Lesson 1 - Page 3


Robert Hooke

flea drawn by Hooke using compound microscope

As scientists began to understand the physics of light, microscope lenses were constantly improved.   Robert Hooke (1635-1703), an English physicist, developed an imperfect form of the undulatory theory of light.  He used this knowledge to develop a better compound microscope which was able to observe objects at 30x resolution.  This created a way to see objects in greater detail.  He published "Microgphia" which documents his observations under a microscope.  Hooke also coined the term "cell" in describing cork under his microscope.

Cuff Microscope

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) developed his particle theory of light (Corpuscular Theory) in 1678.  This theory was found to be sufficient in explaining how light moves and helped microscope builders refine lenses.  Newton had developed a telescope but did not work on the microscope himself.  Hooke and Newton had many disagreements on optics, and were considered scientific rivals.  

Joseph  Lister in 1830 develops the prototype for the compound microscope that  reduces spherical aberration or the "chromatic effect."   He used several lenses  at certain distances to correct resolution without  blurring the image. 

Constant improvement of the lenses and increased magnification of the compound microscope made it very popular.  People in Europe would purchase microscopes to dazzle their friends as they viewed the microworld.  There was a rush of products on the market in the 18th century including the Marshall and Cuff microscopes.  From 1700 until the present, there has been constant refining of the lenses, making the compound microscope the standard tool for studying the microorganisms.   However, understanding that light was a subset of electromagnetic waves would usher in a new type of microscope.

James Maxwell, in the late 1800's, developed the mathematical relationship between magnetism and electricity, leading the way to fully exploring the electromagnetic wave spectrum.  In the 1900's, Ernest Planck introduced the quantum concept, which Albert Einstein used to show that light can also act as particles.  The wave-particle dualism is a building block for understanding the power of electromagnetic waves and is used in the continued research to improve optical instruments.


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