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No matter how long you've been doing something, there are always new things to learn. Here are a few of the less well known, but not necessarily less important, tips for quality microscopy.
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Never underestimate the value of a fine coiffure when using a microscope, or any scientific equipment for that matter. Research is a serious business and one should be prepared for the Media drop in unexpectedly to showcase your research. Think how your mother would feel if your locks were asunder in front of the cameras. Plus, a fine hairstyle adds to the gravitas of your research, as does a fine beard, well groomed, and ideally, flecked with distinguished grey. A Rasputin look is to be avoided at all costs.
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In something of a decline in scientific circles, yet a visit to a quality milliner can make the difference between a mediocre and an outstanding day on the microscope. For ladies, a large brimmed hat can interfere with viewing convenience through the eyepieces, but can also offer excellent shading from ambient light when examining faint fluorescence images. Ribbons and extra fripperies are best avoided as they may snag in motorised stages. Similar caution should be taken with fruit laden hats as they are likely to breach health and safety regulations regarding food in research areas. For men, a smart trilby is acceptable, a cloth cap is not.
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It may seem a wild extravagance to visit a couturier when spending your time in a dimly lit basement room - but is it? Poorly tailored trousers are likely to cause chafing, pinching and discomfort to a gentleman's unmentionables after hours of sitting at a microscope. Cheap synthetics are likely to cause a wearer to slide off their regulation, non-absorbent chairs, resulting in potentially serious injury. For ladies, the temptation to over-dress for a microscope is hardly a risk factor, as almost anything goes well with beige and gunmetal grey. A line should perhaps be drawn at ball gowns as these may snag under chair wheels. Yet, with practice, an impressive glide on a well concealed chair is something to behold.
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Always a quandary as to under or over-state one's accessories when on the microscope. The subdued lighting lends itself to something a little more flamboyant than usual. A well cut diamond, having a good balance between crown and pavilion angles, is a good starting point. A bonus is a diamond containing traces of boron, which although irrelevant to its value, does have a pleasing fluorescent quality when exposed to UV light. An obvious choice when viewing a set of DAPI or Hoechst stained slides.
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A difficult balance must be struck between aromas which say 'scientist' and ones which say 'fumigate'. Remember a perfume will pervade the research area and nobody wants a bio-hazard scramble due to a sensor mistaking your perfume for a neuro-toxin. Men should proceed with caution when applying after shave. It's taken as read microscopy is an enviably macho career path - there's no need to over-state it. If in doubt, take the time to consult with a trusted perfumier to reach the ideal microscopy fragrance balance.
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As for perfume, a difficult balance must be struck between shoes which say 'scientist' and ones which say 'mistook dingy basement for den of ill-repute'. Stilettos are however ideal for weighting down cover-slips when mounting sections - and gives your feet a well deserved rest. Stout brown brogues are completely unsuitable for cover-slipping and should be avoided. Conversely, driving a stiletto heel through a high-tension cable in the EM lab is something to be wary of. For men, a well fitted Oxford can cope with balancing on anti-vibration tables to kicking the hateful nano-indenter. A Derby is also acceptable for a change of style, but a line should be drawn at Loafers or Monk Strap designs. If you can't be bothered to tie your shoelaces, you probably shouldn't be in microscopy.