John Syme

John Syme, a Scottish portrait painter, died Aug. 3, 1861, at the age of about 66. Three years ago, we profiled Scottish painter Henry Raeburn, who specialized in portraits of scientists. Syme studied with Raeburn in Edinburgh, and he seems to have followed…

Leopold Gmelin

Leopold Gmelin, a German chemist, was born Aug. 2, 1788. Gmelin is known today primarily for a three-volume chemical handbook that he first published in 1817-19. Called Handbuch der theoretischen Chemie, it attempted to…

George Howard Darwin

George Howard Darwin, an English astronomer, was born July 9, 1845. George was the most successful scientific scion of Charles and Emma Darwin, although he chose astronomy for his profession, rather than the natural sciences. In 1878, George made a surprising contribution to theories of the origin of the moon.

Sophie Blanchard

Sophie Blanchard, a French balloonist, died July 6, 1819, at the age of 41. When her husband, Jean-Pierre, suffered a heart attack in 1808 and fell from his balloon, dying from his injuries in 1809, Sophie decided to carry on alone, making more than 60 ascents over the next ten years. She specialized in night flights, and she attracted the favorable attention of both Napoleon and King Louis XVIII…

Robert Schomburgk

Robert Hermann Schomburgk, a German/ English explorer and surveyor, was born June 5, 1804. After an early career in commerce that gave him nothing but grief, he decided to have a go at surveying and, at his own expense, mapped the little-explored island of Anegada in the Virgin Islands. He sent the fruits of his labors to the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in London…