The birth of the microscope

Since the microscope appeared around the 1590s, we have begun to see the world of extremely small organisms living in water, food and even in our bodies.

Early microscope

The current scientific world does not know exactly who invented the microscope. According to many historians, the first microscope was built by Hans Lippershey . He was born in Wesel, Germany, in 1570. Later, he moved and settled in Middelburg, Netherlands - a country that was then undergoing a period of artistic and scientific innovation called the Era. Dutch Golden Age. In Middelburg, Lippershey is working in eyeglasses with the ability to sharpen lenses. He also studied himself to create binoculars and some of the earliest microscopes and telescopes. Lippershey is known to be the first to apply for a patent for a telescope.

But some other evidence shows that the father and son Hans Janssen and Zacharias Janssen are the creators of the early microscope. They also make eyewear and live in the same town as Lippershey in the Netherlands. In the 1650s, Dutch diplomat William Boreel wrote a letter to the French king's doctor. In his letter, Boreel said that Zacharias Janssen had described and described him for a newly invented microscope in the early 1590s.

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Zacharias Janssen, one of the first to make a microscope.(Photo: Wikimedia).

Microscopes made by the Janssen family are complex microscopes, using at least two focusing lenses.Objective wool with very small focal lengths is placed near the object to be observed, creating a larger image than the object. This image is further enlarged by a second lens called eyepiece before reaching the observer's eye.

Currently, a museum in Middelburg town is still storing one of the first microscopes of Hans Janssen and Zacharias Janssen, dating to 1595.

The method of making microscopes quickly spread throughout Europe. In 1609, Galileo Galilei improved the complex microscope design to increase the magnification and he called his device occhiolino, or 'small eye'.

British scientist Robert Hooke also revised the microscope design to observe the structure of snowflakes, fleas, lice and plants. Hooke is the one who gives the term cell (cell) derived from the Latin 'cella' , meaning 'small room'. Because he found that cells, when viewed under a microscope, looked quite similar to the small rooms the monks lived in. In 1665, Hooke's observations were detailed in the book 'Micrographia' , making the public more accessible to the microscopic world.

Early-stage complex microscopes offered greater magnification than single-lens microscopes, but they also distorted the image even more. To overcome this problem, Antoine van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist, designed a microscope with only one lens but had a great magnification in the 1670s. The disadvantage of using a lens is to put the device very close to the eye. With this device, he was the first to observe and describe sperm of dogs and humans. He also studied yeast, red blood cells, bacteria from the mouth and protozoa. Van Leeuwenhoek's single lens microscope can zoom 270 times larger than its actual size. It continued to be popularly used until the 1830s.

Along with improved microscope design, scientists have also developed new methods to increase the contrast of specimens, for example using dyeing techniques to make specimens easier to observe. Thanks to this technique, German doctor Robert Koch discovered Mycobacterium tuberculosis , a bacillus that caused tuberculosis , in 1882. After that, Koch continued to use staining techniques to isolate cholera-causing bacteria. .

Types of modern microscopes

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Currently, laboratories are equipped with a variety of microscopes, depending on the intended use.

The best types of optical microscopes have reached the limit of observation in the early 20th century, because they cannot help to see objects smaller than the wavelength of visible light (visible light). But in 1931, two German scientists Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll overcame this theoretical barrier with electron microscopy .

Ernst Ruska was born in 1906, in Heidelberg, Germany. He studied electronics at the Technical University in Munich, then studied high-voltage vacuum and voltage technology at the Berlin University of Technology. Here, Ruska and his adviser, Dr. Max Knoll, first created a virtual 'lens' thanks to magnetic fields and currents. By 1933, the two scientists successfully built an electron microscope that could overcome the magnification limit of optical microscopy at the time.

Currently, laboratories are equipped with a variety of microscopes, depending on the intended use. Examples include fluorescence microscopes, reflecting microscope microscopes, phase contrast microscopes, confocal microscopes, ultraviolet microscopes. Scientists can also use a computer connected to a microscope to capture and analyze images that are not visible to the human eye. Modern microscopes can even record a single atom image.

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