How Do Microscopes Work?

Microscopes are optical instruments that allow people to study objects in a magnified state. Some microscopes have the ability to enlarge objects so much that they allow the observer to see things that the human eye can’t; they are used to study cells, bacteria and even molecules.

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Before the invention of the microscope, people didn’t know that there were things that were smaller than what the eye could see; they thought that the human eye was capable of seeing everything. Back then, no one knew about things like atoms, molecules and microorganisms. That changed when Robert Hooke used two lenses to design the first microscope.

Most common microscopes use a combination of lenses to magnify objects; some really high-tech microscopes use electrons, gas or lasers to see things on the molecular level. Companies like Scienscope have produced microscopes that have had many applications throughout history; they allowed us to discover the bacteria that makes us sick, and they let us thoroughly study the environment around us.


What Are Microscopes Composed Of?


Eyepiece – This piece is what you look through when you are examining something.

Arm – A microscope’s arm is what attaches the eyepiece to its base. Usually the arm is made of a sturdy metal; if you’re going to be carrying a microscope, make sure to always grab it by its arm.

Precise Adjustment Knob – If your microscope has two knobs, this knob is the smaller one. The knob is used to make little adjustments to the microscope’s focus. It is used after the specimen is almost perfectly focused with the other adjustment knob.

Coarse Knob – This knob is the big one; it’s used first when focusing on a specimen. With this knob, you can get the focus pretty clear; try to get as close as possible when using this knob. After you focus, you can use the fine adjustment knob to make your image appear clearer.

Lenses – All microscopes have at least two or three lenses; they are used to magnify the specimen you are looking at. When you are observing a specimen, start with the lowest power; never start directly with the highest power lens. If you do, you can crush your specimen with the lens when you hit it.

Iris Diaphragm – The iris diaphragm allows you to adjust the light that hits your specimen. This takes a little finagling; adjust it until you can clearly see the specimen.


Microscopes are amazing tools that have contributed to many scientific discoveries. Without them, we still wouldn’t know about the things in this world that are smaller than we can fathom. Medicine, science and the world as we know it wouldn’t be the same without microscopes.

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