Nouvelle Recherche... (1769)

Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799)

     

Nouvelle Recherche... (1769)

   

     

Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799)

Nouvelles recherches sur les découvertes microscopiques, et la génération des corps organisés. Ouvrage traduit de l'Italien de M. l'Abbé Spallanzani, par M. l'Abbé Regley. Avec des notes, des recherches physiques & métaphysiques sur la nature & la religion, & une nouvelle théorie de la terre, par M. de Needham

Lazzaro Spallanzani 12 January 1729 – 11 February 1799) was an Italian Biologist and ordained Catholic priest. His father, a distinguished lawyer insisted he follow the priesthood. Luckily, Laura Bassi, a mathematician realized the young Spallanzani interest lied with science and convinced the family to allow young Lazzaro to pursue his passion. Although he was eventually ordained, he declined to become a priest. He completed a degree in law. In 1754 Spallanzani was appointed professor of logic and metaphysics, and Greek at Reggio College. In 1760 was named professor of physics at the University of Modena.

Spallanzani's main contributions lie in two areas: refuting Needham's theory of "abiogenesis" or spontaneous generation setting the stage for Pasteur and Koch. The second area in which excelled was physiology of the gastric system and reproduction. Spallanzani was famous for his ingenious and insightful experiments using his pet hawk. He took a piece of meat and attached to a string he allowed the hawk to consume the meet. Holding on to the string, sometime later he withdrew the piece of meat and noticed the sign of digestion. A second set of experiments placed a sponge inside a perforated soft tube. Once the hawk eat the string attached tube, Spallanzani withdrew the tube and squeezing the sponge from the tube and placing the juice on a piece of meat he achieved similar digestive effects. He was the first to understand that the gastric juice had digestive power.

The book in our possession is a French translation of the original Italian, published in 1767 in which he attacked the spontaneous generation theory propagated by George Buffon and John Needham. The title of the book translates: new research on microscopic discoveries, and the generation of organized bodies. It contains notes on Physical & Metaphysical Investigations into Nature and Religion, and a New Theory of the Earth, by M. de Needham.

Spallanzani studied microscopic organisms using microscopy and confirmed Leeuwenhoek's 1687 observations. He concluded these were living organisms. He set the stage for Pasteur and Koch, the giants of 19th century microbiology.

This volume was purchased from Eric Zink Livres Ancient.

Editorial notes by Andrew I Spielman .

Digital Version