What is an Amateur Microscopist ?

The dictionary defines the word 'amateur' in two ways: "one who cultivates any study for the love of it, and not the money", and - "one who is less skilled than a professional".

Unfortunately, in several countries, the word 'amateur' is more commonly used to describe the second instance of the word's meaning, rather than the first!

Here at Micscape, we consider an Amateur Microscopist to be anyone practising Microscopical study for the sheer love of it. Many professionals find themselves in a related career due to their own original love of this area of study. We exclude no-one and welcome all. Our use of the word is merely to position ourselves as a group prepared to help anyone get going without them fearing being 'put-off' by their complete lack of knowledge.

Many, many, amateur microscopists are renowned world experts on specific areas of Microscopical life... and even a small club would contain several people that have specialized in a specific area of study, for example -rotifers. Proficient amateurs are only too willing to help others and share what they have discovered.

In other amateur science study areas, Astronomy - for example, the professionals openly accept and endorse the work of non-professionals. With so much in the sky to observe, it is of great benefit to have so many eager eyes to watch over the nightly transition of large objects in space.

The same is true of Microscopy. There are literally millions of different living forms, invisible to the naked eye... and there is an unsatisfied demand for millions of watchers to observe and learn the ways of these important life-forms.

Micscape works across all domains, from amateur to professional, from artist to scientist, from musician to botanist, from writer to manufacturer, to bring together a concerted effort of human skills, innovation, and enthusiasm to benefit everyone involved.

Co-operation and collaboration on this magnitude is bringing about a revival in a scientific study area which, in some unexplained way, has been largely ignored both in our educational institutes and in our daily lives.

We enter a new century shortly. As man reaches out for the planets and the stars in the infinitely large cosmos, so too must he dive deeper into an equally infinite 'smallness'. The survival of our own species is a tentative arrangement, with only our enquiring minds to anticipate and ward off threat to our survival.

For each person who takes a microscope, and looks down it for the first time, there is an opportunity to join a vast and dedicated (and commonly un-named) band of people who not only live on this planet, but who have committed their minds and their hearts in some small way towards the future progress of our own species.

Non-Microscopists may find it difficult to conceive that our very atmosphere, its composition and capacity to support life on earth, is almost entirely dependent on a small group of Microscopic life-forms. Even the collection and transfer of energy from our local Sun into beneficial forms - like food - is also dependent on but one or two processes taking place at the microscopical scale.

There has never been a better time for people the world over to engage part of their lives with personal and rewarding study of the rich world which exists not only around them - but inside of them; and by discovering more about its inhabitants and plants... find more of themselves and an enrichment to their own lives!

To those who come this way, or who have already engaged in Microscopical study at whatever level, I would like to say... well done: you have become a true pioneer on one of the most far-reaching journeys humankind is ever likely to begin. The future will look back on you, and will remember that it survived and flourished because of people like you quietly and carefully examining the essential foundations of all life.

by Maurice Smith(Mic-UK Coordinator & Founder)

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