropriate sample comminution strategies have been examined. Tests demonstrating the effects of grinding and preparation of asbestos minerals have been conducted. Sample preparation procedures used by some laboratories in apparent compliance with CARB 435 destroy the characteristics of asbestos, thereby potentially biasing the results. The authors are proposing that the grinding be done in stages, removing the fines at each stage, in order to minimize the effects of grinding. These tests also show that when non-asbestos amphibole particles are crushed, elongated particles are created that could be confused with asbestos fibers (false positives in various analyses). The effects of sample comminution must be considered when creating or revising asbestos analytical procedures.  Full article (PDF)


Optical Characterization of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Meggan King and Andrew M. Bowen
The Microscope 60 (1), pp 11-15
Excerpt: Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a common anionic surfactant found in household cleaning and hygiene products. Its optical properties are not available in the standard optical crystallography literature. Because SLS is widely used, it would be beneficial to have its optical properties published and accessible to microscopists. A standard of SLS was obtained, and its optical crystallographic properties were determined using polarized light microscopy (PLM). Sodium lauryl sulfate is biaxial positive (+) with 2V = 15°. The refractive indices measured (in sodium D light) are α = 1.463, β = 1.464, γ = 1.525 (calculated), B = 0.062. Crystals commonly occur as thin plates with a negative sign of elongation.  Full article (PDF)


Critical Focus | 50 Years in Microscopy

Brian J. Ford
The Microscope 60 (1), pp 17-25
Excerpt: There’s a private lunch in Monaco this week to mark 50 years since I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society. That was when my life as a professional microscopist officially began. Candidates for the Fellowship were scrutinized in detail in those far-off days, like being assessed by an external examiner. Somehow I squeezed in under the bar, and the direction of my adult life was set from that moment on.  Full article (PDF)


Revising Walter C. McCrone’s Dates for Pigment Use

Nicole Pizzini
The Microscope 60 (1), pp 29-36
Excerpt: Through trade and technology, the pigments that have been available for artists’ palettes have shifted through time. Dr. Walter C. McCrone published several papers about the usefulness of a pigment timeline, most notably in “A Scientific Study of ‘Marcus Aurelius Between Philosophers,’” published in The Microscope. This paper discusses the prominence of forgeries and describes paintings as time capsules that can be decoded by referencing the origin dates of their materials and their first use. Using the microscope and his ability to distinguish artist pigments, McCrone was able to narrow the date and provenance of paintings and artifacts based on the pigments that he identified.  Full article (PDF)


Correction | A Novel Coal Fly Ash Sphere Reveals a Complete Understanding of Plerosphere Formation

The Microscope 60 (1), p 37
The article, “A Novel Coal Fly Ash Sphere Reveals a Complete Understanding of Plerosphere Formation,” published in the last issue of The Microscope (Vol. 59, Fourth Quarter 2011), pictured the wrong specimen for Figure 5D. The correct 5D image is included — with related images. The Microscope regrets the error.  Full text (PDF)


Remembering Robert B. “Mac” McLaughlin, 1922-2012

John Gustav Delly
The Microscope 60 (1), pp 39-40
Excerpt: Readers will be saddened to learn about the passing of Robert B. McLaughlin in early April. He had just turned 90 years old in January. Mac, as he was known to his friends, will be remembered by longtime readers of The Microscope as the author and editor of the popular “Diatoms” column, which appeared in each quarterly issue for 10 years in 1985-1995. He also wrote two highly respected books in the Microscope Series: Accessories for the Light Microscope (1975) and Special Methods in Light Microscopy (1977).  Full article (PDF)


The Microscope Past: 30 Years | A Physicist Looks at Microscopy

Jack Dodd
The Microscope 60 (1), pp 41-47
Originally published in The Microscope, Vol. 30, No. 2, 1982.
Excerpt: When I am asked by people such as bankers, plumbers, Congressmen and the like what I am, I instantaneously answer “a physicist.” But when they ask me what I do, my answer comes much more slowly and varies depending upon what, in fact, I have been doing. It would be no more helpful to answer “physics” than it would for a banker to answer “banking.” So, when I look out over this well-fed assembly, I am aware that almost all of you are microscopists — why else are you here? — yet that tells me very little about what any of you do. “Microscopy,” I suppose. But what, to a physicist, does “microscopy” appear to be? What can be abstracted, from that myriad of things that microscopists do, that sets them apart as a group from other scientists who may often do the same things? You and I both spend a lot of time looking through a microscope. Why do you think you are a microscopist, and why do I think I am a physicist?  Full article (PDF)

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