Thursday 5 December 2019

Sugar Crystals Viewed in Polarised Light

Nature produces some amazing and beautiful sights. We only have to watch the well-produced nature programmes to see this. Sometimes, however, we need optical instruments to help us see these wonders. 

In this case I've used a microscope to look at simple sugar crystals. The field of view is about 1.05mm by 1.59mm, and the sugar is viewed through crossed polarising filters.

I prepared the microscope slide for this rather simply. It is certainly not elegant, nor is it in any way a professional looking slide - but it works. I dissolved sugar in water until no more would dissolve. I then dripped a small amount onto the slide and waited for it to dry. I built up a rectangular trough around it using some of my wife's nail varnish, and the last coat I used to build up the trough also cemented the cover-slip into place. Simple.

I will do a another post to show the equipment setup I used for this but, in brief, it was a vintage Charles Baker microscope, with K√∂hler Illumination using a Cooke microscope light and two polarising filters.

For now I just wanted to share the pictures with you in the hope you will enjoy viewing them.

All content and photos © copyright Tony Benson

Wednesday 27 November 2019

A Walk Around Maidstone – Rootes and the Mill Pond

I recently took a stroll around Maidstone, looking for some of the old bits that had not been bulldozed in the name of progress. I found myself looking at the old Rootes showroom, now earmarked for redevelopment into yet more housing. I first knew Maidstone when my family moved to a nearby village at the beginning of the 1960s, and I well remember Rootes Group and their showroom here by the River Len.

The Rootes motor business dates back to 1897 in Maidstone, and in 1913 the founder’s son, William, formed his own independent motor sales company in Hawkhurst, also repairing and making parts for aircraft engines. William bought his father’s Maidstone business in 1917, later expanding nationally to encompass the motor manufacturers Hillman, Humber, Singer, Sunbeam, Talbot, Commer and Karrier, as well as the Maidstone motor manufacturer Tillings-Stevens. It was here in Maidstone that the showroom, photographed above, was built for Rootes by the architectural firm Howard and Souster in 1937/8.

The building overlooks the mill pond on the river Len, once serving the Corn Mill at its downstream end where the modern road bridge is built over the top of a mediaeval mulit-span bridge on Mill Street. Here you see the bridge pictured from the west where the mediaeval stone arches can still be seen under the modern cantilevered road bridge. When I took this photograph there was a pied wagtail flying in and out of the dark tunnels under the arches.

Turning my back on the Mill Street bridge I get this view of the river Len flowing towards the Medway.

Crossing into the gardens of the Archbishop’s Palace, I see the river Len again, further downstream, now only metres away from where it joins the Medway.

Content and images © copyright Tony Benson