Sterling Newberry, American inventor and microscopist, today celebrates his 100th birthday.

Born August 10 1915 in Springfield, Missouri, USA, Newberry invented the shadow X-ray microscope and is one of the founders of the Microscopy Society of America.

The first X-ray microscopes used grazing off lenses at a very low angle to focus X-ray images. However, the images were blurry due to diffraction. While working on an alternate approach for General Electric, a technician came to Newberry with a badge. The technician didn't believe there were X-Rays in the machine; by placing the warning badge behind a screen wire, the presence of X-rays was confirmed by the presence of the screen wire pattern on the badge.

But the badge also held another screen wire pattern; far smaller and finer. Newberry recognized that the fine pattern was the screen wire mounting for the specimen, that had been magnified by expansion of the shadow.

This gave him the insight he needed: placing the specimen very close to a point source of X-rays and the photographic plate much further back, Newberry managed to create a working commercial microscope.

Biography from Wikipedia.