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Anton van Leeuwenhoek

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Anton van Leeuwenhoek (Antoni in Dutch) (1632-1723) was a tradesman and scientist from Delft, in the Netherlands.

He is best known for his contribution to improvement of the microscope and his contributions towards the establishment of cell biology. Using his handcrafted microscope he observed muscles fibres, bacteria, spermatozoa and blood flow in capillaries (small blood vessels). During his lifetime Van Leeuwenhoek carved over 500 optical lenses. His microscope was used and improved by Christiaan Huygens for his own investigations into microscopy.

"No more pleasant sight has met my eye than this of so many thousands of living creatures in one small drop of water..." - Stated after his discovery of the microscopic world over three centuries ago.

He is thought to have been be the model for Vermeer's painting The Geographer; the two were close friends.

The Dutch Royal Academy presents (every 10 years) the Leeuwenhoek medal to the scientist judged to have made the decade's most significant finding in microbiology. This is regarded by microbiologists as the highest honor in their field.

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