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Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723) was a Dutch draper and scientist. He is best known for his improvements to the newly-invented microscope and for his pioneering work in microbiology. Using his hand-made microscopes, van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe and describe single-celled organisms—which he called "animalcules"—which are now known as micro-organisms. He was also the first to observe blood flow in capillaries (tiny blood vessels).



Van Leeuwenhoek's microscope

High-magnification lenses

While working in his draper's shop, from 1654 onwards, van Leeuwenhoek became interested in glassmaking. Heating glass rods over a hot flame, he created long threads of glass, from which he managed to fashion tiny glass spheres. These spheres became lenses for his simple microscopes; the smallest spheres provided the highest magnifications, capable of magnifying between 275 and 500 times.

Van Leeuwenhoek made more than 500 lenses to view specific objects. Many had different magnifications. He created at least 25 microscopes to hold the lenses, the biggest only 5 cm (2 inches) long.

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