BUILDING A MICROSCOPIST'S LIBRARY

by Frank St D Rowntree


Most Microscopists soon find that their hobby leads them into a search for books related to Microscopy and its techniques for use in specialist areas of microscopical research or for the identification of specimens seen through the microscope. Over the past one hundred and fifty years many titles have been published which still have interest and practical value.

There are too, the modern works, particularly related to the practical aspects of Microscopy and to the examination and identification of specimens, which merit consideration for inclusion in a personal library. The question is often asked "which are the best books and where can find them"? Whilst there is no simple answer to this question it is possible to suggest titles of books worth acquiring or, where these are not available for purchase, of borrowing either through a local library or through membership of one of the microscopical societies such as the Quekett or the Postal Microscopical Society both of which arranges book loans for members.

In the coming months reviews of recent titles as well as of older works will appear in this section of Micscape together with information about sources of supply which in the case of modern titles would normally mean an academic bookseller (smaller bookshops often charge a premium for non stock items). Small publishers often supply books direct. Older and out of print titles can often be obtained through second-hand bookdealers who will often search for a title for an enquirer. NB avoid those dealers who make a charge for bookfinding, particularly if this is a weekly charge, the costs can become astronomical.

Some books which can be recommended include :-

THE MICROSCOPE AND ITS REVELATIONS
by William B Carpenter.
Revised by W H Dallinger. 7th. Edition 1891. J & A Churchill 1099pp. Illustrated.

Illustrated in black and white and colour this is one of the great classical texts on Microscopy. The first six editions were produced under the hand of W B Carpenter and chronicled the major developments in microscopy during the first two thirds of the 19th. Century but by the late 1880s there had been so many developments of a revolutionary nature, particularly arising from the work of Abbe, that an almost complete rewrite of the book became necessary. W H Dallinger undertook this mammoth task doing much of the writing himself but bringing in as collaborators some of the great experts of the day such as Abbe himself who checked the optical aspects based on his work, E M Nelson, Van Heurck, Henry Clifton Sorby and many others. The book thus reflects the state of the art and science of microscopy at the end of the 19th. Century.

The first third of the volume deals with the optical aspects of Microscopy ranging from the Laws of Optics to Studies in Interpretation and taking in the ergonomics of Microscopy en route. The mathematical aspects are lucidly expounded and are not beyond the understanding of anyone with a basic grasp of algebra. The Preparation, Mounting and Collection of Objects is dealt with in detail, many of the techniques described still being relevant today. The last half of the book is a systematic examination of differing forms of plant and animal life through the microscope. The text is elegantly written in the now archaic but still attractive style of the nineteenth century. The near 900 illustrations can only be described as superb, this is particularly true of the 22 colour plates whose visual attraction easily competes for many with modern colour reproduction.

This is a volume worthy of acquisition and use. It is usually found bound in green buckram at a price range of 30-45 depending on condition, the leather bound copies commanding a higher price.

The two volume Eighth Edition of 1901 whilst containing much of the content of the Seventh brings things up to date to the present century. Its scarcity, particularly as a complete set, is reflected in the higher price usually asked.

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CONTRAST TECHNIQUES IN LIGHT MICROSCOPY
by Savile Bradbury and Peter J Evennett.
Bios Scientific Publishers 1996. 118pp. Illus. 16.95. ISBN 1-85996-085-5

Number 34 in the Royal Microscopical Society Microscopical Handbook Series, this book will be one of the most useful to the amateur Microscopist although many so-called experts and professionals will find much in it that will improve the quality of their microscopic image making. The authors describe the interactions of light and the specimen in the microscope in relation to the manner in which they are used to generate contrast in the image of the specimen. Providing both theoretical background and practical advice they show how the interactions are used in practice and provide many case studies of contrast enhancement.

