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The History Of The Microscope And Its Uses
Most people remember microscopes from their biology or chemistry classes in school. These devices are able to magnify small slides using a combination of visible light and special lenses. More often than not, the samples that go under the microscope are invisible to the naked eye. The optical microscope is the simplest form of the microscope and it is also the oldest. Today, there are also digital or electronic microscopes. Optical microscopes, however, first emerged in the 18th century. Because this device is so compact, simple in nature and relatively inexpensive, they are still a popular choice among biologists. They are capable of up to 1500 times magnification.
The very first optical microscopes were also known as “the simple microscope” because of their structure. It made use of one pair of lenses, which magnified the given sample. Today, this simple structure is only used for handless, magnifying glasses and loupes.
The optical microscopes that are in use today are a bit more advanced and complex. They are known as compound optical microscopes and they make use of a system of multiple lenses. Together, they compound and increase the magnification of the sample. There are two main lens systems: the objective lens and the eyepiece lens. As you may have guessed, the eyepiece lens system is near the user’s eye, whereas the objective lens is near the sample. Modern day optical scopes will use a series of lenses for each system. Early microscopes would use a mirror to illuminate the space below the object. Modern day microscopes, however, use a strong lamp to provide reliable illumination.
Although digital microscopes have replaced many optical microscopes in the science and medical field, they still serve a purpose today. For example, they are typically used to examine small pieces of material. They may also be used for a squash or smear preparation. Because light passes through and underneath the sample, it is best to work with samples that are transparent. Optical microscopes may also be used to examine the structure of metal samples. When used at its lowest power, the microscope can examine small live plants and animals. When used to its full potential, it can used to analyze bacteria.
A large portion of the advancements in biology and medicine owe their existence to the optical microscope. For instance, medical experts were unable to understand how the blood flows through the human body until the microscope came along.