John Turberville Needham

Needham, John Turberville

 

Born Sept. 10, 1713, in London; died Dec. 30, 1781, in Brussels. British naturalist. Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1746).

Needham set out to experimentally demonstrate the spontaneous generation of microorganisms. He attempted to account for the microscopic animalcules and infusoria that appeared in boiled meat bouillon and plant broths. The microorganisms were found even though these foods were kept in sealed containers. Needham proposed that a special creative force acts on “organic molecules” to give rise to the microbes that he observed. L. Spallanzani opposed Needham’s views on spontaneous generation; they were conclusively refuted by L. Pasteur.

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The British naturalist John Turberville Needham (1713-1781) had placed mutton broth in a glass container, killed all microorganisms by heating, and then sealed the container.