The Virtual Microscope

I’ve just been sent this link to a virtual microscope set up by the Open University’s Knowledge Media Insitute. The petrological microscope is especially nifty; not only can you pan and zoom, but you can also switch between plane polarised and cross polarised light, and even rotate selected points to look at extinction angles. These are important features if you want to work out what minerals you’re looking at; in cross-polarised light, different minerals turn lots of pretty colours, which can change depending on the angle you look at it.
There’s currently only a handful of samples publically available (including lunar and martian meteorites), but it’s quite fun to play around with. With a few more to choose from, I could brush up on my mineral identification, which is not one of my stronger areas…

Categories: geology

Comments (4)

  1. BrianR says:

    that is pretty dang cool! I see a lot of potential there.

  2. Brian says:

    Chris, nice to find your blog (especially since you’re a pmag guy). I did a pmag graduate thesis in the Northern Patagonian Andes for block rotations along a fault zone.
    I was a pmag field assistant in undergraduate school and swore that I’d have nothing more to do with it. Ever. However a free trip down to Chile for regional mapping and pmag drew me back to the dark side of the force!
    I’m a professional geologist now and own a geotech company in Washington state. With nothing more to do with pmag!
    I look forward to following your blog.
    Cheers.
    Brian

  3. Ole T says:

    Very neat indeed. It was good to see a gabbro for this magma petrologist retrained to petroleum geologist. :)

  4. SimonK says:

    Hi Chris
    I was just reading another of your blogs and I came across this one about the virtual microscope. The VM is actually being driven by a collaboration between the Earth Science department and KMi for our new second level geology course due to start in Feb 2010 (I’m part of the team working on it). The geology course version currently has about 30 thin sections of different undergraduate rock types.
    I don’t want this post to turn into an advert but I’ll just mention that we managed to get hold of some of thin sections of the rocks Charles Darwin collected on the Beagle voyage so hopefully they will appear in the next few weeks (Takes about a day per section to take the mosaic images and stitch them together – we need funding for an automated microscope!!!).