Science History

It's common practice among learned people that, the more educated the company, the more obscure the lists of people they will invent any time there is a question about history.   Science may be universally quantifiable but history of science is quite subjective.   So on a site where we all extol Al-Khwarizmi,  Pietro Monti, Zu Chongzhi,  Ibn al-Haytham and too many others to count in our quest to be thorough, I am going to make a bold claim sure to infuriate historians and nationalists from many countries, including America; some of the greatest scientists of any age were all in one place, at one time, and that place was Britain.
I had a question posed to me last week; 'what was the first science experiment?'
Not many plumbers become known worldwide for significant fossil discoveries but self-taught paleontologist and archaeologist Harley Garbani did just that, finding skulls of the youngest-known Tyrannosaurus rex and the youngest-known Triceratops in a distinguished citizen science career.

His finds are on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the University of California Museum of Paleontology and other places.   Garbani was citizen science before it needed a name - a time when scientists were not primarily academics.    Mostly he liked to hunt  for fossils in the Badlands and his knowledge was based on experience.
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/...