Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Curious minds want to know...

If you look in the comments section of the previous post, you'll see dlr asked, "Couldn't you do that inside where it's a little warmer?" We gave it a try, and we can definitively say, "Sorta." To prepare, we set the specimen tray outside for several minutes so it would reach the same 15°F temperature that the snow was at, and then tossed a few snowflakes on and rushed inside where the microscope was already focused, a light was situated nearby, and the camera was turned on. While it usually only took a few seconds to move the tray around under the microscope to spot a decent snowflake or two, it generally took a few anxious seconds more to get the camera situated such that it could see through the microscope.

After about 10 seconds, this is how the snowflakes looked. There is already some melting and fine features are being lost.

A few more seconds, and the melting is accelerating.

A little later...

...and finally a nice exercise in looking at water under the microscope! I don't think the liquid water is quite as interesting as the frozen stuff. It typically took about 40 seconds to go from 15°F snowflakes to liquid, so you don't want to dally through the process. The 40 seconds could probably be stretched a bit if you didn't have an incandescent bulb providing light and heat less than a foot from the microscope. Next time, maybe we'll try a flashlight or a fluorescent bulb. In the meantime, I'll gladly put on the boots and gloves and enjoyed a longer viewing cycle outdoors.

1 comment:

  1. Have I ever mentioned that I really, really like you folks?