geography

The Origins of the Greenwich Prime Meridian

The Origins of the Greenwich Prime Meridian

On October 13, 1884, Greenwich was adopted as the universal meridian, dividing the Earth into the Eastern and the Western hemisphere. At the International Meridian Conference held in Washington, D.C., 22 countries voted to adopt the Greenwich meridian as the prime meridian of the world. The French argued for a neutral line, mentioning the Azores and the Bering Strait but eventually abstained and continued to use the Paris meridian until 1911. The British Meridian Before…
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Robert S. Dietz and the Seafloor Spreading

Robert S. Dietz and the Seafloor Spreading

On September 14, 1914, US marine geologist, geophysicist and oceanographer Robert Sinclair Dietz was born. He is best known for his pioneering research along with Harry Hammond Hess concerning seafloor spreading (a term he coined), in which new crustal material continually upwells from the Earth’s depths along the mid-ocean ridges and spreads outward at a rate of several inches per year. Robert Dietz – Education Robert Dietz was educated at the University…
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John Speed and his Atlas of the British Isles

John Speed and his Atlas of the British Isles

On July 28, 1629, English cartographer and historian John Speed passed away. He is considered the most famous of English map-makers. His best-known work is a landmark: the first atlas of the British Isles, the Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (1612), which was reprinted for well over a century after his death. Framed productions of maps from his atlas remain popular to hang in homes. John Speed – “An Ambitious,…
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Matthew Fontaine Maury and the Oceanography

Matthew Fontaine Maury and the Oceanography

On January 14, 1806, American astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator Matthew Fontaine Maury was born. He is often referred to as Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology, due to the publication of his extensive works in his books, especially The Physical Geography of the Sea (1855), the first extensive and comprehensive book on oceanography to be published. Maury made many important new contributions to charting winds and…
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The Most Accurate Instruments of Gemma Frisius

The Most Accurate Instruments of Gemma Frisius

On December 9, 1508, physician, mathematician, cartographer, philosopher, and instrument maker Gemma Frisius was born. He created important globes, improved the mathematical instruments of his day and applied mathematics in new ways to surveying and navigation. Gemma Frisius – Youth and Education Gemma Frisius was born Jemma Reinierzoon in Dokkum, Friesland, a coastal province in northern Netherlands, of poor parents who died when he was young. His nom de plume Gemma Frisius is a…
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James Hutton – the Father of Modern Geology

James Hutton – the Father of Modern Geology

On June 3, 1726, Scottish geologist, physician, chemical manufacturer, naturalist, and experimental agriculturalist James Hutton was born. He originated the theory of uniformitarianism, a fundamental principle of geology, which explains the features of the Earth’s crust by means of natural processes over geologic time. Hutton’s work established geology as a proper science, and thus he is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Geology“. “The past history of our globe must be explained…
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Abraham Ortelius and the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Abraham Ortelius and the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

On May 20, 1570, Belgian cartographer and geographer Abraham Ortelius published the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, in Antwerp. It consisted of a collection of uniform map sheets and sustaining text bound to form a book for which copper printing plates were specifically engraved. Abraham Ortelius – Early Years Abraham Ortelius was born in Antwerp, but grew up with his uncle after his father passed away at young age. In…
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John Murray and the Oceanography

John Murray and the Oceanography

On March 3, 1841, pioneering Scottish oceanographer, marine biologist and limnologist Sir John Murray was born. As one of its founders, coined the name oceanography. He studied ocean basins, deep-sea deposits, and coral-reef formation. As a marine scientist, he took part in the Challenger Expedition (1872–76), the first major oceanographic expedition of the world. John Murray – Early Years John Murray was born in Coburg, Ontario as the second son of Elizabeth Macfarlane…
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Erich von Drygalski’s Antarctic Expeditions

Erich von Drygalski’s Antarctic Expeditions

On February 9, 1865, German geographer, geophysicist and polar scientist Erich Dagobert von Drygalski was born. Drygalski discovered a volcano, free of ice, on the Antarctic continent. He named it Gaussberg, after the name of his research ship Gauss in which he led the German South Polar Expedition (1901-03). Background Erich von Drygalski Erich von Drygalski was born in Köningsberg, East Prussia. At age 17, Drygalski began to study mathematics and natural science at…
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Johannes Schöner and his Famous Globes

Johannes Schöner and his Famous Globes

On January 16, 1477, German polymath Johannes Schöner was born. He was a priest, astronomer, astrologer, geographer, cosmographer, cartographer, mathematician, globe and scientific instrument maker and editor and publisher of scientific tests. He is well known for making and printing geographical globes, notably his 1515 globe which is one of the earliest surviving globes produced following the discovery of new lands by Christopher Columbus. “Himmelan hat er dein Ziel Selbst hinaufgestellt. Sorg…
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