Diary of Diarrhoea – through the microscope

History Jun 22, 2021

The fascination the authors of this beautiful video have for the microcosmos is contagious; even more so when the subject is Antony van Leeuwenhoek, Dutch pioneer of microscopes. He told his contemporaries of his own fascination:

In the year 1675, I discovered very small living creatures in rain water, which had stood but few days in a new earthen pot glazed blue within.

This will be familiar to anyone working on water storage: microbes come quickly. He did not stop at water, though:

I have usually of a morning a well-formed stool; but hitherto I have had sometimes a looseness of the bowels. My excrement being so thin, I was at divers times constrained to examine it.

His description of the "animalcules" he observed, akin to pissabeds, would puzzle his translators and biographers, until eventually the word pissabed was found to mean woodlouse... helping to belatedly diagnose him with giardia.

Enjoy the video, and the whole channel is a marvel to explore too, even if usually less sanitation-related.

Video and image credits: Journey to the Microcosmos