Magnifying glass is not a new discovery. It was discovered centuries ago. According to historical evidence, the Roman civilization was the first to discover magnifying glass and its use in the first century AD. However, it was the ancient Egyptians who discovered a clear crystal called obsidian, and it was this crystal that the Romans figured could be used to make small object appear bigger.
This got the Romans experimenting with different shapes of the crystal. They finally figured out that if the crystal are thick in the middle and thin on the outside, a small object could be seen clearly. The Romans also discovered that if rays of the sun were concentrated on the center of the glass, a fire could be started. They ended up calling the magnifying glass burning glass.
The burning glass was similar in shape of lentils. Hence, the word lens comes from Latin for lentils.
However, the actual use of the magnifying glass was only realized much later, in the 13th century. This was the time when zoologists used the magnifying glass to study small insects. Again the name changed for the glass, and it ended up being called a flea glass.
In the 16th century, very basic microscopes were invented. These microscopes made use of many magnifying glasses. However, magnifying glasses were still used, but people began to realize that the magnification was lower compared to the microscope. This resulted in a boom in microscope, especially for the scientific community.
Even today, ordinary people use the simple magnifying glass to study and look at small objects.
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