History of Western Scientists

Regiomontanus

Born at Konigsberg as Johannes Mueller

Regiomontanus

1436 - 1476

"Epitome"

1496

Translation of Ptolemy's "Almagest" with added later observations of the heavens

Nicolaus Copernicus

Born Torun, Poland

Nicolaus Copernicus

1473 - 1543

"De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium"

1543

Leonard Digges

Born England

Leonard Digges

1520 - 1559

Mathematician and surveyor

Thomas Digges

1546 - 1595

Reflecting telescope

1550

Theodolite

1551

"Prognostication Everlasting"

1576

Infinite universe.

Tycho Brahe

Born Knudstrup, Denmark (now Sweden)

Tycho Brahe

1546 - 1601

"De Nova Stella"

1573

Observations on a supernova.

"Astronomiae Instauratae Progymnasmata"

1588

"Introduction to the New Astronomy"

Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler

1571 - 1630

Born near Stuttgart, Germany

"Mysterium Cosmographicum"

1597

"The Mystery of the Universe"

Kepler's Second Law

1602

An imaginary line joining the Sun to a planet moving in its orbit around the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times.

Kepler's First Law

1605

Each planet moves in its own elliptical orbit around the Sun, with the Sun at one of the two foci (the same one for all the planets) of the ellipse.

"Astronomia Nova"

1609

"Epitome of Copernican Astronomy"

1618 - 1621

Kepler's Third Law

1618

The squares of the periods of any two planets are proportional to the cubes of their distances from the Sun

"Harmonice Mundi"

1619

"Harmony of the World", referring to the planetary worlds.

"Rudolphine Tables"

1627

Tycho Brahe's precise measurements of the movements of the sun, planets and stars, augmented by Kepler.

William Gilbert

William Gilbert

1544 - 1603

Born in Colchester, Essex, England

"De Magnete Magneticisque Corporibus"

1600

"Concerning Magnetism, Magnetic Bodies and the Great Magnet Earth", a seminal work in the physics of ferromagnetism.

Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei

1564 - 1642

Re-Invention of the Telescope

1609

Re-invented by Hans Lippershey in Holland, Galileo made a vastly superior version within 24 hours of obtaining one. News of Digges' earlier invention had not reached Europe even after all this time.

"Siderius Nuncius"

1610

"The Starry Messenger", covering new observations made with his new telescopes.

'Science is written in the language of mathematics'

1618

Written as part of a riposte to three Jesuit priests' fanciful interpretation of the presence of three comets.

Invention of the microscope

1624

"Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems"

1632

"Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Concerning Two New Sciences"

1638

Sums up his life's work on mechanics, inertia, pendulums, the strength of bodies and the scientific method.

Rene Descartes

Rene Descartes

1596 - 1650

Cartesian coordinates: coordinate geometry

1637

"Discours de la Methode.."

1637

Full title "Discours de la Methode pour bien conduire la raison et chercher la Verite dans Les Sciences"

"Meditationnes de Prima Philosophia" - 'I think, therefore I am'

1641

"Principia Philosophiae" - physics

1644

Pierre Gassendi

Pierre Gassendi

1592 - 1655

Born at Champtercier, Provence, France

"Syntagma Philosophiae Epicuri": revival of atomism

1649

Evangelista Torricelli

Evangelista Torricelli

1608 - 1647

Mercury barometer & vacuum

1643

Resolving a problem brought to him by Galileo.

Christiaan Huygens

Christiaan Huygens

1629 - 1695

Born in Den Haag, Holland

Pendulum clock

1657

Completely independently of Galileo.

Wave theory of light

1690

"Traite de la Lumiere"

1690

Ole Romer

Ole Romer

1644 - 1710

Born at Arhus, Denmark

Speed of light 225,000 km/s

1679

Robert Recorde

Robert Recorde

1510 - 1558

"Arithmetick: or The Grounde of Arts"

1540

Symbols + and - created

1540

'=' sign introduced

1557

John Napier

John Napier

1550 - 1617

Logarithms

1614

"Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio"

1614

Logarithms and spherical geometry

Robert Boyle

Robert Boyle

1627 - 1691

Born at Lismore Castle, County Waterford, Ireland.

"The Spring of the Air"

1660

Full title: "New Experiments Physico-Mechanicall, Touching the Spring of the Air and its Effects"

"The Sceptical Chymist"

1661

Applying the scientific method to alchemy and thus beginning modern chemistry.

Boyle's Law: volume of a gas is inversely proportional to pressure

1662

"Origin of Forms & Qualities": advancing the concept of atoms

1666

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon

1561 - 1626

The father of empiricism and experimental science

1640

Giovanni Borelli

Giovanni Borelli

1608 - 1679

Born at Castelnuovo, near Naples

"De Motu Animalium" ("On the Movement of Animals")

1681

"On the Movement of Animals"

Marcello Malpighi

Marcello Malpighi

1628 - 1694

Born at Crevalcore, near Bologna, Italy

Role of capillaries in the circulation of the blood

1661

Published in two letters.

