From the telescope to the microscope

Colin Sheppard, Italian Institute of Technology, Genova.

Giuseppe Molesini, formerly at National Institute of Optics, Firenze.


"Cafferenza" (Exceptionally, this conference will be in English, )

Mercoledì 20 maggio 2015 ore 21:00

Biblioteca delle Oblate, via dell'Oriuolo 26, Firenze

moderatori: Lorenzo Ulivi, ISC-CNR and Associazione Caffescienza Francesco Baldini, IFAC-CNR and SIOF President

Developments in modern microscopy - Colin Sheppard

From the spectacles to Galileo's telescope, or how it all got started - Giuseppe Molesini

The optical microscope is an important tool in modern medicine and biology, but also in materials science and industrial applications. The basic instrument became mature in the late 19th century, and comparatively little improvement was made since then. In contrast, a wide range of important new techniques have been introduced in the last few decades, which have had dramatic impact. These include fluorescence microscopy, confocal microscopy, multiphoton microscopy, and various forms of phase contrast microscopy amongst others. We follow through the historical developments of these techniques, some of which have been reinvented several times before becoming commercially available.

(Photo courtesy of Museo Galileo of Firenze)

Colin Sheppard is Senior Scientist at the Italian Institute of Technology, in Genova, Italy. For 14 year he was Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney, until he left to become Head of the Bioengineering Department in the National University of Singapore. He started researching on confocal microscopy when in Oxford University, back in 1974, and launched the first commercial confocal instrument in 1982.

Giuseppe Molesini is an optics physicist with main professional experience in physical and geometrical optics. He has been working for 35 years at the National Institute of Optics, Florence, doing applied research in the fields of interferometry, holography, and instrumental optics. He established an optical testing laboratory accredited as a Calibration Center within the network of Legal Metrology. As subjects of personal interest, he made studies on Science History (particularly on optical technology), and carried out activities in the areas of communication, training and education. He is author or co-author of more than 100 articles on major scientific journals of the optics area. Retired in 2012, he presently collaborates with OpenLab, an activity of the University of Florence promoting the dissemination of knowledge and the interest for scientific learning within the schools.

The scientific foundations of the present knowledge on light and optics were laid in the past times, thanks to a number of scientists and also unknown individuals who pioneered the field. The talk will deal with some of the most significant accomplishments that enable modern advances, addressing in particular the transition from the use of lenses for spectacles to their use for instrumental optics at the turn of the Seventeenth Century. Major steps along this path will be outlined, pointing out the contribution of Tuscany and that of Galileo’s telescope to the early development of optical technology.