Tiny People in Your Semen: The Discovery of Sperm
We take for granted the simplicity of procreation. Sperm + egg = baby. Sure there are superfluous operations often wedged within the greater formula, generally including + alcohol, – inhibition, or / legs (and in my case so many nights spent as the remainder), but there are three sex laws we have always been certain of, right? 1) Spermatozoon hunts for ovum, 2) ovum receives spermatozoon, and 3) sex leans toward brevity, both in the bedroom and in the dictionary (before shortening further to “sperm,” “spermatozoon” had seven additional syllables and drove a NYC taxi).
But math isn’t so simple. Consider this: the number zero wasn’t always a thing. Think about that. There was a time when an adolescent me, charged with the question “so how many girls have you kissed?” would have been morally justified to simply shrug my shoulders and let implication lie for me. But those damn Babylonians had to invent the zero, making it impossible to ethically skirt not only pre-teen sex surveys (the unwritten entrance exam to so many cliques) but also slightly more important questions like “so how many sperms do you see?”
“Zero” would no longer be an acceptable answer after Dutch amateur lensmaker and lonely guy Antonie van Leeuwenhoek combined his microscope-making hobby with his other hobby in 1677 to magnify some human ejaculate.… Read the rest