Leeuwenhoek Notes


There are lots of places focused on his biological observations - I'm looking at the technology he is familiar with - such as his use of a lath - use of capillary and then a new system for fluids.


Things he was familiar with

"Antichamber, and is very close joyned together with Wainscot, having no other opening than one hole of an inch and a half broad, and 8 inches long, [through which the wooden spring of my lathe 30 ) passes] towards the street furnisht with 4 windows, of which the two lowermost open inwards..."
"30 This wooden spring must have been that of a "pole~lathe", fastened to the ceiling. Not having room enough in his closet, L. passed the spring through a slit in the partition. By moving the treadle the axle - round which the cord~ band is passed two or three times - moves backward and forward. Lathes have been in use since the 16th century. From that time "pole~lathes" have sometimes been called simply "lathes"."

Observation of fluids

Originally in what I think were hand drawn capillary tubes - made just before the experiment (would thus be sterile and free of dust). In 1675-01-22 letter he talks of coming up with a new method that he won't share.

Observational limits

For reference - Red blood cells are about 6-8 ╬╝m in diameter and 2-3um thick. Hair is about 40um in diameter, paramecium about 200um long. Bacteria 1-2um. From 1677-05-15 " 15 or 20 times finer than a single thread of Silkworm" - about 4um

Methods kept secret

1675-03-26

"... Sir, be assured that my microscope showed the same as clearly and distinctly as one can imagine to see figures with the naked

eye but the fault is mine, since I cannot draw and on the other hand since I have the intention to keep the method I use secret from everybody. ..."

1676-10-09

"My method for seeing the very smallest animalcules and eels I do not impart to others, nor that for seeing very many animalcules all at the same time, but keep that for myself alone."

1677-03-23

"much more. when I said. [there were in it two or three kinds of

much smaller animals besides. which did not appear to him, and which I could observe by other glasses and other methods. which I still reserve to my self alone ] 9 ) . "

1678-03-18 Not portable:

" I hardly see my way to do this as I require my customary seat and instruments, which I cannot place everywhere for use. "

Book and other Dates

A more complete - but with more noise -timeline can be seen here


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