Translation of Ptolemy's "Almagest" with added later observations of the heavens
Born Torun, Poland
1473 - 1543
"De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium"
1520 - 1559
Mathematician and surveyor
1546 - 1595
Born Knudstrup, Denmark (now Sweden)
1546 - 1601
"De Nova Stella"
Observations on a supernova.
"Astronomiae Instauratae Progymnasmata"
"Introduction to the New Astronomy"
1571 - 1630
Born near Stuttgart, Germany
"The Mystery of the Universe"
Kepler's Second Law
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
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.
"Epitome of Copernican Astronomy"
1618 - 1621
Kepler's Third Law
The squares of the periods of any two planets are proportional to the cubes of their distances from the Sun
"Harmony of the World", referring to the planetary worlds.
Tycho Brahe's precise measurements of the movements of the sun, planets and stars, augmented by Kepler.
1544 - 1603
Born in Colchester, Essex, England
"De Magnete Magneticisque Corporibus"
"Concerning Magnetism, Magnetic Bodies and the Great Magnet Earth", a seminal work in the physics of ferromagnetism.
1564 - 1642
Re-Invention of the Telescope
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.
"The Starry Messenger", covering new observations made with his new telescopes.
'Science is written in the language of mathematics'
Written as part of a riposte to three Jesuit priests' fanciful interpretation of the presence of three comets.
Invention of the microscope
"Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems"
"Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Concerning Two New Sciences"
Sums up his life's work on mechanics, inertia, pendulums, the strength of bodies and the scientific method.
1596 - 1650
Cartesian coordinates: coordinate geometry
"Discours de la Methode.."
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'
"Principia Philosophiae" - physics
1592 - 1655
Born at Champtercier, Provence, France
"Syntagma Philosophiae Epicuri": revival of atomism
1608 - 1647
Mercury barometer & vacuum
Resolving a problem brought to him by Galileo.
1629 - 1695
Born in Den Haag, Holland
Completely independently of Galileo.
Wave theory of light
"Traite de la Lumiere"
1644 - 1710
Born at Arhus, Denmark
Speed of light 225,000 km/s
1510 - 1558
"Arithmetick: or The Grounde of Arts"
Symbols + and - created
'=' sign introduced
1550 - 1617
"Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio"
Logarithms and spherical geometry
1627 - 1691
Born at Lismore Castle, County Waterford, Ireland.
"The Spring of the Air"
Full title: "New Experiments Physico-Mechanicall, Touching the Spring of the Air and its Effects"
"The Sceptical Chymist"
Applying the scientific method to alchemy and thus beginning modern chemistry.
Boyle's Law: volume of a gas is inversely proportional to pressure
"Origin of Forms & Qualities": advancing the concept of atoms
1561 - 1626
The father of empiricism and experimental science
1608 - 1679
Born at Castelnuovo, near Naples
"De Motu Animalium" ("On the Movement of Animals")
"On the Movement of Animals"
1628 - 1694
Born at Crevalcore, near Bologna, Italy
Role of capillaries in the circulation of the blood
Published in two letters.
First Italian elected a Fellow of the Royal Society
1650 - 1708
"Anatomy of a Porpess"
"The Anatomy of a Pygmie Compared To That Of A Monkey, An Ape and A Man"
Human beings established as part of the animal kingdom.
1635 - 1703
Born at Freshwater, Isle of Wight
Assistant to Robert Boyle & friend of Christopher Wren
Wave theory of light; Hooke's rings
Robert Hooke's rainbow rings were essentially plagiarised by Isaac Newton and became "Newton's rings".
Book on microscopy with brilliant illustrations.
Rebuilding of London after Great Fire (with Christopher Wren)
Lecture: "The System of the World": gravity, motion of bodies
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)
Discovery of bacteria
Discovery of spermatozoa
1642 - 1727
Born at Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
"De Motum Corporum in Gyrum" - The Inverse Square Law of Gravity
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
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.
1656 - 1742
Born at Haggerston, Shoreditch, England
"Catalogus Stellarum Australium"
Compiled from observations made on St Helena in 1676.
Solar heating causes atmospheric movements
"A Synopsis of the Astronomy of Comets"
Second Astronomer Royal
1646 - 1719
Born at Denby, Derbyshire, England
First Astronomer Royal
"Historia Coelestis Britannica" - catalogue of 2,935 stars
The most accurate catalogue of its time.
1768 - 1830
"Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur" (Including Fourier Series)
1686 - 1736
Mercury thermometer & Fahrenheit Scale
1701 - 1744
Celsius Scale of Temperature
1663 - 1729
First practical steam engine - pumping water from mines
1728 - 1799
Born in Bordeaux, France, of Scottish extract.
