« EelmineJätka »
information to its predecessors. Our generous contributors of articles are quite as enthusiastic as their forbears.
The increased demand on our “Exchange Columns” is a good indication of the rapidity with which Natural History has spread. That term is now more comprehensive than ever.
. It embraces sections and sub-sections of research which, a quarter of a century ago, were hardly thought of. Now, every one of them is engaging the attention of men and women, and sweetening their lives, as the cager interest shown for Collecting manifests.
We would do more if we could. The low price of SCIENCEGOSSIP makes it imperative that its circulation shall be increased, so as to enable Editor and Publisher to carry out their desires. Every reader can assist us by joining our enthusiastic corps of
recruiting sergeants,” and getting another enlisted in our large ranks of Subscribers. An increase of another five thousand per month in our circulation would strengthen our hands for good.
We thank kind friends all round and there is not a part of the globe where our Magazine has not friends) for help, sympathy—even criticism. The Preface enables the Editor once more figuratively to shake hands with all, and to wish them a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
ALDER, STEM OF COMMON, SHOWING Female OF WATER-SPIDER, 227
OVUM OF Phthirius inguinalis, 181 Bulges CAUSED BY WOODBINE, 275
Floscularia annulata, 9
Flower of Garcinia mangostana, 197 Pair or SWIMMING Feet, 32
Part-Section of complete Flower, the
Posterior Antennæ of Lichomolpus sa-
belle, 32 Fruit of Garcinia, 197 Branch of Manihot utilissima, 84
Probosc's as disrupted from Body, for Branch of Piper methysticum, 85
Proboscis exserted, 100
Gonium pectorale, 248
REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS OF FEMALE (An-
guillula aceti), 53
SECTION AT ST. ERTH, 129
Side View of Daphnia, 35
Spider, Natural Size, 159
Spider with Parasite, 159
Stomata and Glandular Hairs in Cavity LARCH, HAVING Sıx AFTERGROWTHS, 205
of Scale of Tooth wort, 13 Dactylopterus volitans, 244
Larch, showing Natural Engrafting, 204
TERMINAL CLAW OF SECOND PAIR OF Diagrammatical Figure of Young Larva Longitudinal Section of Fully-developed
LEGS OF Phthirius inguinalis, 182 (Tipula plumosa), 156
Scales, showing the Connection of the Transverse Section of a Fully.developed
Small Cavities with one another in
Scale of Tooth wort, 12
Transverse Section of Underground Stem Diagram of Light reflected from Green Longitudinal Section of Scale of Tooth
near the Base of Toothwort, 13 wort, 12 Pigment, 8
Tree-Stem, shov direction taken by Diagram of Three Primary Colour Sensa
Ivy Stems and Branches, 275
Trifolium stellatum, 149
Melon Seedling, 165
WING OF TERMITE, 229
Vorm, as usually scen crawling, 100 of the Muscles of the Body of Tipula
Worm under Compression, 100
Nervous SYSTEM OF Tipula plumosa,
YOUNG ANGUILLULA ESCAPING, 53
SECTION-CUTTING APPLIED TO INSECTS.
By H. M. J. UNDERHILL.
ITHIN the last few good sections may be obtained with the commonest years the art of
of microtomes; of course, the better the microtome, section-cutting has the better the sections : yet the best of microtomes is been greatly im- useless, if the specimens be not rightly prepared. proved, but Section machines seem to vary in price from 8s. to counts of the £8. As far as I know, the cheapest are practically as methods in good as those of medium price, for when cutting is have as yet hardly effected by holding the razor in the hand, one can found their way never be sure to the zooth of an inch where its edge into ordinary mi
in consequence of the elasticity of the steel. croscopic hand- This is the arrangement in all the moderate priced books, and to the instruments I have seen, so that a £2 machine is not amateur, who mo- essentially better than an 8s. one. In the more destly restricts his expensive forms this uncertainty is eliminated by the dissections to in- motion of the razor (or object) being effected mechanisects, they are, I cally. The best of these is said to be the Cambridge believe, almost un- “Rocking Microtome,” price £5 5s. I have got known. The very good sections with a section machine of the general principles cheapest kind, and I have seen most excellent vegeof the methods are table sections which were cut without a microtome at in all cases the
all. So the student need not lay aside sectionsame, but the application of them to various sorts of cutting for lack of an expensive machine. A good tissues is frequently different; so, in working out razor, however, is a necessity. the details for insects, although I write chiefly for the amateur, I may possibly contribute something of
PREPARING SPECIMENS. use to the student.
