EDUCATION: Under the Microscope

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Science  10 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5762, pp. 751
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5762.751b

If you want to bone up on microscopy techniques or need images for a biology class, head to Molecular Expressions, probably the largest microscopy site on the Internet. Run by Michael Davidson at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida, the site became popular a decade ago for its close-ups of everyday items such as electronic circuits and ice cream. It's now a sprawling collection of educational resources.

Researchers may want to head to the Optical Microscopy Primer, which offers simulators of various microscopes and tutorials on their use. The related MicroscopyU site, produced with Nikon, includes new movies of live cells crawling and splitting that many professors use in classes, says Davidson. K-12 teaching resources include a cell biology primer and a “Powers of 10” applet that zooms from space into the cells of an oak leaf. Check out early microscope designs, or read up on optics luminaries such as Holland's Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), the first scientist to see bacteria. The site's galleries can be dazzling.

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