JOHN NEEDHAM (1713-1781)

John Needham is the English scientist who performed experiments on spontaneous generation or abiogenesis in mutton broth and hay infusions. Needham showed that mutton broth boiled in flask and then sealed could still develop microorganisms, which supported the theory of spontaneous generation.

He took hot boiling mutton gravy (meat infusion) in a flask and closed same with a cork. He later found the spoilage of the meat infusion and also observed animalcules in it.

Needham killed the living matter by boiling and thus concluded that animalcules arose spontaneously from the meat, thus he put forth the notion that microorganisms arise by spontaneous generation.

His works were later challenged and repeated by Lazzaro Spallanzani who modified Needham’s experiment by including a longer boiling time in his own experiment.


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