Most microscopists find that a great deal of the A great many fluids have been compounded for interest of their microscopy lies in preparing speci
hardening tissues previous to cutting them. Some do If there be any one of these who has never very well for insects, but any which contain chromic tried section-cutting, let him buy a microtome and acid are totally destructive. This reagent renders set to work at once. It is quite a fascinating amuse- chitine extremely friable, and in fact, makes the whole ment, a kind of refined “whittling a stick"—that section so brittle, that it is hardly possible to mount pleasure so dear to youth.
it unbroken. Moreover, in spite of all said to the After a few remarks on microtomes, I propose to contrary, it prevents proper staining. But the fluid divide my observations into four parts; Preparing readiest to hand is common methylated spirits, and the specimens; cutting, mounting, and staining them. this answers every purpose. Soak the insects in it I would premise that, if I recommend a process for for a week or two, or as much longer as you like. insects, it does not follow that it will do for anything Soft bodied insects may shrink if put into methylated else.
spirits at once. A day's previous soaking in dilute The most important thing in getting perfect picro-sulphuric acid solution will prevent this. Then sections is the proper preparation of the insect, let them have three or four days in absolute alcohol, previous to cutting it. If an object be well prepared, changing the alcohol once. Transfer them to oil of
No. 277.- JANUARY 1888.
ture of the room and the melting-point of the wax.. The reason for this particularity is that, if the wax be too hard, the sections will curl up as you cut them, and frequently break. On the other hand, if it be too soft, it gives way under the pressure of the razor. Any grocer will get you paraffin through Price's (or some other) candle company. It is made of four degrees of hardness, melting at 110°, 115, 120', and 125o. The probable price will be 6d. per pound.
CUTTING THE SECTIONS.
cloves, in which let them stay for a day; and, after the oil of cloves, let them be in turpentine another day. For some reason that I do not understand, soaking first in oil of cloves and then in turpentine prevents tissues from shrinking when they are put into wax.
If oil of cloves, turpentine, or chloroform be used alone, shrinking can hardly be avoided. For this “ wrinkle" I am indebted to Dr. Schönland, of the Botanic Gardens, Oxford.
Now melt some paraffin wax before a gas-stove or over a water bath. Be very careful to have it only just above its melting point. Warm the bottle of turpentine containing the specimens, pick them out, and drop them into the melted wax. This must be maintained at the same temperature for about ten hours. Great care must be taken not to let it get too hot, or the insects will shrink. If you put the specimens in at night, they will be ready by morning. By this time the wax should have penetrated every part of the insect, and the excellence of the sections depends upon this being done completely. No perfection of microtome will compensate for imperfectly imbedded specimens ; but, as I have said, you can cut good sections of a well-imbedded insect in a common machine. This method of imbedding answers for most insects, but very soft ones need yet more care to avoid shrinkage. Either of the two following methods will do. Put the insects into a small open vessel with enough turpentine to cover them, add a good many chips of wax. Or this : melt some wax in the vessel and let it get cold ; put the insects with enough turpentine to cover them on the top of this. Then (in either case) gradually bring the wax to the melting-point before the stove or in a hotair box, and keep it just melted for hours until the turpentine is all evaporated. The penetration of the wax is so gradual, that there is no danger of the insect shrinking.
The vessel in which the wax is allowed to get cold must be flat bottomed ; and the objects should be arranged in it at intervals in such positions that the bottom of the vessel is at right angles to the plane of the sections which you intend to cut. When the wax is quite hard, the specimens may be carefully cut out in little cubes of wax, and kept for any length of time until wanted.
The wax used must be pure paraffin. I have tried all sorts of mixtures and different waxes, but nothing does so well as pure paraffin. It is of great importance to have it of the right melting-point. The Cambridge people say that with their microtome this does not matter, but my experience with the machine is different. If the temperature of your room be 56° to 60° Fahr., the proper melting point of the wax is 110°. You should have a thermometer, and, whenever you want to cut sections, you must bring the temperature to this point. In summer, when you cannot cool the air to 60°, you must use harder wax, preserving the difference of 50° between the tempera
If you have a microtome of the common sort, with a well, fill the well with melted wax, and let it get quite cold. Then screw it up until about half-an-inch of wax appears above the cutting plate of the instru
Remove this with the razor, and if the block of wax seem at all loose in the well, thrust a thin splinter of lucifer match between the wax and the side of the well. Take now one of the cubes of wax. containing an insect to be cut; square it roughly with a pen-knife ; fasten it to the wax in the well by means of the heated blade of an old koise. When it is cold and hard again, finish off the squaring process accurately, taking care that the opposite sides are parallel. Screw down the machine until the top of the little cube is level with the surface of the cutting plate, and the specimen is ready for cutting. Take off a few preliminary siices, and when you have cut down to the object, place the razor with its edge parallel to and almost touching one of the sides of the cube. Draw it sharply towards you without any motion sideways, but in a direction exactly at right angles to that side of the block with which its edge is parallel. Let the section remain on the razor blade, and after again turning up the screw of the microtome, repeat the cut, using exactly the same portion of the razor edge to cut with by placing the section already cut precisely behind the little square block of wax. The new section will stick to the edge of the first one and push it across the razor blade.. The same process, indefinitely repeated, will produce a ribbon of sections almost as neatly as a rocking microtome will do it. Success depends on the melting-point of the wax, and the temperature of the room, being properly adjusted, as before explained.
After a little practice, I could readily get unbroken ribbons of 20 to 40 sections. After this, they became too long to be manageable. The advantages of ribbons over single sections I consider to be two :they are much easier to manipulate ; and they facilitate getting a series of sections in their proper order. This is an important point when you are cutting up an insect. Besides, having all the sections. cut before any are put upon the slide, you are able to count them, and so calculate the space they will occupy. You can, therefore, arrange them with proper regard to the middle of the slide-a great thing to all who love neatness.