The microscope is one of those tools of science that opened up our world. Humans discovered that there was an entire microscopic universe flourishing alongside us. Without this tool, no one would know why we wash our hands after touching something “dirty”. Surgery might still be a last resort because the tools and room wouldn’t be sterilized, leaving the patient to die from infection instead of the disease. Without the microscope, we might still believe that diseases were caused by bad air and bad spirits instead of germs. In short, our world would still be very small and very dangerous.
Magnifying Glass, Microscope
About 4000 years ago, the Greeks realized that a drop of water could magnify what we saw. It wasn’t enough for them to see microorganisms though. So, it wasn’t until around 1620 that someone in Europe (who this was is still debated and/or unknown), invented the microscope as we know it today. Believe it or not, microscopes back then looked a lot like the light microscopes people use today. A specimen is mounted on a flat surface, lenses are stacked in cylindrical tubes, there’s an eye piece, a mirror, and a dial to adjust the focus. This invention was so simple, yet so useful, that it didn’t really evolve much.
The Microorganisms Guy
Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch scientist known as the Father of Microbiology. By playing around with his microscope and looking at a random assortment of liquids, he saw red blood cells, spermatozoa, and lots and lots of protozoa in water. One of his notable finds was large Selenomonads, a type of bacteria that can be found in the human mouth. Van Leeuwenhoek cut up and looked at all sorts of objects and things and tissue around him, documenting them all. It’s easy to imagine the excitement and enthusiasm he must have experienced when he realized that everything around him was made out of smaller units of “stuff” that could only be seen through the microscope.
Fancier Microscopes of Today
While the light microscope didn’t evolve much, we’ve invented better microscopes that can let us see smaller things than protozoa. The electron microscope, for example, allowed us to see viruses and smaller cell organelles that weren’t visible via a light microscope. This made it easier to identify pathogens and the cause of diseases. This type of microscope used a beam of electrons to produce an image instead of light. Today, there are two types of electron microscopes, the transmission electron microscope and the scanning electron microscope.
An Ode to the Microscope
It doesn’t make sense to create science jewelry without also including the microscope, this very important tool of science. You can purchase one as a necklace, bracelet, or a pair of earrings. And the necklace, because of its popularity, also comes in gold as well as silver! So, if you’re a microscope wielding scientist, then this is the perfect gift from you, to you. It also makes an excellent surprise for fellow microbiologists, virologists, bacteriologists, and cell biologists.
written by Science with Evie