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Dear Abbe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 January 2014

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Dear Abbe
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Copyright © Microscopy Society of America 2014 

Dear Abbe

We are at our wit’s end! We are still using film and making wet prints in our EM lab. We’re not happy about this situation, but the real problem is Bob. Bob simply cannot knock on the darkroom door to see if someone is processing film or making prints. I cannot tell you how many batches of negatives and unexposed sheets of printing paper have gone into the trash. Management is sympathetic but has firmly ruled out the use of a Lab Bat and claims that there is no money for a revolving darkroom door. Please help!

Frustrated in Fishkill

Dear Frustrated

Quit your whining! You may at least be reassured that the journey to your wit’s end was only half as long as for most people. This noble palindromic pest is trying to solve your research data acquisition problems! Still using film and wet chemistry? I am surprised you are not making daguerreotypes and breathing mercury fumes! (Maybe you are…) As I see it, you have two solutions to your alleged problem: One, buy a supply of darkbulbs to replace your lightbulbs (these can only be found at your local existential photo supply house) and thereby prevent unwanted exposure by Bob; or two, realize the support he is providing for your so-called research. Just think—by exposing every silver grain on a photographic negative, he is not losing your data but instead creating one universal negative! All you need to do is apply the correct noise-removal algorithm to the negative to reveal the image you want. Trot down the hall to your friends in the cryo-electron tomography lab, and they will have the software you need. Trust me on this one.

Dear Abbe

I recently learned of the work of the German research group that has successfully overcome the conventional limit of resolution in light-based investigations by applying a range of different methods (e.g., 4Pi-microscopy, localization microscopy, spatially structured illumination, etc.). How do you feel about someone breaking the so-called “Abbe Limit” of resolution?

Gloating in Göttingen

Dear Glowplug

Break the Abbe Limit you say? Bollox! If this so-called optische Gruppe really is hot stuff, then I challenge the Oberhaupt to a spirited round of Nagelspielen. Ground rules are as follows: First, each contestant must consume an entire bottle of Beerenauslese. Next, wearing nothing but a pair of Gauplattlerhosen, each player chooses a striker and begins the whacking. I feel it only fair to warn the opposition that my record stands at 122 wins, 0 losses, and 2 ties, the ties coming when Karl Ferdinand Braun tricked me into striking the wrong nail by shouting “betrachten Sie die große Dinger!” just as my hammer was coming down. If my opponent plans a similar sort of distraction, he should bear in mind that this time we’ll be playing with Helko field hatchets and that I suffer fools badly.

If you are feeling limited by Abbe, send your challenges to Herr Abbe’s faithful assistant at .

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