Comparison Microscope: Definition & Uses

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  • 0:03 Comparison Microscopes
  • 0:56 Comparison Microscope…
  • 3:06 Comparison Microscope Uses
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to describe for you something known as the comparison microscope. You'll learn why and when it's used, as well as how it's built and how it works.

Comparison Microscopes

Have you ever been shopping for clothing and compared two items side by side to see which one looks better? Of course, you have! Maybe you even noticed they were identical or radically different. It's pretty easy when both items are in one field of view, but comparing things from different fields of view, like an item of clothing left at home (and the image now in your memory) with an item at the store right in front of you, is very difficult.

Forensic experts used to have this problem as well, prior to the invention of the comparison microscope, a microscope that allows for the direct assessment and comparison of two substances in one field of view at the same time. Let's learn a bit more about the importance of this microscope, how it's structured, and some of its many uses in forensic science.

Comparison Microscope Structure

Before the days of comparison microscopes, forensic experts had a much tougher time comparing two samples. For example, they would need to sequentially, as opposed to simultaneously, examine the different samples under the same microscope. This would be like looking at one shirt at the store, putting it away, and then looking at another shirt and trying to compare the two things.

Forensic examiners were later able to take photographs of one sample prior to looking at another sample. This would be like comparing a photograph of a shirt at home to a real 'live' shirt at the store. Also, not the best thing.

Of course, you could also take a photo of one specimen and then another and compare the photos side by side at the same time. But who likes to compare photos side by side? It's not the same 'feel' as comparing the actual things to one another, right? Also, the photographs are two-dimensional, the real things are 3-dimensional, and this adds an important layer of complexity as a result.

So that's where comparison microscopes come in. A comparison microscope is basically two microscopes connected by something known as an optical bridge. The optical bridge has mirrors and prisms that direct the light from each microscope to a common viewing area and a common set of oculars.

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