For a while now I’ve wanted a microscope for performing various silly home science experiments. This week, I found one.
It’s marketed as a children’s toy: the “My First Lab” Duo scope. “Duo,” in this context, means that it has two lights, one above the stage and one below. I had a microscope when I was a kid. I used microscopes throughout college. This silly little thing, at just over $50 — FIFTY DOLLARS — is better than any microscope I’ve ever used. Now, I didn’t major in the life sciences or work in any of the labs with the neat equipment; I only have the beat up, abused freshman equipment to compare against. But as far as I’m concerned, this thing is a god-damned revelation. I’ve spent more on dinner than I have on this thing, and it is awesome.
It comes with everything you need — other than AA batteries — to get started. A few prepared slides, a few blank slides, a petri dish, various probes, plastic forceps, a little scalpel, and a couple of different dyes. I’ve spent the whole night preparing different samples to look at, just for fun (pray for my cats. They are terrified, and rightly so.) The eyepiece is 10x, and the objectives are 4x, 10x, and 40x. The LED lights (you can only use one at a time, above or below) do a better job of illuminating the subject than my pathetic childhood incandescent-and-mirror setup ever did.
This is not heavy duty equipment. It’s very light, and feels relatively fragile. But the one thing is, it does the job and the other point is it was only $50. If you’ve wanted an excuse to own a microscope, here it is. Take two. They’re cheap.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to obsessive-compulsively search the interwebs for a 20x eyepiece.
Apologies to Don DeLillo for lifting his phrase for the title of this post.