Introduction

      As I searched through the numerous pages of artifacts in the “Science Gossip,” I discovered an interesting find which was a microtome. A microtome is a tool used to cut sections, which are very thin slices of material. These tools were important in the scientific world for microscopy, which allowed observation of samples under transmitted light or electron radiation to occur. There are a variety of these types of microtome, some of which use steel, glass, and even diamond blades depending on the specimen and the desired thickness of the sections being cut. Microtome made of steel blades are more commonly used to cut sections of animal or plant tissues for light microscopy histology. For light microscopy and electron microscopy, glass knives are used to cut sections. Last of all, the industrial grade diamond knives are used to slice up sections of harder material such as bones, teeth, and plant matter for both light and electron microscopy. Light and electron microscopy are both technical fields of using microscopes to view objects using radiation to form larger and more detailed images of objects that the human eye can’t see.

     As I was searching through “Science Gossip,” I found a page about an early microtome developed by Mr. J. D. King who “claims for his microtome no superiority over other first-class instruments for ordinary histological work in animal tissues, but it is designed especially for hard service in botanical work or for cutting any hard material which requires absolute rigidity in the instrument.” Mr. J. D. King had developed two versions of this microtome, the first one could cut 1/10000th of an inch or approximately 2.5 microns and the second could cut 1/2000th of an inch. These settings were no guaranteed to cut such thin sections though. To cut such thin sections there had to be a proper preparation of the specimen, the embedding techniques, and the use of a proper embedding medium. What I found was interesting about this artifact is its complexity and the fact that there were such tools back in those times. The design of the microtome was very detailed and the tool was composed of many various parts used for different uses. There are attachments used for cutting hard material and other attachments used for softer material.

King's Microtome (screenshot from Science Gossip)

King’s Microtome (screenshot from Science Gossip)

Conclusion:    

      Without microtomes, our knowledge about organisms and materials would not be as vast as it is today. Our knowledge about how things are made up would not be as great as it is during this period. Scientific breakthroughs would have never occurred without the use of this technology and many other early devices that are mention in the “Science Gossip.” The collection of this artifact is important in the incremental of knowledge because it allows scientists to improve on past devices and it enables them to see how past scientific experiments where carried out. It’s important to digitize this information to keep a record of past knowledge, which can be used in the future to increase our own knowledge. It’s important to digitize information for educational purposes, for preservation, and for access of these collections. In conclusion, this artifact and many other early artifacts are needed because without them we would not be able to advance. These tools are the preliminary versions of the new technologies that would take their place.