Studying Cells

Free Response

In your everyday life, you have probably noticed that certain instruments are ideal for certain situations. For example, you would use a spoon rather than a fork to eat soup because a spoon is shaped for scooping, while soup would slip between the tines of a fork. The use of ideal instruments also applies in science. In what situation(s) would the use of a light microscope be ideal, and why?


A light microscope would be ideal when viewing a small living organism, especially when the cell has been stained to reveal details.

In what situation(s) would the use of a scanning electron microscope be ideal, and why?


A scanning electron microscope would be ideal when you want to view the minute details of a cell’s surface, because its beam of electrons moves back and forth over the surface to convey the image.

In what situation(s) would a transmission electron microscope be ideal, and why?


A transmission electron microscope would be ideal for viewing the cell’s internal structures, because many of the internal structures have membranes that are not visible by the light microscope.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of these types of microscopes?


The advantages of light microscopes are that they are easily obtained, and the light beam does not kill the cells. However, typical light microscopes are somewhat limited in the amount of detail they can reveal. Electron microscopes are ideal because you can view intricate details, but they are bulky and costly, and preparation for the microscopic examination kills the specimen.

Explain how the formation of an adult human follows the cell theory.


The cell theory states:

  1. All living things are made of cells.;
  2. Cells are the most basic unit of life.;
  3. New cells arise from existing cells.

All humans are multicellular organisms whose smallest building blocks are cells. Adult humans begin with the fusion of a male gamete cell with a female gamete cell to form a fertilized egg (single cell). That cell then divides into two cells, which each divides into two more cells, and so forth until all the cells of a human embryo are made. As the embryo passes through all the developmental stages to make an adult human, the cells that are added arise from division of existing cells.