Larger Organisms

Part of the Biological and Medical Physics, Biomedical Engineering book series (BIOMEDICAL)


Antony van Leeuwenhoek was the first person to see bacteria, and it was their motion that captured his attention. However, he was not the first person to use a microscope or to describe cells. But the single-lens instruments that he made himself had fewer aberrations than the compound instruments of his day, so he was able to see more. And his curiosity was insatiable. His work on little animals—he called them animalcules—is available to the modern reader through translations from the archaic Dutch by the British microbiologist Clifford Dobell (1932), who published them on the 300th anniversary of van Leeuwenhoek’s birth. Van Leeuwenhoek described what he saw in letters written in ink, still jet black, sealed with red wax, and sent from Delft to London, to Henry Oldenberg, the secretary of the Royal Society. Oldenberg translated bits and pieces and published them in the Transactions of the Royal Society. My favorite is the 18th letter in which van Leeuwenhoek describes animalcules in water from his well. He was curious about the effect that pepper might have, so he ground up some in a blue porcelain pot and mixed it in.


Neisseria Gonorrhoeae Neisseria Meningitidis Plague Yersinia Large Organism Bacterial Chemotaxis 
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