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John Turberville Needham

John Turberville Needham, 1713-1781, English scientist and Catholic priest.

Needham's Observations upon the Generation, Composition, and Decomposition of Animal and Vegetable Substances (1748) offered what he considered to be proof of spontaneous generation. His claim that sealed flasks of broth produced animalcules even after the broth had been boiled suggested the microbes had developed from inanimate matter, although his experimental techniques were apparently faulty. Three years after this publication, Maupertuis challenged his findings in his Système de la nature.