What Is the Purpose of a Microscope?

dave.see/CC-BY 2.0

The microscope is a device used to view very small objects by magnifying the image. This can be done through optical and non-optical means.

A microscope is a device used to render objects too small for the naked eye visible. Microscopes are divided into optical or non-optical groups. The optical group is the largest using lenses and ambient light to view objects. Non-optical microscopes using vibrations or radiation to project an image such as an ultrasound scan.

Optical microscopes vary in configuration and range of magnification. Compound microscopes can have a single optical path while a stereo microscope has two optical paths creating the image. Zacharias Jansen, and his father, first began experimenting with lenses in the 1590s to magnify images although their primitive experiments were used as a novelty rather than for scientific endeavor. Anton van Leeuwenhek created the first microscope and was the first to see yeast and other bacteria. His findings were verified and expanded upon by Robert Hooke in 1665 with the culmination of Hooke’s Microphagia

Optical microscopes today are capable of viewing objects that are at least a wavelength of light in size with the electron microscope powerful enough to view objects thousands of times smaller.