Re: Histology as a science not an art.

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From:Tim Morken <>
Date:Tue, 13 Apr 1999 07:44:13 -0400 (EDT)

Art and science are not so far apart. Many think of art as something 
made up out of nothing and science as something built on experimetal 
knowledge. In fact, both are creative endeavors built on previous 
knowledge. Artists and scientists bring to the work whatever their 
experiences have been. 

I can't even say that the methods of artists and scientists are 
different. If you read the methods of Ansel Adams, the great 
photographer, his descriptions of how he approaches his work are all 
mathamatical rather than abstractions. A sculptor using acrylics I was 
reading about created a method of making large hollow spheres, which 
turned out to be perfect for deep-sea submersibles. On the other hand, 
if you read about how Kary Mullis 'invented' the Polymerase Chain 
Reaction, it is pure art!

To me, what makes something science is that you are meticulous in 
describing what happens when you do a procedure. You keep track of the 
variables and the outcomes. In this way you build a knowledge base 
which helps you determine what happens in particular procedure. If you 
continually have problems with a procedure you are probably not paying 
attention to the details. The fact the things are constantly modified 
does not mean it is more of an 'art' than a 'science.' It means the 
variables change and you have to modify other things to account for 
that. A scientist will know what to modify, or at least where to 
start. The fact you 'know' when something is going to be different, 
means you have a large amount of experience to draw from.

Histotechs have to be scientists to do well, but that doesn't exclude 
them as artists!

Tim Morken, B.A., EMT(MSA), HTL(ASCP)  
Infectious Disease Pathology 
Centers for Disease Control 
1600 Clifton Rd. 
Atlanta, GA 30333 
FAX:  (404)639-3043 

----Original Message Follows----
From: "Maria  L. Rivera" <>
To: "R.Wadley" <>,
Subject: Re: Histology as a science not an art.
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 06:34:25 -0400

Histology is an Art and a Science. When the proceedures do not work or 

a little "tweaking" 
Histotechs get a little creative, we do magic. We fuss with the water, 

heat, add a little, take a little, twist a little (sound like a song). 

so scientific, eh? Then again when we "KNOW" that the solutions are
weak/strong or a sequence has been left out/added, we dive into the 

hurry to the histonet, modify, note the modifications, cut and paste 

there you go, a "NEW" and improved "modified" version of a stain. 
Most of this is NOT a science, but the knowledge of what normally 

somewhere might not work everywhere. So we dabble into our potions, 

of magic and serve up them to the Pathologist who says "I don't care 

you do it, but I want it NOW"
Most of us have our own "little magic" books, either in our heads or
written somewhere.
Most Labs even have their own "modified" versions of standard 

ALL OF US have that little "munchkin" inside that says, "WHAT IF". 

That is
what "modifications" are made of. You take away the "ART" and you lose 

Look around the lab, everyday you will see us running around trying to 

something that SHOULD work but isn't, WORK. When all fails we get a 

If it worked all the time, machines can do it. Histology what FUN.
Histotechs sure are "gems in the rough. "
The dowgrading has made us more valuable, see, MONKEYS CAN'T do what 

we do.
Which is THINK.
Getting off my soapbox.

At 04:41 PM 4/13/1999 +1000, R.Wadley wrote:
>	Dear All,
>	I would like to comment on the statement "Histology is an art 

>everybody has their own way of making things work for them."  Please 

>assured that this not a personal attack on the writer, it is a 

comment on
>how histology is regarded by many of my peers.
>"Histology is an art and everybody has their own way of making things 

>for them."
>	This is the justification used to downgrade the teaching of 

>everywhere.  I was lucky I did A Bachelor of Applied Science in 

>Laboratory Science, I got to major in Histopathology & Haematology, 

>histo major was 3 units, it included all the basic routines, special 

>plus cytology, karyotyping, electron microscopy, museum techniques 

>autoradiography.  This degree has now reduced the histology component
>severely.  I have since completed a Graduate Diploma in Microscopy &
>Microanalysis, which attempted to squeeze histology into 4 days.  It 

>commonly held in some circles that histology can be done by any 

>trained staff are not necessarily required.
>	I consider histology to be a science, just like haematology, 

>& clinical chemistry.  I agree that particular talents are required 

>histologists to get the most out of this field.  But to write 

histology off
>as an art form, something akin to voodoo & black magic belittles 

>who works in the field.  We may all have our own little variations, 

but let
>us understand that these differences are based on scientific 

preference not
>	I think I shall now pull my head in, before someone cuts it 

>	Regards
>	Rob W.
>R. Wadley, B.App.Sc, M.L.S
>Laboratory Manager
>Cellular Analysis Facility
>School of Microbiology & Immunology
>UNSW, New South Wales, Australia, 2052
>Ph (BH) 	+61 (2) 9385 3517
>Ph (AH)	+61 (2) 9555 1239
>Fax 	+61 (2) 9385 1591
>	(Under development)

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