Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Australia Micro Monsters FDC

Australia FDC
Name: Micro Monsters
Date of Issue: 28 July 2009

Hatchet Wasp
55c: Praying Mantis
55c: Ground Beetle
55c: Jumping Spider
55c: Ant
$1.10: Weevil

Micro Monsters is a fascinating issue that reveals a wonderful microscopic world most of us never have a chance to see. Familiar everyday insects, magnified many times, are shown in a new light. The stamps feature an Ant; a Jumping Spider; a Weevil; a Hatchet Wasp; a Ground Beetle and a Dead Leaf Mimic Mantis (or Praying Mantis). The miniature sheet shows a detail of a Common Cabbage White Butterfly's wing. When photographed by a scanning electron microscope (SEM), these tiny insects become fantastically monster-like in appearance, creating a quite different and wonderfully unique experience of these relatively common creatures.

The SEM allows magnification of remarkable strength - well over one million times - and SEM photography became commercially available in the 1960s. In addition to being a crucial research tool in many areas of science, it has changed the way we see the world. By enabling us to view any specimen at such magnification the SEM reveals the beauty and complexity of microstructure in amazing clarity.

The word microscope is derived from the Greek mikros (small) and skopeo (look at). There has always been an interest in being able to look at smaller and smaller details, for example, biologists examine the structure of cells, bacteria, viruses while geologists study the structure of rocks, minerals and fossils.

The technology that allows us to see these insects in such detail was invented by a German, Dr Ernst Ruska at the University of Berlin, who built the first transmission electron microscope in 1931. For this and subsequent work on the subject, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1986.

While SEM images are only ever in black-and-white, these stamps have been colourised with subtlety by designer Wayne Rankin to emphasise specific features. Wayne has designed many stamps for Australia Post including the wonderful Nature of Australia series. All the stamp images are from the collection of the Australian Museum in Sydney and the specialist micrographer is Sue Lindsay.

Issue Highlights
This is a great issue for kids! For the first time the minisheet stamps incorporate thermoprinting technology. Simply apply friction (eg. rub quickly with your thumb) to a special area on each stamp on the minisheet to reveal information on the degree of magnification of each insect.

Comment: This is my first real posted FDC from Australia, thanks my friend!

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