From my home office: first picture through my microscope

As you might have guessed, I’m a “collector”. Not of anything in particular, but of anything that interests me even vaguely. A few years ago, I bought an old Zeiss Jena laboratory microscope at a swap meet for (if memory serves) around $50. It’s a very nice, heavy microscope and included a pair of Zeiss eyepieces (7x and 10x) and a pair of objectives (10x and 40x). I hadn’t done much with it, but recently I’ve begun to think of fun things that I might do with it, so I dusted it off. Of course, to share pictures of what I see, I’d need to be able to take a photograph through it, so the first order of the day would be to see what I could do with my little Canon SD1100 (a small point-and-shoot camera). Since I didn’t have any microscope slides, I just clamped a dollar bill onto the stage. I installed the 10x objective with a 7x eyepiece, roughly aimed an led flashlight at the mirror, and clicked this picture:

A dollar bill, at 70x...

Not bad at all. The image isn’t very well focused because, well, it isn’t very well focused, and because the dollar wasn’t clamped flat, so bits of it are in focus and out of focus, but it’s very promising. I need to setup a good light source and get some slides. Stay tuned, I have something in mind.

Addendum: I found a plastic container that had some small writing on it, which was a tiny bit flatter and setup my camera. I tried zooming in to get rid of the round vignette around the image, and shot these two pictures. Looks like this will work just great. I need to mock up a little mount to hold the camera, and work on getting a better light source, and then some slides and cover slips (already on order) and then… some slightly more interesting pictures hopefully.

Half zoomed...
3x zoom (full)

From the code cellar: a program to find haiku in text…

While I was surfing around this weekend, I was reminded of the old website (sadly, which is no more, but you can still see courtesy of the Internet Wayback machine if you like) and found an old chunk of code that I had archived that was written by Danny O’Brien based upon an idea by Don Marti. It basically would scan a text, break it into syllables, and then output any haikus (segments of text that have the 5-7-5 syllable counts). The program further allows you to specify that the haiku should start with a capital letter, and end with a period.

It was a bit broken, but a few minutes of hacking got it working again, and I fed it one of my favorites: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Here is a smattering of some of the better ones it found.

He never spoke of
the softer passions, save with
a gibe and a sneer.

You understand? I
am to be neutral? To
do nothing whatever.

She knows that the King
is capable of having
her waylaid and searched.

But then, when I found
how I had betrayed myself
I began to think.

Some letters get more
worn than others, and some wear
only on one side.

I can stand this strain
no longer; I shall go mad
if it continues.

Twice he struck at the
chamber door without any
reply from within.

He put out his hand
and coldly grasped that which she
extended to him.

It is all dark to
me. But perhaps it may grow
lighter as we go.

I’m not sure why I find these so amusing.