Monthly Archives: December 2015

Robert Boyle – The Sceptical Chemist

Robert Boyle – The Sceptical Chemist

On December 31, 1691, Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist and inventor Robert Boyle passed away. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the founders of modern chemistry, and one of the pioneers of modern experimental scientific method. He is best known for Boyle’s law, which describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is…
Samuel Morland and his Calculator Machine

Samuel Morland and his Calculator Machine

On December 30, 1695, English academic, diplomat, spy, inventor and mathematician Samuel Morland passed away. Morland was a polymath credited with early developments in relation to computing, hydraulics and steam power. He is probably best known for his designs of early calculator machines. Samuel Morland was born in Sulhamstead Bannister, Berkshire, England, the son of Thomas Morland, the rector of Sulhamstead Bannister parish church in Berkshire. Morland entered Winchester School…
The Case of Klaus Fuchs

The Case of Klaus Fuchs

On December 29, 1911, German-born British theoretical physicist and atomic spy Emil Julius Klaus Fuchs was born. In the time of the development of the atomic bomb at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Fuchs was responsible for many significant theoretical calculations relating to the first nuclear weapons, and later, early models of the hydrogen bomb. In 1950, Fuchs was convicted of supplying information from the American, British, and Canadian Manhattan…
Maarten Schmidt and the Quasars

Maarten Schmidt and the Quasars

On December 28, 1929, Dutch astronomer Maarten Schmidt was born. Schmidt is best known for measuring the distances of quasars. Quasars or quasi-stellar radio sources are the most energetic and distant members of a class of objects called active galactic nuclei (AGN). Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that appeared to be similar to…
The second Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle

The second Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle

On December 27, 1831, The H.M.S. Beagle set sail from Plymouth Sound under captain Robert FitzRoy with the young graduate Charles Darwin on board for her 5 years voyage. By the end of the expedition Charles Darwin had already made his name as a geologist and fossil collector, and the publication of his journal which became known as The Voyage of the Beagle gave him wide renown as a writer.…
Avicenna and the Islamic Golden Age

Avicenna and the Islamic Golden Age

At about 980, Persian polymath bū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Sīnā, also known as Avicenna, was born. Avicenna is regarded as one of the most significant thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age. His most famous works are The Book of Healing – a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and The Canon of Medicine – a medical encyclopedia, which became a standard medical text at…
Clara Barton and the American Red Cross

Clara Barton and the American Red Cross

On December 25, 1821, American pioneering nurse Clarissa “Clara” Harlowe Barton was born. Barton is noteworthy for doing humanitarian work at a time when relatively few women worked outside the home. She worked as a hospital nurse in the American Civil War and was instrumental in the founding of the American Red Cross. Clara Barton was sent to school along with her brother Stephen when she was only three years old. There,…
James Prescott Joule and the Nature of Heat

James Prescott Joule and the Nature of Heat

On December 24, 1818, English physicist and brewer, James Prescott Joule was born. Joule studied the nature of heat, and discovered its relationship to mechanical work. This led to the law of conservation of energy, which led to the development of the first law of thermodynamics. The SI derived unit of energy, the joule, is named after James Joule. James Prescott Joule was the son of a wealthy brewer and was educated by…
Wilhelm Bauer and the Brandtaucher

Wilhelm Bauer and the Brandtaucher

In December 23, 1823, Bavarian inventor and engineer Wilhelm Bauer was born. Bauer was a submarine pioneer and constructed several hand-powered submarines, among them the famous blockade-breaking incendiary ship, the Brandtaucher. Wilhelm Bauer was born in Dillingen in the Kingdom of Bavaria. His father was a sergeant of a Bavarian cavalry regiment. Because of this, Wilhelm Bauer, after an apprenticeship as a wood turner, joined the military as well. Working…
Grote Reber and Radio Astronomy

Grote Reber and Radio Astronomy

On December 22, 1911, American pioneer of radio astronomy Grote Reber was born. He combined his interests in amateur radio and amateur astronomy and became instrumental in investigating and extending Karl Jansky’s pioneering work, who in August 1931 first discovered radio waves emanating from the Milky Way. Reber conducted the first sky survey in the radio frequencies and is considered one of the founding figures of radio astronomy. Grote Reber graduated from Armour…
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