Alexis Claude Clairaut

Alexis Claude Clairaut, a French mathematician, was born May 7, 1713. Clairaut was a child prodigy, giving his first paper to the French Academy of Sciences when he was just 12 years old. In 1736, he participated in the French expedition to Lapland to measure the...

Robert E. Peary

Robert E. Peary, an American explorer, was born May 6, 1856. Peary is best known for his claim to have been the first to reach the North Pole on Apr. 7, 1909. Because a rival, Frederick Cook, claimed to have reached the North Pole a year earlier, in 1908, and because...

John William Draper

John William Draper, a British/American physician and chemist, was born May 5, 1811. Draper came to the United States from England in 1832, received a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, moved to New York University in 1837, and in 1840, was one of the...

Bartolomeo Cristofori

Bartolomeo Cristofori, an Italian instrument maker, was born May 4, 1655. Cristofori, originally from Padua until he was recruited to Florence by Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici, was a skilled builder of harpsichords and clavichords, but he is best known for a new...

Heinrich Berghaus

Heinrich Karl Wilhelm Berghaus, a German cartographer, was born May 3, 1797.  Berghaus invented the thematic atlas in 1845.  Maps had been around forever, and atlases – collections of maps – since Abraham Ortelius’s Atlas in 1570, or since 140 C.E., if you count...