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Tardigrades, naturalists and the triplet distress (III)

When looking around in internet forums you will inevitably come to the conclusion that primitivity is the winning style no matter whether it comes to politics, science or other topics. Even the more sober microscopists are not immune. Very often you will come across statements stigmatizing chinese products as garbage. This might hold true in a few cases but beware: not in general!

Agreed, a few chinese products might actually be rubbish, e.g. the unusable chinese origin magnifier as shown in fig. 1. But on the other hand nowadays some of the finest optical products are in fact of chinese origin. E.g., the "6 LED" chinese magnifier as shown in our previous issue appears to be unequalled by western products.

[ "Triview" folding magnifier, Ebay ]

Fig. 1: "Triview" folding magnifier, with three plastics lenses. Marked with a tiny "CHINA" on its back side. With this instrument you will have the choice among 5x, 10x and 15 x hallucinogenic object views (cf. the image shown in fig. 4)

["Trieview" folding magnifier, side view ]

Fig. 2: "Triview" folding magnifier, side view on to the top of one ot the acrylic lenses. You will be able to notice a bizarre crater geometry (a truly aspheric lens ;-).

[ "Triview" folding magnifier, macro image ]

Fig. 3: When looking closer, wavelet structures and some kind of tiny "volcanic" bubble eruption pattern will become visible. And no, these structures are not finger prints, they are plastics forming defects.

[ "Triview" folding magnifier, actual image >

Fig. 4: The sum of all those defects will generate a psychedelic image, far from reality. The image shown has been taken through two of the "Triview" lenses (i.e. 10x magnification).
Camera: Sony Nex-5N, moderately stopped down Sony wide angle objective. Please do not forget to compare this with the image result of the much cheaper 2 US $ lens from China, as shown in our previous issue. The "Triview" was offered for prices between 10 and 20 US $ on Ebay - net.

So LSD might serve as a comparable magnifier as well. The best way out of all these problems is to perform your own checks. Object micrometers with 1/100 mm scale will be available in the internet for less than 10 US $ and they will be ideal objects in order to compare the actual performance of your magnifiers. Moreover, they will be able to confirm that some tremendously expensive folding magnifiers out there are perfect examples for stupid customers (you?) and what the British call "silly money".

[ Zylinderlinsenlupe und 6 LED-Triplettlupe ]

Fig. 5: An ordinary object micrometer cross, as it is looking under a typical light microscope (left) and under a 10x folding magnifier (right).

As a rule a 1/100 mm scale cannot be resolved by a 10x folding magnifier, no matter how expensive it might be. The 1/100 mm spaces will appear as optical smudge.

But, funny enough, this effect normally is not due to the optical quality of the magnifier but instead caused by the limited resolving power of the human eye. A simple experiment might be helpful in order to check this out: just mount your 10x magnifier onto a standard microscope, at the position where the regular microscope objective is positioned (sticky tape will help). As a rule your magnifier "objective" will be able to resolve the 10 micrometer intervals easily in this situation, as the image is enhanced by the microscope eye-piece. But, as the eye-piece is merely magnifying the detail provided by the magnifier it becomes apparent that the magnifier by itself is well able to resolve finest detail: actually your eyes are marking the optical bottleneck!

Nevertheless the 10fold magnifier can serve as an ingenious tool in order to screen for tardigrades in dry moss cushions (note: without watering the sample!). Due to the relatively low 10x magnification we will be able to enjoy a tremendously wide field of view (2 cm) with acceptable focus depth.

[ moss cushion, broken in half ]

Fig. 6: Grimmia pulvinata moss broken in half. Image width ca. 4.5 cm.

The clever bit is not to buy an extremely expensive 10fold magnifier (worst case: without in-built illumination) but instead to use the chinese "6 LED" true triplet folding magnifier. The blue Echiniscus tuns will appear as tiny sapphires under these conditions:

[ moss cushion, cross section, detail ]

Fig. 7: Grimmia pulvinata moss cushion, after breaking in half. Detail from fig. 6, 1 cm in width. Please place your nose close to the screen in order to perceive the tiny details! Most of the blue spots are signalling Echiniscus water bears in the dry state.

By help of the blue "nose" from the blueish (cold white) LED the tardigrade tuns will appear in blue color. Without this interference effect they would remain invisible on the brown moss background at low (e.g. 10fold) magnification.

Meanwhile most has already been said about the topic of tardigrade pocket magnifiers. Nevertheless we are going to present two more interesting objects in the next issue: A medium magnification 20x triplet and an ultra rare 40x folding loupe with a miniaturized Steinheil triplet in it.

© 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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