Science

Life under a microscope

A microbe

For us, microscopy is a fascinating subject ranging across a wide variety of disciplines including biology, geology, physics, histology, forensics, and the natural sciences.

We are fortunate that our Microscope Users group can share our learning and facilities with one of the hidden gems of Northampton’s cultural quarter – the Northamptonshire Natural History Society located at the Humfrey Rooms in Castilian Terrace. Our regular and enthusiasts band of amateur microscopists meet there every month.

Our new programme for this year reflects not only the eclectic nature of the subject, but also the interests of our members. For example, we have just completed a three-part course looking at aspects of forensic science. Our next few meetings will delve into the amazing world of micro-organisms, starting with bacteria in yoghurt and leading to studies of pond life.

We then look at how to use low-power stereoscopic microscopes and also how to make our own slides using glycerine jelly. In September we turn our attention to optics and the microscope and demonstrate how to make your own microscope. This will be followed up with an investigation into so-called “Brownian motion” and we finish the year with a fascinating insight into Fractal Geometry, and ending with a Christmas theme where we learn the art of making permanent slides of snow crystals, looking into the structures of holly and ivy, and take a closer look at yeasts that go into the making of mulled wine!

These are just some of the photographs taken over the last couple of years with the aid of a microscope.

For more information about what we do and for advice in setting up your own microscope group, please email me via the website of the Northamptonshire U3A.