Christian Wolff

Christian Wolff, a Silesian/German philosopher, was born Jan. 24, 1679.  Wolff spent his first 20 years in Wroclaw, Silesia (now Breslau, Poland), then studied philosophy at Jena and Leipzig.  Gottfried Leibniz in Hanover read his thesis and was impressed, and the two...

Elmer Riggs

Elmer Riggs, an American paleontologist, was born Jan. 23, 1869. In 1898, he joined the Field Columbian Museum of Chicago (now the Field Museum of Natural History), with the assigned task of finding dinosaurs for the collection, even though his specialty was fossil...

Lev Landau

Lev Davidovich Landau, a Soviet physicist, was born Jan. 22, 1908.  Landau distinguished himself as a physics student, spent some time studying at the Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, working briefly with Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli, and then returned to head up...

William Henry Smyth

William Henry Smyth, a British naval officer and amateur astronomer, was born Jan. 21, 1788. Smyth spent an entire career in the Royal Navy, enlisting as a seaman, serving in the Napoleonic Wars, distinguishing himself by his accurate coast surveys of the...

August Weismann

August Weismann, a German biologist, was born Jan. 17, 1834. Weismann became an early convert to Darwinian evolution in the 1870s, which wasn’t all that uncommon, but he also subscribed wholeheartedly to Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection, a step that most...