First Italian elected a Fellow of the Royal Society

1669

Edward Tyson

Edward Tyson

1650 - 1708

Clevedon, Somerset

"Anatomy of a Porpess"

1680

"The Anatomy of a Pygmie Compared To That Of A Monkey, An Ape and A Man"

1699

Human beings established as part of the animal kingdom.

Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke

1635 - 1703

Born at Freshwater, Isle of Wight

Assistant to Robert Boyle & friend of Christopher Wren

1653

Wave theory of light; Hooke's rings

1665

Robert Hooke's rainbow rings were essentially plagiarised by Isaac Newton and became "Newton's rings".

"Micrographia"

1665

Book on microscopy with brilliant illustrations.

Rebuilding of London after Great Fire (with Christopher Wren)

1666

Lecture: "The System of the World": gravity, motion of bodies

1674

Forerunner of what became Newton's first law of motion.

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek - "The Father of Microbiology"

1632 - 1723

Born in Delft, a draper with no formal academic training who made a series of astounding discoveries with simple microscopes that he designed and built himself.

Discovery of protists (infusoria)

1673

Discovery of bacteria

1676

Discovery of spermatozoa

1677

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton

1642 - 1727

Born at Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England

Binomial theorem

1665

Infinitesimal calculus

1666

"De Motum Corporum in Gyrum" - The Inverse Square Law of Gravity

1684

This paper provided the mathematical proof of why orbiting bodies move in an elliptical path, as observed by Kepler.

"Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" - Equations of Motion

1687

"Opticks"

1704

Written 30 years previously but held back from publication by Newton in order to avoid claims (with considerable substance) from Robert Hooke that much of the foundation work was done by him.

Edmund Halley

Edmund Halley

1656 - 1742

Born at Haggerston, Shoreditch, England

"Catalogus Stellarum Australium"

1678

Compiled from observations made on St Helena in 1676.

Solar heating causes atmospheric movements

1686

"A Synopsis of the Astronomy of Comets"

1705

Second Astronomer Royal

1720

John Flamsteed

John Flamsteed

1646 - 1719

Born at Denby, Derbyshire, England

First Astronomer Royal

1675

"Historia Coelestis Britannica" - catalogue of 2,935 stars

1725

The most accurate catalogue of its time.

Jean Fourier

Jean Fourier

1768 - 1830

"Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur" (Including Fourier Series)

1822

Gabriel Fahrenheit

Gabriel Fahrenheit

1686 - 1736

Mercury thermometer & Fahrenheit Scale

1714

Anders Celsius

Anders Celsius

1701 - 1744

Celsius Scale of Temperature

1742

Thomas Newcomen

Thomas Newcomen

1663 - 1729

First practical steam engine - pumping water from mines

1712

Joseph Black

Joseph Black

1728 - 1799

Born in Bordeaux, France, of Scottish extract.

PhD Thesis: Discovery that Air is a Mixture of Gases

1756

Latent Heat & Specific Heat

1762

Presented to the Glasgow University Philosophical Club but never formally published.

James Watt

James Watt

1736 - 1819

Born at Greenock, Clydeside, Scotland

Watt Double Cylinder Steam Engine

1769

Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley

1733 - 1804

Born at Fieldhead, near Leeds, Yorkshire.

Second (parallel) discovery of oxygen

1774

Carl Scheele (Sweden) made the same discovery 2 years earlier but did not publish his findings until 1777.

Carl Scheele

Carl Scheele

1742 - 1786

Discovery of oxygen

1772

Scheele appears to have discovered oxygen 2 years before Joseph Priestley in England, but as he did not publish his findings until 1777, it is Priestley who is generally given the credit for this example of parallel discovery.

Henry Cavendish

Henry Cavendish

1731 - 1810

Born in Nice, France

Discovery of Hydrogen

1766

Discovery that water is a compound involving hydrogen and oxygen

1784

Measurement of the density (and thus the weight) of the Earth

1798

Cavendish measured to density to within 99% of the latest modern estimate.

Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier

Antoine-Laurent-Lavoisier

1743 - 1794

Born in he Marais, Paris.
Died on the guillotine during "The Terror".

Role of oxygen in combustion and the warmth of mammals

1786

Law of Conservation of Mass

1789

Matter can neither be created nor destroyed.

"Traite Elementaire de Chemie" ("Elements of Chemistry")

1789

First table of the elements

1789

Andreas Vesalius

Born Brussels, Flanders

Andreas Vesalius

1514 - 1564

Inspired by Galen, AD 130

"De Humani Corporis Fabrica"

1543

Gabriele Fallopio

Gabriele Fallopio

1523 - 1562

Fallopian tubes

1555

Hieronymous Fabricius

Succeeded Fallopio as professor of anatomy at University of Padua

Hieronymous Fabricius

1537 - 1619

Born Aquapendent, Italy

Valves in veins

1603

William Harvey

William Harvey

1578 - 1657

Born Folkestone, Kent, England

"De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus"

1628

The circulation of the blood.

John Ray

John Ray

1627 - 1705

Born at Black Notley in Essex.

