ANTONIE VAN LEEUWENHOEK: The Father of Microbiology Part 2

(The boundaried life)

ˈɑntɔni vɑn ˈleːwənhuːk

I came across the following quote when researching Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek’s life. Any thoughts?

“Yet he always presents his results in a way which, despite the imperfections of his language and his lack of scientific education, is a model for all other workers. He never confuses his facts with his speculations. When recording facts he invariably says “I have observed …”, but when giving his interpretations he prefaces them with “but I imagine …” or “I figure to myself …” Few scientific workers — or so it seems to me — have had so clear a conception of the boundary between observation and theory, fact and fancy, the concrete and the abstract” 


Protistologist to the Medical Research Council, London

Foreign Member of the R. Accademia dei Lincei, Rome

Sometime Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge

Imagine unveiling the miniature world, making discoveries that would fuel the study of microbiology, virology, microscopy, and even physics. In scientific research speculations/opinions are considered a double-edged sword. On one hand, speculations reveal the potential importance and possible future research; on the other hand, speculations can result in fatal errors when accepted as truths. Delineating between truth and thought prove blurry in every field of thinking. Perhaps the best way to honor both “facts and fancy” might be, like Leeuwenhoek, to establish clear boundaries between the two.

PS-Check out some of AvL’s original illustrations below:







(A) Sheep semen (B) bacillus bacteria (from the human mouth) (C) corn weevil

For more information see:,


By KCBauer

Hello! My name is KCBauer and I am a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. I am a researcher, writer, musician, and explorer. Originally from Washington DC, I graduated with a BA in Music and BS in Biology in 2014. This blog focuses on the gut microbiota, the trillions of microorganisms that reside along the digestive tract. My grad research at UBC examines the role of the gut microbiota on human health, brain development, and anthropology. When I am not in the lab, I enjoy ambling through Vancity, listening to music, reading science journals, and hiking. If you have questions, ideas for blog topics, suggestions for place to visit in BC, or corrections send me an email at

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