Scientist of the Day

George Bennett

January 31, 2018

George Bennett, an English/Australian naturalist, was born Jan. 31, 1804. Bennett got the travel bug early, sailing to Sri Lanka and Mauritius before he was 15. He came back to London long enough to study medicine in London, where he became friends with the future comparative anatomist Richard Owen, also just starting his career. Bennett soon set out again, this time for New Zealand and Australia, where he caught the first pearly nautilus ever captured alive (by a European)…

Sam Loyd

January 30, 2018

Sam Loyd, an American puzzle and mathematical games designer, was born Jan. 30 (or Jan. 31), 1841. Loyd was trained as a mechanical engineer, but he discovered early on that he had quite a knack for creating chess problems, of the variety “white to play and mate in three”, except that Loyd’s were more clever and far more fiendish…

Dr. Strangelove

January 29, 2018

The film Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb premiered on Jan. 29, 1964. The film was directed by Stanley Kubrick and introduced one of the most unforgettable mad scientists in the history of cinema, Dr. Strangelove.

Thomas Hudson

January 26, 2018

Thomas Hudson, an English portrait painter, died Jan. 26, 1779, at age 78; his date of birth is not known. Hudson was the foremost portraitist of his day, which is to say, the 1740s and 1750s. Most of his portraits captured wealthy gentry and their families-dukes, earls, baronets and such-but not a few of his subjects were natural philosophers, which was fortunate, because in many cases the Hudson portraits are the only ones we have…

William MacGillivray

January 25, 2018

William MacGillivray, a Scottish naturalist, was born Jan. 25, 1796. A native of Aberdeen, he moved at a young age to the Harris end of the island of Lewis and Harris, in the Outer Hebrides, just west of the northern Scottish mainland. He returned to Aberdeen to educate himself, and he used to walk back and forth between Harris and Aberdeen, a fair distance, even for someone on horseback. In 1819, at age 23, and now an enthusiastic birder, he got the urge to see the bird collection in the British Museum in London. So he set off on foot, with ten pounds in his pocket, a drinking glass, and a trowel, to visit a metropolis that was 840 miles away…

George Ord

January 24, 2018

George Ord, an American naturalist, died Jan. 24, 1866, at the age of about 85; his date of birth is unknown. Ord lived in Philadelphia and was a prominent member of the two great scientific societies of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society and the Academy of Natural Sciences. He was also a friend of the early American ornithologist, Alexander Wilson, and when Wilson died of overwork before finishing his 9-volume American Ornithology, Ord stepped in and saw the last volumes through the press…