Who is known as the father of microscopy?
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek is widely known as the father of microscopy. He is also considered to be the first microbiologist who read and recorded the first microscopic observations. While there are other scientists who made microscopes earlier, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek made remarkable improvements to their design.
This Dutch scientist made the first practical microscope (from October 24, 1632- August 30, 1723) and used it to become the first person to discover bacteria and other microscopic discoveries. While Leeuwenhoek wasn’t a skilled scientist, he made a big contribution to the world of science by crafting high-powered lenses that helped scientists and microbiologists observe what no person could see with their naked eye.
Leeuwenhoek is also acknowledged for creating a simple microscope that used a single magnifying lens. This was way better and reliable than the compound microscopes present at that time. The single-lens microscope was smaller in size and used a strong lens up to 500x. This magnification strength was way big compared to the 50x found in contemporary compound microscopes. It took other scientists about 150 years of optical improvements before their compound telescopes were able to provide the same optical performance as Leeuwenhoek simple single-lens microscopes.
With time, Leeuwenhoek’s interest in microscopes and microbiology continued to grow. His advanced knowledge in glass processing led to more significant developments in the world of science. He would use soda-lime glass and place it in a hot flame, then pull the hot section like taffy to make two long whiskers of glass.
He would then put one end of the whisker back into the flame and create a small, high-quality glass sphere. These spheres were used as the lenses of the microscopes he created with the smallest spheres producing the highest magnification power. Leeuwenhoek made hundreds of microscopes and maintained a passion for making a new microscope whenever he came across an interesting specimen that he needed to observe.
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek continued to make more microscopes and other optical lenses. He made more than 500 optical lenses and about 250 microscopes of different types, of which 9 microscopes survived. All his microscopes were crafted from silver or copper frames, holding hand-ground lenses. The microscopes that survived have a magnification power of up to 275x. It is also suspected that some of his microscopes had a high magnification power up to 500x.
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek main inventions include:
- The infusoria (protists in modern zoological classification) took place in the year 1674.
- Bacteria such as the large Selenomonads found in the human mouth and other micro-organisms found in water. This happened in 1676.
- The spermatozoa in 1677. During this invention, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek had some problems with the Dutch theologists about whether his practice was good.
- The banded pattern of muscular fibers took place in 1682.
Although Antoni van Leeuwenhoek was widely regarded as an amateur, his inventions and scientific research made a big impact in the world of science. He is not only the father of microscopy but also the father of microbiology.