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Question Video: Comparing Resolution, Magnification, and Type of Image Produced by Different Microscopes Biology

Which of the following tables correctly compares light, scanning electron, and transmission electron microscopes? [A] Table A [B] Table B [C] Table C [D] Table D

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Video Transcript

Which of the following tables correctly compares light, scanning electron, and transmission electron microscopes?

To help us answer this question, let’s look at the type of image produced in each example.

Light microscopes, but not electron microscopes, produce color images. Therefore, we can eliminate option (C) as it incorrectly states light microscopes produce black and white images and scanning electron microscopes produce color images.

Scanning electron microscopes produce 3D images, whereas light microscopes and transmission electron microscopes typically produce 2D images. So, we can also eliminate option (D) as this incorrectly identifies the type of image produced for each microscope.

We are now left with options (A) and (B). So, let’s look at the typical maximum magnification to help us identify the correct option. Magnification is how many times larger an image appears compared to the original object. For instance, a magnification of 50 times means the image produced by the microscope is 50 times larger than the object we are looking at.

Light microscopes have the lowest magnification out of the three types provided, with a maximum of 1,500 times. Electron microscopes have much higher magnifications. A transmission electron microscope can magnify images up to 50 million times. Using this knowledge, we can rule out option (A), as it incorrectly states the maximum magnification of a transmission electron microscope is 1,500 times.

But let’s confirm that table (B) is our correct answer by looking at the maximum resolution. Resolution is a measure of distance. It measures the minimum distance two adjacent objects can have between them and still be visually distinguishable from each other. The lower the resolution, the smaller this distance can be. So, the microscopes with the strongest resolving power will have the smallest value for their resolution.

Electron microscopes can resolve objects that are much smaller than those resolvable by light microscopes. The maximum resolution of a transmission electron microscope has been recorded as 0.05 nanometers. This means a transmission electron microscope can distinguish between objects only 0.00000005 millimeters apart. This confirms that our selection of option (B) is correct, as (A) states that light microscopes can resolve comparatively smaller objects, which is incorrect.

So, the table that correctly compares light, scanning electron, and transmission electron microscopes is table (B).

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