In the field of science, no experiment or task is complete without using a microscope at least once. Since its invention, it has become one of the most important and valued equipment of scientists.
To further understand how essential microscopes are, read along and let this page serve as your guide.
To easily understand the dynamics of a microscope, let us put it this way: it is a tool used to see even the smallest of things.
A microscope allows us to see things in its deepest, most magnified form. Through this tool, we can finally (and clearly) see things that the ordinary human eye cannot--- cells, bacteria, ash… even tiny snowflakes!
No laboratory is complete without a microscope. Without it, experiments involving cells and other super small organisms will not be successful.
The earliest origin of the microscope dates back to the first century, when the glass was first invented. Since this time, people have been figuring out how to magnify objects with this new invention.
However, the first microscope invention ever recorded in history did not happen until the 16th century. Three men are credited for their contribution to the invention and innovation of the microscope:
A Dutch spectacle maker by the name of Zacharias Janssen is the first man to ever invent what would later be called as the microscope. He, along with his father Hans, discovered that the lenses they had placed in a tube--- especially the one near the object--- have enlarged the latter, making an excellent discovery like no other.
Janssen’s first microscope inventions had only around 9x magnification, which all delivered blurry images. As a result, they were not considered scientifically helpful at that time, and, unfortunately, none of the microscopes survived.
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch draper and scientist, is considered as the first person to create and use a real microscope, one which is more similar to today’s equipment.
He made his microscope (which has a staggering amount of 270x magnifying power, thanks to the 550 lenses he grinded and polished) during the late 17th century. With its improved magnifying capacity, it could view tiny objects one millionth of a meter.
Aside from being the first man to create a real scientific microscope, van Leeuwenhoek is also the first one to view and determine various microorganisms through his microscope, such as yeast plants, bacteria, blood corpuscles in capillaries, and the teeming life in a tiny drop of water.
In 1665, an English philosopher by the name of Robert Hooke published the now-famous book “Micrographia,” which contains illustrations of his numerous scientific observations through the microscope.
These discoveries are viewed with a compound microscope, and some of them include fleas, needle, cork, razor, and snow. He is also the first person to discover plant cells.
Carl Zeiss was a German engineer who, in the 1850s, made improvements in the microscopes that he was manufacturing at that time--- by creating refinements to the lenses he was using for his microscopes.
Otto Schott was a glass specialist who made a fine research on optical glass, which had a great effect on the advancement of the quality of the microscope. As a result, Zeiss hired him in 1880s to further improve his microscopes.
A German physicist, Ernst Abbe was also hired by Zeiss to make his microscopes better--- specifically to improve the manufacturing process of optical equipment used in microscopes. After a long (but very productive) collaboration, they came out with theoretical studies of optical principles, which in turn improve the understanding of a microscope’s optical quality.
A compound microscope, the one mostly used by professionals, has the following parts:
When microscopes come to mind, there is usually only one image that we all know. In reality, there are different types of microscopes:
A compound microscope is the kind we usually see in biology class and research laboratories. It has two lenses--- the second one magnifying the image projected by the first. Compound microscopes can be monocular or binocular, and it has a magnification of 1,000 times (although its resolution is usually low). Compared to other microscopes, compound ones are inexpensive.
This type, also called a dissecting microscope, is used to view objects which are too big for a compound microscope. A stereo microscope is binocular and does not need slides for viewing. Compared to a compound microscope, this one has a low magnification (300 times), but it can provide a 3D view of the object’s surface textures. Stereo microscopes are usually used in the electronics industry, as well as the biological and medical science field.
This kind of microscope has a high magnification level like the compound microscope, but it has a higher resolution than the latter. It uses a laser light to view dyed samples, which are placed on slides. Confocal microscopes are usually used in medical and cell biology experiments.
SEM for short, this type of microscope uses electrons instead of light for viewing. Samples which go through SEM are dehydrated first then coated with a thin layer of any conductive material. After that, they are scanned in a vacuum-like condition. SEMs produce 3D images of the sample, usually in black-and-white. This type of microscope is usually used by experts who examine bones or insects.
A transmission electron microscope, or TEM, also uses electron in magnifying an image. But, unlike SEM, this one uses a slide preparation for obtaining 2D images of the specimen. With high magnification level and resolution, TEMs are very helpful to professionals who study nanotechnology, metallurgy, forensic, and sciences such as physical and biological.