A microscope is an instrument that magnifies objects otherwise too small to be seen, producing an image in which the object appears larger.
What separates a basic microscope from a powerful machine used in a research lab? Two parameters are especially important in microscopy: magnification and resolution.
Magnification is a measure of how much larger a microscope (or set of lenses within a microscope) causes an object to appear. For instance, the light microscopes typically used in high schools and colleges magnify up to about 400 times the actual size. So, something that was 1 mm wide in real life would be 400 mm wide in the microscope image.
The resolution of a microscope or lens is the smallest distance by which two points can be separated and still be distinguished as separate objects. The smaller this value, the higher the resolving power of the microscope and the better the clarity and detail of the image. If two bacterial cells were very close together on a slide, they might look like a single, blurry dot on a microscope with low resolving power, but could be told apart as separate on a microscope with high resolving power.
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