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How to view sperm via microscope?
July 10, 2005 7:15 PM   Subscribe

How powerful a microscope does one need to get a good view of human sperm?

Are there any particular requirements other than magnification level? And is it necessary to prepare the sample (semen) in any way to support optimal viewing? I've googled and googled, and haven't been able to find what would seem to me to be info about a very basic high school science experiment!

(Bonus points for anyone who can recommend an actual microscope to buy online.)
posted by alms to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
According to this site human sperms are about 2.5 to 3.5 microns (micrometers) in width and have a length range of 5 to 7 microns. You should be able to see them at 400x according to this site or 600x (from here) and at 6300x you should be able to detect sperm morphology according to these guys.
posted by furtive at 7:50 PM on July 10, 2005


Phase contrast microscopy will be a huge help in visualizing sperm cells. You'll need a compound scope with a phase condenser. If there's a biology department near you, and a friendly prof or lab assistant, you should be all set.
posted by Rothko at 8:29 PM on July 10, 2005


I've seen sperm in a cheap 'toy' style microscope. I believe the magnification was 750x. No slide preparation necessary, the, uh, sample, should come in its own 'medium', you can just mush a drop in between a slide and a cover slip and stick it on the stage.
posted by sid at 9:02 PM on July 10, 2005


Viewing sperm is a basic High School science experiment? I must have gone to a boring High School.
posted by lockle at 10:11 PM on July 10, 2005


You can see 'em at 200x, although it's more fun the higher you go.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:47 PM on July 10, 2005


Viewing sperm is a basic High School science experiment? I must have gone to a boring High School.

LOL.

Would a "standard" microscope like the ones here do 200-600x? They seem to say 4x 10x and 40x, with a 10x eyepeice? Does that mean up to 400x?
posted by delmoi at 11:37 PM on July 10, 2005


Most microscopes you can buy at Toy R Us are 10x eyepiece with 4x, 10x, and 40x lenses. You should be able to make out that sperm is present with 100x (10x X 10x), and should be able to see individual sperm at 400x.
posted by ruwan at 11:52 PM on July 10, 2005


They seem to say 4x 10x and 40x, with a 10x eyepeice? Does that mean up to 400x?

Yes. Multiply the objective magnification by eyepiece magnification to get total magnification.
posted by normy at 11:55 PM on July 10, 2005


I would get a digital microscope. When you do see something interesting, maybe after many attempts, you will want to record it and play it back and share pictures with all of your friends in the Sperm Count Club.
posted by pracowity at 6:48 AM on July 11, 2005


Have the class do mouth swabs, too, for extra fun. Particularly if it's the first class after lunch.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:08 PM on July 11, 2005


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