Microscope? What is a microscope? A microscope is an equipment that is used by microbiologists to view organisms that are so small that cannot be seen with the unaided eye. Microbiologists? Who are microbiologists? They are scientists that study tiny living things that cannot be seen with the naked eye. A microscope is the main tool of a microbiologist.

Sometime in 1590, a father and son who made spectacles, Zaccharias Janssen and his father Hans started testing/experimenting with the lenses they made. They had many different types of lenses in a tube and made a very important discovery. The object close to the end of the tube appeared to be greatly magnified/enlarged, much larger than any simple magnifying glass could achieve by itself! They had just invented/discovered the compound microscope. A compound microscope is one that uses two or more lenses/glasses. So, they were the inventors of the microscope.

Galileo heard of their tests/experiments and started testing/researching/experimenting on his own. He described the mechanisms/principles of lenses and light rays and improved on the work done by the inventors of the microscope. He improved both the microscope and telescope. He included a device for focusing to his new improved microscope.

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek discovered the microscope rather accidentally while working in his shop. He died in 1723 and was born in 1632. He was a Dutch glassmaker who later became known as the father of microbiology. One rainy day, Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek was looking at the rain water that gathered in front of his shop with different glasses in his glass shop. After a while he was able to see some moving life forms when he used a particular glass. He could not see the little life forms when he used other glasses. He became curious and looked and looked with different glasses still with special attention to the one that enabled him to see beyond the water into the organisms in them. Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek called those small animal-like forms “animalcules” (tiny animal). This was the beginning of studies into organisms that can not be viewed with the naked eyes but with special glasses.

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek continued to work on better lenses and improved on the initial accidental glass that he used. He was recognized and honoured by the Royal Society in London for his work. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was elected to the Royal Society in February 1680. By the end of his life, van Leeuwenhoek had written approximately 560 letters to the Royal Society in London and other scientific institutions concerning his observations and discoveries. These writings can be referred as journal articles today.

Robert Hooke (1635-1703), an Englishman is sometimes called the “English Father of Microscopy”, He also spent much of his life time researching/working with microscopes and improved their design and capabilities. Today better designs of microscopes are made in Germany, China and Japan. These new and better working microscopes will make even the early workers in this field to marvel.


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