Born this day:
Henry Wetherbee Henshaw (Born 3 Mar 1850; died 1 Aug 1930). Naturalist
Sir John Murray (Born 3 Mar 1841; died 16 Mar 1914). Scottish naturalist who, as one of its founders, coined the name oceanography. He studied ocean basins, deep-sea deposits, and coral-reef formation. As a marine scientist, he took part in the Challenger Expedition (1872-76), the first major oceanographic expedition of the world. He was first to observe the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the existence of marine trenches. He attempted with Buchan to construct from temperature and salinity observations a qualitative theory of water movement in the world’s oceans. With A. Agassiz, he put forward a modified hypothesis for coral reef development, arguing against Darwin’s hypothesis and suggesting that subsidence was not always a controlling mechanism. He died in 1914, killed by a motor car.
Died this day:
Sewell Wright (Died 3 Mar 1988; born 21 Dec 1889). American geneticist, one of the founders of modern theoretical population genetics. He researched the effects of inbreeding and crossbreeding with guinea pigs, and later on the effects of gene action on inherited characteristics. He adopted statistical techniques to develop evolutionary theory. Wright is best known for his concept of genetic drift, called the Sewell Wright effect – that when small populations of a species are isolated, out of pure chance the few individuals who carry certain relatively rare genes may fail to transmit them. The genes may therefore disappear and their loss may lead to the emergence of new species, although natural selection has played no part in the process.
Johann Christian Fabricius (Died 3 Mar 1808; born 7 Jan 1745). Danish entomologist who was one of the great entomologists of the 18th century. After studying with Swedish naturalist Linnaeus, Fabricius travelled widely in Europe to see insect collections and produced many publications describing all the new species that he saw. He named and classified some 10,000 species of insects. The system of classification of insects he developed was based on mouth structure (instead of wing). He offered theories, progressive for his time, suggesting that hybridization could produce produce new species or varieties, and that environmental adaptation could influence changes in anatomical structure or function.
Robert Hooke (Died 3 Mar 1703; born 18 July 1635). English physicist, born Freshwater, Isle of Wight, who discovered the law of elasticity, known as Hooke’s law. He was a virtuoso scientist whose scope of research ranged widely, including physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, geology, architecture and naval technology. Hooke invented the balance spring for clocks; served as Chief Surveyor and helped rebuild London after the Great Fire of 1666; invented or improved meteorological instruments such as the barometer, anemometer, and hygrometer. He authored the influential Micrographia, the first book on microscopy (1665).
Matthias de L’Obel (Died 3 Mar 1616; born 1538). French physician and botanist whose Stirpium adversaria nova (1570; written in collaboration with Pierre Pena) was a milestone in modern botany, a collection of notes and data on 1,300 plants that he had observed and gathered in France and England. In this book, he argued that botany and medicine must be based on thorough, exact observation. L’Obel divided plants according to the form of their leaves. His two professions were closed related, as most medicines derived from plants. Thus, l’Obel managed several gardens of herbs, and wrote on them. The popular garden perennial Lobelia was named by Linneaus for him. (De l’Obel is French for “of the white poplar” and his family coat of arms was a poplar leaf.)