Understanding The History of the Microscope

Unless you work in a lab, you may not realize that you can download an iPhone microscope app. This app can be used to view extremely small objects in extreme detail on your smartphone. While an iPhone microscope app has a wide variety of applications, microscopes have traveled a long way to go from the science lab to our smartphones.

The first microscope was invented in 1590. Although we don’t know for sure who invented the first microscope, Hans Lippershey was the first to file a patent for it. The invention of the microscope changes the way that we see and understand the world.

As word of the microscope spread, the likes of Galileo and other notable philosophers and scientists began experimenting with it – exploring new possibilities. Eventually, Anthony Leeuwenhoek (a man from Holland) became interested in the possibilities of lenses while working with a magnifying glass. He used the glass to count threads in woven cloth and eventually became so interested he started making his own magnifying lenses. By grinding and polishing lenses, Leeuwenhoek improved the curvature of the lenses and was able to produce a magnification of 270 times.

This improved magnification soon led to the viewing of bacteria, yeast, blood cells, and small microorganisms swimming in water droplets. Because of this, Leeuwenhoek has often been called the Father of Microscopy. Just imagine if he could see an iPhone microscope app today. While a microscope app for iPhones or a microscope app for Android may have been unthinkable to these early pioneers, a lot of exciting innovation was still to come.

Next in the microscope scene is Robert Hooke, who spent much of his life refining microscopes to increase their capabilities. Because of the advances Hooke made in microscope technology, he is often referred to as the English Father of Microscopy.

Today we have everything from apps to handheld microscopes that give us access to observe a world once hidden. The observation of this hidden microscopic world has made incredible advances in many industries and sciences. Though you many not realize it, your life today would be very different were it not for some of the advances we have had because of microscope technology.

Advances Resulting from Microscope Technology

Microscopes allow us to view things in incredible detail. In fact, the only reason we know that some things exist is because of microscope technology. Before the invention of microscopes, disease was generally considered an act of God. When someone caught the black plague or another terrible disease, there was no visible reason for it. Microscopes helped us see this world of tiny little creatures and helped Louis Pasteur develop Germ Theory.

Germ theory eventually helped us develop practices in hospitals, such as washing hands and tools between procedures. These practices have saved millions of lives. Today, it seems strange to think that doctors didn’t wash scalpels and other tools in between patients because it was seen as a waste of time. Thank you microscopes!

If medicine isn’t enough of a way to see how microscopes have evolved, then consider chemistry. Chemistry deals with very, very small things. Some of them so small that even modern day microscopes cannot observe them yet. However, chemistry is used in our lives every day. Next time you drive your car to work or school that is chemistry at play. Heating up food in an oven? Thank you chemistry. The understanding of elements and molecules, helped by microscopes, has played an essential role in modern society.

Commoditizing Microscopes through Apps

Something really cool starts happening when you get a great technology into the hands of hundreds of thousands of people (for example an iPhone microscope app). As more and more people start using microscopes to look at things, incredible discoveries are made. The discoveries aren’t just made by professional scientists either! In fact, many “professional” scientists started out as enthusiasts who happened to make a discovery. The same thing is happening with smartphone microscope apps. As more and more people take to looking at the microscopic world, there are huge potentials for discoveries.