Odds and quads

These lantern slides are among the treasures of the little-known Alfred Denny Museum at the University of Sheffield's department of animal and plant sciences.

July 7, 2011

Most of them are as fresh today as when they were made by Henry Clifton Sorby (1826-1908), an independently wealthy gentleman scientist and one of the founders of the university, who set up a private laboratory and workshop in his home.

When he became interested in marine biology, he also used his yacht, The Glimpse - complete with its own laboratory - to collect and prepare specimens from the east coast of the UK. In 1889, Sorby devised an ingenious method of presenting marine invertebrates as lantern slides, which could be greatly enlarged to reveal fascinating details.

The slides proved highly effective in teaching biology and led him to be acclaimed as Sheffield's "greatest scientist" and one of the university's most popular lecturers.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com

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