28 Dec, 2011
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Centraal, the blog, is now officially retired. I began this site originally because I was disappointed that Holland, and the town of Delft in particular, had made no concrete attempt to recognize van Leeuwenhoek and his impact on early science. As far as I know, this has not changed. However, with the proliferation of blogs and web sites, I can rest assured that at least in the digital world, Leeuwenhoek will not be forgotten.
Particularly, there is one website that has excelled in the life and times of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. I want to encourage all visitors to this blog to visit the excellent Lens on Leeuwenhoek site: it is by far the best resource for all things Leeuwenhoek. And please, look to the sidebar for many more links to fascinating history of science sites.
I have not stopped blogging entirely. I will be opening a photography website soon, and I have just launched a new site called Splendor Awaits, which will reveal my primary interests: bugs and macro photography. Eventually I hope to continue my fascination with the history of science at Splendor Awaits, particularly in regards to the history of entomology. No doubt Leeuwenhoek will be part of my life again then!
Goodbye, and please visit me at my new site.
21 May, 2011
Every three years, the Royal Society recognises excellence in the fields of microbiology, bacteriology, virology, mycology, parasitology, and microscopy by offering the Leeuwenhoek Lecture prize. For more on this lectureship prize, visit Leeuwenhoek Lecture at the Royal Society.
For a more on the prize and why Leeuwenhoek is honored in this way, read The Leeuwenhoek Lecture 1988. Antoni van Leeuwenhoek 1632-1723 (pdf) by A.R. Hall, FBA.
16 Dec, 2010
National Geographic is running a special series on population – and who is leading the way on population estimates?
Though his tiny peephole gave him privileged access to a never-before-seen microscopic universe, he spent an enormous amount of time looking at spermatozoa, as they’re now called. Oddly enough, it was the milt he squeezed from a cod one day that inspired him to estimate, almost casually, just how many people might live on Earth. Nobody then really had any idea; there were few censuses. Leeuwenhoek started with an estimate that around a million people lived in Holland. Using maps and a little spherical geometry, he calculated that the inhabited land area of the planet was 13,385 times as large as Holland. It was hard to imagine the whole planet being as densely peopled as Holland, which seemed crowded even then. Thus, Leeuwenhoek concluded triumphantly, there couldn’t be more than 13.385 billion people on Earth—a small number indeed compared with the 150 billion sperm cells of a single codfish!
Not very accurate, but he was the first to consider our planet’s population.
Read 7 Billion for more on Leeuwenhoek and population at National Geographic.
19 Nov, 2010
The Guardian has an article on the greatest discoveries in zoology:
At BBC Wildlife magazine, a panel of judges has been mulling over the question. Today, the results of their deliberations are published as the top 10 breakthroughs in zoology. The list in full is below, in descending order. How have they fared?
Leeuwenhoek places second, just below the discovery of the fossilised remains of Archaeopteryx:
The 17th century Dutch scientist Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek made some of the best microscopes of his time, using them to discover microorganisms, or “animalcules”. His work led to dramatic re-evaluations of the causes of disease and improvements in hygiene.
Read the complete article at the Guardian, and visit BBC Wildlife for the source.
1 Nov, 2010
A new blog called We, Beasties is joining ScienceBlogs. It is run byKevin Bonham who is in the immunology program at Harvard. He and other contributors will be covering the diverse world of microbes, and he pays tribute to Leeuwenhoek in his first post today:
In 1674, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek pointed a microscope at pond water and saw what he called “wee beasties” flitting about, kicking off the field of microbiology. Since then, scientists have discovered microorganisms living just about everywhere, in every kind of environment, from the crushing depths of the ocean in hydrothermal vents to the crypts of our own intestines.
Go to We, Beasties for more on microbes.