Introduction . . .

This is a brand new blog, by a brand new blogger. However, some readers may recognize this blog's title, taken from a series of books of the same name. Unfortunately, time has a way of gradually making printed material all too quickly outdated -- especially these days -- and so, this blog was created partly as an attempt to address that issue.

As we move forward from here on-going efforts will be made to transfer selected content from the Better Microscopy books series into this new format, not only to provide to provide more effective distribution, but also as a means for making timely additions and overdue updates to that material. In addition, much previously unpublished material is now planned to be released, including high-resolution color images.

The current plan is to aim for a content mix that is both interesting and educational -- perhaps even inspiring -- and which will address the needs and interests of a wide range of user levels, from beginner to semi-professional. With more decades of Microscopy experience than I care to admit, I hope I will be able to contribute something to others in terms of both knowledge and enjoyment.

I hope you find something of interest in new undertaking as it takes shape and gain much from its content, now and well into the future!

Just beware of the occasional attempts at humor...

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Water Immersion -- Under water, or not? & AO 'Polanret'...

The long-awaited presentation on 'Water Immersion' is alive and well.

However, in the intervening weeks since it was last mentioned, it has morphed into an entirely new form.

First, considerable information has been developed about entirely new techniques, covering both optics and methods.

Second, this new information has prompted a slight re-direction, from the rather narrow topic of 'Water Immersion' to the broader, and probably more useful, topic of  'Microscopy of Objects in Water.'

Third, the overall presentation has been re-oriented toward stressing the more practical aspects of the topic, with theoretical considerations largely deferred to some future time.

Why the delay? Admittedly, the older I get the less thrill there seems to be in writing, and the more interest there is in actually doing things. This attitude has prompted considerable experimentation into extending and improving some existing methods, both to increase usefulness and improve the quality of results.

But, wait, there's more... 

To be perfectly honest, there's nothing quite like getting a new 'Toy' for the New Year – in this case one of the rare, and perhaps only, surviving example (in working condition) of the mythical AO 'Polanret' variable phase contrast system! (Of course, minus any useful documentation -- like, instructions!)

A creature of the 1970's, it has taken decades for me to track this down. Now, I finally have one…

And, slowly, I have been able to discover a few of the 'lost secrets' of making it work!

The only known AO documentation on this device is the sales brochure (ca. 1976), which has been replicated in .pdf form, from photos of the individual pages, and may be found here:

The problem now is, whether to simply use this extraordinary machine for the relatively mundane tasks I might have for it, or is it better to pass it along to a collector or technician who can best appreciate and/or properly care for it? I certainly would hate to see this rare find end up at an estate sale someday!  

The current setup being used for evaluation is depicted below: 

Personally, I am more interested in seeing this unique device move into proper hands than I am in making a real profit on it. (And, I am strongly dis-inclined to start tinkering with the innards of such a device.)

So, I am certainly open to suggestions on a possible new home for this remarkable 'orphan'... (Polanret unit for sure, microscope optional.)

And, naturally, I am open to discussing a possible swap (for microscope stuff, of course) ...

If you have any interest, or can provide any relevant Polanret info, please e-mail me at:


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