Macroscopic vs Microscopic: Difference and Comparison

Sometimes the change that we see in a substance is due to some reactions that take place at the molecular level.

This means that what we see with our naked eyes (macroscopic changes) is due to the change at the fundamental atomic level (microscopic changes). So, to understand the science behind any reaction or particular matter, both properties are crucial.  

Key Takeaways

  1. Macroscopic objects are visible to the naked eye, while microscopic objects require magnification to be observed.
  2. The macroscopic study examines larger phenomena and structures, while the microscopic study investigates smaller components and details.
  3. Macroscopic observations provide general insights, while microscopic observations reveal more intricate and specific information.

Macroscopic and Microscopic

Macroscopic refers to objects or phenomena that can be observed with the naked eye or with standard laboratory equipment. It includes the movements of people or animals, the growth of plants. Microscopic refers to objects or phenomena that are too small to be seen with the naked eye and require specialized equipment such as microscopes to observe.

Macroscopic and Microscopic

The word macroscopic is related to any object/process that can be seen with our naked eyes.

So, studying macroscopic properties means any change in a specific property that can be seen without any special equipment. And, macroscopic analysis refers to mainly a general analysis.  

The word microscopic is related to the constituents of any substance (bulk matter) which means microscopic properties refer to the properties at an atomic or molecular level.

The change in the microscopic properties cannot be seen with the naked eye and requires special equipment.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMacroscopicMicroscopic
DefinitionThe macroscopic term is associated with the bulk properties of substances.The microscopic term is associated with the properties of the constituents of the matter.
VisibilityThe changes in macroscopic properties are visible to the naked eye.The changes in microscopic properties are not visible to the naked eye.
SignificanceMacroscopic properties are concerned with the overall behavior of the system.Microscopic properties are concerned with the very fundamental structure of the matter.
MeasurementsMacroscopic properties have big units of measurement such as kilogram, liter, gram/liter, etc.Microscopic properties have small units of measurement such as micrometer, milligram, angstrom, etc.
ThermodynamicsMacroscopic properties are used for studying classical thermodynamics.Microscopic properties are used for studying statistical thermodynamics.
ExampleSome examples are pressure, temperature, and volume.Atomicity, chemical bonding, hydrogen bonding, intermolecular forces, etc.

What is Macroscopic?

Macroscopic is a property of an object that refers to the size that is visible without a microscope. For example, a tiger is visible without a microscope whereas a bacterium is not visible without a microscope.

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So, in this case, the tiger is exhibiting macroscopic properties. Another example is when we mix a solid substance in a liquid solution and stir it continuously.

After some time, the solution becomes homogeneous. Hence, solubility is a macroscopic property but how the solid particles gradually became soluble by breaking the intramolecular bonds is invisible.

The word macro has been derived from the Greek word makros which means long or large. In physics, the macroscopic domain refers to those phenomena that occur at a large scale, consume a lot of energy, or change that are visible.

Some of the examples of the macroscopic domain are the dispersion of white light through a prism, the direction of various chemical and physical processes, the propulsion of a rocket, etc.

Some of the other prominent macroscopic properties that we deal with in daily life are volume, pressure, viscosity, resistance, etc.

The data to study the behavior of a macroscopic property is expressed in graphical methods through various types of curves.

What is Microscopic?

Microscopic is a physical property of an object meaning it cannot be visible to the naked eye. These objects are visible under a high-power microscope.

The very fundamental unit of every element in this universe is an atom which is a microscopic element. So, for every reaction, to understand how new products are formed from reactants, microscopic level studies are to be done.

The study of various elements and their structure (number of neutrons, protons, electrons, etc.) are all microscopic level studies.

The behavior of various microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, etc. is studied under high-power microscopes. It was in the mid-seventeenth century that a compound microscope was used for the first time to make discoveries.

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Microscopes are laboratory equipment that helps in the study of microscopic organisms. Among various types of microscopes used in doing high-level research, four microscopes are widely used.

These are compound, stereo, digital, and pocket microscopes. Students are taught from an early age how to use a microscope and observe the behavior of various cells under it.

The magnification scale of a microscope can also be changed using a rotating device. The objective lens and the eyepiece are the two most important parts of a microscope.

Main Differences Between Macroscopic and Microscopic

  1. The changes in macroscopic properties of a system can be seen with naked eyes whereas the changes in macroscopic properties of a system cannot be seen with naked eyes.
  2. In macroscopic analysis, the number of variables required to determine the behavior of a system is very less whereas several variables are required for microscopic analysis.
  3. Macroscopic properties like temperature, pressure, etc. are easily measured in a system whereas macroscopic properties like change in kinetic energy, atomicity, etc. are hard to measure.  
  4. The mathematical approach for doing macroscopic analysis is simple but for doing microscopic analysis advanced statistical techniques are required.
  5. Laboratory instruments like microscope is not required for studying macroscopic objects but are very crucial but studying microscopic objects.
Difference Between Macroscopic and Microscopic
References
  1. https://journals.aps.org/prc/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevC.33.2039
  2. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/19532202739

Last Updated : 24 July, 2023

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