Monthly Archives: June 2016

Sir Ferdinand von Mueller – Government Botanist

Sir Ferdinand von Mueller – Government Botanist

On June 30, 1825, German-Australian physician, geographer, and botanist Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller was born. Von Mueller migrated to Australia in 1848 for health reasons, and there became the country’s greatest 19th-century scientist as a great botanical collector and writer. His contributions covered a wide field of sciences such as geography, pharmacy, horticulture, agriculture, forestry, paleontology, and zoology. His activity as a botanist is shown by hundreds…
George Ellery Hale and the Magnetic Fields in Sunspots

George Ellery Hale and the Magnetic Fields in Sunspots

On June 29, 1868, American solar astronomer George Ellery Hale was born. He is best known for his discovery of magnetic fields in sunspots, and as the leader or key figure in the planning or construction of several world-leading telescopes, including the 200-inch Hale reflecting telescope at Palomar Observatory. George Ellery Hale was the oldest of three children  and it is believed that he was highly supported by his parents…
Robert Ledley and the Computer Tomograph

Robert Ledley and the Computer Tomograph

On June 28, 1926, American computer scientist Robert Steven Ledley was born. Ledley pioneered the use of electronic digital computers in biology and medicine. He invented the ACTA (Automatic Computerized Transverse Axial) diagnostic X-ray scanner, the first whole-body computerized tomography (CT) machine, which revolutionized medical diagnosis. Conrad Roentgen‘s discovery of the “x-rays” already was a sensation in 1895, which revolutionized medical diagnostics. The CT-scan led another step further to more…
James Smithson’s Last Will

James Smithson’s Last Will

On June 27, 1829, English chemist and mineralogist James Smithson passed away, whose bequest of substantial funds in his will established the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge”, despite having never visited the United States. James Smithson was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford and earned his Master’s degree in 1786. Smithson traveled throughout Europe and participated in geological expeditions with Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond, William…
Mikhail Tsvet – the Father of Chromatography

Mikhail Tsvet – the Father of Chromatography

On June 26, 1919, Russian-Italian botanist Mikhail Semyonovich Tsvet passed away. Tsvet is credited with the invention of the adsorption chromatography, separating plant pigments by extracting them from leaves with ether and alcohol and percolating the solution through a column of calcium carbonate. Mikhail Tsvet was born 14 May 1872 in Asti, Italy. His mother was Italian, and his father was a Russian official. His mother died soon after his…
David Douglas and the Douglas Fir

David Douglas and the Douglas Fir

On June 25 1799, Scottish botanist David Douglas was born. Douglas was one of the most successful of the great 19th century plant collectors. Today, he is best known as the namesake of the Douglas fir. He worked as a gardener, and explored the Scottish Highlands, North America, and Hawaii, where he died. David Douglas was apprenticed to the head gardener at Scone Palace, the seat of the Earl of Mansfield and spent…
Oswald Veblen and modern Topology

Oswald Veblen and modern Topology

On June 24, 1880, American mathematician, geometer and topologist Oswald Veblen was born. Veblen‘s work found application in atomic physics and the theory of relativity. He proved the Jordan curve theorem in 1905 while this was long considered the first rigorous proof, many now also consider Jordan‘s original proof rigorous. “Mathematics is one of the essential emanations of the human spirit, a thing to be valued in and for itself,…
Nicholas Shackleton and Paleoclimatology

Nicholas Shackleton and Paleoclimatology

On June 23, 1937, English geologist and paleoclimatologist Nicholas Shackleton was born. Shackleton was the son of the distinguished field geologist Robert Millner Shackleton and great-nephew of the explorer Ernest Shackleton. He helped identify carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and studied the ancient climate changes of the Quaternary period, the last 1.8 million years, during which there were periods building up massive ice sheets and mountain ice caps alternating with warm…
Billy Wilder and Hollywood’s Golden Age

Billy Wilder and Hollywood’s Golden Age

On June 22, 1906, Austrian-born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist and journalist Billy Wilder was born. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood‘s golden age. With The Apartment, Wilder became the first person to win Academy Awards as producer, director and screenwriter for the same film. Born as Samuel Wilder to a Jewish family in Sucha Beskidzka, Austria-Hungary, to Max and Eugenia Wilder,…
Anders Ångström and the Science of Spectroscopy

Anders Ångström and the Science of Spectroscopy

On June 21, 1874, Swedish physicist Anders Jonas Ångström passed away. Anders Ångström is considered one of the founders of the science of spectroscopy. His pioneering use of spectroscopy is recognized in the name of the angstrom, a unit of length equal to 10-10 metre. Anders Jonas Ångström was born into a wealthy, upper class family in Logodo, Medelpad, Sweden, to Johan Ångström, a preacher at Lögdö Ironworks and later…
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