Microscopes are powerful magnification tools that can be rightly said to have changed the world. They allow people to see everything in smaller proportions than the human eye can see. Without microscopes, modern medicine and science in general would be much different. Identifying illnesses and furthering our knowledge about the microscopic world around us would be virtually impossible. We could only guess at what we and everything else is made up of.
The history of microscopes
Despite how seemingly modern they are, microscopes date back centuries. The first type was the optical microscope, which came about near the end of the 16th century. Who is responsible for this leap in technology is disputed, though it is between two glasses makers. Nonetheless, it was a stepping-stone for further types of microscopes.
About 54 years after the first optical microscopes came into use, the first known instance of the microscope being used to view living cells through one occurred. Quite rapidly, human tissue and fluid made its way under a microscope lens. Then came the discovery of red blood cells and sperm. By the late 17th century, the microscope led to knowledge of microscopic organisms. It would be downplaying it to say that this was a major scientific discovery. Many of the things that make humans and other animals ill are microorganisms. It was not long before they were being identified.
Microscopes and magnification
The reason for the success of microscopes is their ability to magnify something very small so that the human eye can see it. Excellent microscopes allow us to see very small particles with as much clarity as people with 20/20 vision see what is right in front of them. These magnifications can now be photographed as well.
Microscopes consist of multiple lenses that magnify what is placed below them, typically on a flat tray that is situated just below the opening of the tube containing the lenses. There is also refractive glass or mirrors to direct light in such a way that the light goes toward the eye.
The various uses of microscopes
The uses of microscopes are many. Perhaps the most useful in terms of human health and longevity is the study of microorganisms and the structure of humans. Microscopes have allowed people to look at the tissue in lungs, hearts and other organs, giving us a far better understanding of them. They allow us to see bacteria and viruses, giving us an idea of how they work and how to fight them.
Microscopes are used in law enforcement and legal proceedings. They allow experts to study samples at crime scenes. They allow experts to authenticate documents. Microscopes have essentially made it possible to catch criminals accurately and in ways that were never possible before.
The microscope is used in various sciences. Biologists, chemists, metallurgists, physicists and so many more types of scientists use microscopes or information that is available thanks to them. There is nary a field in science that has not or cannot benefit from the magnification of a microscope.