Category Archives: Scientist’s Birthdays

Science Birthdays, March 30

Robert Bunsen was born on this day in 1811, a German chemist he investigated emission spectra of heated elements. He discovered cesium and rubidium.  He developed the Bunsen burner which are still used in laboratories today.  He died in 1899 at the age of 88.

Also born on this day was Bernhard Schmidt, he invented the Schmidt telescope to correct distortion when trying to enlarge something while keeping the field enlarged at the same time,  he died in 1955 at age 76.

Maimoides was born in 1135. He was the physician to Saladin, wrote a book called Guide for the perplexed, he died in 1204 at age 69.



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Science Birthdays, March 29

Sanctorius Sanctorius, born in 1561, he was a physician who measured weights of humans as they perspired. This was the beginning of the study of metabolism. He measured body temp using the first clinical thermometer, a water level thermometer. He also invented a device to measure pulse rate. He died in 1636 at age 75.

Sir Harold Jones, born in 1890, astronomer he measured the distance to the sun. He died in 1960 at age 70.

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Science Birthdays, March 28

Wilhelm Kuhne, born in 1837, biologist, he coined the word enzyme in 1876. He died in 1900 at age 63.

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Science Birthdays, March 27

Karl Nageli, born in 1817, botanist, his work hindered the development of botany and genetics. He died in 1891 at the age of 74.

Johann Hittorf, born in 1824, chemist, he developed the concept of transport number, which means that ions do not travel to electrodes at the same speed. He died in 1914 at the age of 90.

Wilhelm Roentgen, born in 1845, physicist, he got expelled from school for ridiculing a teacher. In1895 he discovered X-Rays. The unit of X-Rays is called the Roentgen. The first person to be honored with the Nobel prize in physics was Roentgen in 1901. He refused to patent the invention or to gain financially from it because he thought that all humanity should have it.  With the rising inflation of the war, he died in poverty in 1923 at age 78.

Otto Wallach, born in 1847, chemist, he studied under Wohler, Hoffman and Kekule, discovered terpenes. He died in 1931 at age 84.

John Pierce, born in 1910, engineer and author, he liked science fiction and believed in satellites.  He worked with vacuum tubes, developed the concept of Code Pulse Modulation, and he coined the term transistor. He is also credited for the saying “nature abhors a vacuum”.  He wrote science fiction under the pseudonym of J.J. Coupling and had a hobby flying gliders.  He died in 2002 at the age of 92.


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Science Birthdays, March 26

Benjamin Rumford, born in 1753, physicist or Count Rumford, He was born Benjamin Thompson, only about two miles from where Benjamin Franklin was born. He was making fireworks in 1766 and an explosion nearly killed him. He was 13 years old, at 19 he married a rich widow who was much older than himself.  He spied on his countrymen during the Revolutionary War. When the war was over he left his wife and child and went to England with the British in permanent exile. He took bribes, was suspected of selling war secrets to the French, but he also set up workhouses for beggars, introduced the steam engine and potato to Europe and was made a count and he chose Rumford as his name, it was the name of the town where his wife was born. Up until the late 1700’s heat was thought of as a fluid that was called caloric.  This was the theory of Lavoisier (the father of modern chemistry). Thompson discovered that heat was a motion while boring canon barrels. Rumford was arrogant and generally of unpleasant character so he was kicked out of Bavaria and returned to England in 1799 and he was admitted into the Royal Society. He founded the Royal Institution in 1799, his first wife died so he married the widow of Antoine Lavoisier who was rich, it was an unhappy marriage and it ended only four years.  He died in 1814 at the age of 61. If you use a drip coffee maker, a double boiler, or a kitchen range, you can thank him.   Although he died in exile he left most of his estate to the United States, he left an endowment for a professorship in applied science to Harvard University, he, like Benjamin Franklin refused to get patents for his inventions, he believed they belonged to everyone.

Konrad Gesner, born in 1516, naturalist, he was a physician by profession, but he had interests ranging from Greek to comparative philosophy to natural history, he used the hobby of collecting mountain plants as an excuse to indulge in the Swiss hobby of mountain climbing, he was the first person to present illustrations of fossils, but he had no idea they were remnants of past life, he has been described as a “monster of erudition” He wrote a universal library in which he listed all known books in Hebrew, Greek and Latin with summaries of each, He also wrote exhaustive volumes between 1551 and 1558 describing all known animals.  He collected at least 500 species of plants, He died in 1565 at the age of 49 after a plague struck Zurich and he refused to abandon his patients.


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Science Birthdays, March 25

Schultze Max was born on this day in 1825, anatomist         He said that protoplasm was the physical basis of life. He died in 1874 at age 49.

(The term protoplasm was first used in 1846 by Hugo von Mohl)

(I believe that physical basis of life was used by Thomas Huxley, Huxley gave a lecture on this topic in 1868)


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Science Birthdays, March 24


Georgius Agricola, born in 1494, mineralogist, he was a physician who worked at a mining town. He took the knowledge of the miners and wrote a book.  Because of this he became known as the father of mineralogy. He died in 1555 at age 61.

Joseph Liouville, born in 1809, mathematician, he discovered transcendental numbers which are numbers that are not solutions to a polynomial. Such as e and e squared (about 2,7). He died in 1882 at age 73.

Josef Stefan, born in 1835, physicist, he was interested in the rate of cooling of hot bodies and said the total radiation of a hot body was proportional to the fourth power of the absolute temperature. Thus if temp is doubled the radiation increased 16 fold. This is called Stefan’s fourth power law.  It became known as the Stefan-Boltzman Law. He died in 1893 at age 58.

Peter DeBye, born in 1884, chemist, he worked under Sommerfield. Worked on dipole moments. Debye Huckle theory, He extended Arrhenius theory of ionization. Debye said that salts are completely dissolved but a dragging effect caused by the ions being surrounded by ions of opposite charge make it seem like they are incompletely dissociated. He died in 1966 at age 82.

Walter Baade, born in 1893, astronomer, Gottingen, discovered the planetoid Hidalgo, and Icarus. He located over 300 cepheids in Andromeda. He said there were two sets of stars, bluish, young population 1 stars in the outer galaxy and reddish older population 2 stars in the inner galaxy.  He found that cepheid strss occurred in Population 1 and Population 2 stars. He died in 1960 at age 67.

Adolf Butenandt, chemist, he isolated and identified the sex hormones, estrone in 1929, androsterone in 1931, progesterone in 1934. He was forced by Hitler to refuse the Nobel prize but received it after the war. He died in 1995 at age 91.

Sidney Fox, born in 1912, chemist, he worked on the origin of life.  Proteinoids were formed from amino acids on hot rocks. They form sphere that take on some of the characteristics of cells. He died in 1998 at age 86.

John Kendrew, born in 1917, chemist, he worked on the structure of myoglobin using X-ray diffraction, he died in 1997 at age 80.


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