Today in Science History

Born this day:

Charles-Marie de La Condamine (Born 28 Jan 1701; died 4 Feb 1774). French naturalist and mathematician who became particularly interested in geodesy (earth measurement). He was put in charge by the King of France of an expedition to Equador to measure a meridional arc at the equator (1735-43). It was wished to determine whether the Earth was either flattened or elongated at its poles. He then accomplished the first scientific exploration of the Amazon River (1743) on a raft, studying the region, and brought the drug curare to Europe. He also worked on establishment of a universal unit of length, and is credited with developing the idea of vaccination against smallpox, later perfected by Edward Jenner. However, he was almost constantly ill and died in 1773, deaf and completely paralyzed.

Sir T.W. Edgeworth David (Born 28 Jan 1858; died 28 Aug 1934). Sir T(annatt) W(illiam) Edgeworth David was a Welsh-born Australian geologist who produced an extensive study of the geology of Australia, including the first geological map of the Sydney-Newcastle Basin. He also researched the evidence of major glaciations in Australia of the Upper Paleozoic time (from 345- to 225- million years ago). In 1897, he drilled to a depth of 340-m at Funafuti Atoll in an effort to verify Darwin’s theory of the formation of coral atolls. Whereas his results supported Darwin’s ideas, they were short of absolute proof. He served as scientific officer of the Shackleton Antarctic Expedition from 1907-9, and led the party that first reached the southern magnetic pole on 16 Jan 1909, which was on land at that time.

Anthropologist Eugene Dubois was also born today (see Paleoblog and Professor Olsen).

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