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A short history of the microscope

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Alexei Lapkin.

The development of the optical microscope is intricately linked to the history of modern science. Instrument makers in the 17th century perfected the art of making high power lenses. Simultaneously, the wave theory of light propagation progressed at a rapid pace. Anatomists and medics made ground breaking discoveries on matters of life itself and their needs drove theoreticians and experimentalists to some of the greatest scientific discoveries. It may come as a surprise that despite the continuous progress in the field now for over 400 years, there is no decline in the pace at which the field is progressing. On the contrary, several Nobel prizes were awarded over the last 10 years in the field of optical microscopy. Today we can see things much smaller than the wavelength of light and we can do this inside living cells with molecular sensitivity and specificity, a concept unthinkable only 15 years ago or so. In this talk, I will take you through the history of the light microscope from the days of Robert Hooke to modern instruments, and aim to give you an introduction to the principles behind state of the art techniques. Finally, I will show some examples of our own work from efforts to unravel molecular mechanisms of human diseases.

This talk is part of the Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Departmental Seminars series.

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