Microscopy Two – History of the lens
So here’s another short one for the microscopy series. The “what was before” the microscope part of it, if you want to phrase it that way.
The central part of a microscope is the lens. But a lens is also a plant (Lens culinaris) and the name of it’s very own fruit, called Lentia in latin. So how do these two connect, you might ask. And that is really straight forward. In the 1st century AD the romans started experimenting with various shapes of glass, not only to put them in windows but also convert them into beautiful pieces of artwork and jewlery for example. One of the shapes the cam up with resembled that of a lens, a common edible at that time. So it was roundish, flat at the edges and growing in thickness towards the center with a rather regular curvature. When those romans looked through that see-through, lens shaped obejct they discouvered that objects on the far side of it will appear bigger, and that was the very moment in history the magnifying glass, or lens, was born.
Without a lens, no microscope, no telescope, no binocular, in fact not even normal glasses would work. So I guess once again we have to be thankful for those great inventions that date back over centuries, without which our society would just not quite work as it does.
So now that you know where the lens comes from, my next post will focus a bit more on some of the other things I just mentioned. Namely binoculars, telescopes, magnifying glasses, regular glasses and what seperates them from what we consider a microscope.