Personal Research Reflection: Microscopes

I was drawn to research and write about the innovation and development of this technology because of its direct impact on scientific research. Since I was a kid I’ve enjoyed learning about science and exploring its innovative capabilities. I remember from my childhood making “volcanoes” with baking soda and vinegar, or catching different wildlife like salamanders, frogs, and crawdads in my backyard creek. I even had a toy magnifying glass, and would try lighting small fires by focusing the sun’s rays. As I grew older and started taking science classes in school, I was introduced to the microscope.

When I first thought about the power and influence of microscopes, it hit me just how common and prevalent this technology really is in today’s society. After all, a microscope is really just a more powerful and refined pair of eyeglasses. If I wanted to, I could research a whole bunch of different topics and technologies that utilize optics such as a camera (lens), telescope, eyeglasses, magnifying glass, etc. One thing that I think is interesting to note that although all of these technologies are used for different specific tasks, they all fulfill or satisfy human curiosity. It is remarkable to me how far our society has come because of advances in scientific discovery which has all been driven by the simple power of human curiosity. Curiosity is a desire to explain that what we do not already know. For many years the mysteries things as vast as space, or as small as microorganisms, were beyond curiosities capabilities. We were simply left to wonder or speculate without truly being able to investigate for answers. It amazes me how much being able to bend light to amplify an image has been utilized for so many different functions and to make so many revolutionizing discoveries.

When you think about technology in today’s society, you often think about the rapidly changing iPhones or new computers and such. However, if someone were to be asked to describe how a microscope has changed within the last 10, 20, even 50 years, most would not know how to respond. This is because this technology hasn’t changed all that much. Surely it has been refined and improved with better quality materials, higher power lenses, etc, but the foundational concept of using multiple focusing lenses with a light source has been left unchanged. Yet remarkably, this unchanging technology has been a vital key for change in society. Although, new microscope technology’s such as electron microscopes (TEM, SEM, etc) have been developed and utilized for more advanced research. I would like to include research on these developments and outline the future of the microscope in society. Can this technology perhaps “last forever?”

I am fascinated by the capabilities of science and as a science major hope to incorporate it into my future life. I am particularly interested in forensics, which greatly utilizes microscope’s ability to analyze evidence that is not visible by the human eye. Microscopes are used in virtually every science research lab and open up the world to endless possibilities.

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