THE MAGNIFYING GLASS
THE MAGNIFYING GLASS.
James and his Granddad were the best of friends. They would go out for walks together and Granddad would show him all manner of interesting things.
One sunny winter morning’ while traces of snow still lay on the ground’ James called at granddads cottage. Granddad had just finished breakfast and was reading the newspaper.
‘You’re not wearing your glasses’ said James.
‘No it’s wonderful. Since I have had my cataracts removed I can see everything so clearly.’
‘What are cataracts?’
‘As most people grow older a cloudy film forms over their eyes: In the past there was nothing that could be done about it and people’s sight just became worse and worse until some ended up blind. Nowadays the film can be removed and a lens fitted to the eyes making them as good as new. It is a straightforward operation and painless.’
‘So your eyesight is now as good as mine?’
‘Maybe even better: I used to have to wear glasses and use a magnifying glass to read very small print. If you like you can have my magnifying glass as I won’t need it anymore. It makes things appear much larger and it is amazing how different some things appear when looked at closely.’
Granddad held the glass close to his eye and James could see his kindly blue eye enlarged to an enormous size’
‘The dark spot in the centre is called the iris and the coloured circle surrounding it is the cornea. If you look carefully you may just be able to see the lens behind it.’
‘I can see all the little red veins and everything’ replied James excitedly.
On a plate next to the shell of the egg granddad had eaten was a little pile of salt.
‘Have a look at this and tell me what you see’
James focused the magnifying glass.
‘They are all perfect cubes ‘he said, ‘Just like cubes of sugar.
James had a great time examining the hairs on his arm, the weave of the table cloth, the wood grain on the dresser and many other things.
‘It’s a lovely morning’ said granddad. ‘Bring the magnifying glass and we will see what else there is to look at. There is one thing in particular that I want to show you.’
Both warmly wrapped against the elements they started off. When they had walked a little way, granddad stopped near a pile of snow which was at the edge of the road.
‘Just have a look at that.’
When enlarged, each snowflakes revealed that it was composed of an intricate pattern of glistening crystals each different from the rest.
‘It’s beautiful. Just like fairyland. I would never have believed it’.
They had a wonderful time, examining and marvelling at so many things until both granddad and James were becoming exhausted.
It was then that they spotted an old friend, Professor Pottle who waved to them from his garden gate.
‘What are you two up to?’ the professor asked.
Granddad explained and James showed him the magnifying glass.
The professor laughed. ‘Come in both of you and I will show you something really special.
The professor showed them into his study and when they were both sat down in comfy chairs with a hot drink and buttered scones in front of them, he went to a cupboard.
Taking out a polished mahogany wooden box he placed it on his desk near the window.Opening it, he withdrew from it a strange instrument which James did not recognise. It consisted of two metal tubes with a little table under them and a mirror below that, the whole apparatus mounted on a metal stand.’
‘This James is a microscope. Your magnifying glass can make something appear ten times larger. This can make it appear ten thousand times larger.’
James gasped in amazement.
The professor took a needle and after sterilizing it, he pricked his thumb. Transferring a drop of blood onto a slip of glass he placed it on the microscope tray.
‘Now look at this.’
‘There are all sorts of little worms and things wriggling about’
‘They are called microbes. I wonder if you can remember their names. The long straight ones are called bacilli. The star shaped ones are staphylococci and those like little necklaces are streptococci. The liquid they are swimming in is amniotic fluid.
These are healthy happily swimming around. Sometimes unhealthy microbes, germs, get in. You will feel poorly which means a trip to the doctor and some magic pills to put things right again.
All our bodies are made up in this way. You are looking at a little bit of the structure of life itself . It is truly amazing.
After thanking the professor for his hospitality they made their way home.
‘I’ve had such an interesting time and learned such a lot of things’ said James ‘thank you for a wonderful day’
Granddad smiled, ‘To think this all started because I had my cataracts done. You could say we both have been looking at the world through new eyes.