Posts By: Jake Drummond

 

 

If you’re a coin collector, you’re probably into looking at your coins once in a while. That’s my case as well, although I can hardly call myself a collector per se as I’ve inherited a small number from my grandparents and have been gathering coins from my friends when they went on vacation.

Some people have a thing for fridge magnets but I like it when buddies go to Europe, for instance, and bring me a small bag of change. If they go to Australia, Africa, or other continents, even better as those places have a coin for every country. What can I say about those in Asian countries? I have never seen one for real in my life.

The fact of the matter is that I was in need of a good-quality microscope with the help of which I could look at my coins when I had some time off. I started by looking for the right research references so that I make sure that I buy the right product. Something that struck me about Amazon and other websites like this is that they don’t have any professional options with smaller magnification ranges.

Instead, they sell a lot of cheap digital microscopes that may be good to some extent, but they have certain limitations. For example, if you’re set on getting a USB model, you’ll be able to utilize it only when there’s a laptop or computer around. Most of the cheapest units I’ve personally encountered can’t be powered using a regular outlet. They rely on the juice they get from your laptop, for instance, which might be inconvenient if you don’t have one at hand or if you’re at some other place than your home and you haven’t brought your laptop along.

I honestly had to think things over a lot because I wasn’t willing to invest close to one thousand dollars in a microscope that did the exact same thing as a portable version. Making my mind up was rather hard, and I have to tell you that because the model that I was considering was the Richter Optica S2D-SPS. However, since it costs so much, I had to drop the idea of getting it all together. The AmScope SM-2TZ-9M was about seven hundred bucks, and I thought of purchasing it, as well.

In the end, I decided to get a cheap one at the beginning and maybe upgrade later on. The unit that I selected was the Plugable USB 2.0. It’s very easy to use and that’s part of what I was focused on because it was pretty obvious to me that I could take it to family gatherings and entertain some of the kids there. All in all, I feel like a made a decent investment because it didn’t cost too much money and it’s compatible both with Windows and Mac computers, which is a plus. While I have a Windows personal computer at home, I take my MacBook Air with me everywhere I go.

 

 

I recently got into using a microscope thanks to my sister, Susan, who I’ve mentioned in some of my past posts. She got me one as a present for my birthday, and boy, am I excited to get the most of it. I’ve watched some tutorials on how to use the model I’ve received and I’ve read the instructions that were provided by the manufacturer. From what I gathered, I can use the product for seeing all sorts of tiny things. This could come in handy for me because I’ve been a coin collector ever since I was five. Of course, given that the model that Susan has given me is somewhat professional, I find it a bit difficult to use it for this application, but it’s still manageable.

My daughter is starting to develop a passion for biology, as well. However, because she’s too young to study it properly, I thought that I’d show her how various substances or solutions look under the microscope. I bought some glass and plasticware to use at home, and something I’ve noticed is that I prefer the glass ones. I have to say that they’re considerably more expensive compared to their plastic counterparts, which, in most cases, are disposable. Nonetheless, I see that the way various solutions interact with the glass structure of a container of any size is, in my opinion, better overall. What I mean by this is that, if I pour a hot liquid into a glass container, I won’t have to bear any unpleasant smell.

Despite the fact that I have no intention of sterilizing the containers for now as I won’t be doing any serious science-related experiments, I have read a bit about the process, in general. From what I found, it appears that most cheap plastic containers can’t be used in an autoclave because they’ll melt. In that case, I simply ask myself why biologists and other scientists still use them. I guess that, in busy labs, plastic containers are a good choice because they can be disposed of, and that has to be convenient when you’re working with possible contaminants. Even so, I find that the expense of getting disposable products is a hassle to begin with, what with you having no means of getting your money back by using the containers over and over again.

Another thing that’s been on my mind is that, when my daughter was a baby, my wife always made sure to avoid buying plastic products. Glass ones are always BPA-free. In case you didn’t know, BPA is a harmful substance that was banned back at the beginning of 2000 because it was linked to problems in child development.

I’d like to hear other opinions on the matter both from scientists and from people who normally use plastic utensils in their kitchen and homes.

