Syllabus [SciRev Fall 2008]

For the Week of 10/22/08

Assignment 8:

The Micro-Cosm


A Leeuwenhoek scope and an and as seen by Hooke and probably drawn by Wren.


Early Microscopopy

Read Hall_LeeuwenhoekLecture-OCR-872KB.pdf on the microscopy of Antony van Leeuwenhoek.


Read Fournier_FabricOfLife-Hooke-OCR-1.1MB.pdf on the microscopy of Robert Hooke.


Read HookeMicrographiaExcerptsOCR-1.7MB.pdf. These are a few excerpts from his famous book Micrographia from 1665. 


Bring to class anything you think might be interesting to look at under magnification.  If you have any of the following, please bring it/them in: a louse (louse is the singular of lice), bed bug, various insects or tiny creatures, plant seeds, hot and/or mild spices, smooth tasting substance, moss, fungus,… etc.  I’m still brewing up some critter infused much… we’ll look at it on Wednesday.  If you think you have something with critters in it, feel free to bring it in.


Be prepared for a quiz on these readings. 

Homework Suggestions: Write up an essay or similar report on the issues of microscopy.  What sorts of expectations did the early microscopists have?  What were they hoping to see or were they unbiased?  How does their method reflect that of Harvey or Galileo or Kepler?  Did theological issues bump into microscopists like they did for the astronomers?  Or, use your scope to make observations the same as or similar to Hooke’s or Leeuwenhoek’s. Use Hooke or Leeuwenhoek as your example on how to draw and write it up.  If you can figure out how to take a photograph through the thing… go for it.  You could even pretend to be a 17th or 18th-century natural philosopher. 


Cite all sources.  Make it look good.  Production quality matters.

Citations and additional sources for souped up assignments.


Bedini, Silvio A. "An Early Optical Lens-Grinding Lathe." Technology and Culture 8, no. 1 (1967): 74-77. Bedini-Early_lens_grinding_lathe-220KB.pdf


Dobell, Clifford, and Anthony van Leeuwenhoek. Antony Van Leewenhoek and His "Little Animals". New York,: Dover Publications, 1960.  This is the main source for all Leewenhoek studies.


Ford, Brian J. "The Van Leeuwenhoek Specimens." Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 36, no. 1 (1981): 37-59. Ford_LeeuwenhoekSpecimens-3.9MB.pdf Excellent images taken from Leeuwenhoek scopes. 


Ford, Brian J. "The Royal Society and the Microscope." Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 55, no. 1 (2001): 29-49. Ford_RoyalSocietyMicroscopes-3MB.pdf  Lots of nice pictures and interesting factoids.


Fournier, Marian. The Fabric of Life: Microscopy in the Seventeenth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.


Hall, A. R. "The Leeuwenhoek Lecture, 1988. Antony Van Leeuwenhoek 1632-1723." Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 43, no. 2 (1989): 249-273.


Hooke, Robert. Micrographia; or, Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses, with Observations and Inquiries Thereupon. New York,: Dover Publications, 1961 (1st ed. 1665).


Hooke’s complete Micrographia is available at Project Gutenberg:  You could definitely use some of his other observations as inspirations for your own investigations.  It’s all interesting.


Hull, Derek. "Robert Hooke: A Fractographic Study of Kettering-Stone." Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 51, no. 1 (1997): 45-55. Hull_HookeKettering-Stone-1.4MB.pdf Nice comparative analysis of Hooke’s microscopic investigation into the Kettering-Stone.


Newsome, Daniel.  “Simple Magnifier – Notes on Leeuwenhoek’s Microscopes.”  MS. 200?  Newsome-SimpleMagnifier.htm


Ruestow, Edward G. The Microscope in the Dutch Republic: The Shaping of Discovery. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.  Excellent book all around. 


Wilson, Catherine. "Visual Surface and Visual Symbol: The Microscope and the Occult in Early Modern Science." Journal of the History of Ideas 49, no. 1 (1988): 85-108. Wilson-Microscope_and_Occult_Science-772KB.pdf She is one of my teachers and is a very good writer.


Wilson, Catherine. The Invisible World: Early Modern Philosophy and the Invention of the Microscope.  Studies in Intellectual History and the History of Philosophy. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995.  An excellent book if you can find it in your library.


Yost, R. M., Jr. "Locke's Rejection of Hypotheses About Sub-Microscopic Events." Journal of the History of Ideas 12, no. 1 (1951): 111-130. Yost_LockeRejectionMicroEvents2.4MB.pdf  There is an interesting reference to microscopic stuff in Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding, if you feel like finding it.  Here is a copy on the web: Locke-Essay-H-U  Just do a search on “microscope” and read the sections that contain these references.




Back to Syllabus [SciRev Fall 2008]


Me –

Review Materials:


Newsome-SimpleMagnifier.htm - my notes on simple “bead” microscopes… mostly the geometrical optics


This is a .doc and will download accordingly.  Some of this is also in the .htm above, but there is some other stuff here too:



Of course… study your notes on the Fournier, Hooke, and the Hall readings.


Posted: 12/6/08 4:06 PM