During the 1st century AD, the Romans were the first to notice that if you held one a lens over an object the object would look bigger. Romans were the first to name a lens, lens which is derived from the Latin word lentil as they resembled the shape of a lentil bean.


However, these lenses weren’t used much until the end of the 13th century when lenses were first used as glasses.


The first microscope was a magnifying glass and magnified the object from 6x-10x bigger than it is in real life. They used to look at fleas and other tiny insects and were named ‘flea glasses’. The microscope that followed was invented around the year 1590 by two Dutch spectacle makers and used two or more lenses and named the compound microscope. Which was the first microscope to be invented and started to change lives for the better.


Since then microscopes have become more and more powerful and allowed scientists including Louis Pasteur. In the 1860s he successfully started to connect specific diseases to specific micro-organisms (very small organisms) and as a result of this further developed germ theory which states that many diseases are caused by the presence and action of specific micro-organisms. And is the theory that scientists today also deem as correct.


By linking specific micro-organisms to specific diseases scientists started to inform the public of ways that they could avoid catching diseases. One piece of advice although we see today as normal was extremely revolutionary at the time: washing our hands. As a result of this life expectancy increased drastically and saved millions of lives.


And to think how millions of lives were saved by two Dutch spectacle makers playing around with lenses.