8x More

by Maurice Smith 1996

The fast lane into 'Scoping'
Last month I spoke about how an inexpensive 8x magnifier can help you see more about the things in our world. Once you own one yourself, you will be surprised at how useful it can be both at home and outdoors. I promised to show you a few more things you can take a look at with the magnifier so here we are. I have also included a couple of practical applications for using your new found tool. Have you been out to purchase your magnifier yet? You should be able to purchase one for less than 10.00 UK pounds.

Sit back and relax
Now don't be in an all-fired rush to flick down these pages. Sit back and relax with a nice cup of tea. And while you're 'brewing-up', take a look at those perforations in the tea bags.

This is how you see them normally, albeit slightly bigger here according to the size of your monitor. Under a simple microscope you can see tiny droplets of plastic used to strengthen the paper fibres but even with an 8x magnifier, these are not visible.

Now here's the tea bag under the 8x magnifier. You can see how fluffy the fibres are around the perforations. This is a main brand-name tea bag. Try looking at a similar bag and compare it with one from a very cheap brand. I did this. I found the cheaper tea bag had no real perforations, just very tightly woven fibres. This suggested something to me about the nature of the tea within the bag. I opened a cheap bag and compared its contents with those of a quality bag. Sure enough, the cheap brand tea was basically fine dust whereas the quality tea bag contained tea leaves.

Drill your own perforations
If you will insist on buying cheap tea bags then you could of course drill your own perforations, but not with this drill bit because the business end of it has broken off. This is a nm wood drill bit. By measuring it with a ruler on your monitor, you can check to see how much bigger it appears on your screen. Here on my monitor, a 14 inch measured diagonally, it is 15 mm across the shaft; approx. 3x bigger than its real 8 mm width.

Seen under the 8x magnifier, the broken shaft is easily seen. If you are a DIY expert then maybe you sharpen your own drills. What better way to check a blunt drill and your 'sharpening' progress than by using your magnifier: saves having to keep putting the bit into the drill and boring lumps of wood to see if its ready!

And if, like me, you are always getting wood splinters in your hands when doing your DIY, you can use the magnifier to help extract the splinter without ripping up half of your hand with a needle.

Need a hand?
I suppose if you still haven't purchased a magnifier, if you do rip your hand to bits trying to get that nasty splinter out, you can always get out to the beach and find a crab's claw to sew onto the end of your arm: quite useful for picking up and holding drill bits. I found this one when strolling on a beach at Little Hampton on the Southern Coast of England.

The 8x magnifier is small enough to put into your pocket or attach to a key ring, so whenever you're out for the day, you can always take it with you.

A stroll along the beach takes on a new dimension when you can examine debris in the sand. Under the 8x magnifier you can see the fine detail of the claw here, and there are many shells, and other tiny subjects you can get to see a whole lot better at the beach. Try it, you won't be disappointed. If you have kids, why not encourage them to take a break from burying Aunt so-and-so under 2 feet of sand, and go on a 10 minute expedition up along the beach with you.

It's like playing 'detectives'!

What else do I need?
Unlike almost everything else you buy these days to amuse yourself or the kids, you don't need batteries, refills, or anything else to enjoy the 8x magnifier. You just need one of these: an eye!

It helps of course if you also have a curious mind and the spirit to try new things. Many people just prefer to carry on with their existing habits and lose out on getting more from their day-to-day experiences.

The magnifier can even prove useful in a reverse sense too. How many times have you or your kids been irritated by getting something in the eye. A bit of sand, a speck of dust caught in the old eyeball or under the lid can feel like a mountain!

Just whip out the trusty 8x magnifier to help you locate the offending particle. A gentle hand and a clean tissue will soon sort it out. Can you see my the tiny blood vessels in my eye here under the magnifier?

Specks of dust or something else?
Talking of dust, here's some. Not easy to tell what these grains are is it? Believe it or not there are 3 different substances here, two of which are common in all of our households. The problem with own eyes is that when things are this small, all we see is fine dust. One of the substances is brown pepper which is what it should be when it comes out your pepper pot. But there are a lot of things some stupid practical jokers could substitute this with for a laugh. The 8x magnifier is a proper tool which can help to identify or provide better clues about the nature of small particles.

Here you can see the same dust under the extraordinary 8x magnifier. The left-most line of grains (running top to bottom) is pepper. The line of dust to the right is made up of small almost spherical particles, distinctively different to the irregular shaped pepper dust. That is because the tiny globes are in fact Brine Shrimp Eggs. Not really the sort of thing you want to eat unless you are a goldfish! Can you also see the 2 or three grains of salt I dropped onto the rest of the dust? They are almost white in colour and much larger than the other grains.

Well that's it for this month. I hope I have now convinced you to rush out and buy a compound, good quality, 8x (or 10x) magnifier. Here are a couple of businesses which I know can provide one but there are many other places where such a lens can be purchased. If you go out and buy one, why not drop me a line and tell me how you get on with yours.

Magnifiers: sources
Brunei Microscopes Ltd. Unit 8, Pickwick Workshops, Park Lane, Corsham, Wilts. SN13 OHN. Tel: 01249 701601 See Brunel Catalogue

A US reader kindly took the trouble to inform us that: 'In Boston, Massachusetts Bausch & Lomb Hastings triplets can be purchased at Stoddards. I own the 7X and the 14X and am very pleased with then. However they carry 7X, 10X,14X, and 20X. Prices range between $45 and $60 US.' Until next month... Maurice


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