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Hooke (1635-1703) was the first to publish engravings of the objects he viewed with his microscope. He could probably only magnify up to 50 times, but this allowed him to see previously unimagined details of the microscopic world flower-like spores of mould, the pitted edge of a seemingly smooth razor blade, the crystalline structure of common rocks. An accomplished draughtsman, Hooke was able to draw everything he saw. Samuel Pepys sat up until 2am reading Micrographia, and called it the most ingenious book that ever I read in my life'.
Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) was a Dutch cloth merchant who made his own very powerful lenses, initially to help him inspect the quality of cloth. His letters to the Royal Society were accompanied by drawings of the many new discoveries he made most importantly, the cellular structure of plants, and microbacteria living in everyday substances such as water and milk.
Images provided by David McCarthy (Electron Microscopy Unit) and Annie Cavanagh (Multi-Media Unit), The School of Pharmacy, University of London
A scanning electron microscope bounces a beam of electrons off the surface of a specimen, and the secondary electrons are collected to form a very detailed image of its contours. The concave disc shape of the red blood cells is clearly visible. The images are black and white when first captured, but by adding colour to these images, scientists can add impact. Their artistic manipulation of the original images helps viewers to understand what they are seeing.
Evening events 1 Jul
Public exhibition 2 - 7 Jul
Full listing of our events and exhibitions.
Watch videos of past events.
Most of our talks are free and open to the public.
We host major conferences for leading scientists.
Explore our annual science exhibition
Contact the events team.