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Biology’s Greatest Contributors 101

After the philosophical and original scientific questioners Socrates, Hippocrates, and Aristotle began a world of scientific inquest.

Galileo Galilei: Galilei is best known for creating the first microscope by adapting his telescope for the viewing of microscopic items.


Robert Hooke: Hooke developed the “Law of Elasticity.” In this law he described the variation of tension within an elastic spring. These findings were published in 1665 in a book called Micrographia. Micrographia contained a number of observations made with a microscope and telescope. Hooke also ventured to add in some original biological ideas. These and Hooke’s work constructing microscopes also made a name for him in science, however, Hooke’s main strong point was his “discovery” of the cell. In this he coined the term “cell” and observed various cells through his handcrafted microscopes.



Antony Van Leeuwenhoek: Van Leeuwenhoek developed the first microscope, and in 1676 Van Leeuwenhoek observed water up close and noticed small organisms. These were the first bacteria to be observed. He also went on to observe the circulation of blood corpuscles in capillaries.


Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann: Schleiden was a German botanist who, with Schwann, founded the cell theory. It was Matthias Schleiden who studied plants and theorized the composition of plants as having many different cells within them. He studied plants cell via a microscope and published Contributions to Phytogenesis in 1838. This piece brought out his theory. Schwann was another German botanist who also specialized in several other scientific fields. He discovered “Schwann cells” in the peripheral nervous system. He also discovered “pepsin,” a stomach cell that functions to degrade proteins into peptides. Schwann coined the term metabolism and worked on the theories on the organic nature of yeast. His work is cited by many other scientists as the basis of their work.


Charles Darwin amp; Alfred Wallace: Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace are connected by corresponding scientific ideas on natural selection. Darwin was an English born and raised naturalist who, in 1859, published his book Origin of Species. This book outlined his theory of evolution. However, this book wasn’t released before anything else of its type was. In fact, Alfred Wallace, another British naturalist and scientist, wrote a paper on the idea of natural selection in 1858. This paper was actually read by Darwin and presented sometime later to the Linnean Society, a society on the study and research of taxonomy.

Rudolf Virchow: Virchow is credited with a great deal of medical biological studies. However, in biology he is best known for publishing work on a theory in 1858 stating that the cell originates only from existing cells. In medicine he was the first to recognize the disease leukemia, coin the term embolism during work with blood clots, and he discovered “Virchow’s node” as an early sign of malignancy in the stomach and lungs.



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