Category Archives: Scientist’s Birthdays

Science Birthdays, February 24

Today is the birthday of Pyotr Nikolaevich Lebedev, born in 1866, he was the first to measure the pressure of light on a solid body in his experimental studies of electromagnetic waves, this discovery, announced at the World Physics Congress in 1900 became the first quantitative confirmation of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism.

Karl Graebe, born in 1841introduced the terms ortho, meta and para to organic chemistry. He died in 1927 at the age of 86.

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Science Birthdays, February 23

Today is the birthday of Casmir Funk, born in 1884, he coined the term vitamin which means life amine, he thought all of the vitamins were amines at that time. He died in 1957 at age 73.

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Science Birthdays, February 22

2/22/1796        Lambert Quetelet        astronomer      pronounced (ket lay), He also worked on statistical measurements and found that chest measurements and heights of soldiers varied the same way as bullet holes about a bullseye, and the toss of dice. This produced a bell curve. From this he arrived at the average man. He died in 1874 at age 78.

2/22/1824        Pierre Janssen              astronomer      He discovered a spectral line that led to the discovery of helium. He published an atlas of photographs of the sun. He died in 1907 at age 83.

2/22/1857        Rudolf Heinrich Hertz                        physicist          student of Helmholtz and Kirchoff. Studied electromagnetic waves but never saw the radio or the structure of the atom.  He died at age 36.  Chronic blood poisoning

2/22/1879        Johannes Bronsted      chemist            acid base theory of opposites.  He died in 1947 at age 68.

2/22/1962        Steve Irwin

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Science Birthdays, February 21

August Wasserman, born in 1866, he worked under Robert Koch, developed a diagnostic test for syphilis still known as the Wasserman test. He died in 1925 at age 59.

Carl Dam, born in 1895, he was a chemist who studied under Pregel, he studied the synthesis of cholesterol in hens and also hypothesized vitamin K as a coagulation factor, it stands for Koagulation, the German spelling.

Rene Dubos, born in 1901 he was a biologist and microbiologist whose research led to discoveries of antibiotics.

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Science Birthdays, February 20

Today is the birthday of Ludwig Boltzmann, born in 1844, he was one of the founders of quantum mechanics when he suggested that energy levels of a physical system could be discrete, also known for his kinetic theory of gases, he hanged himself during an act of depression.

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Science Birthdays, February 19

 

2/19/1626        Francesco Redi, born in 1626, he was a physician and poet, wrote Bacco in Toscana in 1685. In 1668 he tested Harvey’s (4/1/1578) idea that maggots might come from eggs that were too small to be seen.  His experiment was the first clear case of using controls in a biological experiment. He concluded that the maggots indeed came from flies laying eggs on the meat.  The question of spontaneous generation continued for 200 more years.  He died in 1697 at age 71

2/19/1473        Nicolas Copernicus, born in 1473, he was a son of a well-to-do merchant. His father died and he was raised by his uncle a prince-bishop. First class education. He studied math and painting in Cracow. He went to Italy in 1496 to study medicine and canon law. After reading Regiomontanus he became interested in astronomy. In his day people believed as Ptolemy had said that all heavenly bodies orbited the earth. The Alfonsine tables were far off. In 1507 Copernicus thought the tables would work out better if the sun were considered the center of the universe.  This meant that earth would have to orbit the sun. Aristarhus had said this in ancient times. Nicholas of Casa also had the idea. He still believed that the orbits were circular. He hesitated publishing for fear of heresy. Rheticus urged him to publish. He never married and never became a priest. His book was published but only as a way to calculate planetary motion. As Copernicus laid on his deathbed a copy of the book was dated a month before his death so he might have seen it. It was banned by the Catholic church until 1835.  When a statue was raised in his honor by Napoleon, no Catholic priest would officiate the occasion.  He died in 1543 at age 70

2/19/1792        Sir Roderick Murchison, born in 1792, he was a retired military officer who became a fox hunter, then got interested in geology. He began as a neptunist but was soon converted to volcanism.  He named the Silurian era and received the Copley medal. He then studied rocks of the Devonian era. He named the Permian era after the city of Perm where he surveyed the rocks of the Ural Mountains. He was knighted in 1845. He died in 1871 at age 79.

2/191799         Ferdinand Reich, born in 1799, he studied at Gottingen under Strohmeyer. He introduced the metric system to Saxony. He wanted to become a spectroscopist but he was colorblind.  He used his assistant to interpret the color and in 1863 discovered the new element indium. He died in 1882 at age 83.

2/19/1859        Svante Arrhenius, born in 1859, he was an infant prodigy, taught himself to read by age 3, He was a student of  Cleve who dismissed his theory of electrolytes carrying charges. Arrhenius used his theory of ionic dissociation as his PhD thesis. He got the lowest possible passing grade. He also studied the influence of temperature on the rate of reaction and suggested activation energy. He later received the Nobel prize for his theory and Cleve was one of his biggest supporters.  Arrhenius also had theories about the origin of live and the greenhouse effect. He died in 1927 at age 68.

2/19/1910        Walter William Walter, born in 1910, he built the testudo, (L turtle) early robot.

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Science Birthdays, February 18

2/18/1745        Alessandro Volta        physicist          Came from a noble family. He couldn’t talk until he was 4, and his family thought that he was retarded. He started to change at age 7. Electricity was the phenomena of the age he lived in so at age 14 he decided he would become a physicist.  Priestley had written a history of the subject. He discovered the electrophorus in 1775.  It replaced the Leyden jar and is the basis of condensers today. He received the Copley medal in 1791. He proved that electricity did not come from living tissue as Galvani suggested.  This embittered Galvani until his death. He made the first electric battery in history.  The voltaic pile.  He was made a count on account of this in 1810 and is known as Count Volta. The volt is named after him. He died at age 82 in 1827.

 

2/18/1790        Marshall Hall               physiologist     He studied and named the reflex arc. He concluded that the nerve impulse goes through the spinal cord. He died in 1857 at age 67.

 

2/18/1404        Leone Alberti              artist    He was a Renaissance man. He published a book on perspective in 1434.  Art grew into almost a branch of geometry because of perspective, making art more real looking.  Although some say art is not science, all knowledge is one. He died in 1472 at age 68.

 

2/18/1838        Ernst Mach                  physicist          Son of a schoolteacher. Proposed the Mach principle, and named by Albert Einstein, which held that space had no independent existence, but is dependent on the mass content and distribution within it. He discovered that there was a change in the nature of airflow over a moving object as it reached to speed of sound, called Mach 1. He  said that all knowledge was a matter of sensation in 1872.  He said that laws of nature were simply man-made generalizations. He said it was only the observations that had reality. He was going to write a book pointing out flaws in Einstein’ theory of Relativity but he suffered a stroke and died before he could finish it. He died in 1916 at age 78.

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