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History of Science

See also History of Astronomy, History of Mathematics, History of Medicine, Computers.

People

French physicist, developed a rule for determining the direction of the magnetic field associated with an electric current; SI unit of electric current is named after him Click to show or hide the answer
English physicist, developed the mass spectrometer and discovered isotopes Click to show or hide the answer
English scientist and philosopher, observed 1620 that the coastlines of Africa and South America appeared to fit together, hinting at plate tectonics Click to show or hide the answer
Founded and named the science of genetics (born Whitby 1861; died 1925) Click to show or hide the answer
French physicist: discovered radioactivity, shared the 1903 Nobel Physics prize with the Curies Click to show or hide the answer
Danish physicist, proved that electrons move in well–defined orbits; Nobel prize 1922 Click to show or hide the answer
Russian composer and Professor of Chemistry Click to show or hide the answer
Indian physicist, 1894–1974: best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s; Paul Dirac named the boson after him Click to show or hide the answer
Birmingham factory owner with whom James Watt went into partnership in 1775 to continue development of his steam engine Click to show or hide the answer
Discovered the elements caesium and rubidium – but better known as the inventor of a ubiquitous (and eponymous) piece of laboratory equipment Click to show or hide the answer
British physicist, a grandson of the 2nd Duke of Devonshire; discovered hydrogen (called it 'inflammable air'); determined the composition of water and nitric acid; the Cambridge physics laboratory once directed by Rutherford is named after him Click to show or hide the answer
British physicist, a pupil of Rutherford; discovered the neutron, 1932; Nobel prize 1935 Click to show or hide the answer
British and Irish physicists who succeeded in splitting the atom, 1932; jointly awarded the Nobel prize, 1951 Click to show or hide the answer
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Discovered DNA, and recognised its characteristic 'double helix' shape, at Cambridge University in 1953; Nobel prize 1962 Click to show or hide the answer
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Discovered radium and polonium Click to show or hide the answer
French artist and chemist, went into partnership with photography pioneer Joseph Niepce 1825; following the latter's death in 1833, announced an improved version 1839 (the daguerreotype); gave his patent to the French government, in return for a pension; they donated it as "a free gift to the world" Click to show or hide the answer
British chemist, originated the modern atomic theory of matter in 1803; produced the first comparative table of atomic weights; first described colour–blindness Click to show or hide the answer
English chemist: pioneered the use of nitrous oxide as an anaesthetic; discovered sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, strontium, barium and boron; invented a 'safety lamp' for use in mines where methane was present Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Greek philosopher (c460 – 370 BC) who believed that matter consisted of tiny particles Click to show or hide the answer
British physicist: worked out a version of quantum mechanics that was consistent with special relativity, and predicted the existence of antimatter (including the positron) Click to show or hide the answer
US scientist and inventor, invented a telegraph machine, the carbon transmitter (used in the microphone), the phonograph, the electric filament lamp, a new type of storage battery, and the kinetoscopic camera; made the first gramophone recording (Mary had a little lamb) Click to show or hide the answer
German–born scientist won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 "especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect" Click to show or hide the answer
English physicist and chemist: assistant to Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution from 1813, succeeding him as Professor of Chemistry there in 1833; discovered benzene, electrolysis and electromagnetic induction; discovered the principles of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis; made the first electric dynamo; inaugurated the tradition of Christmas lectures for young people at the Royal Institution (delivering 19 between 1827 and 1860); the SI unit of electrical capacitance is named in his honour Click to show or hide the answer
Italian–born physicist, 1901–54: created the world's first nuclear reactor (the Chicago Pile–1); has been called the "architect of the nuclear age" and the "architect of the atomic bomb"; element no. 100 is named in his honour Click to show or hide the answer
The first Astronomer Royal – appointed by Charles II in 1675 as "The King's Astronomical Observator"; his accurate observation of the Moon contributed to Newton's theory of gravitation Click to show or hide the answer
US ethologist, studied gorillas in Rwanda from 1976; subject of the film Gorillas in the Mist, based on her description of her studies (same title); brutally murdered at her research station on Boxing Day 1985 Click to show or hide the answer
French physicist, used a pendulum in 1851 to demonstrate that the earth rotates; also invented the gyroscope Click to show or hide the answer
US scientist and politician, suggested an experiment to prove that lightning is a form of electricity by flying a kite in a storm (he may have carried out such an experiment in 1752); introduced the terms positive and negative in electricity; invented the lightning conductor Click to show or hide the answer
