Alle de brieven van Antoni van Leeuwenhoek: 1694-1695

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C R C Press LLC, Jun 1, 1979 - Science - 8 pages

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About the author (1979)

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, the famed Dutch microscopist and naturalist, was born in Delft and spent his life there. After receiving informal schooling, which probably included mathematics and science, he was apprenticed to a draper for six years. In 1654 he opened his own drapery shop, but after receiving an appointment as a minor city official in 1660, he devoted most of his time to microscopy. Leeuwenhoek's major scientific achievements centered on the simple but remarkably accurate short-focus lenses that he produced. He carefully ground these single lenses and mounted them between metal plates to make his observations. During his career, he built nearly 250 microscopes, which had magnifying powers ranging from 50 to as high as 270 times. Employing these microscopes, Leeuwenhoek harnessed his insatiable scientific curiosity to his talent for careful, systematic observation. Leeuwenhoek used his microscopes to study nearly 200 biological species, including aphids, birds, frogs, and fish. His most important discoveries included the minute circulation system of the blood vessels and the capillary connections between arteries and veins. He studied and clearly described red blood cells, noting their distinguishing characteristics in humans and mammals, as well as those in birds and fish. He also described and illustrated human and animal spermatozoa. In about 1764 Leeuwenhoek began his extraordinary work in the field of microorganisms, becoming the first scientist to study and identify protozoa and bacteria under the microscope. His study of human anatomy revealed the microscopic structure of the eye, skin, teeth, and muscle. He also accomplished important work in comparative anatomy and carried out a series of microdissections on insects. Although Leeuwenhoek wrote no scientific articles or books, he recorded and reported nearly all of his observations in more than 200 letters to the Royal Society of London and to friends and fellow scientists such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Christian Huygens. Elected to the Royal Society and the French Academy of Science, Leeuwenhoek's many remarkable discoveries and observations helped refute the theory of spontaneous generation that was then widely accepted.