Monthly Archives: April 2015

John Lubbock – Banker, Liberal Politician, and Scientist

John Lubbock – Banker, Liberal Politician, and Scientist

On April 30, 1834, banker, Liberal politician, philanthropist, scientist and polymath John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury was born. He was a banker and worked with his family’s company, but also made significant contributions in archaeology, ethnography, and several branches of biology. He helped establish archaeology as a scientific discipline, and was also influential in nineteenth-century debates concerning evolutionary theory. John Lubbock also coined the terms Neolithic and Paleolithic. John Lubbock – Early Years…
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John Arbuthnot and the Laws of Chance

John Arbuthnot and the Laws of Chance

On April 29, 1667, Scottish physician, satirist and polymath John Arbuthnot was baptized. He is best remembered for his contributions to mathematics, his membership in the Scriblerus Club (where he inspired both Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels as well as Alexander Pope), and for inventing the figure of John Bull. He published Of the Laws of Chance (1692), the first work on probability published in English, being his translation of a work by…
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Jan Hendrik Oort and the Secrets of the Oort Cloud

Jan Hendrik Oort and the Secrets of the Oort Cloud

On April 28, 1900, Dutch physicist and astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort was born. One of the greatest astronomers of the 20th century, Oort made significant contributions to the understanding of the Milky Way and who was a pioneer in the field of radio astronomy. Oort determined that the Milky Way rotates and overturned the idea that the sun is at its center; he discovered mysterious invisible ‘dark matter‘ in 1932, as well…
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Wallace Hume Carothers and the Invention of Nylon

Wallace Hume Carothers and the Invention of Nylon

On April 27, 1896, American chemist and inventor Wallace Hume Carothers was born. He is credited with the invention of nylon, the first synthetic polymer fibre to be spun from a melt. Carothers produced this polyamide, by condensation of adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine working for the DuPont chemical company as head of organic chemistry research. “Living in the midst of abundance we have the greatest difficulty in seeing that the supply of…
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Alphonse Bertillon’s Anthropometric Identification System

Alphonse Bertillon’s Anthropometric Identification System

On April 23,1853, French police officer and biometrics researcher Alphonse Bertillon was born. Bertillon was the first who applied the anthropological technique of anthropometry to law enforcement creating an identification system based on physical measurements. Anthropometry was the first scientific system used by police to identify criminals. Before that time, criminals could only be identified by name or photograph. The method was eventually supplanted by fingerprinting. Born in a Family of Scientists…
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John Muir and the U.S. National Park System

John Muir and the U.S. National Park System

On April 21, 1838, Scottish-American naturalist and author John Muir was born. He was an early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. John Muir – Early Years John Muir was…
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Joseph Black and the Discovery of Carbon Dioxide

Joseph Black and the Discovery of Carbon Dioxide

On April 16, 1742, Scottish physician and chemist Joseph Black was born. He is best known for his discoveries of latent heat, specific heat, and carbon dioxide. “As the ostensible effect of the heat … consists not in warming the surrounding bodies but in rendering the ice fluid, so, in the case of boiling, the heat absorbed does not warm surrounding bodies but converts the water into vapor. In both cases, considered…
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Nikolaas Tinbergen and the Study of the Instinct

Nikolaas Tinbergen and the Study of the Instinct

On April 15, 1907, Dutch biologist, ornithologist, and Nobel Laureate Nikolaas Tinbergen was born. He studied the behavior of animals in their natural habitats and shared (with Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch) the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1973 for their discoveries concerning “organization and elicitation of individual and social behavior patterns.” Nikolaas Tinbergen – Early Years Nikolaas Tinbergen was born in The Hague, Netherlands, as the third of…
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Augustus Pitt Rivers – the Father of British Archaeology

Augustus Pitt Rivers – the Father of British Archaeology

On April 14, 1832, English army officer, ethnologist, and archaeologist Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers was born. He is often called the “father of British archaeology”, who stressed the need for total excavation of sites, through stratigraphic observation and recording, and prompt and complete publication. Like Sir Flinders Petrie, Pitt-Rivers adopted a sociological approach to the study of excavated objects and emphasized the instructional value of common artifacts.[4] Augustus Pitt Rivers –…
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Henry Rawlinson and the Mesopotamian Cuneiform

Henry Rawlinson and the Mesopotamian Cuneiform

On April 11, 1810, British East India Company army officer, politician and Orientalist Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson was born. As an army officer, became interested in antiquities after his assignment to reorganize the Persian army. He accomplished the translation of the Old Persian portion of the trilingual mutilingual cuneiform inscription of Darius I on the hillside at Behistun, Iran, which provided the key to the deciphering of Mesopotamian cuneiform script. Henry Rawlinson…
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