Ahh, paid employment. It seems such a quaint thing of days gone by.
Part of my last job was culturing algae (specifically the marine diatom, Phaeodactylum tricornutum) for use in ecotoxicology; we were testing the toxicity of products developed to assist in the clean up of oil spills. Large walk-in refrigerated rooms with walls of fluorescent lights and shelves on which sat beautiful big boiling flasks wherein bubbled strange green liquids.The cultures were a bright green due to the high density of the single-celled algae (maybe 4-40 million cells per millilitre!) and appeared luminous under the fluoros. When trying to work out how fast the population was growing you’d need to take a small sample of the solution and count the little fellahs under a microscope – tedious work.
I had thought that it might be more fun to get in there and count them in-situ. Hmm, there were some logistical constraints… I could never work out how I’d make it through the autoclave. Still, how cool would this have been!