Major technological advances in the last one hundred years allow today’s microscopes to continue to play a vital role in medical and scientific research.

The microscope is important in the diagnosis of disease. Microscopic examination helps by providing information about the nature of the disease. Cytology plays an important role in the diagnosis of pre-cancerous lesions.

One example of a specialized microscope is the fluorescent microscope, which is particularly effective for studying living tissue. The specimen itself is treated with a fluorescent stain that attaches to particular molecules. The specimen is illuminated with ultraviolet light, which makes the stain visible.

Another example of specialized microscope is the petrographic microscope which is used to analyze the chemical and physical structure of rocks. These microscopes are fitted with filters to produce polarized light (with light waves oscillating in only one plane). Polarized light allows for the identification of different crystalline structures in rocks. The first petrographic microscopes were developed in the mid-19th century.
Major technological advances in the last one hundred years allow today’s microscopes to continue to play a vital role in medical and scientific research.

The microscope is important in the diagnosis of disease. Microscopic examination helps by providing information about the nature of the disease. Cytology plays an important role in the diagnosis of pre-cancerous lesions.

One example of a specialized microscope is the fluorescent microscope, which is particularly effective for studying living tissue. The specimen itself is treated with a fluorescent stain that attaches to particular molecules. The specimen is illuminated with ultraviolet light, which makes the stain visible.

Another example of specialized microscope is the petrographic microscope which is used to analyze the chemical and physical structure of rocks. These microscopes are fitted with filters to produce polarized light (with light waves oscillating in only one plane). Polarized light allows for the identification of different crystalline structures in rocks. The first petrographic microscopes were developed in the mid-19th century.

© CHIN 2001

Olympus compound microscope

An example of a compound microscope used today in microbiology and pathology laboratories.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Pathology, Queen´s University.

Microscope
© CHIN 2001


Cytology slide

A slide of atypical cells (Koilocytes) in a cytology smear from the cervix--reflecting a human papilloma virus infection.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Pathology, Queen´s University.

Slide
© CHIN 2001


Chronic renal disease

A slide of a section of the kidney demonstrating the damaged glomerulus and tubules of the kidney seen in chronic renal disease.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Pathology, Queen´s University.

Slide
© CHIN 2001


Fluorescent micrograph of a cell

Picture of a human natural killer (NK) cell (stained with a fluorescent green) attacking a tumour cell called K562 (fluorescent yellow). The technique allows investigators to count killer cells and how many are attacking tumour cells.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Queen´s University.

Fluorescent micrograph
© CHIN 2001


Muscovite mica

The muscovite mica "diamond-shaped" crystals are an alteration product in feldspars in a pegmatite. In the locality where this sample came from pegmatites showing muscovite alteration are more likely to have economic concentrations of cassiterite (an ore mineral of the metal tin).

Photo courtesy of Miller Museum of Geology and Mineralogy, Queen´s University.

© 2008, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Identify and appreciate the way history and culture shape a society’s science and technology
  • Provide examples of how science and technology have influenced the diagnosis and treatment of human illness, and have made medical technology an integral part of our lives
  • Describe scientific and technological developments, past and present, and appreciate their impact on individuals and societies

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