Snail shell magnified 2500:1


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I’m so confused.


wow that is really really cool!


Obligatory They Might Be Giants link


LOVE SEM photography. Friend of mine has 2 of them he bought used. Used it to help debunk some of the claims of soft tissue in dinosaur bone being from dinosaurs.


There’s tiny snails on that snail!!!


It’s snails all the way down?


Where do you buy a used SEM? eBay?


Yes. Actually. That is where he got his first one. He occasionally send me emails. You can get older working ones for a few thousand dollars.

The second one he got was military surplus and supposed to be “destroyed” for use as parts. But basically they bashed in some cabinets, and put some chips in the paint of this huge electron barrel.

I think both required some minor repair, but he is literally a genius and it was no big deal. He used to own a paintball company I did some work for. One of those Engineers who never went to school.

He was doing this in his spare time while making a huge lens for telescope. Which entails checking measurements every hour while the machine grinds the lens.


Can a snail scientist please explain the photo?


Is that an edge-on view of the… uh… edge of the shell?


I am sometimes thinking about building one from scratch. So far it is rather an academic exercise in idle speculations. Could the electron lenses be built ouside of a glass tube with vacuum inside? Would help with both maintenance and cooling. How can they be made, what level of precision is required, What must be machined from special alloys, what can be 3d-printed from iron-filled plastic and regular ABS, what can be folded from sheetmetal. What has to be done really well, and what can be worked around with more coils and a microcontroller to compensate for the manufacturing faults. E.g. if we can print or sheetmetal-wind the shrouds and have to precision-machine only the pole pieces, that itself cuts down the costs order or more of magnitude.

Thinking about using a 3d printer as a 3d magnetic scanner - use a 3-axis sensor used in cellphones as a compass, mount it to the printer head, and scan layer by layer over/around a sample. (Or scan column by column, using a proximity sensor to stop before crashing the probe into the sample.) Record the magnetic field vector in every point scanned. Could provide a failrly detailed image, which in turn could help with design of charged particle optics…


You probably already know about Ben Krasnow’s homebrew SEM:


I’m not a snail scientist (or any kind of malacologist), but I have looked at snail shells under a (much less powerful) microscope.

The original photo description says:

The picture shows the layers of the snail shell in a fraction. On the top, which is the inner wall of the shell, formation of new crystal platelets can be seen.
Scanning electron microscope, 2500:1 (at 15x13cm)

So it’s a picture of a cross-section of shell, showing the layers of calcium carbonate that are laid down to form it. I’m guessing that the solid-looking layer in the middle is the organic component that the crystals grow on.


Hey thanks!! Now I really, really want to see a super close up shot of where the mantle meets the shell… I want to see the business in action.


Look at Google Books, search for “biomineralization”.

Also, for the foundations,

…these days, when you want to invoke a piece of knowledge, it is useful to call it by its true name…


Awesome! Thank you!


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