Tardigrades, naturalists and the triplet distress (I)
Fig. 1: Image of an adult Ramazzottius oberhaeuseri female in Mark Lawley's splendid monograph. BTW, Ramazzottius oberhaeuseri previously was called Hypsibius oberhaeuseri. But, as you will imagine some kind of reorganization took place. Nothing special, quite common in the commercial world as well. Ramazzottius oberhaeuseri was not closed down completely, it just got a new corporate identity ...
But why is all this so special? Well, you know, German naturalists are looking with envy on elaborate naturalist's products like Mark Lawley's book. Great Britain probably has the longest and almost thoroughly indisturbed tradition in this field. 18th century German naturalists were existent but formed a temporary species when compared to the British. They tried to have fun and to impress noble ladies by means of their findings. But those funny noblemen disappeared, German biology became more "serious" and less fashionable during the 19th century. As a consequence, the German naturalist became a dying breed and vanished. It took a whole century to recover and reappeared in a more modest, popular form, similar to a religion, in the beginning of the 20th century. And the German naturalist failed to find its way back into German establishment. So we are quite proud that one of those noble British naturalists' came across our humble photo micrograph of Ramazzottius oberhaeuseri. But still, some envy about the British naturalists' tradition and glamour is remaining ...
As a consequence the enlightened German naturalist is idolizing the British naturalist, humbly and secretely following the British on their traces. On this pathway we came along a typical British Ebay offer, namely the "Ooak miniature naturalists' cabinet", a symbol and container of all our wishes. Besides "Ooak" stands for "One of a kind". Let's have a look at this item:
Fig. 2: Miniature model
of a naturalist's cabinet. Height 16 cm. There is miniature literature,
and, of course, lots of life (gone life, to be precise): a human skull
(which might be not as accessible for the collector today as in former times!),
an animal skull, fossils, remains of any kind of life within carefully labelled glasses,
snail shells, sadistically needle-sorted butterflies, dried bugs,
bird eggs, physico-chemical extracts of plant and animal life etc.
Normally, there should be some kind
of loupe or folding magnifier, too. But, due to its modest size
of a few centimeters it would shrink to a few millimeters in the 1:12 scale world
(up to now we didn't find one in the puppets' worlds).
As a consequence we would like to substitute this important naturalist's equipment
within our text. Hand magnifiers are terribly important objects, to be used
and shown during naturalists' group excursions. The more expensive ones are
symbols of luxury and "silly money", the less expensive items merely
practical tools for biological field work.
Fig. 3: A typical Ebay "triplet magnifier" disappointment. After removal of the fixing threaded ring a simple cylinder lens is popping out. And no, this didn't come from a Chinese seller but from a German professional seller. Really sad.
But there is no use in continued ranting. Let's have a look at an impeccable old magnifier. It was made by the Munich based Steinheil company - we are not sure when, possibly in th 1930s or 1950s:
Fig. 4: Remains of long gone times - a Steinheil 3x folding magnifier. In the dismantled state the true triplet is undeniably present. This kind of triplet is consisting of three lenses (as the term triplet implies) which are cemented together thus forming one combined optical element. The Steinheil system's optical geometry is as follows: one central biconvex crown glass (normal glass) lens with low refractive index is surrounded by two meniscus flint glass lenses (with high refractive index). Even when looking at classical high contrast objects like black letters on white paper, you will not notice any colour fringe whatsoever. Honestly speaking we think that all this might be considered as too much investment just in order to build a 3x magnifier. But when holding such a big folding magnifier in your hand you will probably enjoy it and keep it on your desk for permanent and universal use. Nice image quality overkill ...
Fig. 5: By means of the side view you will be able to see the three lenses of the Steinheil system (with the two yellowish glue lines betweeen them). This 3x magnifier lens system is very impressive in so far as it features a full 4 cm diameter field of view and an unrivalled optical quality. Just keep in mind that there exist VERY few achromatic triplet magnifiers with low magnification.
Fig. 6: When directing the beam of a 365 nm UV torch onto the Steinheil triplet lens system some haze will appear. We think that this haze is caused by the fluorescence of the glue - not by one of the two glass variants used for Steinheil type triplets. You will be able to check this statement by UV-elucidating a Steinheil triplet from the side.
Fig. 7: The Steinheil 3x magnifier in raking light. You will be able to perceive the typical, slightly wavy (or modestly scaly) surface properties of the old-fashioned Bakelite (a phenol formaldehyde resin). This material does never look perfectly smooth when coming out of the mold. Though one might consider this roughness as a flaw it is actually a proof of Bakeleite identity as well. Besides, spoken with a pinch of irony, the chemical constituents of the resin do perfectly comply with generations of biologists who drowned and killed any life encountered by means of formaldehyde solution ...
Fig. 8: The last letter of the letter "I" within the "Steinheil" signature, as seen under incident microscopic illumination. It becomes apparent that 50 (!) milling steps were necessary to create this single letter in the primary mold, apparently manually in a non-automated procedure. So all these circles are traces and tiny memorials of former troublesome workmanship, at times when there was no computer to tell the machinery that it should move on for a few tenths of millimeters, then perform the same milling once more, on and on. The images of workers' traces are still present and we can hold them in our hands, 100 years later.
Alltogether the miniature cabinet is a tiny memorial in honour of the naturalist. Even though the naturalist might be considered as misanthropic by nature, the existence of a miniature cabinet like the one shown is documenting that those bizarre personalities are still noticed by their environment, and possibly even loved - who knows?
© Text, images and video clips by
Martin Mach (firstname.lastname@example.org).