A Handy Guide to the 100 Most Popular Diatoms
Visual artist Heather Barnett and performance poet Will Holloway aren't as frightful as they sound. In fact they are endearingly enraptured with the very very small and have collaborated in an entire on- and off-line exhibition celebrating their shared passion. Small Worlds - the art of the invisible was a exhibition supported by Oxford University's Museum of the History of Science that drew attention to the Museum's microscopic holdings. Research staff on the project are completing a catalogue, with photographs, of the Museum’s large collection of microscopes and microscopical specimens that will also be on-line.
In the meantime, 100 All Time Diatom Greats is a magnification of a slide prepared in 1871 by J.D. Möller. A handy roll-over feature allows one to see both the scientific Latin names of these microscopic marvels, and the translation into English provided by Will Holloway.
It's going to come in very handy in identifying some of the elements of MoD's latest acquisition:
Magnificent isn't it! This magnified view was taken by Martin Mach from an historical slide by W. Watson&Sons, London. Without magnification, you can see only a faint ash-grey spot in the center of the black lacquer ring.
BTW Barnett and Holloway also provided me with the following fascinating fact which is currently providing fuel for much philosophical pondering.
Diatoms were also popular for testing the accuracy of microscope lenses – the creatures being used to investigate the microscope, rather than the other way round.