Friday, February 12, 2010

Antony van Leeuwenhoek

Antony (October 24, 1632 - August 30, 1723), full name Thonius Philips van Leeuwenhoek (pronounced 'vahn Laywenhook') was a Dutch tradesman and scientist from Delft, Netherlands. He is commonly known as "the Father of Microbiology". Born the son of a basket maker, at age 16 he secured an apprenticeship with a Scottish cloth merchant in Amsterdam. He is best known for his work on the improvement of the microscope and for his contributions towards the establishment of microbiology. Using his handcrafted microscopes he was the first to observe and describe single celled organisms, which he originally referred to as animalcules, and which we now refer to as microorganisms. He was also the first to record microscopic observations of muscle fibers, bacteria, spermatozoa and blood flow in capillaries (small blood vessels). He published his observations in a series of letters to the Royal Society. The name bacterium was introduced much later, by Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg in 1828, and is derived from the Greek word βακτήριον -α , bacterion -a , meaning "small staff".
His faith in God and love for His creation undergirded his science. Along with others, he exposed the fallacy of spontaneous generation (abiogenesis), the superstitious belief that life sprung from material objects, such as raw meat "birthing" maggots.


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