Science History

Anania Shirakatsi (Ananias of Shirak) was an Armenian scientist and mathematician, famous there for authoring two important works, Geography and Cosmography and the Calendar, which tackled astronomy, meteorology, and geography.

He is considered the father of natural sciences in Armenia and his books, while readable to a lay audience, were also technical enough to be used as textbooks for centuries.   
Only a moment ago, young James Clerk Maxwell asked Mrs. Murdoch to fetch his parents. Now all three are standing in the kitchen doorway, but he is watching the reflection that dances above the stove, across the ceiling. When he notices the adults, he mischievously flashes sunlight in their eyes.

Mr. Maxwell squints and raises a hand to block the glare, but his voice is indulgent. "What are you up to now, Jamesie?"

"It's the sun, papa. I got it in with this tin plate."
A Brief History Of Climate Science

"One of the lesser-known branches of climatology is historical climatology, the study of past climates from historical records of instrumental observations and weather descriptions, ..."
Vicky Slonosky
At the 1939 World’s Fair, Westinghouse, which had an interest in robotics even a decade before, unveiled two robot prototypes: a humanoid named Elektro and a dog named Sparko.

Elektro was able to walk, count and smoke cigarettes (which likely did not make his voice raspy, since he talked using a record player) while Sparko was able to sit up and bark.  Take that, G.E.!

elektro and sparko GE 1939 early robots
Not particularly earth-shattering, this, but mildly bloggable nonetheless!

People wrote the bible, we all know that. But for the most part, we really don't know who. Many books have their origins in traditional verses, others the work of individuals, but in most cases it is so heavily edited that we have little chance of identifying the original source*.

Whilst we wouldn't want to go citing the bible as a reliable scientific source (it must be said that the bible makes a fair few unsubstantiated claims!) there is actually one - only one - clear reference to a scientific work that we can trace, found in the New Testament.
All At Sea With The Vikings

The Vikings had an expression - hafvilla - which indicates a state of being at sea and having no sense of direction.  There are two modern English phrases that cover this situation: 'all at sea', and 'without a clue'.



In order to more fully understand the Viking sagas we must learn, not what the Old Norse words mean as translated multiple times down the ages, but what the original words meant to a Viking.

North and South
George Best - An Elizabethan Climate Scientist

whosoeuer could finde out in what proportion the Angle of the Sunne beames heateth, and what encrease the Sunnes continuance doeth adde thereunto, it might expresly be set downe, what force of heat and cold is in all regions.
George Best, written between 1578 and 1584.



Image courtesy NASA: http://researchpark.arc.nasa.gov/...
Popular science writing today can be hit and miss. It can be truly awful; such as Brian Greene’s immensely dull Elegant Universe, Stephen Jay Gould’s idiosyncratically waffley Rocks of Ages, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb's misguided and rushed Black Swan (in my humble opinion). But it can be utterly sublime, such as Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestors Tale (his magum opus, in my opinion), Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of time, and Carl Sagan’s The Cosmic Connection.

Good popular science books like these are engaging, unpretentious, and inspirational, but most  of all, clever, witty, and humorous. You could argue with me on this one, but simply saying that the science will speak for itself is not good enough. I could just as well go read a nice thick textbook.
Ibn al-Haytham can be called the father of modern optics.  His 11th-century Book of Optics, which was published 1000 years ago, is considered by some to be in the same league as Newton's Principia regarding its influence in physics, yet very little is known about the writer.
In the category of lesser-known holidays that could be celebrated on December 25th, the coronation of William of Normandy in 1066 A.D. as first King of what we know as modern England would have to be considered.    It was the last time a foreign nation would conquer the island nation and years later the Brits gave us all Shakespeare, Christmas Island and America.