Isaac Newton

William Stukeley and the Mystery of Stonehenge

William Stukeley and the Mystery of Stonehenge

On November 7, 1687, English antiquarian and Anglican clergyman William Stukeley was born. He pioneered the archaeological investigation of the prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, work for which he has been remembered as probably the most important of the early forerunners of the discipline of archaeology. Stukeley was also one of the first biographers of Isaac Newton, of whom he was a friend. William Stukeley – Early Years William Stukeley was born in Holbeach in…
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James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

In November 1638, Scottish mathematician and astronomer James Gregory was born. Gregory described an early practical design for the reflecting telescope – the Gregorian telescope – and made advances in trigonometry, discovering infinite series representations for several trigonometric functions. James Gregory – Youth and Education James Gregory was born at Drumoak, Aberdeenshire, UK, the youngest of the 3 children of John Gregory, an Episcopalian Church of Scotland minister. Initially he was educated at…
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Pierre Louis Maupertuis – The Man who flattened the Earth

Pierre Louis Maupertuis – The Man who flattened 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. “Nature always uses the simplest means to accomplish its effects.” – Formulation of the principle of least action, as…
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Comte de Buffon and his Histoire Naturelle

Comte de Buffon and his Histoire Naturelle

On September 7, 1707, French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was born. Buffon formulated a crude theory of evolution and was the first to suggest that the earth might be older than suggested by the Bible. His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck [2] and Georges Cuvier.[6] “Truly, Buffon was the father of all thought in natural history in the second half of…
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his Theory of Colours

On August 28, 1749, famous German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born. Besides his merits in literature, poetry, and philosophy, that we already did acknowledge in previous articles [4,5,9], Goethe was also interested in natural sciences. He independently discovered the human intermaxillary bone in 1784, was one of the many precursors in the history of evolutionary thought, popularized the Goethe barometer using a principle established by Torricelli, and published his Theory of…
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David Brewster and the Invention of the Kaleidoscope

David Brewster and the Invention of the Kaleidoscope

On July 10, 1817, Scottish physicist, mathematician, astronomer, inventor and writer Sir David Brewster received a patent for his kaleidoscope. “kaleidoscope” is derived from Ancient Greek and denotes something like “observation of beautiful forms.” It consists of a cylinder with mirrors containing loose, colored objects such as beads or pebbles and bits of glass. As the viewer looks into one end, light entering the other creates a colorful pattern, due to the…
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John Dollond – Improving the Telescope with Achromatic Lenses

John Dollond – Improving the Telescope with Achromatic Lenses

On June 10, 1706 (10 June O.S. / 21 June N.S.), English optician John Dollond was born. He is known for his successful optics business and his patenting and commercialization of achromatic lenses. John Dolland Background John Dollond came from a Huguenot emigrant family and initially worked as a silk weaver like everyone else in his family, but was also involved in astronomy and optics. He studied Latin, Greek, mathematics, physics, and anatomy…
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Abraham de Moivre and the Doctrine of Chances

Abraham de Moivre and the Doctrine of Chances

On May 26, 1667, French mathematician Abraham de Moivre was born. De Moivre is best known for de Moivre‘s formula, one of those that link complex numbers and trigonometry, and for his work on the normal distribution and probability theory. He was a friend of Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley, and James Stirling. De Moivre wrote a book on probability theory, The Doctrine of Chances, said to have been prized by gamblers. He…
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The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society

The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society

On March 6, 1665, the very first issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society was published. The journal published by the Royal Society was the first journal in the world exclusively devoted to science. Moreover, it is also the world’s longest-running scientific journal. “Had I been a literary man I might, perhaps, have moralised upon the futility of all ambition. But as it was, the thing that struck me with…
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Giovanni Alfonso Borelli and the Science of Biomechanics

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli and the Science of Biomechanics

On January 28, 1608, Renaissance Italian physiologist, physicist, and mathematician Giovanni Alfonso Borelli was born. Trained in mathematics, Borelli also made extensive studies of Jupiter’s moons, the mechanics of animal locomotion and, in microscopy, of the constituents of blood. He also used microscopy to investigate the stomatal movement of plants, and undertook studies in medicine and geology. “No sensible person will deny that the works of Nature are in the highest degree…
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