Friday, 12 July 2013

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 1632-1723

Born: 24 Oct 1632
Died: 26 August 1723
Birthplace & died: Delft, Dutch Republic
Occupation: Dutch microscopist and biologist

Antony van Leeuwenhoek was born in Delft, Holland, on 24 October 1632. He is believed to be of Hollander ancestry. 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), came from a well-to-do brewer's family. After Philips' death, she re-married to Jacbon Jansz Molijn, a painter. Antony had four older sisters, Margriete, Geertruyt, Neeltge, and Catharina. 
Little is known of his early life. He attended school near Leyden for a short time before being sent to live in Benthuizen with his uncle, an attorney and town clerk. He became an apprentice at a linen-draper's shop in Amsterdam at the age of 16. 
He married Barbara de Mey in July 1654, with whom he had one surviving daughter, Maria (four other children died in infancy). Barbara died in 1666, and in 1671 Leeuwenhoek married Cornelia Swalmius, with whom he had no surviving children.

When and where did Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discover the microscope?

Leeuwenhoek made more than 500 optical lenses. He also created at least 25 microscopes, of differing types, of which only nine survived. His microscopes were made of silver or copper frames, holding hand-made lenses. Those that have survived are capable of magnification up to 275 times. It is suspected that Leeuwenhoek possessed some microscopes that could magnify up to 500 times. Although he has been widely regarded as a dilettante or amateur, his scientific research was of remarkably high quality. Leeuwenhoek maintained throughout his life that there are aspects of microscope construction "which I only keep for myself", in particular his most critical secret of how he created lenses. For many years no-one was able to reconstruct Leeuwenhoek's design techniques. However, in 1957 C.L. Stong used thin glass thread fusing instead of polishing, and successfully created some working samples of a Leeuwenhoek design microscope
Under his microscope, he observed the bovine optic nerve, a house mite, a leucocyte and erythrocytes.
Leeuwenhoek from Wikipedia
Leeuwenhoek was a contemporary of another famous Delft citizen, painter Johannes Vermeer. It has been suggested that he is the man portrayed in two of Vermeer's paintings of the late 1660s, The Astronomer and The Geographer. However, others argue that there appears to be little physical similarity. Because they were both relatively important men in a city with only 24,000 inhabitants, it is likely that they were at least acquaintances. Also, it is known that Leeuwenhoek acted as the executor of the will when the painter died in 1675.
The Astronomer from Wikipedia
The Geographer from Wikipedia

Original Dutch VOC Archives in Den Haag

The original Dutch VOC Archives is in Den Haag (The Hague), The Netherlands. This archive is good for everyone who has interest in Malacca's history.

I am interested in the early hospitals in Malacca 1641-1796. From reading, I know Dutch Malacca had 3 hospitals inside the Portuguese fort - a royal hospital, a civil hospital and one for the poor. There is a map of the grounds of the fort with the 3 hospitals, in Hospital Melaka's history.

Students are still doing research on the Dutch VOC even today, 342 years after the capture of Malacca in 1641.