"Ornithology"

1677

Joint work with Francis Willughby

"History of Plants" - Three Volumes

1686 - 1705

"History of Fishes"

1686

Published under the name of Francis Willughby but in fact largely the work of John Ray, his colleague

"History of Insects"

1710

Published posthumously.

Carl Linnaeus

Carl Linnaeus

1707 - 1778

Born at South Rashult, southern Sweden.

"Systema Naturae"

1735 - 1758

Ten editions were produced over this period, all containing new material on the classification of living things.

Comte de Buffon

Comte de Buffon

1707 - 1788

Born at Montbard, near Dijon, Burgundy.

"Histoire Naturelle" - 44 Volumes

1749 - 1804

The last 8 volumes published posthumously, this covers the whole of natural history, summarising all Western knowledge of the subject at that time.

Georges Cuvier

Georges Cuvier

1769 - 1832

Born in Montbeliard, then an independent principality on the border of France and Switzerland,

"Lectures in Comparative Anatomy" - recognition of 4 major groups of animals

1799

"Discours Sur la Theorie de la Terre" - paleontology

1825

Geoffroy Saint-Hillaire

Geoffroy Saint-Hillaire

1772 - 1844

"Philosophie Anatomique" - first theorising on natural selection

1818 - 1822

Pieter van Musschenbroek

1692-1761

Pieter van Musschenbroek

1692 - 1761

Leiden Jar

1745

First storage of large quantities of electricity

Charles Coulomb

Charles Coulomb

1736 - 1806

Coulomb's Law - electrical & magnetic forces

1780

Torsion balance experiments show that magnetic and electrical forces both obey an inverse square law.

Luigi Galvani - physics, electricity

Born at Bologna

Luigi Galvani

1737 - 1798

Discoverer of bioelectricity

Discovery of bioelectricity

1771

Based on experiments with frog's legs

Electricity can be stored

1791

Alessandro Volta - physics, electricity

Born at Como

Alessandro Volta

1745 - 1827

Professor of Experimental Physics, Pavia University

Isolation of methane

1778

Voltaic Pile - first electric battery

1799

Daniel Bernoulli - hydraulics, mathematics, statistics

Born Groningen, Netherlands but became Swiss

Daniel Bernoulli

1700 - 1782

Mathematician who described the behaviour of liquids and gases in terms of the impact of atoms on the walls of their container.

"Hydrodynamica"

1738

Book on hydrodynamics based on the principle of conservation of energy

Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis - physics, mechanics

Born Saint-Malo

Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis

1698 - 1759

Soldier turned scientist

Principle of Least Action

1744

Major advance on Newtonian mechanics. "Action" - the property of a body in terms of its changing position and its momentum, which in nature is always a minimum of the possible alternatives. E.g. the reason why light travels in straight lines.

Thomas Wright - astronomy

Born at Byers Green, Co. Durham

Thomas Wright

1711 - 1786

Galaxy theory.

"An Original Theory and New Hypothesis of the Universe"

1750

The Sun is part of a disc of stars

William Herschel - astronomy

Born at Hanover, lived in England

William Herschel

1738 - 1822

Discovery of the planet Uranus

1781

Discovery of binary stars

1803

John Mitchell - astronomy, geology, physics

Born in Nottinghamshire

John Michell

1724 - 1793

Good friend of Henry Cavendish. Established that earthquakes originate in the Earth's crust, not due to atmospheric disturbances.

Hypothesis of black holes

1783

Pierre Simon Laplace - astronomy, physics, mathematics,

Born near Caen, Calvados region of Normandy

Pierre Simon Laplace

1749 - 1827

Polymath. The "French Newton".

Explanation of the perturbations of planetary orbits

1786

Discovery of the 929-year orbitary cycle of Jupiter and Saturn

"Exposition du Systeme du Monde" - highly influential textbook

1796

Black hole hypothesis

1796

Nebular hypothesis

1796

"Theorie Analytique des Probabilites" - development of statistical methods

1812

Lays down many fundamental results in statistics

Benjamin Thompson - physics, thermodynamics

Born at Woburn, Massachusetts

Benjamin Thompson

1753 - 1814

Later moved to England and became Count Rumford.

"An Experimental Enquiry..Source of Heat.. Excited by Friction"

1798

Discovery that friction generates heat and thus that the caloric model of heat (as a kind of fluid within an object) was incorrect. Later developments by others led to the discovery of the mechanical equivalent of heat.

James Hutton - geology

Born at Edinburgh

James Hutton

1726 - 1797

Hutton was also a naturalist and chemist.

Principle of Uniformitarianism - uniform processes mould the Earth's surface

1785

"Theory of the Earth" - age of the Earth much longer than Bible states

1795

The book was difficult to read but carefully argued

"Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth" by Playfair

1802

Masterly, clear summary of Hutton's work that was very influential.

Charles Lyell - geology

Born near Dundee

Charles Lyell

1797 - 1875

Strong supporter of Hutton and Playfair about uniformitarianism in geology and close friend of Charles Darwin

"Principles of Geology"

1833

Charles Darwin - natural science, biology, zoology

Born at Shrewsbury