The Lens is on Leeuwenhoek

Douglas Anderson at Lens on Leeuwenhoek, the web’s premier English site for all things Leeuwenhoek-ish, has developed a new video called The Life, Times,  and Accomplishments of Antony van Leeuwenhoek 1632 – 1723.

The bad news is that it is only 7 min. 41 seconds long.

The good new is that more videos are in production, and we seem to entering a new era of Leeuwenhoek interest. From the YouTube introduction to the video:

This video is an overview of the life, times, and accomplishments of Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), the Dutch scientist who used hand-made single-lens microscopes to become the first human to see protozoa, bacteria, sperm, and red blood cells, among many other things.

Now, the YouTube video is good, but higher quality videos are available for downloading at the Lens on Leeuwenhoek website.

Gazing into my crystal ball (O.K, it’s an old up-turned goldfish bowl and an email from Mr Anderson…) I forsee great things coming from Lens on Leeuwenhoek ….perhaps some new translations of Leeuwenhoek letters? Videos on The Golden Age? I am looking forward to what is to come, and I greatly appreciate the work that Douglas Anderson is doing  to keep the name of Leeuwenhoek alive and prospering.

Leeuwenhoek’s Zoological Researches

Free online from the Annals of Science, this two part look into Leeuwenhoek’s zoological researches.—Part I by F. J. Cole, of Reading University, 1937.

Leeuwenhoek’s observations were recorded and written up as they
were made, and, except for an occasional postscript, he does not appear
to have recognized the importance of a final revision. This, however,
has one great advantage. It enables us to trace the origin and growth
of the ideas in his own mind. The interest and significance of this
point is particularly evident in his work on plant and animal parasites,
where we can follow the evolution of the correct solution of the problem
as observation and inference expanded under his scrutiny. In the
sections of this review, therefore, Leeuwenhoek’s studies have been
followed in chronological sequence, and the dates given are those which
appear on the letters themselves, and are not those of publication 1.
There is much repetition in Leeuwenhoek’s letters. He refers to
this himself in Letter XXXII (1717), and explains that he reconsiders
and repeats his observations because by so doing he not only checks
his previous work but may light upon further discoveries. This, however,
does not explain why a statement should be repeated in the same letter.
No one can study these letters without being struck by the astonishing
intuition which Leeuwenhoek exhibits in the interpretation of natural
phenomena. He is always ready to speculate, even in matters on which
the imperfect knowledge and technique of his time gave him very little
assistance, and in most cases he has proved to be a sure guide. By
combining detailed observation with shrewd interpretation he often
develops an argument logically step by step until an irresistible conclusion
is reached.

Read the complete article in Annals of Science (Volume 2, Issue 1 January 1937 , pages 1 – 46)

Also available free: Leeuwenhoek’s Zoological Reseaches II.

While you are at it, the complete Annals of Science, from 1936 to 2009, are online free now…

These online articles, and those from many other journals, will remain free until 31 January, 2010 ONLY, so download the pdf’s while you can!

A Gift From The Royal Society

In celebration of its 350th anniversary,  The Royal Society (London)  is opening its digital vaults again!

Celebrating three and a half centuries of science in 2010

The dissemination of scientific research has been a core activity for the Royal Society since it was granted a Royal Charter to publish in 1662. Three and a half centuries later, publishing is still a cornerstone of the Society’s work and Philosophical Transactions is officially the world’s longest-running scientific journal.

During the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary year in 2010, we will celebrate our contribution to science publishing by launching several commemorative initiatives, all of which will be completely free to access.

Go to this Royal Society Publishing page and enter your choice of either ‘Leeuwenhoek’, ‘Leeuwenhoeek’, ‘Leewenhoeck’ or ‘Leeuvenhoek’. Try your own variations of the spelling – who knows what you may come up with!

For instance, I did a search of  ‘de Graaf’, an early supporter of Leeuwenhoek, and it revealed the first published letter revealing Leeuwenhoek’s unique skill with the microscope:

PDF’s are free to download, but only until the 28th of February, 2010.

New Leeuwenhoek Web Site!

Good news for all Leeuwenhoek students and those interested in the science of The Netherland’s Golden Age. Douglas Anderson has produced a new web site called Lens on Leeuwenhoek.

Why a web site dedicated to Antoni van Leeuwenhoek? From the introduction page:

When I began researching the life and accomplishments of Antony van Leeuwenhoek, I was struck by:

bulletthe small amount of information
bulletthe amount of contradictory information

Why wasn’t there more information about this fascinating, important man? What are the correct facts about his life and accomplishments? This web site tries to respond to both questions by presenting:

bulletattractive, interesting information
bulletcorrect information

This promises to be the most comprehensive web site on Leeuwenhoek available today. Douglas Anderson is an associate professor of humanities at Medaille College,  New York. I look forward to visiting this site a great deal in the future. There is little I can say that would not be better understood than by simple visiting Lens on Leeuwenhoek!

I consider  this a very exciting development and I wish Professor Anderson and his web site great success in the forthcoming years.

Stamps Feature Dutch Scientists.


“Summer stamps” (1937) with Jacob Maris (1837-1899) painter, F. de la Boë Sylvius (1614-1672) medical doctor, J. van den Vondel (1587-1679) writer and playwright, A. Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) scientist.


“Summer stamps” (1938) Marnix van Sint Aldegonde (1540-1598) writer, Ottho Gerhard Heldring (1804-1876) preacher and author, Maria Tesselschade Roemersdochter Visscher (1594-1649) poet and engraver, Rembrandt Harmens-zoon van Rhijn (1606-1669) painter, Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738) anatomist, botanist,chemist, humanist and researcher.

Images provided by Wouter Hagens at Wikimedia Commons.

Huygens in France

Etablissement de l'Académie des Sciences et fondation de l'observatoire. 1666
Etablissement de l'Académie des Sciences et fondation de l'observatoire. 1666
Is this Christiaan Huygens on the right side of Cassini (in robe)?
Is this Christiaan Huygens (right) by Cassini's side?

This painting shows the establishment of the Academy of Sciences in France in 1666, during the reign of Louis XIV. Christiaan Huygens was one of the founding members of the Academy, and he  lived in Paris from 1666 to 1681. Research done by  C.J. (Kees) Verduin  indicates that there may be an unknown portrait of Christian Huygens in this painting, which now hangs in the Musée National du Château et des Trianons in Versailles.

Go to A Portrait of Christiaan Huygens for more information on his research.

He also has a Christiaan Huygens web page here.