"Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations. Examples include the double helix in biology and the fundamental equations of physics." -Stephen Hawking

The study of living things is complex yet deeply rewarding since we start to understand the process of natural phenomena that we can observe every day. For example, through science and the study of biology, we can comprehend why there are clouds in the sky, why leaves turn a different colour in the autumn and the extreme effects of global warming.

However, it's important to mention that although we are taught science or biology in secondary school, it is at a fundamental level that doesn't go very deep. It's mainly through further education courses or remedial lessons with a tutor that we can touch on the complex matters of biology and decide whether or not we want to dedicate a career for ourselves in the sciences.

Whether you will study biology at a university level or not, in today's article, we thought we would educate our readers towards a specific aspect of experimental biology known as microscopic biology or microscopy.

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What is a Microscope?

microscopy biology
There are many types of microscopes available that boast different lenses and that have unique purposes. (Source: Unsplash)

To better understand microscopy and how microscope techniques are utilised in experimental biology, it is essential to clarify what a microscope is. So, what is a microscope? Although you've problem seen or utilised a microscope before, we're going to take a brief look at its origins and its general use.

Origin of a Microscope

The term microscope is Greek and means "small" (mikro) and "scope" (to examine or look at). While it is sometimes difficult to acquire the exact origins of the microscope, the reassembling lenses date back 4,000 years in Greece and are used for magnifying objects.

Though glass and magnifying objects were seen in Greece, it wasn't until the 1660s and 1670s that Naturalists in Europe started using a modern tool known as the microscope. One of the most significant contributors of the modern-day microscope is the Dutch inventor Antonie van Leeuwenhoek who achieved up to 300 times magnification using a simple single-lens microscope.

General Use

If you had the chance of using a microscope during science or biology class, you know that microscopes were created to magnify a small object and make it more legible to the naked eye. The following are a few types of microscopes and their general use:

  • Compound Microscope: the most commonly used microscope can be utilised to magnify images based on the lens you put under the microscope.
  • Dissection Microscope: a microscope that uses two different viewing lenses and produces three-dimensional images of the sample that can be compared. These types of microscopes do not amplify as much as others.
  • Imaging Microscope: higher in resolution and more expensive, imaging microscopes use beams of radiation to provide a sample image.

Now that we can grasp the fundamentals of microscope use let's look at the following subheading that discusses microscopy in more specific terms.

A Better Understanding of the Term Microscopy

Although we have heard terms such as microscope, microbiology, and microorganisms, we might not have previously been familiar with the word microscopy. So, in the most basic of explications, microscopy is a subdiscipline of science that utilises microscopes to view objects and particles that are blind to the naked eye.

Microscopy involves a lot of time looking under the lens of different microscopes. Since there is so much organic matter to discover, microscopy can be divided into the following well-known categories:

  • Optical, 
  • Electron, 
  • Scanning-probe microscopy, 
  • X-Ray microscopy. 

Microscopy can be identified as a subgenre of experimental biology since a lot of time is spent in the lab examining the matter. That can help biologists come to different conclusions about the natural world and how it functions around us.

Biologists are familiar with microscopy since a lot of their work requires a microscope. Also, it's worth stating that microscopy has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and light microscopy is essential to observing molecular phenomena at cellular levels. Microscopy goes hand in hand with subgenres of experimental biology such as microbiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry.

It's worth mentioning that there are many different techniques of microscopy that scientists have to become familiar with, and we will discuss some of these methods in the following subheading.

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The Different Techniques of Microscopy

the naked eye
The job of microscopes is to provide us with an understanding of what cannot be seen with the naked eye. (Source: Unsplash)

Since we have seen that microscopy is a rather extensive field of experimental biology, it shouldn't surprise us that many unique methods and techniques are considered subgenres of microscopy. Such as? Without further ado, the following are various techniques of microscopy:

  • Bright Field: the simplest of all techniques, through bright field microscopy, sample illumination is observed from the top, and the white light shines from the bottom for us to see the object in question.
  • Oblique Illumination: without oblique illumination used in microscopy, it would be much more challenging to take a look at samples in a three-dimensional image (3D). Some invisible characteristics of a model can be seen by using oblique illumination.
  • Dark Field: when using the dark field method, microscopy biologists attempt to examine and observe unstained or transparent samples. Dim field lighting uses an aligned light source to minimise distracting light that could obstruct the example.
  • Phase Contrast: this technique is used by many biologists and experts of microscopy and shows the differences in refractive index, which denotes a sharp contrast. The phase-contrast approach is best suited for thin samples and not recommended for thick objects.
  • Fluorescence: when some elements are illuminated with high energy, they usually shine a light of lower frequency, and this phenomenon is known as fluorescence. This method is critical when observing modern life sciences since the molecules are tiny and difficult to differentiate.
  • Dispersion Staining: through dispersion staining, an image or sample that was previously colourless develops a colour to be more thoroughly examined when using a microscope.
  • Two-photon Microscopy: the technique of two-photon microscopy uses a laser-scanning microscope that utilises a pulsed infrared laser. Through this method, it is possible to look further into scattering tissue samples.

While there are many types of microscopy methods that may be utilised by biologists, the previously mentioned techniques are the most common.

But, you might be asking, is it essential to have so many microscopy techniques? Specific methods must be employed to increase the contrast or label of a sample. Without the particular aspects of microscopy that are utilised by biologists, everything would be generalised.

Also, it's worth highlighting that there are techniques under the umbrella category of the sub-diffraction outside of the more standardised microscopy methods. For example, through sub-diffraction, multiple super-resolution microscopy techniques have revolutionised the use of microscopes.

To know more about all microscopy techniques in more extensive detail, we highly recommend looking at the following subheading and hiring a private biology tutor!

Hiring a Tutor to Hone Your Microscopy Biology Skills

microscopy instructors
Biology tutors are a great help when navigating through the complex world of microscopy. (Source: Unsplash)

While we did touch on a lot of details involved in microscopy, it's worth mentioning that hiring a private tutor is a good idea to get a more thorough grasp of biology. Not only will a personal instructor answer all of your unresolved doubts, but they will also conduct remedial lessons at your pace so that you don't miss any critical details.

Nonetheless, when studying such a precise subdiscipline like microscopy, GCSE, A-Level, and uni, students might ask themselves, will I find a biology tutor that knows about microscopy and that is available to conduct lessons near my place of residence? The answer is yes.

By using the Superprof tutoring community, it's a piece of cake to find online or in-person tutors that specialise in all aspects of biology. For example, based on the most up to date data from our website, there are currently 62 tutors with relevant experience in the subgenre of microscopy; check out their profiles to see if their qualifications and experience match your needs.

By hiring a Superprof microscopy tutor, you are guaranteed the following things:

  • Affordable pricing, 
  • Experienced tutors with brilliant qualifications, 
  • A great tutor/student support staff, 
  • A personalised approach to each lesson, 
  • The first lesson is 100% free of charge. 

All in all, if you hire a Superprof instructor, you will more smoothly learn the fundamentals of microscopy, and you will pass all your exams. Remember, biology tutors are a valid option for GCSE, A-Level, university students, and even others who are past the formative years yet want to deepen their understanding.

In conclusion, the experimental biology subdiscipline of microscopy is quite complex. Yet, we hope that the detailed information in today's article was satisfactory enough for you to get a glimpse of the topic!

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.