Quekett Microscopical Club:
Midlands Members Meeting at Wolverhampton, UK

Saturday 12th April, 1997 South Staffordshire Medical Centre

This was the third meeting at the new venue, which has excellent and most comfortable facilities. Members were welcomed by the organiser Dr Michael Salmon, who provided name badges.The morning was taken up with mixing with old friends and in looking at the exhibits, displays and equipment set out in the library and adjoining room. On this occasion there seemed to be more old equipment than usual, including a number of bequeathed items sold on behalf of widows. There were old and newly made slides, mountants and other chemicals available. A major advantage of obtaining materials at such a meeting is the advice and guidance given by fellow members.

Exhibits included;

'A microscopists bench of 50 years ago' by Colin Lamb. Colin displayed instruments, accessories from this period, together with many chemicals and glassware. There was a Watson ringing table, and many stains in their original bottles. The bench was set out to great effect and Colin urged members not to throw away such equipment or containers of any kind.

Peter Bruce and Les Larkham displayed information on soil invertebrates and a good array of equipment suitable for their study. This included tullgren funnels, sieves and the like, as well as stereo and high-powered microscopes. Original drawings were shown, some coloured.

Alan Hepworth showed slides he had made of many types of pollen. Various stains had been employed as had different mounting methods. A number of the slides were double stained. Particularly impressive was the standard of the mounts and the presentation. These will be the old slides of the future.

After sherry and an excellent lunch, members moved into one of the well appointed and comfortable lecture theatres for the afternoon presentations. Preceding these, Dr Salmon thanked those attending and gave apologies for members who were not able to attend. He informed members that he was no longer president of the club, but had now taken on the role of Video Librarian. The need for this facility was explained and a request made for prepared videos from members, particularly those that would be suitable for beginners in any one field. The collection would also include some commercial video tapes and there would be an introductory tape produced, popularising the subject to encourage new members.

The presentations were;

1. Karel Sartory: Observation and photography of living marine species.

Though many of us see old slides of marine specimens, few observe live species. The speaker encouraged members to do so, and it was shown that with care these could be collected and kept alive for long periods of time. Slides were shown of various containers that would help with this, and tips given as to how much sea-water was needed. Slides were shown of various sea creatures taken whilst inside some sort of trough. In his experience this often led to poor photographs and that what was needed was a set-up that allowed viewing and photography with the organisms in larger tanks. The rest of the talk showed the development of such a system and the resulting transparencies.

2. Veronica Read: Types of Amaryllis (Hippeastrum sp.)

The author gave an illustrated talk on the many and varied types of Amaryllis. Her work involved the creation of new cultivars, a study of the effects of hormones on these plants, and a study of their pollen. We learnt that there are over 150 types of this plant, though not many cultivars are available in the UK. Photographs showed that some flowers have no pollen whilst some may be missing stamens, stigma, or both.

3. David Williamson: Publish your observations.

The speaker outlined his thoughts on the importance of publishing findings. Whilst it was worth writing up for the benefit of others, that this often was not done was due to the notion that it was too demanding. He then proceeded to set out how to present a paper, the order of the various sections and the content of each of these. All this was explained clearly, with particular reference to his experience with Desmids, a subject on which he had many papers published. There followed some excellent overhead transparencies of drawings of Desmids and we were given an insight into how they were done, including many useful tips. For instance, the use of French chalk on the hands to aid movement of the hand over the paper, and how best to get Desmids to behave whilst drawing.

In summarising, the speaker urged members to publish something, even if at first this was a short article in the club bulletin. It would give useful experience and much could be learnt by asking fellow members to check it over first. In essence, this is converting an enjoyable hobby into a useful contribution to Science. There followed a useful discussion on this, with many further points made by members.

4. Spike Walker: More Rheinberg Illumination.

The speaker apologised that many of the transparencies taken for this talk were not back from processing. However, there were many stunning examples shown, with the usual informative but often amusing commentary. Details were given of stops for 3-D Rheinberg, colour contrast and relief contrast. The sound of scribbling heard in the audience would suggest that we will see more of these types of illumination.

Dr Salmon thanked the speakers and members then departed for tea before the journey home. Again, Dr Salmon and his family are to be thanked for organising such an excellent meeting at this most comfortable venue.

Mike Samworth.

Visit the The Quekett Microscopical Club's Web site which describes their activities. Membership is open to microscopists worldwide with an interest in optical microscopy.


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