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Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was a scientist from the Netherlands. He is known as the first microbiologist because he was the first to observe bacteria underneath a microscope. He made many other significant discoveries in the field of biology and also made important changes to the microscope.
See the fact file below for more information on the Antonie van Leeuwenhoek or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Antonie van Leeuwenhoek worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- He was born in Holland, in the city of Delft, in October of 1632.
- Leeuwenhoek’s father died when he was only five years old.
- His mother married again, and Antonie lived for some time with his uncle.
- His uncle was a lawyer and helped his nephew get a good education.
- He spoke only in Dutch, although he could write in Latin.
- As a teenager, he became an apprentice at a linen draper’s shop.
- At the shop, magnifying glasses were used to count the threads and inspect the quality of cloth.
- In July of 1654, Leeuwenhoek wed Barbara de Mey and they had five children, but only one – a daughter – survived.
- His second marriage was to Cornelia Swalmius, in 1671, five years after the death of his first wife. They had no children and they were together until Swalmius died in 1694.
DISCOVERIES AND INVENTIONS
- Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to discover bacteria, spermatozoa, erythrocytes, microscopic crustaceans, single-celled algae, and ciliates.
- He also established differences in the structure of dicotyledons and monocotyledons.
- He was the first to see the facet structure of insect eyes, lens fibers, transverse muscle fibers, scales, and tubules of dental substance.
- During his life, he made more than 500 optical lenses, and 25 microscopes. Before then, only 9 had been made.
- By observing the life cycles of larvae and fleas, Leeuwenhoek proved that such creatures are not created spontaneously, as many people believed at the time. He showed that these creatures undergo a process of reproduction from eggs to larvae to pupae to adults.
- He used copper or silver to make the frames for his microscopes.
- In those years, the strongest lens enlarged the image only 20 times. The lenses that have endured were made by Leeuwenhoek and are able to magnify objects up to 275 times.
- Through his research without any plan, the self-taught scientist made many important discoveries.
- For almost fifty years, Leeuwenhoek neatly sent long letters to England.
- He discovered more than two hundred species of the smallest organisms in the world.
- Everything that Leeuwenhoek examined under the microscope, he painted, and sent his notes and drawings to the royal scientific society in London. He sent more than 300 such notes.
- In 1673, Leeuwenhoek was the first person who saw microbes.
- By using his microscope, he examined everything that came to his eyes: a piece of meat, a drop of rainwater or hay infusion, a tadpole tail, a fly’s eye, a grayish bloom from his teeth, etc.
- In a dental deposit, in a drop of water, and many other liquids he saw a myriad of living beings. They looked like sticks, spirals, and balls.
- Leeuwenhoek’s main discoveries include the infusoria, which are protists in today’s zoological classification, bacteria in 1674, the cell’s vacuole in 1676, and the banded structure of muscular fibers in 1682.
- He also conducted research on the coffee bean and reported on it in 1687.
- In 1677, he was the first to describe sperm and postulated that conception occurred when a sperm joined with an ovum, though his thought was that the ovum just served to feed the sperm.
- At the time, there were various theories of how babies formed, so Leeuwenhoek’s studies of the sperm and ovum of various species caused an uproar in the scientific community. It would be around 200 years before scientists would agree on the process.
- Leeuwenhoek was one of the most prominent researchers of nature.
- He first noticed how the blood moves in the capillaries.
- Leeuwenhoek saw that blood is not some kind of homogeneous fluid, as his contemporaries thought, but a living stream in which a great many tiny bodies move.
- Leeuwenhoek was one of the first scientists who began to do experiments on himself.
DEATH AND LEGACY
- In 1680, the scientific world officially recognized the achievements of Leeuwenhoek and elected him as a member of the Royal Society of London – despite the fact that he did not know Latin and could not be considered a real scientist by the time’s rules.
- Later, he was accepted into the French Academy of Sciences.
- Many famous people came to Delft to look into wonderful lenses, including Peter I.
- Letters of Leeuwenhoek to the Royal Society, to scholars, to political and public figures of his time – Leibniz, Robert Hooke, Christiaan Huygens – were published in the Latin language during his lifetime and occupied four volumes.
- The latter was released in 1722, when Leeuwenhoek was 90 years old, a year before his death.
- Antonie van Leeuwenhoek struggled with a rare disease that caused uncontrollable movements.
- This medical condition is now called Van Leeuwenhoek’s disease.
- He passed away at the age of 90 in August of 1723 and is buried in Delft at the Oude Kerk.
- His most notable quote: “My work…was not pursued in order to gain the praise I now enjoy, but chiefly from a craving after knowledge.”
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Antonie van Leeuwenhoek across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Antonie van Leeuwenhoek worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Antonie van Leeuwenhoek who was a scientist from the Netherlands. He is known as the first microbiologist because he was the first to observe bacteria underneath a microscope. He made many other significant discoveries in the field of biology and also made important changes to the microscope.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek Facts
- The Father of Microbiology
- Personal Profile
- The Dates of Discoveries
- Under the microscope
- Antony van Leeuwenhoek
- Seeing the invisible
- Quiz Time
- Drawing of the bacteria
- General Notes
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