Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) :

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Anthony van Leeuwenhoek

One main contributor to the Spontaneous Generation debate, was Antony Van Leeuwenhoek. Leeuwenhoek is credited with the discovery of bacteria, sperm cells, blood cells, and many other microscopic cells never seen before by scientists. Leeuwenhoek was born in Delf, Holland on October 1632, he came from a working class family, his father a basket-maker and his mother was from a family of brewers. Leeuwenhoek was an under educated scientist for his time, the only formal education he recieved was as a child, and a apprenticeship as a linen-draper.


Although never being formally educated as a scientist this did not hold back Leeuwenhoek, who today is reguarded as one of if not the forefather of the microscope. Leeuwenhoek's microscope lenses were created from heating soda lime glass into small spheres which magnified the specimen. Today there are very few of Leeuwenhoek's original microscopes in existance magnifying up to 275 times. Leeuwenhoek's creation of effective microscope lenses was a
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Leeuwenhoek Microscope
huge scientific break-through for his time, scientists could now see microscopic bacteria and analyze organisms that were never thought to exist prior even. One implication of Leeuwenhoek's reasearch and discoveries in the field of microscience is that it lead to the death of the thoery of spontaneous generation. Spontaneous generation was a thoery that had been widely accepted for the majority of human history, it was originally proposed by the Greek theorist Artistole. The basis of the theory is that life can be created from non-living matter such as heat or a rock. Leeuwenhoek used his microscopes to observe very small organisms, most of which had never thought to exist before, primilarly bacteria and other muscle cells. While observing these organisms blind to the naked eye he noticed that they reporduced through procretation just as larger organisms (such as mammals) did. This was a gigantic breakthrough in both the field in science and the disproving of Artistoles long time held thoery of Sponatneous Generation.