Royal Society

John Smeaton – the Father of Civil Engineering

John Smeaton – the Father of Civil Engineering

On June 8, 1729, English civil engineer John Smeaton was born. Smeaton actually is referred to having coined the term “civil engineering” to distinguish from military engineers. He was esponsible for the design of bridges, canals, harbours and lighthouses. He was also a capable mechanical engineer and an eminent physicist. John Smeaton’s Way to Civil Engineering John Smeaton was born at Austhorpe Lodge in the parish of Whitkirk, four miles east of…
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Henry Draper and his Passion for Astronomy

Henry Draper and his Passion for Astronomy

On March 7, 1837, American physiologist and amateur astronomer Henry Draper was born. He is best known today as a pioneer of astrophotography. After his death, the Henry Draper Catalog of stellar spectra as well the Henry Draper medal is named after him. Henry Draper – Early Years Henry Draper was the son of John William Draper,[6] a doctor, chemist, and professor at New York University. He was known for his interest in…
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Sir George Stokes and Fluid Dynamics

Sir George Stokes and Fluid Dynamics

On February 1, 1903, Irish mathematician, physicist, politician and theologian Sir George Gabriel Stokes, 1st Baronet, passed away. Stokes made seminal contributions to fluid dynamics, optics, and mathematical physics including the first version of what is now known as Stokes’ theorem. “It is very difficult for us, placed as we have been from earliest childhood in a condition of training, to say what would have been our feelings had such training never…
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Thomas Willis and the Anatomy of the Nervous System

Thomas Willis and the Anatomy of the Nervous System

On January 27, 1620, English physician and founding member of the Royal Society Thomas Willis was born, who played an important part in the history of anatomy, neurology and psychiatry. A club of scientists including Robert Boyle, Christopher Wren and John Wilkins met in his rooms in Oxford, which later should become founding members of the Royal Society.[5,6] “But the office of the Cerebral seems to be for the animal Spirits to supply…
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Sir Hans Sloane and his famous Collection

Sir Hans Sloane and his famous Collection

On January 11, 1753, Irish born British physician, naturalist and collector Sir Hans Sloane passed away. Sloane is foremost known for bequeathing his collection to the nation, thus providing the foundation of the British Museum. “The knowledge of Natural-History, being Observation of Matters of Fact, is more certain than most others, and in my slender Opinion, less subject to Mistakes than Reasonings, Hypotheses, and Deductions are;. . . These are things we…
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Sir Edward Sabine and the Earth’s Magnetic Field

Sir Edward Sabine and the Earth’s Magnetic Field

On October 14, 1788, Irish astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist, explorer, soldier and the 30th President of the Royal Society Sir Edward Sabine was born. His aim was to study the shape of the Earth and its magnetic field. He led the effort to establish a system of magnetic observatories in various parts of British territory all over the globe, and much of his life was devoted to their direction, and to analyzing their…
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William Brouncker’s Approximation of Pi

William Brouncker’s Approximation of Pi

On April 5, 1684, English mathematician William Brouncker, 2nd Viscount Brouncker passed away. Brouncker introduced Brouncker‘s formula, a development of 4/π in a generalized continued fraction, and was the first President of the Royal Society. £1200 for a Peerage Brouncker was born in Castlelyons, County Cork, the elder son of William Brouncker, 1st Viscount Brouncker and Winifred, daughter of Sir William Leigh of Newnham. His father was created a Viscount in the…
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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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John Wilkins and the Universal Language

John Wilkins and the Universal Language

On February 14, 1614, Anglican clergyman, natural philosopher and author John Wilkins was born. Wilkins was one of the founders of the Royal Society and a polymath, although not one of the most important scientific innovators of the period. He is particularly known for An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (1668) in which, amongst other things, he proposed a universal language and a decimal system of measures which…
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John Goodricke and the Variable Star of Beta Persei

John Goodricke and the Variable Star of Beta Persei

On September 17, 1764, English amateur astronomer John Goodricke was born. He is best known for his observations of the variable star Algol (Beta Persei) in 1782. He was also first to correctly propose that the distant sun is periodically occulted by a dark body. John Goodricke Background Not much is known about John Goodricke. Clear is only that the astronomer was deaf and passed away very early at the age of…
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