The invention of the microscope allowed scientists to see cells bacteria and many other structures that cannot be seen by the naked eye. The ongoing improvement of this magnification technology facilitated the development of the cell theory.
In the 1600s, before the development of the microscope, there were no ways for scientists to know what living things were made of. The first postulate of the modern cell theory states that all living things are made up of cells.
Robert Hooke is usually credited with the discovery of cells when, under a microscope, he was able to discern pores in a piece of cork. But it was the work of Dutch microscopist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek that brought about the next big advancement in this area. His improved microscope allowed him to observe blood cells, spermatozoa, and the lively world of unicellular organisms known as animalcules.
After the work of Hooke and van Leeuwenhoek, Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann further developed the concept of the cell. They were able to show that all plants and animals are made of cells. They also determined that all living things have a common chemical composition and that energy flows from cells to other cells. They further discovered that hereditary information is passed from parent cells to their children by means of DNA.
The article discusses the reception of the cell theory in Parisian medical practice. It finds that this was a difficult process, as it was based on the notion that disease is a result of cell dysfunction. This idea went against the vision of an organism that was held by Parisian clinicians, such as Alfred Velpeau.