He Saw Things No One Else Would For Another 50 Years. Who Would Believe Him?

Let’s hear it for thepower of creative tinkering, aka messing around with microscopes when you're supposed to be at work. Stick around until 4:25 when they start describing what we know now (and what we don't)!

OK, I admit it, I’m a bit like van Leeuwenhoek: While I’msupposed to be writing for Upworthy, I'm searching the Internet for the latest weird news about microbes. The worlds van Leeuwenhoek discovered were really just the tip of an iceberg, a scientific universe that has exploded in the last decade because of new ways of reading genetic information.

Suddenly, ideas about “individual” and “personal choice” shift when you realize that how you feel andthink (even what you want to eat) are tremendously influenced by the microbial fauna living on and in you(and they are probably talking about you constantly). There are about 100 times more microbial genes in our bodies than human genes. So yeah, we're like giant puppet-houses for microbes. So much for free will.


Also, our idea ofevolution as something that happens over generations now has to accommodatethis crazy phenomenon of “horizontal gene exchange,” which is just what it sounds like: single organisms within ageneration simply trading genes. No time-consuming reproduction needed! It’s like they can adapt evolutionarily on thespot to new situations (and of course this is why microbes are pretty good atevolving beyond the ability of our antibiotics to control them). Enough from me. Now maybe you can see why people like van Leeuwenhoek put aside work for a while to wonder about what we can't see.

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