The amazing world of nature’s hidden life

August 31, 2018 ZEISS Microscopy

Stereo microscopes for Eden Project in Cornwall

Cornwall, the extreme southwestern peninsula of England that has the longest stretch of continuous coastline in Britain, is one of the sunniest and most scenic areas in the UK. In the heart of Cornwall, under a shining cluster of gigantic bubbles, perhaps the most important garden in the world is growing: The Eden Project is nestled in a huge crater wherein massive Biomes – housing the largest rainforest in captivity, stunning plants, exhibitions and stories – serve as a backdrop to striking contemporary gardens, summer concerts and exciting year-round family events. The area sounds like paradise to lots of people: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, the restored Victorian garden sitting atop a ravine filled with sub-tropical plants, is spiritually linked to Eden. The Eden Project is an educational charity that connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future.

Invisible Worlds

The newest addition to the Eden Project is the Invisible Worlds exhibition that features Infinity Blue – an interactive, dynamic artwork that pays homage to the greatest bacteria of them all – cyanobacteria, the first organisms to effect oxygenic photosynthesis. The exhibition describes the things we cannot necessarily see yet which have the most profound effects on our world and our lives. Emphasizing the interconnectedness of all things, the exhibition explores that which is too small, too fast, too slow, too fast or too far away in space and time to be easily recognized, acknowledged and understood.

Invisible Worlds: View into the exhibition hall. Image: Eden Project

ZEISS stereo microscopes provide invaluable insights

Within the lab area of the Invisible Worlds exhibition, there are – housed in protective casings designed for Eden by USFOR – four ZEISS Stemi 305 stereo microscopes, provided for public use, which can be connected via WiFi to the large screen at the center of the back wall. These are an incredible tool for engaging the public – visitors of all ages – and demonstrating to them the intricacy and beauty that we cannot normally see. From the segmentation of a millipede to the multiple lenses of a fly’s eye, the microscopes are an invaluable resource for the narrators hosting the exhibition, as well as a wonderful experience for visitors, many of whom have never used a microscope in this environment before.

ZEISS stereo microscopes at the Invisible Worlds exhibition provide the visitors with stunning insights of plant adaptations, moulds and insects – even moving aphids and spiders. Image: Eden Project

ZEISS stereo microscopes at the Invisible Worlds exhibition provide invaluable insights into the beauty we normally cannot see.“We’ve had some incredible moments,” says Katie Hughes, Narrator for Invisible Worlds, “and a lot of conversations about what an opportunity the microscopes provide for young and old alike to examine a variety of samples from perspectives that they would never otherwise see. Visitors have been fascinated and disturbed by the remains of partially-digested insects, taken from inside carnivorous plants; awed and excited by the sight of living tardigrades munching their way through algae and clearly visible to all on the large screen we have.”

The connection of scope to screen has proven especially valuable:

“A large group of school children came through the lab, vying for position around the four stereo microscopes. To facilitate an experience that they could all share – a quick, ad-hoc microscopy demonstration that they all had the chance to see and that didn’t impact negatively on their tight timetable – was a simple proposition, and an effective one.”

With the exhibition in its early stages, there will be more opportunities to utilize the ZEISS Stemi 305 microscopes, whether with school groups or individual visitors, to amaze and enthuse, and to spark many a sparkling discussion about bringing the invisible – the unseen yet so important – into view.

More information on ZEISS stereo microsopes

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