LINKS: The Littlest Things

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Science  13 Jul 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5528, pp. 179
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5528.179b

Microscopes have come a long way since pioneering 17th century microscopist Anton van Leeuwenhoek, peering through a crude early model, spied tiny “animalcules” swarming in a drop of water. A guide to the Web's teeming microscope resources, created by Douglas W. Cromey of the University of Arizona's Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center, provides scores of annotated, practical links aimed mainly at the beginning graduate student level and above.

Tutorials explain how to operate the different types of instruments, including the good old light microscope, scanning and transmission electron microscopes, and the cutting-edge confocal microscope, which uses a laser to capture a series of sections through an object such as a piece of muscle or bone. Also available are lab protocols on preparing specimens, a primer on optics, sources of supplies and equipment, and advice on buying a microscope. Some links deliver visitors to galleries that show off the kind of striking images modern microscopes can produce. For example, this cross section of the cervix of a pregnant rat comes from the site of the Imaging Technology Group at the University of Illinois. For a change of pace, you can also peruse museum exhibits, historical accounts, and memoirs of famous figures in microscopy.

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