Histology, microscopy, anatomy and disease
Histology, microscopy, anatomy and disease

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Histology, microscopy, anatomy and disease

2.1 Basic functions of the virtual microscope

The following video shows you the basic functions of the virtual microscope that you will use throughout this course. It demonstrates the processes of stage movement, focusing, illumination and the use of different objectives (the parts of the microscope that focus the light into an image at a given magnification).

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NARRATOR: In this video, I will show you how to use the virtual microscope to look at different tissues. The microscope emulates many of the functions of a conventional light microscope, including the ability to select different slides, you can also change objectives, which alters the magnification of the section, you can focus the image and adjust the level of illumination, and there are a variety of other features that are found on a real microscope, which we will introduce later on. But the most useful feature of this virtual microscope is the descriptions of the tissues and diseases which are presented alongside the images. Clicking on highlighted items in the description will take you directly to what you're looking for. This is like having an instructor just over your shoulder.

In this course we have allowed about five minutes to look at each of the sections, but the amount of time actually spent is entirely up to you. Now let's take a look at the basic functions of the microscope. When you open up the microscope, you see a screen like this. In the centre is the microscope itself. On the left are its controls. On the right you have the slide sets and the descriptions of each section.
I will begin by opening the slide catalogue. It contains collections of slides of different tissues, and I will start by selecting blood. I can now see the thumbnail images of the 20 slides in this connection. The mouse pointer gives a short description of each slide as you hover over it. In this case, I'm going to select a normal blood smear and click on it to load it onto the microscope stage.
This area here shows the stage view, what the slide looks like on the microscope stage. And the circular window at the top shows what you would see looking down at the section. This is the eyepiece view. At the moment we cannot see very much because the magnification is too low. So I'm going to change to a 10 by objective by clicking here. You have a selection of objectives available.
Now you can see some cells in the eyepiece window, and they are in fact mostly red blood cells. Look again at the stage view and you'll see that this red circle defines the area that you are observing through the eyepiece. I can scan across the section by clicking on the four arrows around the stage view. On a real microscope the slide may be moved manually or the stage may be motorised.
I'm going to go to the highest magnification now, times 40. And the area that I'm viewing is correspondingly reduced. I can adjust the focus of the microscope by clicking here. The controls to the left of the wheel are the course focus. And the controls to the right of the wheel are the fine focus. I can also adjust the illumination, which is equivalent to changing the power from the lamp. So I adjust to the right level of lighting and I'm now adjusting so that my view is in focus.
Finally, let's look at the description of the slide. It says red blood cells, or erythroctyes, are the predominant cell in this blood smear. White blood cells, or leukocytes, are also present, and they include the cells called neutrophils. If I want to see what a neutrophil looks like, I just click on the blue text and the stage immediately jumps to an example of the neutrophil, which is now in the centre of the eyepiece viewing field. Using these active descriptions will give you a lot of information on the slide, and will help confirm that you are looking at the right cells. There are other functions on the microscope, too, but we will return to those later.
End transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

In the next section you will have your first opportunity to use the virtual microscope for yourself.


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