Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Francis Crick (Born 8 Jun 1916; died 28 Jul 2004). Francis Harry Compton Crick was a British biophysicist, who, with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, received the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their determination of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the chemical substance ultimately responsible for hereditary control of life functions. Crick and Watson began their collaboration in 1951, and published their paper on the double helix structure on 2 Apr 1953 in Nature. This accomplishment became a cornerstone of genetics and was widely regarded as one of the most important discoveries of 20th-century biology.

William Dampier (Born 8 Jun 1652; died Mar 1715). English navigator who recorded descriptions of native cultures as well as coastlines, rivers, and villages during his several voyages of mapping and exploration around the world. He published these, along with natural history observations, including his experience on 4 Jul 1687 when his ship survived a typhoon. This, one of the earliest known European descriptions of a tropical revolving storm, also presented a new understanding that storms somehow move, rather than remain stationary. He collected plants in Brazil, Australia, Timor and New Guinea. His book A New Voyage Round The World contained descriptions of people, places, things, plants, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals. In effect he was an early contributor to scientific exploration.

Titan Arum In 1937, a specimen of the world’s largest flower, first bloomed in the U.S. in the NY Botanical Garden. The giant Sumatran Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanum, measured 8½-ft high and 4-ft diam. Its putrid rotting-corpse fragrance repelled visitors. Native in Sumatran jungles of Indonesia, it is known there as the “corpse flower.” Dr. Odoardo Beccari, an Italian botanist, was the first western expert to find the Titan Arum in the Pading Province during 1878. Seeds he sent back to his patron, the Marchese Corsi Salviati were grown in Italy, and a few plants were at Beccari’s request sent to Kew Gardens in England in 1879. One of those seedlings flowered in June 1887. Another plant bloomed there in 1926, to wide attention.

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