Maker's Name: 
Edward James Bignold
Where made: 
6.5 × 6.5 × 15 cm

The Naturscope is one of the two Australian-made microscopes on the Physics Museum Microscope tour. Patented by Edward James Bignold in 1924, the Naturscope was intended for use in the study of the natural world. Bignold aimed to provide an inexpensive and easy to use apparatus, specifically targeting educating children and students in the study of natural sciences.

The Naturscope has a single lens, situated in a small metal tube which looks down onto a rotating stage. The focus of the microscope can be finely tuned by adjusting the height of the tube. Due to the Naturscope being a single lens microscope, it was not optically powerful, but still allowed for the observation of natural subjects such as insects, plants and crystals. The casing of the Naturscope is made of tinplate and underneath the main body is a small cupboard for storing extra slides.

Unlike the other microscopes on this tour, the Naturscope does not have a light source located underneath the specimen. Most microscopes place the specimen on top of a transparent glass slide. Light would then be shone through the specimen and into the lens. In the Naturscope the specimen sits on top of an opaque cardboard disk that is secured to the bottom of the cavity by a central axle. The front of the Naturscope is open so that light from outside can enter the cavity and illuminate the specimen. To compensate for the lack of a specific light source the cavity of the Naturscope contains several mirrors that direct incoming light to ensure that the object being examined is evenly lit from all sides and there are no shadows left that would interfere with observations.

The central disk is divided up into six sections. The user can place a specimen on each section and rotate the disk to examine them one by one. This means that students could examine a range of interesting objects without needing to reset the apparatus and interrupt their study. Students could purchase a glass dome that would sit over the central disk and trap live insects for study. Bignold also wanted to include a small reservoir in which liquid samples could be held for the purpose of observing aquatic life.

This item is part of the UQ Physics Museum Microscopes Tour
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