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Great Scientists

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek

1632 - 1723

Anton van Leeuwenhoek

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch draper who needed a better way to examine the tiny threads of cloth. His ingenious solution gave birth to the modern science of microbiology!

  • Nationality
  • Dutch

  • Subject
  • Biology

  • Fields
  • Microbiology, microscopy

  • Publications
  • Letters to the English Royal Society, in which he describes and illustrated his microscopy investigations.

  • Experiments/Discoveries
  • Van Leeuwenhoek made improvements to the microscope, and was the first to observe microorganisms in water.

    Microscopic investigations of muscle fibre, unicellular organisms, bacteria, spermatozoa, and blood flow in capillaries.

Van Leeuwenhoek experimented with lenses, and discovered that a perfect sphere of clear glass had a greater magnification than the magnifying lenses in use at the time. He developed the system and found it was powerful enough to reveal that pond water was the habitat for 'animalcules', his word for the unicellular amoeba and bacteria he found swimming around in a drop of water.

Van Leeuwenhoek
Van Leeuwenhoek made improvements to the microscope, and was the first to observe microorganisms in water

He reported his findings to the Royal Society in London in a series of letters, which they published.