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A comparison between light microscopes with electron microscopes

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A comparison between light microscopes with electron microscopes The word microscope comes from the Greek words micron, meaning small, and scopos, meaning aim. To date, it is still unclear as to who actually invented the light microscope. It has often been said that Hans Janssen and his son Zacharias Janssen were the ones to have invented the light microscope in 1590, but this date is very unlikely considering Zacharias was born in 1590. It has also been said that Galileo Galilei was the inventor as he developed a light microscope with a convex and a concave lens in 1609. His microscope was celebrated in the 'Lynx Academy'. In the late 1600s, Christiaan Huygens developped a simple 2 lens ocular system which was corrected and therefore a step forward in the microscopic development. One man, however, is generally credited with bringing the microscope to the attention of biologists. ...read more.


Instead, they point a stream of electrons at the specimen and a computer attached to the microscope analyses how the electrons are scattered by the material. The specimen, however, must be suspended inside a vacuum chamber. When scientists use electron microscopes, they get views of the slices of the object in two dimensional form, but in different depths. As these instruments are very powerful, both the resolution and the degree of magnification are very high. Light microscopes are entirely operated by hand and use a light bulb to illuminate the specimen which is mounted between two glass slides and clipped onto the stage just under the main lens, on top of the light source. A dial is used to focus the image. These tools use a simple series of magnifying lenses and mirrors to bring the image up to an eyepiece. Light microscopes are mostly used in biology. ...read more.


Using a light microscope enables you to view specimens in colour, and living specimens can also be observed, hence their movement can be studied. Contrasting to light microscopes, electron microscopes are unable to view live specimens, as they have to be prepared using various techniques including staining, dehydration and placement in a vacuum. Images coming from the electron microscope are monochrome, and therefore no colour can be seen on the images. Electron microscopes have a smaller field of view than light microscopes. Electron microscopes come with a very high price tag compared to light microscopes, but the greater the magnification of a light microscope, the higher the price as well. Light microscopes also cause health related problems, for example, eye fatigue. Light microscopes also lower efficiency, speed and its accuracy as images have to be hand drawn, and therefore the image is difficult to share. For beginners and students, light microscopes are used in classes as they are easier to use than electron microscopes, which are more complex. ?? ?? ?? ?? Macha Cauchois ...read more.

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Response to the question

The candidate starts with a good opening sentence, they define the terms linked with the word microscope, which is good way to engage the reader. However their introduction is just one sentence. A good introduction should include what you plan ...

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Response to the question

The candidate starts with a good opening sentence, they define the terms linked with the word microscope, which is good way to engage the reader. However their introduction is just one sentence. A good introduction should include what you plan to discuss, so that you introduce your essay. However the candidates overall response to this topic is good, they describe how both types of microscopes work and have compared the basic proprieties of each, such as resolution and magnification.

Level of analysis

The candidate could have developed this essay further by going on to discuss the ways in which specimens are prepared, perhaps even describing ultracentrifugation which is an A-level topic. This would have shown a greater depth of understanding and it is very useful to be able to link together topics in biology. Furthermore the candidate fails to conclude their work, you should always write a conclusion even for a short essay like this. It allows you to draw the essay to a close and leave the reader with a good impression. A good conclusion consists of a summary of your key points, you should include reasons for why these points are important, this helps the reader to see that your essay is important and is worth reading.

Quality of writing

Spelling and grammar are fine throughout. However, despite the fact that the candidate accurately describes both microscopes they use very few technical terms, I would expect an A-level candidate to include terms such as photomicrograph which is the image produced on screen from an electron microscope. In addition to this, the candidate consistently uses the term ‘light microscope’ and it is more accurate to say ‘optical microscope’ which is the scientific name.

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Reviewed by pictureperfect 03/07/2012

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