History of the Microscope
Missing Works Cited
"Of all the inventions none there is Surpasses
the noble Florentine’s Dioptrick Glasses
For what a better, fitter guift Could bee
in this World’s Aged Luciosity.
To help our Blindnesses so as to devize
a paire of new &Artificial eyes
By whose augmenting power wee now see
more than all world Has ever doun Before.”
Henry Powers, 1664
Of the five senses, the most important is sight.It aids in the process of gathering information about the environment that we are part of.However, this visual gathering is adequate only to a certain point. Beyond this point, the human unaided eye fails to help us; the amount of detail that it can provide is severely limited.In order to overcome those limitations, humans started to develop instruments like the magnifying glass, the spectacles, the telescope and the microscope.
The earliest development of the microscope can be traced back to the ancient world with the appearance of the magnifying glass, which was at that time use as a “burning glass.”The conception of the action of the magnifying glass with regards to the production of a magnified image that could supplement the human eye first appeared in the 13th century. It was at this time that the ancestor of the microscope ancestor, the glass lens, first appeared.It was discovered by Roger Bacon in 1268. As he tried to improve the “burning glass,” he accidentally broke a crystal sphere and made several observations through it. This led him to the following conclusion:
“If anyone examine letters or other minute objects through the medium of crystal or glass or other transparent substance, if it be shaped like the lesser segment of a sphere, with the convex side toward the eye, he will see the letters far better and they will seem larger to him. For this reason such an instrument is useful to all persons and to those with weak eyes for they can see any letter, however small, if magnifier enough".(Bradbury, 1968, 7)
The glass lens was initially used to correct and compensate for defects in the human eye by improving sight.Lens were incorporated into spectacles or eyeglasses between 1268 and 1289, and they improved the vision of people who had imperfect eyesight. A writer of a Florentine manuscript dated 1299 in which he says:
“I find myself so pressed by age that I can neither read nor write without glasses which they called spectacles, newly invented, for the great advantage of the old men when their sight grows weak.” (Bradbury, 1968, 4)
It took several hundred years before anyone assembled glass lenses in a way that made distant objects appear close or small objects appear bigger.The appearance of new scientific ideas in the seventeenth century - like experimental philosophy and its beliefs that continuous experimentation and observation as well as the improvement of the senses were needed for the better understanding of nature- lead to the...