Scientist of the Day

Jean René Constant Quoy

November 10, 2017

Jean René Constant Quoy, a French naturalist and surgeon, was born Nov. 10, 1790. When France began sending out waves of post-Napoleonic voyages of exploration after 1815, Quoy rushed to volunteer, signing on as surgeon for the around-the-world voyage of the Uranie in 1817. The assistant surgeon was Joseph Paul Gaimard. The Uranie returned successfully in 1820 (well, the voyagers returned, but the Uranie sank, with many of the collected specimens, in the Falkland Islands), and Quoy and Gaimard couldn’t wait to re-embark…

Johann Natterer

November 9, 2017

Johann Natterer, an Austrian naturalist and explorer, was born Nov. 9, 1787. In 1817, Natterer was selected to join a Viennese expedition to Brazil. The occasion was the marriage between the Austrian archduchess Maria Leopoldina and Dom Pedro, son of the King of Portugal, then residing in Rio de Janiero. Since the marriage took place in Vienna and Dom Pedro was not present, a contingent was chosen to accompany Maria to meet her husband in Brazil…

Robert Esnault-Pelterie

November 8, 2017

Robert Esnault-Pelterie, a French inventor and engineer, was born Nov. 8, 1881. Esnault-Pelterie was unique among early aviation pioneers in that he made substantial contributions to both aeronautics and astronautics, the design and flying of planes and the design of rockets. He built his first powered aircraft in 1907, the REP 1, which used ailerons rather than wing-warping to steer, had internally stressed wings instead of the external wire struts of the Wright brothers, and utilized a fuselage with an aluminum frame rather than wood. Esnault-Peleterie posed many times in its cockpit…

Lise Meitner

November 7, 2017

Lise Meitner, an Austrian physicist, was born Nov. 7, 1878. Meitner worked for many years with Otto Hahn, a chemist in Berlin, doing experiments investigating the nature of radioactivity, but when Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, Meitner suddenly found herself a German Jew, and she was spirited out of Germany by friends. She ended up in Sweden, where, in late 1938, she received a letter from Hahn, detailing an experiment he had just done…

Joachim Camerarius the Younger

November 6, 2017

On May 8, 2017, we featured Andrea Alciato as our Scientist of the Day. Alciato invented the emblem, a clever combination of image, motto, and epigram that proved to be very popular in 16th-century humanist circles. Alciato included a few animal and plant emblems, and when later emblem writers added many more natural objects, it had a decided impact on the way contemporaries viewed the natural world, so much so that the period from 1550 to 1650 has been called the era of emblematic natural history…

Bernardino Ramazzini

November 3, 2017

Bernardino Ramazzini, an Italian physician, was born Nov. 3, 1633. Look up Ramazzini in any online biography and you will learn that he was a pioneer in occupational medicine, being one of the first to recognize that different professions bring with them their own risks and illnesses…