Made important contributions to Crick & Watson's work on DNA in the 1950s, but her work went largely unrecognised – partly because of her death from ovarian cancer in 1958, aged 37 Click to show or hide the answer
Hungarian–born British physicist, invented the holographic method of three–dimensional photography Click to show or hide the answer
Forced to recant his views and sentenced to house arrest by the Inquisition, 1633, for his belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun; proved that objects fall at the same rate under gravity, regardless of size or weight Click to show or hide the answer
Italian physicist, whose experiments on dead frogs led to Volta's invention of the electric cell; gave his name to the process of coating iron or steel with zinc to prevent corrosion Click to show or hide the answer
US physicist, predicted the quark 1964; won the Nobel Physics prize, 1969 Click to show or hide the answer
British ethologist, studied chimpanzees in Tanzania from 1960 (still active 2008) Click to show or hide the answer
Nobel Prize 1944 for splitting the atomic nucleus (German) Click to show or hide the answer
Held a party in 2009, issuing an open invitation to time travellers from the future, and took the fact that none turned up as evidence that time travel is impossible Click to show or hide the answer
German physicist, originated quantum mechanics; published his uncertainty principle in 1927; Nobel prize 1932 Click to show or hide the answer
German–born British astronomer, discovered infra–red rays 1801 Click to show or hide the answer
German physicist, established that light is a form of electromagnetic radiation; confirmed Maxwell's theory of electromagnetic waves Click to show or hide the answer
Swiss chemist: wrote in April 1943 of "an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours" Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
English biochemist, postulated the existence of vitamins 1898, and discovered several of them; Nobel prize for medicine, 1929 Click to show or hide the answer
English brewery owner whose work led to the discovery of the first law of thermodynamics; discovered the relationship between heat and mechanical energy, and that heat is a form of radiation; the SI unit of energy is named after him; attempted to measure the temperature difference between the top and bottom of a waterfall, on his honeymoon Click to show or hide the answer
Dutch pharmacist: gave his name to an apparatus for preparing small volumes of gases, which he invented around 1844 Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
French naturalist, developed a theory of evolution based on the inheritance of acquired characteristics; introduced the terms vertebrate and invertebrate Click to show or hide the answer
French nobleman, known as "the father of modern chemistry"; disproved the phlogiston theory by showing that air was a mixture of gases and that combustion needed only a part of it, which he called oxygen; also named hydrogen; first stated the law of conservation of matter; devised the first table of the elements; introduced the metric system; beheaded in the French Revolution, essentially for working with the landowners of the old regime in reorganising agricultural methods Click to show or hide the answer
Inventor (1866) of the battery cell that developed into the one still used widely today Click to show or hide the answer
German chemist, regarded as the father of organic chemistry and of the fertiliser industry; developed the process for manufacturing beef extracts, founding the company that trademarked the Oxo brand Click to show or hide the answer
Swedish naturalist who originated the classification of species; the society that Darwin announced his theory of evolution to in 1858 is named after him Click to show or hide the answer
Scottish geologist, whose assertion that the processes that formed the earth were still taking place was a major influence on Darwin; craters on the Moon and Mars were named in his honour Click to show or hide the answer
Austrian physicist and philosopher (1838–1916), noted for his contributions to physics such as the study of shock waves; the ratio of a body's speed to that of sound is named in his honour Click to show or hide the answer
First demonstrated the laser, 1960, by energising a ruby crystal Click to show or hide the answer
Born Bologna, 1874: founded the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in the UK in 1897 (which eventually took his name); pioneered the development of wireless telegraphy (radio); transmitted signals across the English Channel in 1898, across the Atlantic (from Poldhu in Cornwall to St. John's, Newfoundland) in 1901, and to Australia in 1918 Click to show or hide the answer
Scottish physicist: devised a set of equations describing the relationships between electricity, magnetism and light, showing that they were all different forms of the same phenomenon (electromagnetic radiation); proposed that red, green and blue were the primary colours of light; predicted the existence of radio waves; proved that the rings of Saturn were made up of numerous small particles; voted the third greatest physicist of all time (after Einstein and Newton), in a poll of 100 leading physicists in 1999 Click to show or hide the answer
Austrian monk (1822–84), regarded as the founder of modern genetics through his experiments on (sweet) pea plants; formulated the Law of Independent Assortment Click to show or hide the answer
Russian chemist (1834–1907) who devised the periodic table of the elements – publishing it in 1869 Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
