Monday, December 20, 2010

Scientific Imaging and the wonders of nature - Snowflake Bentley…

As the last days of 2010 approach and the year vicariously migrates to an end, I can get particularly sentimental often thinking about the beauty and symmetry of nature, and the wonders of scientific achievement. This beauty is well represented though disparate images in Nikon’s annual Small World Image Gallery. Examples come from across the globe including the epiflourescence image of the Heart of Anopheles gambiae presented by Mr. Jonas King of Vanderbilt University or the sample of Cacoxenite using transmitter light from Mr. Honorio Cocera-La Parra of the Museo Geologia, Universidad Valencia-Benefusser, Valcenia, Spain. What brought my scientific nostalgia closer to home during my gallery visit was a unique bottom and sideward illumination of a snowflake by Ms. Yanping Wang of the Beijing Planetarium, Beijing, China.

Not more than a twenty minute ride from BioTek in the village of Jericho, Vermont, Wilson A. Bentley, alias “Snowflake Bentley” pioneered work in the area of photomicrography with his focus on snow crystals commonly known as snowflakes. Thinking of the technologically advanced tools that allow one to present these images to the Nikon Gallery, Snowflake Bentley’s cadre of “tools” in some respects are very similar and innovative. His apparatus consisted of a compound microscope, fitted with a joint that permits the instrument to be turned down horizontally, at right angles to its base, so that it could be coupled to a camera via a bellows with a light-tight connection. Ordinary daylight was used for illumination of the crystals post capture. Necessary accessories included a pair of thick mittens. Just as the Nikon Gallery represents “miracles of beauty,” so does the beautiful snowflakes that surround BioTek and its employees this time of year. From beautiful Vermont, we at BioTek take pause, wishing you the best for the holiday season. I leave you with a quote from this true Vermont pioneer.

"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."

By, BioTek Instruments, Gary Barush, Director, Marketing & Sales

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