PhD Thesis: Discovery that Air is a Mixture of Gases
Latent Heat & Specific Heat
Presented to the Glasgow University Philosophical Club but never formally published.
1736 - 1819
Born at Greenock, Clydeside, Scotland
Watt Double Cylinder Steam Engine
1733 - 1804
Born at Fieldhead, near Leeds, Yorkshire.
Second (parallel) discovery of oxygen
Carl Scheele (Sweden) made the same discovery 2 years earlier but did not publish his findings until 1777.
1742 - 1786
Discovery of oxygen
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.
1731 - 1810
Born in Nice, France
Discovery of Hydrogen
Discovery that water is a compound involving hydrogen and oxygen
Measurement of the density (and thus the weight) of the Earth
Cavendish measured to density to within 99% of the latest modern estimate.
1743 - 1794
Born in he Marais, Paris.
Died on the guillotine during "The Terror".
Role of oxygen in combustion and the warmth of mammals
Law of Conservation of Mass
Matter can neither be created nor destroyed.
"Traite Elementaire de Chemie" ("Elements of Chemistry")
First table of the elements
Born Brussels, Flanders
1514 - 1564
Inspired by Galen, AD 130
"De Humani Corporis Fabrica"
1523 - 1562
Succeeded Fallopio as professor of anatomy at University of Padua
1537 - 1619
Born Aquapendent, Italy
Valves in veins
1578 - 1657
Born Folkestone, Kent, England
"De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus"
The circulation of the blood.
1627 - 1705
Born at Black Notley in Essex.
Joint work with Francis Willughby
"History of Plants" - Three Volumes
1686 - 1705
"History of Fishes"
Published under the name of Francis Willughby but in fact largely the work of John Ray, his colleague
"History of Insects"
1707 - 1778
Born at South Rashult, southern Sweden.
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.
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
"Discours Sur la Theorie de la Terre" - paleontology
1772 - 1844
"Philosophie Anatomique" - first theorising on natural selection
1818 - 1822
Pieter van Musschenbroek
Pieter van Musschenbroek
1692 - 1761
First storage of large quantities of electricity
1736 - 1806
Coulomb's Law - electrical & magnetic forces
Torsion balance experiments show that magnetic and electrical forces both obey an inverse square law.
Luigi Galvani - physics, electricity
Born at Bologna
1737 - 1798
Discoverer of bioelectricity
Discovery of bioelectricity
Based on experiments with frog's legs
Electricity can be stored
Alessandro Volta - physics, electricity
Born at Como
1745 - 1827
Professor of Experimental Physics, Pavia University
Isolation of methane
Voltaic Pile - first electric battery
Daniel Bernoulli - hydraulics, mathematics, statistics
Born Groningen, Netherlands but became Swiss
1700 - 1782
Mathematician who described the behaviour of liquids and gases in terms of the impact of atoms on the walls of their container.
Book on hydrodynamics based on the principle of conservation of energy
Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis - physics, mechanics
Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis
1698 - 1759
Soldier turned scientist
Principle of Least Action
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
1711 - 1786
"An Original Theory and New Hypothesis of the Universe"
The Sun is part of a disc of stars
William Herschel - astronomy
Born at Hanover, lived in England
1738 - 1822
Discovery of the planet Uranus
Discovery of binary stars
John Mitchell - astronomy, geology, physics
Born in Nottinghamshire
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
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
Discovery of the 929-year orbitary cycle of Jupiter and Saturn
"Exposition du Systeme du Monde" - highly influential textbook
Black hole hypothesis
"Theorie Analytique des Probabilites" - development of statistical methods
Lays down many fundamental results in statistics
Benjamin Thompson - physics, thermodynamics
Born at Woburn, Massachusetts
1753 - 1814
Later moved to England and became Count Rumford.
"An Experimental Enquiry..Source of Heat.. Excited by Friction"
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
1726 - 1797
Hutton was also a naturalist and chemist.
Principle of Uniformitarianism - uniform processes mould the Earth's surface
"Theory of the Earth" - age of the Earth much longer than Bible states
The book was difficult to read but carefully argued
"Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth" by Playfair
Masterly, clear summary of Hutton's work that was very influential.
Charles Lyell - geology
Born near Dundee
1797 - 1875
Strong supporter of Hutton and Playfair about uniformitarianism in geology and close friend of Charles Darwin
"Principles of Geology"
Charles Darwin - natural science, biology, zoology