Who Is Antoni van Leeuwenhoek?

Oct 24, 2016 By Anita R
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Did you notice the Google Doodle today? The Doodle honors the first microbiologist. October 24, 2016 marks the 384th anniversary of Dutch scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, widely considered to be the father of microbiology.

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek was a fabric dealer by profession. He lived in Delft, a town in the Netherlands. He was a naturally curious person. He had the knack of making lens that could magnify the world around us. Through one such lens, Leeuwenhoek became the first person to see bacteria and other organisms that exist in our world. Leeuwenhoek called the protists and bacteria, 'animalcules'. It is remarkable that Leeuwenhoek even thought of looking for creatures unseeable to the naked eye in the first place!

When he peered into water samples, it was an astonishing sight indeed. In his words, he saw "little eels, or worms, lying all huddled up together and wriggling.... the whole water alive with... multifarious animalcules". This was probably the first glimpse of living bacteria with a human eye.

Leeuwenhoek's discoveries received mixed reactions from scientists at the Royal Academy. But his name got around, and he even had the Russian czar Peter the Great come and visit him.