Short Biography On Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek
Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch scientist who discovered bacteria and other microscopic parasitic organisms as well as blood cells, sperm cells, etc. He opened a new world of life unseen to the naked eyes, the new science of Microbiology. He is also called the Father of microbiology.
He was born on 24th October 1632 in Delft, Holland. He belonged to a family of tradesmen. He had a school education in Warmond, but never attended any University. As he grew up, he worked in a clothes shop in Benthaizen with his uncle. In 1654 he returned to his native town of Delft and did various jobs as a surveyor, city official, fabric merchant.
Around 1668 he learned to grind lenses. He began with making simple microscopes and is supposed to have made more than 500 microscopes. Those were not compound microscopes of today, but simple instruments with one lens mounted on a tiny hole in a brass plate. The specimen was mounted on a sharp point in front of the lens. Two screws were used to adjust the position of the specimen and the focus of the lens.
Compound microscopes using more than one lens were already in use before Leeuwenhoek, but those were not very effective in magnifying objects. Those could increase the size of the objects by only 20 to 30 times. But Leeuwenhoek’s talent of grinding skills, combined with his working with properly adjusted lighting enabled him to get a magnification of 200 times the natural size.
What made him a real scientist was his craving for knowledge, his curiosity to study everything with his lenses. He made notes of whatever he found. He even employed an illustrator to draw whatever he observed.
He wrote descriptions of his findings in his letters to the Royal Society of London. He wrote about the green algae Spirogyra, the ciliate Vorticella and its motion, and many other things. From 1673 he continued this correspondence for the next 50 years. His observations were published in the Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society. In 1680, Leeuwenhoek was elected as a member of the Royal Society.
He studied various materials like the tissues of animals and plants, fossils, mineral crystals, and also dental plaque. He was the one who discovered the blood cells and sperm cells of animals. He continued his studies and observations to his last days.
Leeuwenhoek died on 30th August 1723 at Delft.