 

My sister has been a microbiologist for more than a decade and she’s the manager of a laboratory. From the talks that we have had in the past, I’ve figured out that she’s been having trouble getting the best equipment for the lab she works in as there are many retailers and at the beginning of her career, she hardly knew which one manufactured good-quality products.

The problem, in my opinion, is that everything she has to purchase has to go through some kind of system where another manager in the business has to approve her requests. Sometimes, even though she asks for pretty basic pieces of equipment, she doesn’t get her request approved. This is what makes it so difficult for her and her colleagues to keep doing what they’re supposed to. To make it worse, the person in charge with approving all of this process isn’t even a microbiologist. Susan, my sister, says that the man has studied marketing and management in college, and maybe that’s why he seems to be so wary of spending money, in general.

When she does have the necessary funds, however, Susan finds that she sometimes orders from Amazon, despite her having multiple sources that she could use to get the same equipment. The problem, in this case, is that most of the items she orders from distributors have a higher price than what she gets on Amazon. Nonetheless, here comes bureaucracy once again. As many other people do, Susan has a Prime account that she regularly uses to get detergent and other supplies she needs in her home. She can’t use the same Amazon account to order the equipment she needs in her lab because she requires an official bill that’s charged on the name of the lab business.

I find the entirety of this process to be a lot too cumbersome to deal with. I’ve talked to my sister in the past and have reached the inevitable conclusion that, until she manages to raise some money and open up her own lab where she makes the rules, she’ll have to go through the same hassle over and over again. I believe that it’s downright disheartening for someone to do his or her job properly and have to answer to other people above who aren’t aware of the actual activities going on in a laboratory.

It’s more a problem pertaining to miscommunication, in my opinion. While Susan has spoken with her boss, she doesn’t seem to be able to solve the issue anytime in the future as that manager guy has the decision-making power that my sister lacks.

Have you ever experienced something like this? I’d like to find out your answers if there are any other people working in microbiology labs that have encountered the same problem. If you’ve found a way to deal with it, please let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

My wife and I decided to buy a brand new telescope for our daughter and ourselves to enjoy on clear nights. The problem is that we don’t have too much knowledge about these products, in general, and so we found ourselves taking to the internet to find out articles which are describing on how to choose a good telescope and learn more about them before we make up our mind. We’re looking for a budget-friendly choice, at least at the beginning, because our daughter isn’t particularly keen on manipulating heavy or complicated objects. If you have any advice on the matter, be sure to contact me and tell me about the telescope you’re currently using.

Now I’d like to go on by telling you some of the things I found out about telescopes and how you can make sure that you’re buying a good one, whether you’ve decided to invest in a used or new one.

Beginners telescope can virtually be split up into three main categories. Some are Newtonian reflectors, others are Dobsonian, and the last kind is catadioptric telescopes. At this point, I believe that the right one for what we have in mind is a Newtonian one, and that’s mostly because it’s not too expensive, particularly when compared to the Dobsonian type. I found myself in a complete state of shock when I noticed that some Dobsonian models have price points in the range of thousands of dollars. Obviously, we aren’t willing to spend that much and we’d like to get a good one for less than four or three hundred dollars if that’s possible.

Newtonian telescopes can be used to see a wide array of stars, planets, and even galaxies, but something we have to pay attention to is the size of the mirror with which the product has been outfitted. Catadioptric models are highly recommended for planetary and lunar observing, and so we might have to consider those, as well.

Setting up the telescope will be an adventure, especially if you’re a beginner like my wife and I are. That’s why you have to make sure that the box contains a set of instructions that are comprehensive and easy to stick to. My recommendation would be to choose a product manufactured by Orion or Celestron, although I’ve noticed that several low-budget brands have also been praised at online retailers I’ve checked out.

While the size of the item per se doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot, in my opinion, it actually does count for something. If, for example, you intend to go out on a field on a clear night, a super heavy and big telescope will be hard to work with and carry around. If you have any resources that you’ve used for getting your telescope, I’d sure like to hear all about them.

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