Science Birthdays, April 27

4/27/1791        Samuel Morse,             inventor, invented the single wire telegraph system, Morse code and was an accomplished landscape painter, he died in 1872 at age 80.

4/27/1820        Herbert Spencer,         sociologist and English philosopher, polymath, He wrote Principles of Psychology in 1855. In an essay on evolution in 1857 he maintained that evolution is a universal law that applies to organisms, society, the brain, stars, galaxies, etc. he coined the concept of “survival of the fittest and struggle for survival,” after reading Darwin’s book, he published Principles of biology in 1864, he made use of Lamarckian rather than natural selection, in the 1870’s he became the most famous philosopher of the ages sometimes compared to Aristotle, he died in 1903 at age 83.

4/27/1896        Wallace Carothers,       chemist, invented nylon and laid the groundwork for the development of neoprene, he suffered depression and felt that he hadn’t accomplished anything, he was also having an affair with a married woman that led to her divorce, his parents were broke so he allowed them to move in with him, they did not get along well, and moved out, he committed suicide in 1937 at age 41by drinking a lemon juice cocktail laced with potassium cyanide.

4/27/1913        Philip Abelson,             chemist, invented the liquid thermal diffusion isotope separation technique used in the Manhattan project, he was opinionated and held that overspecialization in science led to bigotry, meaning that everyone thought there work was the most important, his wife Neva Abelson was co-discoverer of the Rh blood factor test, he died in 2004 at age 91.

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