A Leeuwenhoek microscope from CD-ROM drive parts

In a previous post, I discussed the microscopes constructed by the “father of microbiology” – Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (photo of replica microscope above by Jeroen Rouwkema).

In a recent post on Science 2.0, Steve Schuler shows how to make a similar microscope out of bits and pieces from an old CD-ROM drive. A great project for those people exploring science with their kids at home – or just for those who like making things!


Huygens Image Contest winner

The winner of the 2013 Huygens Image Contest competition is Mrs. Karin Panser, who photographed stunning colours in the eye of a fruit fly.

Click on the camera for the winning image, or see this New Scientist story.

Nikon Small World winner announced

The winner of the Nikon Small World competition has been announced, and it’s a stunning picture of a diatom, by the talented Dutch microphotographer Wim van Egmond (click on the camera above to see it). Congratulations, Wim!

See the competition gallery to look at the full collection of pictures, or check out the coverage in Wired.

The Lion of Microscopy

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek has been called the “father of microbiology.” This Dutch scientist manufactured several powerful microscopes with small, near-spherical, lenses, and made numerous microbiological and other observations. He discovered, among other things, red blood cells, spermatozoa, and micro-organisms.

Top: Replica of a van Leeuwenhoek microscope (photo: Jeroen Rouwkema). Bottom left: van Leeuwenhoek’s drawings of sand grains (in red chalk, from a letter to the Royal Society, 4th December 1703). Bottom right: section through one-year-old ash wood (click images to zoom).

It is interesting to compare van Leeuwenhoek’s drawings with the modern electron-microscope image of sand grains below. The technology has gotten better, but scientists are still treading down the path blazed by van Leeuwenhoek and his contemporary Robert Hooke.

And where would medicine be without microscopy? The microbiologists who followed this great pioneer have saved countless lives, and the world is in van Leeuwenhoek’s debt as a result.