What you need to know about light transmission



Have you ever wondered how come you could see your reflection in a mirror? Have you ever asked yourself how come you’re able to look at a table, a chair, or even your phone on the nightstand? The answer to these two questions can be provided by the law of reflection. According to this principle, the angle of the incident light ray is equal to the angle of the reflected light ray. But what does this mean?

I’ve always hated physics when I was in school because I didn’t want to understand the fundamental principles that governed our world. I had little to no interested in the field because I was more passionate about biology. It stands to reason that this is what I ended up doing, especially as I now teach biology, as well. However, there are certain areas of physics that need to be addressed whether you like it or not.

If you have the least interest in biology, chances are that you’ve wanted to use a microscope at some point or the other. Even as a child focusing the image on something fun like a piece of orange, a beetle, or a leaf, you’ve probably wondered how the magic of microscopes and optics works.

Reflection is one thing, but refraction is an entirely different process. The simplest way of understanding the second is to put a ruler into a glass filled with water. What do you see? If I’m not mistaken, and I don’t think that I am, the ruler has an entirely different angle while out and in the water.

Transmitted light microscopy is currently utilized in many fields, and you might have heard about it. While some models are outfitted with an illumination source that’s placed above the specimen, with others, you’ll be able to look at the intricacy of the sample components thanks to a bulb placed under the specimen. This feature is particularly handy when looking at tissues that are partially transparent. If for example, you were to analyze fragments of skin or organic tissue from a frog, you’d need transmitted light microscopy to take a better look at the sample.

Typically, whenever a light wave hits an object, there’s a myriad of situations that might occur. The light can either be absorbed by the sample, as would be the case with the transmitted light microscopy I was mentioning above. On the other hand, the light can be reflected by the object, which would happen if you were to use a microscope equipped with a light source placed above the sample. Sometimes, if the light source is positioned near the object, the latter can even absorb the energy and transform it into heat.

I hope that this short post has helped you in some way or the other.

Basic knowledge that students have to have before starting to study microbiology



As a university biology teacher, I have always been passionate about teaching each and every one of my students about various aspects of microbiology. The study of microbiology entails that the learner is able to evaluate the science of basic microbiology and then be able to understand its fundamental aspects accordingly.

The student should know that the science of microbiology focuses on the study of minuscule organisms by using a variety of tools. Human life has many uses for microbes aside from the organisms being able to cause human diseases, and this makes microbiology imperative. It is also to be acknowledged that individual microbes and their numbers in and on the planet are unbelievable in proportion.

Germs or microscopic organisms are defined as either single-celled (unicellular) or cell clustered (acellular) organisms. Included among them are fungi, protists, and other eukaryotes, as well as prokaryotes. Although not strictly classified as living organisms, prions and viruses are also studied in microbiology.

Microbiology also includes immunology or the study of the immune system because of how immune systems interact with pathogenic microscopic organisms. This is why we often find microbiology and immunology intersecting with each other. This is also the reason why we have paired degrees such as Microbiology and Immunology offered as a course in many colleges.

A broad term encompassing parasitology, mycology, virology, immunology, bacteriology and other branches, microbiology studies those related topics and observes microbiological procedures that need to be aseptic and that utilize different tools, which include light microscopes as well as a variety of stains and dyes and their combinations.

Microbes are present in the food we eat, the air we breathe and in many other aspects of human life, and this makes the study of microbes of high importance in the society we live in. With microbiological research continuously expanding, there will surely be a greater demand for skilled microbiologists as the years go by.

According to conservative estimates, only 1 percent of the microbes present in a particular environmental sample can be cultivated, making it impossible to determine the exact number of bacterial species and cells on the planet. Recent estimates of this effect peg the actual quantity to be at 530 (five to the power of thirty), which is considered quite high.

Despite the fact that microbes were observed directly more than three centuries ago, the exact quantitation, description, and determination of their functions are still beyond being complete, considering the tremendous diversity that has been disclosed by culture-free and genetic means.