English inventor, patented an early steam engine, 1705, for pumping water out of mines (improved later by Watt) Click to show or hide the answer
English physicist and mathematician, discovered the law of gravity; created calculus; discovered that white light is composed of light of many colours; developed the three standard laws of motion; first to calculate the speed of sound; published the Principia Mathematica (1687), describing the laws of motion and gravitation – described as "the most important and influential science work ever written" Click to show or hide the answer
Created the first permanent photograph (1822) Click to show or hide the answer
Danish physicist, discovered the magnetic field associated with an electric current and founded the science of electromagnetism Click to show or hide the answer
German physicist, discovered that the electric current flowing through a conductor is proportional to the potential difference (voltage) across it Click to show or hide the answer
French philosopher and mathematician; contributed to the development of hydraulics, calculus, and probability theory; discussed a triangle where each number is the sum of the pair of numbers above it; invented the roulette wheel in a search for perpetual motion; invented the first calculating machine (the Pascaline), in 1642, over 200 years before the first commercially successful one Click to show or hide the answer
German physicist, formulated the quantum theory, 1900; Nobel prize 1918; gave his name to the constant that defines the sizes of quanta, represented by the lower case letter h Click to show or hide the answer
English chemist (1733–1804), discovered oxygen and called it "dephlogisticated air" (see Phlogiston); during his lifetime, his reputation rested (according to Wikipedia) on his invention of soda water Click to show or hide the answer
Scottish chemist (1852–1916): discovered the noble (inert) gases, a new section in the periodic table; awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1904; his collaborator, Lord Rayleigh, was awarded the Physics prize Click to show or hide the answer
German physicist, discovered X–rays 1895; Nobel Prize for Physics, 1901; element 111 is named after him Click to show or hide the answer
New Zealand physicist, discovered alpha, beta and gamma rays, discovered and named the atomic nucleus (1909); showed that the atom was not indivisible ("first to split the atom") and had a positively charged nucleus; proved that the hydrogen nucleus (i.e. a proton) is present in other nuclei – a result usually described as the discovery of the proton; Nobel prize 1908; a unit of radioactivity (now obsolete, not an SI unit; equivalent to one megabequerel) was named after him Click to show or hide the answer
Austrian physicist: Nobel prize 1933 for his contributions to quantum mechanics, particularly a wave equation developed in 1926. Devised the thought experiment named after him, describing a cat that might be alive or dead, depending on an earlier random event Click to show or hide the answer
English inventor of an incandescent lamp, same time as Edison Click to show or hide the answer
British photographer, patented a process for producing negatives in 1841 Click to show or hide the answer
Born in Smiljan, a village in the Austrian Empire (now in Croatia), in 1856; joined the Continental Edison Company in Paris, in 1882; moved to the USA in 1884, and was naturalised in 1891; best remembered for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system; died in New York, 1943 Click to show or hide the answer
English physicist, discovered the electron (1897); organised the Cavendish atomic research laboratory at Cambridge; Nobel prize 1906 Click to show or hide the answer
US physicist, gave his name to a high–voltage electrostatic generator that he invented in 1929 Click to show or hide the answer
French mathematician: gave his name to a type of moving scale, used in instruments such as theodolites Click to show or hide the answer
Italian physicist (1745–1827): discovered methane, in 1766, after reading a paper by Benjamin Franklin about 'flammable air'; demonstrated that it could be ignited with an electric spark; also invented the first battery, an early electrostatic generator, and an electroscope (for detecting electric charge) Click to show or hide the answer
Welsh–born naturalist (of Scottish and English parentage) who developed a theory of evolution independently of Darwin, and corresponded with him in the years leading up to the publication of the Origin of Species; published a paper that essentially summarised the theory, in 1858 – a year before Darwin published the Origin of Species Click to show or hide the answer
Scottish physicist, developed (1935) a system for locating aircraft by radio – essentially the first practical demonstration of radar. (Albert H. Taylor and Leo C. Young, of the US Navy, had accidentally demonstrated it in 1922) Click to show or hide the answer
Scottish engineer, improved Newcomen's steam engine; devised the horsepower; SI unit of power is named after him Click to show or hide the answer
English inventor, engineer and shipwright: gave his name to a classic type of electrostatic generator which he developed in the early 1880s Click to show or hide the answer

Other

Einstein's theory of relativity published Special Click to show or hide the answer
General Click to show or hide the answer

Recited by Edison in the first ever sound recording Click to show or hide the answer
Hypothetical substance, once thought to be released during combustion Click to show or hide the answer

© Haydn Thompson 2017