The Point of a sharp small Needle


[…] We will begin these our Inquiries therefore with the Observations of Bodies of the most simple nature first, and so gradually proceed to those of a more compounded one. […I]f view’d with a very good Microscope, we may find that the top of a Needle (though as to the sense very sharp) appears a broadblunt, and very irregular end; not resembling a Cone, as is imagin’d, but onely a piece of a tapering body, with a great part of the top remov’d, or deficient. The Points of Pins are yet more blunt, and the Points of the most curious Mathematical Instruments do very seldome arrive at so great a sharpness; how much therefore can be built upon demonstrations made onely by the productions of the Ruler and Compasses, he will be better able to consider that shall but view those points and lines with a Microscope.

Point of a small Needle

Now though this point be commonly accounted the sharpest (whence when we would express the sharpness of a point the most superlatively, we say, As sharp as a Needle) yet the Microscope can afford us hundreds of Instances of Points many thousand times sharper: such as those of the hairs, and bristles, and claws of multitudes of Insects; the thorns, or crooks, or hairs of leaves, and other small vegetables […]

But to proceed: The Image we have here exhibited in the first Figure, was the top of a small and very sharp Needle, whose point  nevertheless appear’d through the Microscope above a quarter of an inch broad, not round nor flat, but irregular and uneven; so that it seem’d to have been big enough to have afforded a hundred armed Mites room enough to be rang’d by each other without endangering the breaking one anothers necks, by being thrust off on either side.

The surface of which, though appearing to the naked eye very smooth, could not nevertheless hide a multitude of holes and scratches and ruggednesses from being discover’d by the Microscope to invest it […] So unaccurate is it, in all its productions, even in those which seem most neat, that if examin’d with an organ more acute then that by which they were made, the more we see of their shape, the less appearance will there be of their beauty: whereas in the works of Nature, the deepest Discoveries shew us the greatest Excellencies.