Who Invented The Optical Lenses? History Of Optical Lenses - Biography of Antony van Leeuwenhoek

Antony van Leeuwenhoek - Mr. Microbiology Inventor of Optical Lenses. Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek (24 October 1632 - August 26, 1723) was a Dutch national, trader and scientist. He is known as the "Father of Microbiology", and is considered the first to pursue microbiology. He is also known for his work on improving microscopes and for contributions to the formation of microbiology.

Raised in Delft, Netherlands, in his youth Leeuwenhoek worked as a cloth trader, and in 1654 founded his own shop. He made a name for himself in urban politics, and eventually developed interest in lensmaking. Using a hand-made microscope, he was the first to observe and describe the single-celled organisms, originally referred to as animalcules, and now called microorganisms. He also first recorded microscopic observations of muscle fibers, bacteria, spermatozoa, and blood flowing in the capillaries (small blood vessels). The discovery of Leeuwenhoek was revealed through correspondence with the Royal Society, which published its papers. 
Antony van Leeuwenhoek

life and career

Antony van Leeuwenhoek was born in Delft, The Netherlands, on October 24, 1632. Baptized Thonis, his father, Philips Antonysz van Leeuwenhoek, was a basket maker who died when Antony was five years old. His mother, Margaretha (Bel van den Berch). Antony has four older sisters, Margriete, Geertruyt, Neeltge, and Catharina. 

Antony went to Leyden for a short time before being sent to live in Benthuizen with his uncle, a lawyer and city officer.

In July 1654 he married Barbara de Mey, and had one daughter, Maria (four other children died in infancy). Barbara died in 1666, then in 1671 Leeuwenhoek remarried with Cornelia Swalmius. Antony worked as treasurer for Delft 's sheriff' assembly hall in 1660, a position that lasted for nearly 40 years. In 1669 he was appointed surveyor by the Dutch Court; then he "wine-Gauger" in charge of the import of the city's wine .. 

The discovery of optical lenses
Replica microscope Antony van Leeuwenhoek
Replica microscope Antony van Leeuwenhoek

Although microscopes have been found before Leeuwenhoek was born, he did not use them. Instead, carefully and precisely he rubs a small lens. Leeuwenhoek is able to produce a microscope that has a much better power of observation than an existing microscope. One of the existing lenses has a rearing capacity of about 270 times, there are even signs that it manages to make it more perfect than that.

Leeuwenhoek makes more than 500 optical lenses. He also created at least 25 microscopes, of a different kind, of which only nine survived. The microscope is made of silver or copper frames, with handmade lenses. Antony van Leeuwenhoek was able to enlarge up to 275 times. It is not impossible that Leeuwenhoek has several microscopes that can magnify up to 500 times.

The microscope is a relatively small device, the largest having a length of about 5 cm. The microscope is used by placing a lens that is very close in front of the eye, while looking toward the sun. The other side of the microscope has a pin, in which the sample is mounted to stay close to the lens. There are also three screws that allow to move pins, and samples, along three axes: one axis to change focus, and two other axes to navigate through the sample. 

The discoveries of Antony Van Leeuwenhoek are:

  • The Infusoria (protists in modern zoological classification), in 1674
  • The Bacteria, (e.g. large Selenomonads from the human mouth), in 1676
  • The Spermatozoa in 1677. Van Leeuwenhoek had troubles with Dutch theologists about his practice.
  • The Banded Pattern of Muscular Fibers, in 1682.

In 1687 he studied the coffee beans. He boiled the coffee beans, and cut into pieces and saw the sponge inside, he had never seen this symptom before. The seed is pressed and after that the oil comes out of the seed. Then boil again with water twice, set aside (and probably drink it slowly). 

Death and inheritance

At the end of his life, Leeuwenhoek has written about 560 letters to the Society and other scientific institutions on his observations and discoveries. Even when ill, Leeuwenhoek continued to send a full observation letter to London. The last few letters contain precise descriptions of his own illness. He suffered from a rare disease, an uncontrollable movement of the stomach, now called Van Leeuwenhoek's disease. He died at the age of 90, on August 26, 1723 and was buried four days later at Oude Kerk (Delft).

In 1981 British microscopist Brian J. Ford discovered that the original specimen of Leeuwenhoek survived in the collection of the Royal Society of London. The specimens are found to be of high quality, and all are well maintained. Ford made observations with various microscopes, adding to our knowledge of Leeuwenhoek's work. (source: en.wikipedia)

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