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Tardigrades, naturalists and the triplet distress (IV)

In the previous issue we demonstrated that the dry state of the Echiniscus tardigrades is being rendered in sapphire blue light when illuminated by means of a blueish LED flashlight. One might argue that other moss inhabitants with dry states could show similar effects. E.g., rotifers and nematodes are known to form similar dry states as the tardigrades. As a consequence and one might suspect that there could be no visual difference at all, also under blue light. In the case of nematodes this wouldn't cause a big problem as the outer geometry of dry nematodes is quite unique (like a rolled filament). Luckily the blue light does a good job with respect to the "tardigrade vs. rotifer" task, too:

[ Echiniscus dry state in blue LED light ]

Fig. 1: Echiniscus dry state (so-called tun) as seen under blue light at medium magnification. There is definitely some vivid blue present.

[ Rotifer dry state in blue LED light ]

Fig. 2: In contrast the dry state of a rotifer is rendered in yellow-orange when illuminated by means of a blueish LED. Simply marvelous! Please note that in addition the rotifer dry state reveals faint vertical striae whereas those of a tardigrade will always appear as a kind horizontal segmentation. As a consequence you will be able to easily discern the tardigrade and rotifer dry states.

For the technology freaks among you (and yes, there are plenty of them ;-) we have prepared a special object: a 20x true triplet ring LED illuminated magnifier! We have seen this one in international Ebay for an incredibly low price (less than 10 US$!). Unbelievable.

[ 20x LED triplet magnifier ]

Fig. 3: Marvel or even scandal? A bargain priced true triplet 20x LED magnifier.

[ 20x LED true triplet magnifier, instruction leaflet ]

Fig. 4: It came with a nice instruction leaflet shwing the 6 LED ring light, the battery arrangement and an optical cross section. Funny enough and in harsh contrast with typical anti-chinese product nit-picking this is actually an understetement leaflet: it is showing a two element lens system whereas the product delivered is consisting of three lenses, two of them being cemented. So this is a true triplet and besides its optical quality is quite flawless. So, no reason to complain!

[ 20x LED true triplet magnifier Lupe, resolution check ]

Fig. 5: Overall we are not astonished that this nice product is able to resolve 10 µm intervals of a typical 1 mm object micrometer scale. The image above is depicting the visual impression when looking through the 20x magnifier onto the object micrometer. Please note that those intervals are not discernible by means of a good 10fold magnifier (unless you should be Mr super-eye in person).

[ 20x LED true triplet LED magnifer,base and detached optics ]

Fig. 6: The combined optics can be taken off as whole so you will be able to use the magnifier freely, without stand, as well. As a consequence it might be used in many creative manners, e.g. in order to upgrade other instruments:

[ Edu-Toys smartphone microscope, as delivered ]

Fig. 7: The "Edu-Toys" smartphone microscope. Here we have a second example of nice chinese unterstatement. Whereas the package description is specifying a 2x to 16x magnification it should in fact read ca. 5X to 50x. This instrument can be used in combination with a light box or alternatively as an incident light microscope when oriented directly to the ground level. Three different lenses are included within the package. They are simple lenses, not high-class optics but still adequate for the low mag range. The practical use of this instrument is somewhere between a low mag hand loupe and a high mag dissection microscope.

As indicated above we can pimp the optical quality of the Edu-Toys instrument just by combining it with our fine chinese triplet magnifier:

[ Edu-Toys smartphone microscope, modified]

Fig. 8: Upgrade of the Edu-Toys smartphone microscope with triplet optics


"Edu-Toys" microscope, as delivered, with smartphone "peep hole".
The objective can easily be shift-removed ...
... and replaced by the triplet ... an almost perfect fit!
A 12 mm height wooden platelet will help to maintain the correct smartphone base level

Now you might ask: So what? How about the imaging result? Just look here:

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Fig. 9: Photograph made by means of the upgraded Edu-toys smartphone microscope. The diameter of the depicted specimen slice on the slide is ca. 7 mm. Not too bad for such a low cost instrumentation! Just keep in mind how difficult it might have been in the 1970s to reach a similar result!

Nevertheless your professional high performance microscope will not become useless with respect to the tardigrades. The reasons behind this are not caused by the now (excellent) triplet optics of the Edu-Toys instrument but by the higher versatility and higher magnification range of your classical lab microscope. See you!

© Text, images and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
The Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of the German language monthly magazine  Bärtierchen-Journal . Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.

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