Science Birthdays, December 27

Today is the birthday of Johann Kepler, born in 1571, a mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, known for his laws of planetary motion. Although he was an astronomer he was sickly as a child and had poor eyesight due to smallpox.  He became interested in astronomy as a child when his mother took him to see the Great Comet of 1577, he also witnessed a lunar eclipse in 1580.  His mother, by the way, spent 14 months in prison being tortured for witchcraft.  He was an assistant to Tycho Brahe and invented an improved version of the refracting telescope.

Today is also the birthday of Louis Pasteur, born in 1822, he was homesick when he went to away to school and had a hard time adjusting to the homesickness. He didn’t do poorly in school but he didn’t do all that well either. Nevertheless he went on to become one of the greatest scientists. Among his many achievements were vaccines for rabies and anthrax, pasteurization, fermentation and he was the first chemist to demonstrate chiral molecules.  He is considered one of the founders of microbiology.

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