Thursday, 17 September 2020

i know the scientific names of beings animalculous

On this day in 1683, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (*1632 – †1723) announced in a letter addressed to the Royal Society his discovery of animalcules—little animals, the adjectival form above—living in rain water and invisible to the naked eye.
Sounding quaint to modern biologists and poor van Leeuwenhoek will forever be associated with the word, the progenitor of microscopy and microbial studies of course employed Dutch terms that he readers and fellow researchers could understand dier (animal, compare Tier) with the suffix –en or –ken to express their diminutive nature rather than inventing a Latin term, as his translator, German diplomat and natural philosopher Henry Oldenburg was wont to do. van Leeuwenhoek’s record of transparency, willingness to share discoveries and open, unreserved correspondence spurred on a lot of competition in the field and advanced the field microbiology and germ-theory at pace thereafter.