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[Little animals observed by Antony van Leeuwenhoek].

Authors
  • Amako, Kazunobu
Type
Published Article
Journal
Nihon saikingaku zasshi. Japanese journal of bacteriology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Volume
69
Issue
2
Pages
315–330
Identifiers
PMID: 24681990
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Antony van Leeuwenhoek is the discoverer of bacteria and other microorganisms. However, his name is currently not as well-known as those of Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch or Shibasaburo Kitasato. Why not? To answer this question I read a book published in 1932 by Clifford Dobell, an English protozoologist, and found some answers. First, Leeuwenhoek was not a professional scientist in any university or scientific institute, but merely an average citizen in Delft, Holland, working as a merchant in his own shop, and later he also served as an office-holder in Delft city hall. Second, he made and invented his own microscopes but never made his work on microscopes and observation techniques widely known to the public. Accordingly, after his death, his excellent techniques for observing microorganisms were not handed down to the next generation and eventually became forgotten by the scientific community. Although he did not write any scientific paper, he did write about his observations in many letters addressed to the Royal Society of London. Dr. Dobell had translated most of them into English and included them in his book. I picked up and translated several of these letters into Japanese and have included them in this review to show how he described his observations and also what he thought about the presence of such small animals invisible to the naked eye. By reading this review I hope you will come to understand the efforts and abilities of a citizen in Delft about 340 years ago.

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