A textile dealer discovers bacteria

The first scientist to have studied and described bacteria was Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723). He was a textile dealer who lived in Holland ad used magnifying glasses to assess the quality of fabrics. In 1668, during a business trip to England, he bought some very powerful magnifying glasses with which he built a rudimentary microscope. His curiosity led him to observe a bit of everything and this is how he happened to see microbes for the very first time. In his writings, van Leeuwenhoek described bacteria as strange round-shaped beings. At first, there were many problems classing these new organisms since they were so peculiar they could not be included in either group of the living kingdoms: the vegetal and the animal kingdom. One century after van Leeuwenhoek, Carolus Linnaeus designed a new kingdom to include all the known micro-organisms that he called chaos.

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Facts

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  • 13 May 2011

    High-fashion bacteria

    Some bacteria, the Clostridia, were used to make textile fibres...

    Down-pouring bacteria

    It sounds incredible, but recent researches have found that bacteria can cause some atmospheric phenomena...

  • Bacteria as Sherlock Holmes

    A drop of blood, a fragment of skin or a hair found on the scene of a crime can supply…

    Bacteria as miners

    The ability of chemoautotrophic bacteria to take energy from...

  • Bacteria as detergents

    Enzymes are proteins produced by the cells of all living organisms...

    Bio-luminescence

    Many sea animals, including a lot of fish and molluscs that live in the dark in the ocean depths...