looking through the magnifying glass

Microscopy Three – Microscopic vs. Macroscopy

An ant as imaged using a scanning electron mic...

An ant as imaged using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A big surprise in the woods at Crich ...

English: A big surprise in the woods at Crich Tramway Village A new attraction at Crich Tramway Village is the Woodland Walk & Sculpture Trail. Near the Wakebridge end of the trail is this giant wood ant. You probably wouldn’t want to come across this as dusk approaches! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And here we are with part three on microscopy; what microscopic and macroscopic means.

Let’s have a look at that, and start right at the beginning. If you think about scientific terms, it’s always, and I mean always, a good idea to look into the ethymology of the term and/or thing you want to know more about. In this case, we are talking about micro and macro. Mikros is a greak word (for once not a latin one, but scientists tend to switch between those two languages a lot), that means small. Makros on the other hand descirbes something big. Now this sounds very simplistic and not at all like something, that could be used as a definition; in the end a mouse is small too, but you wouldn’t need a microscope to see one. However, in a still simplistic view, the microcosm, that you would observe with a microscope, is that part of our world, that you wouldn’t be able to see without one. As opposed to the macrocosm, which you can. Thinking of that things start to come together a bit more. But I, myself, am still not quite satisfied with that definition either. What other properties could there be to nail it down a bit more proper.

In order to do so, we shall investigate three items, and their properties, a bit more closely; a binocular, a microscope and a magnifying glass.

A microscope will make something small, and close, within a narrow focus plane appear larger then it acutally is. A binocular on the other hand, will make something far away, typically bigger, almost without concerning about a foual plane (the focal plane at some point is basically infinite) appear smaller then it actually is. We only rearrange that image in our brain back to it’s expected size. And finally the magnifying glass would basically do both things, but it would turn blurry or upside down. How is this possible?

The answer lies within what is called focal length/width (and a subsequent arrangement of more lenses for further adjustment)

Now this is a very much complex topic, and I will leave you with this little teaser until my next post, where I’ll explain focal distance.


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