Georges Méliès

Georges Méliès, a French filmmaker, was born Dec. 8, 1861. Méliès started out as a magician and illusionist, but when he saw a Lumière Brothers cinematograph in 1895, he took an immediate detour into the greatest illusion of them all: film. Unable to buy a cinematograph from the Lumière firm, he built his own. He began making movies in 1896 and eventually made over 500 of them…

John Wolfe Barry

John Wolfe Barry, an English civil engineer, was born Dec. 7, 1836. He built many bridges in Victorian England, but he is best known for constructing Tower Bridge over the Thames in London. This has to be one of the most iconic bridges in the world…

Margaret Morse Nice

Margaret Morse Nice, an American ornithologist, was born Dec. 6, 1883. She studied biology at Holyoke College and zoology as a graduate student, and wanted to pursue a career as a naturalist, but her parents persuaded her to abandon professional aspirations and accept a life as wife and mother, which she did…

Arnold Sommerfeld

Arnold Sommerfeld, a German physicist, was born Dec. 5, 1868. Sommerfeld was appointed professor of theoretical physics at Munich in 1906 (where Röntgen, the discoverer of X-Rays, taught experimental physics). Around 1911, Sommerfeld began the practice of gathering with his students at a coffeehouse in Munich, in a park called the Hofgarten, to talk over the problems of the nuclear atom, x-ray diffraction, and quantum theory…

Alfred Hershey

Alfred Day Hershey, an American bacteriologist, was born Dec. 4, 1908. Hershey won the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 1969, along with Salvador Luria and Max Delbrück, for discovering in 1940 that when two different viruses infect the same bacterium, they sometimes exchange genetic information. But Hershey is even better known for an experiment he did with Martha Chase in 1952, an experiment commonly known as the Waring Blender experiment…