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Microscopes 101

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Since ancient times, people were always wondering about seeing smaller things that can be seen with only naked eye. The first using of lenses is still a mystery, just as an early history because many important documents were probably destroyed in Second World War.  Microscopes were invented sometime at the end of 16th century. For the first time in 17th century Microscope was used for serious work when some philosophers started to explore the world of microscope. The biggest problem of that decade was that people thought they can’t expand the further using of microscope because they feared they already achieved of whats possible to see through microscope. But in year 1740 few books were published, and they proved that microscopes are ready for new path. Biggest obstacle of further development of microscopes at that time was thought that people were investing too much in microscopes but had too little use of it, to put it in other words, not too many discoveries were made that were important.

Many of future philosophers were fascinated by the thought of microscopic world. But still, people who at that time looked through microscopes saw very distorted pictures because quality of glasses was bad along with not perfect lense shape. Not really much was done to improve microscopes in 17th and 18th century but 19th brought many improvements. Magnification was improved so manipulating with microscopes was now much easier. Companies in America and Germany started to make optical instruments with very fine quality. Microscope was starting to be used in many different areas. Medicine, palaeontology and biology were all subjects where microscope was included. The least researched decade of microscopes was 20th century. Many of available materials from that time are still not fully understood. It’s hard to decide how important was that century, and only few of museums have microscopes from that era.


In modern times, microscope development has slowed down as limits of optical zooming and quality of lenses have been reached to its full extend. So lets talk about how microscopes actually work. Basically there are 2 tubes with lenses, pieces of glass that are bending light rays which are going through them. Most simple version of microscope can zoom in an object about 5 to 10 times. There are also microscope with one lense only. The one used in schools, homes or laboratories are usually packed with 2 lenses, they are called compound microscopes. If you want to look through microscope you would need an ocular lens or eyepiece, the other lense is called objective lense and it’s above object you are zooming in. Now it depends on how much you want to zoom in object, most of microscopes have magnification of 10,20,40 or 100 times. Professional ones can zoom even 1000 times. But, there are limits even for best microscopes. Most of professional ones can’t zoom an object more then couple of thousand times. This is because light is made from photons which are energetic particles, and they are around 200 times more thinner then your hair. If you really want to magnify objects more smaller then this you would use electron microscopes as they are not using light but operating with even smaller particles named electrons. They are negative particles rotating around atoms.

You probably think that there are no things in a room if you can’t see them but that’s not true. Even TV or Radio is being broadcasted from transmitters. People are used to see the world only of things they can see with eyes, but there are many worlds more, it’s just our eyes that are not in tune to see them. Can you imagine your eyes had a capacity to see world around you as microscope? You would be so occupied watching small things you could never notice before, that you would not even realize big things around you. It’s really amazing to think of all the things that are around us. Invention of microscopes played such a big part of discovering tiny things and making them visible to our eyes.