Microscopes A Fascinating Look At The Micro World
Within every object there is a hidden world so tiny that we can't see it. Before the invention of the microscope people never realised that there was a tiny world beneath our feet. Back then even scientists didn't realise that each and every one of us was crawling with bacteria.
Most of these bacteria are perfectly harmless, in fact we need them to survive. With the invention of the microscope back in the 16th Century, scientists were able to peer into this world and unravel some of the great mysteries that they had been searching for years.
Not only did they see bacteria, they discovered that animals and plants are made of millions of tiny little cells. It was later when the first discovery of bacteria was noted.
Microscopes have changed our world and the world around us. Without them we would not have even discovered germs that we take for granted these days.
The Early microscopes consisted of a single magnifying lens. Compared to today where they use several lenses. These days microscopes can see the tiniest object that even a few years ago would have been impossible to see.
Electron microscopes are even more powerful. Instead of using light, they use a beam of electrons which are tiny particles that are seen in atoms. These are so powerful they can magnify objects many millions of times.
The fascinating thing about Electron microscopes is that scientists use them to see even the most basic structure of living cells, plastics and metals.
With Electron Microscopes objects must be cut into thin slices in order to see them. Too thick and the light won't be able to penetrate the object, therefore not giving a clear picture.
There is however, another microscope called a Scanning Electron Microscope which can scan the whole object. This can show the scientists the whole picture of the insect for example which will be useful for studying various parts of the body.
The Scanning Electron Microscope is so sensitive it can actually show individual atoms! These are so small that a line of 0.5 million atoms would only span the width of a human hair.
How To Use A Scanning Electron Microscope
Inventing The Microscope.
Did you Know? Although the Romans used magnifying lenses about 2,000 years ago, the first real microscope appeared around the time of 1590.
It was built by Dutch spectacle makers Hans and Zacharias Janssen. Later, in 1663, English Scientist Robert Hooke studied insects and plants with his microscope. One of his first discoveries believe it or not was that cork was made up of tiny cells.
This caused great interest in the scientific world. Hence microscopes started making an impact on the world, and the science that we see today is based on those early studies and the first microscopes.
The light or Optical microscope has two main lenses. These are called the objective and the eyepiece. For a higher definition they can add more lenses to give a clearer more defined picture of the object they are studying.
The Objectives as they are called can be anywhere between 10 times to 1,500 times normal size. This may not be as powerful as the Electron Microscope but is useful for home study uses.
I remember my first microscope. I was so excited that I literally ran down to the river to find objects to study. I came home with jam jars full of tiddler fish, bits of tree bark, ants, and even a lump of dirt that my dad insisted was too mucky to have in the house.
But I diligently cut it to pieces, placing each bit on the table and telling everyone that there was something 'crawly' inside! After my dad stopped shuddering, and my mother wanted to know exactly why my dad had bought me it, we discovered that it was a tiny beetle. I remember seeing the light fall on its carapace. Green and shiny. Amazing how our memories work. If I had the chance I would get another one and do it all again!
How To Use A Microscope
Bacteria are single celled and do not have a nucleus. They have one chromosome that carries DNA.
They are bigger than viruses but still can't be seen without a microscope. Bacteria have 3 classifications. In other words they come in three different shapes. Round, rodlike and spiral.
Bacteria are living creatures. They reproduce through a process called fission. Bacteria can be found in single cells or pairs and clusters.
This rather scary looking creature (right) lives at the bottom of the Ocean. The photo was taken by Philippe Crassous using an Electron microscope.
It may look pretty horrendous but not to worry, its so tiny it cannot be seen by the naked eye. In fact its so small its similar in size to bacteria!
Using the Electron microscope, Philippe magnified it 525 times. Can you imagine being that small and looking like that?
I would think that it has to have some form of defence hence the teeth and horns. I am so glad its that small. Can you imagine seeing one of those staring at you, six foot tall? Erm well no!
The second photo shows one that is a bit more recognisable. Its simple a Moths Head. Fascinating to see it up close isn't it?
Take A Look At These Micro Photos, What Are They? Answers Below.
- Blade of Grass
- Red blood Cells
- Dust Mites
A Tiny World To Be Discovered.
The microscopic world is a fascinating one. Beneath our feet are miriad insects bacteria and viruses that we could never have seen in times past. With the invention of the microscope those worlds have been opened up to us.
What will we discover next? I am sure that there are many more tiny cells, insects and amazing micro lives that will be uncovered with the invention of the next generation of microscopes.
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