Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Cornelia’s opinion was not recorded"

[Snicker Alert]

Present-day developmental biology is indebted to both the tremendous efforts of centuries past and also to those fascinating cells, the gametes, without which there would be no new embryonic organisms to awe and intrigue us.

That said, OxBlog has ever so kindly provided the teaser for today's history of science interlude, a review with the delightful opening paragraphs:

Not for Antoni van Leeuwenhoek the post-coital cigarette that day in 1677. No sooner had he finished making love to his wife Cornelia than he was up at his home-made microscope, discovering in his semen a “vast number of living animalcules”, little wriggling creatures with rounded bodies and long, vigorous tails. The Dutch draper and microscopist had confirmed, for the first time, the existence of spermatozoa.

Van Leeuwenhoek’s discovery is the climax of Cobb’s lively if sometimes uneven account of the endeavours of 17th-century scholars to understand the reproductive process in man and other animals. It was a period of remarkable process. In 1650, knowledge had hardly advanced beyond the misguided imaginings of the Ancient Greeks - Aristotle believed the embryo originated from the union of semen and menstrual blood. Yet by the early years of the new century, the roles of the human egg and sperm had been established and a reasonably accurate account of embryonic development published.

Grins aside--I saw that--I think this will probably be going on the to-read list.

3 comments:

The Tiger said...

Well, she married him...

Viatrix said...

Well, yes...but she clearly deserved an acknowledgement for "valuable assistance" or something...

The Tiger said...

"Valuable assistance" == is that what they're calling it these days?