science, art, & magic

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From:"McCollough, Carol" <>
To:"'histonet'" <>
Date:Wed, 14 Apr 1999 13:09:59 -0400
Content-Type:text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Hi Histonetters:

May I add my 2 cents worth?

Histology is science which results in visual art.  It is not magic or what I
like to call alchemy.

For example:
There is a tech in my lab who was believed to have a monopoly on successful
execution of protargol (modified Bodian) stains.  She insisted that her
secret was placing the coplin jar in a specific place on the benchtop -
which happened to be right where one would pile clean dishes from the sink.
She never tried to see if there was any physical reason for this (drafts,
light regime, etc.).  She would become livid if anyone moved the jar in
order to clean up the lab, even if the jar was put back.  How annoying.
Guess what happened.  The entire laboratory was renovated and remodeled.
Her special place no longer exists.  Protargols are now done in a fume hood
in another room entirely.  Another tech also performs them successfully in a
different hood across the room.  So much for alchemy........

Many of us may operate empirically because it is expedient, but unless we
obey the discipline of recording our changes in procedure, and the results,
so that reproducibility is achieved, such empirical work is useless.  This
is science.

Perhaps also we should also go back to our dictionaries and look up the word
'art' - in all of its meanings and connotations.  I believe that the word
can be applied to histology in the meanings of skill and practice, just as
it is applied to the field of medicine.  I do not accept the connotation of
undisciplined or unique (i.e. irreproducible), as many people view artists
and their works.

I await your slings and arrows.............

Regards -
Carol B. McCollough, HT(ASCP)
Diagnostics & Histology Laboratory Manager
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Fisheries Service
Cooperative Oxford Laboratory
904 S. Morris Street
Oxford, MD 21654

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