Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to make your own Petrographic Microscope

Note the colourful chondrules as viewed under cross-polarized light. Such views are used for mineral identification and demonstrate the interaction of light with real-world samples. You too can make your own petrographic microscope! Here's how...

Here at York, as we welcome our newest class of students, we're taking a few minutes to pause and start thinking more about our recruitment efforts in the future. One question that comes up often is how we can stand out in a sea of power point presentations. The solution - to try to be a little more hands-on by bringing in some props to illustrate some of the principles behind our work. To that end,  some of us have come up with little inexpensive demonstrations that capture a lot of what we do here in the Earth and Space Science and Engineering Department. Look for these at university nights at high schools everywhere in the coming months!

For my part, I put together a little, inexpensive rig that gives students a taste of a few different themes. Basically, you could call it the poor man's petrographic microscope. It presents a neat little introduction to some interesting optics with serious engineering applications as well as some earth science. By using meteorite thin sections as my specimen, I can springboard into planetary science and spacecraft and how we can use simple techniques to learn a great deal from the materials we encounter in our exploration.