Lazzaro Spallanzani



Lazzaro Spallanzani

Lazzaro Spallanzai, was the Italian physiologist who was one of the founders of

experimental biology. Born in Scandiano, a small town in the providence of Emilia on

Jan. 12, 1729 , Spallanzani was among the many dedicated philosophersof the eighteeth

century (Lazzaro...1). His main scientific interests were biological and was a master at

mircoscopy,but he also looked into problems of physics,chemistry, geology, and

meteorology, and volcanology (Gillispie,1).

After attending a local school, Spallazani went at afe fifteen to a Jesuit seminary

in Reggio Emilia where he dominated in rhetoric, philosophy, and languages. He left

Reggio Emilia in 1749 to study jurisprudence at the ancient University of Bologna, where

he expanded is education in mathematics, chemistry, natural history, and aquired

a knowledge of French (Asimov,1). For three years he worked toward his docterine in

law. In 1753 or 1754 he became a doctor of philosophy. Then, he recieved instructions in

metaphysics and theology and took minor orders. Within a few years he became a priest

and added himself to two congregations in Modena (Gillispie,2).


Spallanzani, in hundreds of experiments tested various rituals for rendering

infusions permanently barren and finally found that they remained free of

microorganisms when put into flasks that were sealed and the contents boiled for one

hour (Lazzaro...1).The entrance of air into the flask through a slight crack in its neck was

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followed infusoria. He reported no spontaneous generation in strongly heated infusions

protected from aerial contamination. In 1765, after cutting up thousands of earthworms

and exploiting the ability of the aquatic salamander to regrow its tail, he resolved to

investigate reproductive phenomena in animals ans plants(Gillispie,3). He proved this by

cuting theworms the area that affected the segmental regenerative response. Amputation

of the tailwas followed by vascularization of the transparent growing stump. He also

established the general law that in susceptible species inverse ratio obtains between the

regenerativecapacity and age of the animal. Lazzaro launched countless experiments

relating to infusion animalcules and "spermatic worms," with result that soon made

chimera of thevegetatice force and undermined the docterine of organic molecules; but

these ideasdemanded more attention so they were postponed (Asimove,2). He also found

that complex infusoriaare more susceptible to heat and cold than the "infinitely minute"

germ of lower class,whose relative resistance he ascribed to their eggs. In 1777 he

publicly demonstrated the great force exerted by the gizzards of fowls and ducks in

polverizing hollow glass globules thus confirming Redi\'s century-old account. He studied

the circulation of blood through the lungs and experimented on digestive juices, which he

observed, were specialized for disgesting different foods. Attempting to discover what

part of the semen was essential for generation, he filtered samples from amphibians and

discovered that the higher the filteration, the less likely was the development of an egg.

Spallanzani had adopted the newchemical docterine that developedfollowing the

discoveries, mainly by British chemists, of carbon dioxcide, hydrogen,nitrogen, and

oxygen during the period 1755-1774. In 1768 he reported there findings in Prodromo di

un opera da imprimersi sopra le riproduzioni animaki, which he intended as a prelude to

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a major work on animal reproduction (Gillispie,5). Spallanzani in the year of 1788

journeyed to the Two Sicilies, mainly in order to correct deficiencies in the volcanic

collections of the museum. He also went to the volcano Enta and tested the flow of the

lava by going five feet close to it. He reported that bellowing gas explosions forced the

red hot lava out and ejected massive rocks, which later helped the science of volcanology

(Astimov,2). In 1789 to 1790 he climbed the Modense Apennines carrying

chemicalappartus for examing the natural gas fires of Barigazzo and the salses. Two

years later, he made further studies of eels at Lake Comacchio. In his last experiments he

tried to demonstrate how body tissues convert what is now knows as oxygen into carbon

dioxide (Gillispie,9).

Lazzaro Spallanzani suffered from an unlarged prostate complicated by a chronic

bladder infection. On February 11, 1799 shortly after his seventeith birthday, he became

anuric and fell unconscious (Lazzaro..1). Throughout his life time Spallanzani had

recieved many honors, including membership in the ten most distinguished Italian

academies, and foreign associateship in a dozen famous European scientific societies.

He\'d also had his work published in several different volumes