Saturday, August 14, 2010

For Your Electron Microscope Scenes

Sometimes things are true, but they don't sound true, so they can't be used in stories.

For example, here's some things I learned abut working with electron microscopes from my son. They have different knives that they use to prepare slides. Diamond knives, of course, but glass knives as well. Glass knives are incredibly sharp, but they're also one shot. Use it once, and it's no longer sharp enough to be used again.

But you know what else they use? Eyelashes. They rub their eyes, or collect fallen eyelashes when they find them, and dab them into a bit of wax which they then put on the end of a stick. It's to help pick up and move the slide sample into place on the slide.

But, can you make using eyelashes sound realistic in a story with electron microscopes? It sounds good, but would take so much detail to use, explain, and justify that it probably wouldn't work. You could mention it in passing, but the number of readers that would get it would probably be limited to people that have created slides for electron microscopes, their families, and now you. That's a pretty niche market :)

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