After an examination of "Fundamental Considerations" which influence the contrast technique used they examine Bright Field and Dark Ground techniques for both transmitted and reflected light as well as the all important effects of the Refractive Index of the mounting medium used to surround the specimen. Further sections of the book deal with Phase, Modulation and Interference Contrast, Fluorescence Microscopy and means of Enhancement of Contrast in the Image. An extremely lucid consideration of the Becke Line, the refractive differences between specimen and mountant, is particularly useful.

Written by two of todays outstanding teachers of Microscopy, whose courses and lectures have done so much to improve the standards of the practice of Microscopy world wide, their clearly written and well illustrated book provides those who have not been fortunate enough to attend their lectures in person with easily understandable access to Contrast Techniques which have the potential to improve not only the quality of the of the scientific observation possible with the microscope but also the pleasure derived from it.

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PRACTICAL MICROSCOPY
by Eric Marson.
Northern Biological Supplies 1983 154pp. Illus 5.00 (see footnote)

The examination of ready made slides purchased with a microscope soon becomes boring especially for young beginning microscopists who wants to reach out and see more of the miniature world around us. This usually includes the wish to prepare mounts at home first of a temporary kind and later those which can be kept as part of a growing permanent collection.

To meet the needs of amateur microscopists Eric Marson, one of the worlds most prolific microscopical mounters, has for more than half a century prepared slides for sale on every conceivable subject. He has as well provided a source of low cost microscopical stains and other reagents suitable for the use of amateurs.

Also to meet their needs he began the production many years ago of what is now a series of 18 low cost booklets only a few pages in length, which contain the basic information on a specific microscopical topic and on the materials required, together with advice on their use, to undertake the preparation of slides. Still available as individual booklets, useful to lay flat for use at the bench, they have since 1983 been available bound as a complete volume providing a compendium of information for beginners and more experienced microscopists alike.

Using a step by step approach the subjects dealt with range from "Looking at Everyday things" to the preparation of wax imbedded sections and taking in the dissection of honey bees and spiders and "How to use the Microscope" en route. Using simple language and diagrams the information in the book is both easy to understand and follow both by non specialists and experienced amateurs both of whom will find a great deal of interest and help between its covers.

Footnote
The leaflets are still available as individual titles at 20p plus postage The author will supply the book direct at a cost of 5.00 plus 600gm. postage. UK 1.25, 2.62 Europe and 4.99 USA. He is prepared to supply at very advantageous reduced rates to bulk purchasers and stockists including societies and clubs. Contact him at NBS 3, Betts Avenue. Martlesham Heath. Ipswich IP5 7HR.

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WHICH ? GUIDE TO COMPUTERS
by Richard Wentk. Which ? Books Revised Edition 1996 288pp. Illus 10.99 including post and packing

This is a book that should be welcomed by any computer user and particularly those embarking on an exploration of the Internet for which special equipment is required. This fully revised and updated edition reflects the new developments and the speed of the changes which have taken place since the first edition only one year ago. The book cuts through the technical jargon to explain the basics of computers, what they are and what they can do the author giving warnings against the computer industries attempts to lure novices into over spending. He shows how to choose the best outfit to suit ones own needs from the vast array of competing hardware and software available. The book explains the differences between "Good" and "Bad" software suggesting ways of trying out software for free and explaining where to find low cost alternatives to the popular but expensive big name productions.

In addition to demystifying the industry jargon and explaining multimedia software and hardware he takes a realistic look at the importance of Windows 95 and provides a revised and expanded section on the uses and abuses of the Internet.

Much useful Health and Safety advice is given from how to protect both oneself from health hazards and accidents as well as equipment failure and crime to the loss of irreplaceable information that could be worth more than the equipment. On Line services are examined and compared and warnings are given about the pros and cons of extensive Internet use and the financial consequences.

This is a low cost book from a totally independent and highly professional world leading consumers organisation and could well be an investment for both novice and experienced computer user.

The book can be obtained from most bookshops or in the UK by telephoning Freephone 0800-252100.

 

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