Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 7.djvu/189
THE MICROSCOPE—ITS MISINTERPRETATIONS.
THE old adage that "seeing is believing" has long been exploded, and folks nowadays receive with caution the impressions conveyed by their eyesight.
There is still, however, a fixed idea with many people that, when the human sight is aided by powerful and correctly-constructed optical instruments, full reliance can be placed upon such united powers, and that the investigator may record that which he believes he sees, as veritable and established facts.
In contradiction of such belief, I shall place before the reader some curious results, which will show that the utmost caution is required by those using optical instruments for the elucidation of scientific problems or ordinary research.
Quite an interesting paper could be written upon the optical delusions with which astronomers have to contend in the use of the telescope, but I propose to confine my remarks to the difficulties
which beset the path of the microscopist, in obtaining truthful and accurate results, while using the microscope, leading to the most contradictory statements from men whose powers of observation and skill in the use of the instrument are admitted.
Those who make use of a microscope for the first time are usually fascinated by the wonderful and beautiful appearances presented, and, having illuminated the object under examination with a flood of light, and focused it to their satisfaction, congratulate themselves upon the ease with which they have handled the instrument, and fondly believe they have attained to a knowledge of its use. More extended study, however, and the use of high powers with the more complicated pieces of apparatus, soon convince the student that the instrument requires the most delicate manipulation, and that much practice is necessary before its true powers are developed.