biology

Charles Elton and  the beginning of Modern Animal Ecology

Charles Elton and the beginning of Modern Animal Ecology

On March 29, 1900, English zoologist and animal ecologist Charles Sutherland Elton was born. Elton‘s name is associated with the establishment of modern population and community ecology, including studies of invasive organisms. In 1927, Elton published his now classic book Animal Ecology, in which he took up the concept of food chains that had been originally introduced by the African-Arab scientist and philosopher Al-Jahiz in the 9th century. “Food is the burning…
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Sidney Fox and his Research for the Origins of Life

Sidney Fox and his Research for the Origins of Life

On March 24, 1912, American biochemist Sidney W. Fox was born. In search for the origins of life, Fox explored the synthesis of amino acids from inorganic molecules, the synthesis of proteinous amino acids and amino acid polymers called “proteinoids” from inorganic molecules and thermal energy, and created what he thought was the world‘s first protocell out of proteinoids and water. “A further aspect I should like to discuss is what I…
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John Randall and the Cavity Magnetron

John Randall and the Cavity Magnetron

On March 23, 1905, British physicist and biophysicist Sir John Randall was born. Randall is credited with radical improvement of the cavity magnetron, an essential component of centimetric wavelength radar, which was one of the keys to the Allied victory in the Second World War. It is also the key component of microwave ovens. He also led the King’s College, London team which worked on the structure of DNA. John Randall –…
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Jan Swammerdam – Dutch Naturalist and Microscopist

Jan Swammerdam – Dutch Naturalist and Microscopist

On February 12, 1637, Dutch biologist and microscopist Jan Swammerdam was born. He was one of the first people to use the microscope in dissections, and his techniques remained useful for hundreds of years. Swammerdam’s work on insects demonstrated that the various phases during the life of an insect — egg, larva, pupa, and adult — are different forms of the same animal. In 1658, he was the first to observe and describe red…
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Joseph Jackson Lister – Perfecting the Optical Microscope

Joseph Jackson Lister – Perfecting the Optical Microscope

On January 11, 1786, British amateur opticist and physicist Joseph Jackson Lister was born. In 1826, Lister designed possibly the most important optical microscope ever made. It used an achromatic objective lens corrected for chromatic and spherical aberrations, the resulting image was at the time the clearest produced by any microscope. Joseph Jackson Lister – Family Background Joseph Jackson Lister was the son of a London wine merchant and Quaker. He attended school until 1800 and was then…
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Alfred Sturtevant and the Chromosomes

Alfred Sturtevant and the Chromosomes

On November 21, 1891, American geneticist Alfred Henry Sturtevant was born. Sturtevant constructed the first genetic map of a chromosome in 1913. Throughout his career he worked on the organism Drosophila melanogaster with Thomas Hunt Morgan. By watching the development of flies in which the earliest cell division produced two different genomes, he measured the embryonic distance between organs in a unit which is called the sturt in his honor. Alfred Sturtenvant…
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Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastos of Eresos, who studied in Plato’s philosopher’s school, is most famous for his groundbreaking work on plants. Thus, he is often referred to as the ‘father of botany’. His two surviving botanical works, Enquiry into Plants (Historia Plantarum) and On the Causes of Plants, were an important influence on Renaissance science. Theophrastus of Eresos was a native of Eresos in Lesbos and his given name was Tyrtamus. It is believed that…
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Pierre Louis Maupertuis and the Shape of the Earth

Pierre Louis Maupertuis and the Shape of the Earth

On September 28, 1698, French mathematician, philosopher and man of letters Pierre Louis Maupertuis was born. Maupertuis made an expedition to Lapland to determine the shape of the Earth. He is also credited with having invented the principle of least action, an integral equation that determines the path followed by a physical system. Pierre Louis Maupertuis was born at Saint-Malo, France. He was educated in mathematics by a private tutor, Nicolas Guisnée…
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Guillaume Rondelet and the Aquatic Life

Guillaume Rondelet and the Aquatic Life

On September 27, 1507, French anatomist and naturalist Guillaume Rondelet was born, who had a particular interest in botany and zoology. His major work was a lengthy treatise on marine animals, which took two years to write and became a standard reference work for about a century afterwards, but his lasting impact lay in his education of a roster of star pupils who became leading figures in the world of late-16th century…
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The Biosphere 2 Missions

The Biosphere 2 Missions

On September 26, 1991, the first mission of Biosphere 2 began. Biosphere 2 is an Earth systems science research facility located in Oracle, Arizona, built to be an artificial, materially closed ecological system, or vivarium. It remains the largest closed system ever created. Biosphere 2 was constructed between 1987 and 1991 by Space Biosphere Ventures and was named Biosphere 2 because it was meant to be the second fully self-sufficient biosphere, after…
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