James Cook

Jean-François de La Pérouse and his Voyage around the World

Jean-François de La Pérouse and his Voyage around the World

On August 1, 1785, French Navy officer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse with 2 ships, the Astrolabe and the Boussole, and 200 men left Brest to lead an expedition around the world. The objectives of the journey were to complete the Pacific discoveries of James Cook (whom La Pérouse greatly admired), correct and complete maps of the area, establish trade contacts, open new maritime routes and enrich French science and scientific…
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James Cook and the Great Barrier Reef

James Cook and the Great Barrier Reef

On June 11, 1770, British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy James Cook discovered the Great Barrier Reef while running aground and risking his ship, the HMS Endeavour, to sink. Background James Cook Cook’s birth is recorded in the parish register of St. Cuthbert in Yorkshire with the entry “27 October 1728 James, son of the day labourer James Cook and his wife Grace”. He was one of eight children.…
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The Chronometers of John Harrison and the Problem of Longitude

The Chronometers of John Harrison and the Problem of Longitude

On April 3, 1693, self-educated English carpenter and clockmaker John Harrison was born. Harrison invented the marine chronometer, a long-sought-after device for solving the problem of calculating longitude while at sea. However, it was not until toward the end of his life that he finally received recognition and a reward from the British Parliament. Early Life Little is known about John Harrison’s early years. He was the oldest of five children, born…
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Edward Bransfield and the first Sighting of Antarctica

Edward Bransfield and the first Sighting of Antarctica

In January 1820, British Navy officer Edward Bransfield sighted Trinity Peninsula, the northernmost point of the Antarctic mainland. However, the very first confirmed sighting of mainland Antarctica cannot be accurately attributed to one single person. It can, however, be narrowed down to three individuals, who all sighted the ice shelf or the continent within days or months of each other: Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen,[1] a captain in the Russian Imperial Navy; Edward…
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How James Weddell Discovered the Weddell Sea in the Southern Ocean

How James Weddell Discovered the Weddell Sea in the Southern Ocean

On August 24 1787, British sailor, navigator and seal hunter James Weddell was born. He sailed into a region of the Southern Ocean that later became known as the Weddell Sea. Also the Weddell seal was discovered and named in the 1820s during expeditions led by James Weddell. Not much is known about James Weddell’s early life. He probably entered the merchant service at quite young age and was bound to the master…
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Arthur Phillip – Commander of the First Fleet

Arthur Phillip – Commander of the First Fleet

On May 13, 1787, the First Fleet commanded by Captain (later Admiral) Arthur Phillip, left Portsmouth, England, to found a penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. Arthur Phillip was born in the parish of London in 1738 and enrolled at Greenwich School for the sons of seamen. After two years at sea his apprenticeship in the mercantile service was completed and afterwards, he remained aboard as Fortune undertook…
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Joseph Priestley and the Discovery of Oxygen

Joseph Priestley and the Discovery of Oxygen

On February 6, 1804, English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and Liberal political theorist Joseph Priestley passed away. Being a rather prolific author with more than 150 works published, he is usually credited with the discovery of oxygen, having isolated it in its gaseous state, although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Antoine Lavoisier also have a claim to the discovery.[4,6] “It is known to all persons who are conversant in experimental…
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Abel Tasman and the Discovery of Tasmania

Abel Tasman and the Discovery of Tasmania

On November 24, 1642, Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant Abel Tasman sighted the west coast of Tasmania, north of Macquarie Harbour. He named his discovery Van Diemen’s Land after Antonio van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. Service in the Dutch East India Company Abel Tasman was born in 1603 in Lutjegast in what is now the province of Groningen, the Netherlands. He received a sufficient education to enable him to express…
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James Lind and a Cure for Scurvy

James Lind and a Cure for Scurvy

James Lind (1714-1794) On October 4, 1714, Scottish physician James Lind was born. He was a pioneer of naval hygiene in the Royal Navy. By conducting the first ever clinical trial, he developed the theory that citrus fruits cured scurvy. His work advanced the practice of preventive medicine and improved nutrition. James Lind was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Margaret (Smelum) and James Lind, a prosperous merchant whose wife had medical connections. He…
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Georg Forster – Naturalist and Revolutionary

Georg Forster – Naturalist and Revolutionary

Forster and his father at Tahiti On November 27, 1754, German naturalist, ethnologist, travel writer, journalist, and revolutionary Georg Forster was born. At an early age, he accompanied his father on several scientific expeditions, including James Cook‘s second voyage to the Pacific. His most famous work ‘A Voyage Round the World’ is considered as the beginning of modern scientific travel literature, which also made him a member of the famous Royal Society.…
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