For a few centuries now, telescopes and microscopes have made use of carefully ground lenses to bend light and make objects easier to see. Telescopes have allowed astronomers, military generals, and others the power to see objects clearly from far away, and today’s computer-controlled telescopes are capable of observing astronomical bodies billions of light-years away. Meanwhile, microscopes do the opposite in a sense, allowing a user to observe tiny objects or details when the microscope bends light to magnify it. Handheld microscopes, larger computer-controlled microscopes, microscope cameras, and more have allowed scientists, craftsmen, and more to create and observe many tiny objects and details otherwise impossible to see or use. Today’s USB microscopes and microscope camera are more advanced than anything used in the past, but even in history, microscopes allowed for impressive discoveries and accomplishments.
Microscopes Then and Now
It is not exactly clear who invented microscopes, but there are some estimates. The first microscope was introduced back in 1590, although its inventor is unknown. Meanwhile, Hans Lippershey filed the first known patent for a microscope, while the father-son team Hans and Zacharias Janssen may have been the inventors of microscopes as we know them today. Meanwhile, the Italian scientist Francesco Stelluti made the first known observations with a microscope in 1625, and he published drawings of bees as seen through those microscopes. By 1683, the Dutch scientist Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek made the first ever known drawings of bacteria. And at the time, microscopes were often used to observe insects, leading to their nickname “flea glasses.” But these microscopes also made germ theory possible, which transformed medical science and allowed it to vastly improve. In fact, Robert Hooke discovered cells as far back as 1665 when he observed them in cork with a microscope. The many cells reminded him of cells in a prison, hence the name “cells.”
It is easy to say that microscopes have come a long way since then. The discoveries made in the 1600s with microscopes were astonishing and revolutionary, but today, even more powerful microscopes can observe eve smaller items and in far finer detail. Many microscope cameras are used to record what is seen, and some microscope cameras and electron microscopes have even observed individual atoms, a previously impossible feat. That, and microscopes are key to modern medical science, where they are used to observe bacteria cultures for testing and diagnosing patients in a hospital. Microscopes are also used to observe tissue samples for research, and many medical breakthroughs were only possible through these observations. But how else might microscopes and these microscope cameras be used?
Microscopes are essential for the medical industry, but that’s not all that they can do. Like the flea glasses of centuries past, microscopes are still useful for observing the anatomy of insects, arachnids, and other small life-forms in fine detail, making study and taxonomy for them possible. Microscopes are also useful for industries and work that don’t even involve living things at all. Jewelers, for example, have for centuries made use of microscopes to observe imperfections in jewels and to see fine detail when they are carving jewelry into a new shape. A person may know the classic image of a jeweler using their eye socket muscles to hold a small microscope over their eye, allowing them to work with two free hands. Even today, this is important work, though a jeweler might simply wear the microscope like an eye patch so they don’t wear out their face muscles.
Computers also call for microscopes, since many computer parts involve very fine, small, and delicate components and hardware that must built and repaired just right, such as on a circuit board. When a printed circuit board (PCB) prototype is being made, for example, engineers may use microscopes to assemble these prototypes and check them for faults. The same may be done when a computer is being repaired or upgraded. Geologists also have great need for microscopes, since these tools make it possible to observe fine details in rocks, geodes, and more. Tiny particles such as zicrons were only discovered because of the use of microscopes. Finally, even smart phones today are known to use their cameras for simple but effective microscopes for everyday (but not necessarily professional) use.