The microscope is a tool that allows you to observe objects and elements that are too small to be seen by the naked eye.
Its name comes from the Greek “micrós” (diminutive) and “scopéo” (to look), and it uses the principle of the refraction and reflection of the light to generate a controlled increase of the image of the matter.
The microscope was invented in the sixteenth century through an optical system of magnifying lenses, which has been refined to the present day, in which there are so powerful electronic variants that allow us to glimpse the tiniest objects.
This instrument allowed the deep understanding of microscopic life and therefore changed the understanding of life in its entirety, thus becoming an indispensable tool for modern medicine, biology and pharmacology.
Characteristics Of Microscope
1. First microscope
The first known microscope was manufactured by Zacharias Janssen in 1590, who also participated in the invention of the telescope. However, there are many points of disagreement on the subject, since Janssen was also a known counterfeiter.
In any case, the appearance of this instrument allowed the revelation of the microscopic dynamics of the human body and the observation of a living cell for the first time in 1665.
It is said that by 1930 the compound optical microscopes had reached the top of their capabilities, which hovered around the 500X and 1000X magnifications.
However, in the following years the electronic microscope was invented, which allows to reach the magnifications of 100.000X, useful to observe the structures inside the living cells. Even today more and more powerful variants of the instrument are still being studied.
3. Parts that compose it
The conventional light microscopes (simple and compound), have the following parts:
Arm. The physical support that joins the base of the microscope with the lenses and the optical viewfinder. It is also called a column.
Base. The lower part of the microscope, where the instrument rests and which may contain the illumination source (if incorporated). He is also told foot.
Eyepieces This is the name given to the lenses through which we look and receive the amplified image.
Illuminator. Apparatus incorporated or not to the microscope, which provides the necessary light to observe the matter. In the most basic microscopes, an external light source must be provided.
Table. Platform in which the specimen or substance to be observed is located amplified. It has clips to hold it and prevent movement.
Drum or revolver Part of the microscope with the different optical lenses (lenses), which usually rotate to vary the magnification.
Goals. This is the name given to the different optical lenses of a microscope, which offer different magnification measures and which are usually interchangeable.
Capacitors Lenses that focus the ray of light on the observed material.
Macrometric and micrometric screws. They modulate the distance between the lenses and the observed matter, to allow a greater or lesser focus according to the eye of the observer.
4. Refraction and Reflection
Refraction: One of the two fundamental principles of any microscope is the refraction of light, which raises the deviation of the light beams when they cross a certain medium to another. Calculated to obtain a specific effect through the series of lenses of the microscope, this phenomenon allows the enlargement of the image up to several times its actual size.
Reflection: Similar to the previous case, the principle of reflection of light is one that allows us to foresee the behavior of light when striking a body whose surface rejects it. It is the principle that operates in the mirrors and allows, under the microscope, to manipulate the light beams to concentrate them on the object to be observed through the light.
5. Types of microscopes
There are different kinds of microscopes, according to the method used to magnify the images of microscopic matter, namely:
Optical microscope (simple). The most common and the first to be invented, uses an optical lens to enlarge the image of the observed.
Compound microscope. One step ahead of the optical microscope (also called light microscopy), uses a complex system of variable and combined lenses to provide different types of magnification on the observed matter.
Digital microscope. A contemporary variant that uses computer technology to enlarge the image through high resolution cameras.
Fluorescent microscope. This variant of the light microscope uses fluorescence or phosphorescence useful for specific studies of the subject.
Stereo or dissection microscope. It has two lenses and two eye lenses to provide the user with a three-dimensional optical experience.
Electronic microscope. One of the most advanced and important today, it uses electron flows to illuminate the observed matter and thus obtain impossible magnification ranges with the other microscopes.
6. Optics and lenses
The microscopes would not exist without the development of the geo, which allows us to understand the system of light relations when impacting on the surface of the lenses. These can be concave or convex, depending on the orientation of their curvature, or they can be simple or complex according to the structure of their surface. In this, the microscope is closely related to the telescope.
7. Preparation of the object
To use the microscope, we must prepare the object to be observed, mounting it on a transparent glass sheet called a slide. Then it is covered with another thinner and smaller lamella called coverslip and, if necessary, stains or dyes are added to identify what is sought.
8. Virtual microscopes
This is called a novel technique for analyzing data areas of a cytological or histological sample (cells and tissues), using a computer system that reproduces the information captured in a simulated environment.
This technique is in development in current times, since it would allow the full integration of computer systems to scientific research or its transmission over long distances and in real time, taking advantage of new Internet-inspired technologies.
This is also a step towards the automation of certain processes of scientific analysis that could dispense with the constant intervention of man, such as histological examinations or blood samples.
9. Importance for medicine
The birth of microscopy and the use of this tool in the various life sciences prompted a scientific revolution that was already insinuated in theoretical terms.
The verification of smaller life forms of the visible abolished magical or religious theories about the disease altogether, and opened a scientific window for the verifiable study of the different infectious agents (viruses, bacteria, protozoa) and chemistry own body (blood tests).
A microscope should be used with care to avoid damaging its delicate functioning system, such as carrying it with both hands, since a fall is fatal; do not move it while it is used; do not touch the lenses or the eyepiece, as they get dirty easily; or avoid for the same reasons that the end of the lens touches the observed substance when approaching it to focus.