From: McCrone, Walter, 1998, review of BJF presentations at Inter Micro 98, The Microscope, 46 (4): 228, 230, 240.

Chicago: 10 August 1998

An Evening with Brian

On the Intelligence of Microbes

Brian J. Ford

The modern age worships the majesty of the human mind. Where did this ability originate? What other forms of life exhibit a form of intelligence? Contrary to what we tend to believe, problem-solving and ingenuity are widespread in nature. Microorganisms are more complex than you might expect: even an amoeba has a head and a tail. This evening we discover the capacity of microbes to make decisions, to know what they like, and even to enjoy themselves.

DR McCRONE COMMENTS: What will Brian think of next? Many of us come to INTER/MICRO meetings with one of our main objectives to find out what he has thought of next. He is unique, a scholar, innovative, highly practiced in his fields of biology and microscopy, and a superb storyteller, making any subject come exciting and alive. We're lucky not only to have an Evening with Brian but the INTER/MICRO week with Brian as well.

Still, this most recent evening causes me trouble. I'm an exaggerated pacifist. I couldn't possibly shoot I deer (except with a camera). I can't step on an insect knowingly (except a cockroach and that bothers me) but now I've got to stop using H2O2 mouthwash after tooth brushings because of all the microbes I have been murdering. Perhaps I can plead self-defense.

Chicago: 11 August 1998

Designing a Laser Microscope for Space

Brian J. Ford

The European Space Agency will launch a small microscope into space early in the new millennium, with the intention of observing cell aggregates under conditions of microgravity. The project was contracted to us by Brunel University. Analysis of the design and its rationale allowed some components to be omitted, and others modified. More than fifty percent of the volume, and sixty percent of the mass, was eliminated. Today the project is described with video recordings of the research.

DR McCRONE COMMENTS: The late John MacArthur, whose tiny portable microscope went to the North Pole, to the bottom of the sea, and to high mountains, hoped it would eventually go to the moon, Mars, and beyond. Much as I highly regard John and his microscope, it is very apparent that the European Space Agency went the right man for their new space scope.

Go to web site for space microscope, or to the Sensitive Souls site for intelligence in microbes.