This Week in History: Leeuwenhoek’s Letter to the Royal Society

Single lens Microscope

On September 17, 1683, Antony van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society about his observations of the plaque between his teeth, the first observations on living bacteria ever recorded. He also recorded his observations on two ladies and on two old men who had never cleaned their teeth in their lives. In the mouth of one of the old men, Leeuwenhoek found “an unbelievably great company of living animalcules, a-swimming more nimbly than any I had ever seen up to this time. The biggest sort. . . bent their body into curves in going forwards. . . Moreover, the other animalcules were in such enormous numbers, that all the water. . . seemed to be alive.”  Makes you want to stop reading and go brush and floss. Yuck!         Scientifically yours, Rita Bay

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