Johann Carl Fuhlrott

Johann Carl Fuhlrott, a German schoolteacher, died Oct. 17, 1877, at age 73. Fuhlrott was the closest scientist to the scene in 1856 when quarry workers at the Feldhofer grotto in the Neander Valley (Neanderthal, as the Germans would say) unearthed an odd-looking skeleton. By the time Fuhlrott saw it, there not much was left but a few limb bones and the top of the skull…

Guillaume-Joseph Le Gentil

Guillaume-Joseph Le Gentil, a French astronomer, was born Sep. 12, 1725. In his early career, Le Gentil (or Legentil) was interested in nebulae, and he discovered two open star clusters that would later be named M36 and M38. In 1749, he observed that the Great Nebula in Andromeda has a dwarf companion…

Mary Watson Whitney

Mary Watson Whitney, an American astronomer, was born Sep. 11, 1847. Mary was very bright and well educated as a child, and she had the extreme good fortune to graduate from high school in 1863, when Matthew Vassar was in the process of founding Vassar College for women in Poughkeepsie, New York…

Pierre Polinière

Pierre Polinière, a French physicist, was born Sep. 8, 1671. Around 1700, Polinière began giving experimental demonstrations in Paris to accompany the physics lectures of others, and his public experiments took on a life of their own, drawing a large enrollment…

August Kekulé

August Kekulé, a German chemist, was born Sep. 7, 1829. In the early 1860s, Kekulé was writing a textbook of organic chemistry, and he was trying to work out the structure for what had recently been designated the ‘aromatic compounds’, which included benzene and its derivatives