It is critical for learners of microbiology to understand the Germ Theory of Disease thanks to the work of Louis Pasteur. It is also vital that microbiology students become extremely adept at using the microscope, for it is the one single instrument they will be handling the most in the study of microorganisms.



Why magnification is important when using a microscope



Of all the features you have to pay attention to when prospecting the market for a new microscope, its magnification capabilities are by far the most important detail you ought to give some thought to. Sure, the construction quality, the material that the optics have been made of, as well as several other factors are also worth considering, but the magnification abilities seem to be on top of the others.

In fact, this is the exact detail that makes the difference between one microscope and the other. These days, you might have noticed the rise of handheld USB microscopes that simply have to be plugged into your computer and you’re all set to go. What this means is that you won’t have to spend a lot of time trying to understand how the product works and since most of these compact models come with an integrated camera, you’ll even be able to take a shot of your specimen right off the bat. Needless to say, these handheld models have lower resolution compared to compound microscopes.

If you’re looking for a good unit to use in the comfort of your home, when you’re trying to explain to your kids the basics of using such a device, I would recommend getting a stereo microscope or a dissecting one. The first usually have magnification ranges from 40x to 400x tops whereas the second can magnify the image up to 230x tops.

Compound models, on the other hand, are the real winners if you’re looking for a versatile choice that does the trick for most samples. For example, an AmScope model that has a magnification range of 40x to 2000x ( more details you can find here) will let you look at a plethora of items, inanimate objects, living insects, tissues, cells, and even let you have a peek at the germ that might exist in that particular cell. This is why I think that looking at your requirements at the beginning of your buying journey is a part of your decision-making process that must not be overlooked. As you can imagine, these compound alternatives can take a toll on your budget as I have seen many products that cost up to two and even three thousand dollars. Needless to say, they come with a myriad of amazing features, but unless you work in a lab where you can use these capabilities, I wouldn’t recommend such a pricey option.

Stereo microscopes are also suitable for educational purposes, and even more so for parents who homeschool their kids. With their help, you’ll be able to show your son or daughter the structure of plants, insects, and other specimens. That’s what I personally recommend for home users, particularly as this type seems to be somewhat budget-friendly when compared to its compound counterpart.

What makes the difference between a home microscope and a professional one



Buying a hobbyist microscope these days isn’t particularly tricky, and the neat thing about the market is that it holds many offers for models that come with all sorts of features. The fact of the matter is that, in most cases, if you don’t work in a professional field that is somehow related to microscopy, there’s a low chance that you will need the services of a cutting-edge unit. What I mean by this is not that you won’t be able to learn as much as possible about the domain and later on apply your newfound skills on your professional microscope. In fact, what I am trying to say is that few home users actually end up making the most of such an advanced device.

My students always tell me that they would have liked it if they had had a microscope in their homes while they were growing up. This would have made things a whole lot easier for them now that they actually have to utilize one. The problem is that most parents who are keen on teaching their kids all about using a microscope have little to no idea about microscopy, themselves. Unless they’re involved in some kind of scientific activities, most prospective buyers know little to nothing when it comes to choosing the right model for their specific requirements.


Source: leica-microsystems.com


If you go online and search for microscopes, you’ll see that there are significant price differences between one model and the next. The cheapest units that you will stumble upon are handheld USB ones. Usually, the parts utilized in the construction of such devices aren’t necessarily high-quality, and by this I mean that the optics are typically made of plastic instead of glass. Therefore, you won’t be able to look at a clear and crisp picture every time, and besides, you will not have the freedom to use the microscope for several hours at a time as it will heat up. Those plastic parts aren’t made to last forever.

Getting a full-size microscope is a better idea, in my opinion. While many compound alternatives can cost as many as two thousand dollars and sometimes even more, there are optical and stereo microscopes that get the job done and feature glass optics as well as an all-metal build. The problem is that such a device might be a bit too complicated for children to work with, especially if they’ve had no prior experience with a similar product. Nonetheless, it seems to me that it is a far better investment in the long run. What’s more, nobody’s telling you that you should keep it forever. You can always sell it and upgrade to a more advanced option.