On This Day
1683 – Antonie van Leeuwenhoek writes a letter to the Royal Society describing “animalcules”.
Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek[note 2] FRS (/ˈɑːntəni vɑːn ˈleɪvənhuːk, -hʊk/ AHN-tə-nee vahn LAY-vən-hook, -huuk, Dutch: [ɑnˈtoːni vɑn ˈleːuə(n)ˌɦuk] (About this soundlisten); 24 October 1632 – 26 August 1723) was a Dutch businessman and scientist in the Golden Age of Dutch science and technology. A largely self-taught man in science, he is commonly known as “the Father of Microbiology”, and one of the first microscopists and microbiologists. Van Leeuwenhoek is best known for his pioneering work in microscopy and for his contributions toward the establishment of microbiology as a scientific discipline.
Raised in Delft, Dutch Republic, van Leeuwenhoek worked as a draper in his youth and founded his own shop in 1654. He became well recognized in municipal politics and developed an interest in lensmaking. In the 1670s, he started to explore microbial life with his microscope.[note 3] This was one of the notable achievements of the Golden Age of Dutch exploration and discovery (c. 1590s–1720s).
Using single-lensed microscopes of his own design, van Leeuwenhoek was the first to experiment with microbes, which he originally referred to as animalcules (from Latin animalculum = “tiny animal”). Through his experiments, he was the first to relatively determine their size. Most of the “animalcules” are now referred to as unicellular organisms, although he observed multicellular organisms in pond water. He was also the first to document microscopic observations of muscle fibers, bacteria, spermatozoa, red blood cells, crystals in gouty tophi, and blood flow in capillaries. Although van Leeuwenhoek did not write any books, his discoveries came to light through correspondence with the Royal Society, which published his letters.
Born On This Day
1867 – Vera Yevstafievna Popova, Russian chemist (d. 1896)
Vera Yevstafievna Popova, née Vera Bogdanovskaya (Вера Евстафьевна Попова; 17 September 1867 – 8 May 1896) was a Russian chemist. She was one of the first female chemists in Russia, and the first Russian female author of a chemistry textbook. She “probably became the first woman to die in the cause of chemistry” as a result of an explosion in her laboratory. Vera Yevstafievna Popova, née Vera Bogdanovskaya (Вера Евстафьевна Попова; 17 September 1867 – 8 May 1896) was a Russian chemist. She was one of the first female chemists in Russia, and the first Russian female author of a chemistry textbook. She “probably became the first woman to die in the cause of chemistry” as a result of an explosion in her laboratory.
Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Roberts (née Boggs; December 27, 1943 – September 17, 2019), known as Cokie Roberts, was an American journalist and bestselling author. Her career included decades as a political reporter and analyst for National Public Radio and ABC News, with prominent positions on Morning Edition, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, World News Tonight, and This Week.
Roberts, along with her husband, Steven V. Roberts, wrote a weekly column syndicated by United Media in newspapers around the United States. She served on the boards of several non-profit organizations such as the Kaiser Family Foundation and was appointed by President George W. Bush to his Council on Service and Civic Participation.
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