Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Sir Ferdinand von Mueller (Born 30 Jun 1825; died 10 Oct 1896). German-born Australian botanist and explorer. He migrated to Australia in 1848 for health reasons, and there became the country’s greatest 19th-century scientist. Mueller gained an international reputation as a great botanical collector and writer. His contributions covered a wide field of sciences such as geography, pharmacy, horticulture, agriculture, forestry, paleontology, and zoology. His activity as a botanist is shown by hundreds of Australian plant names which are followed by ‘F. Muell’. From 1853, he held the post as the first Government Botanist of Victoria until his death, 43 years later. He travelled widely throughout the colonies on botanical exploration, including as naturalist to the Gregory expedition to northern Australia (1855-57).

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (Born 30 Jun 1817; died 10 Dec 1911). English botanist who was assistant on Sir James Ross’s Antarctic expedition and whose botanical travels to foreign lands included India, Palestine and the U.S., from which he became a leading taxonomists in his time. His Student’s Flora of the British Islands became a standard text. He was a great friend of Charles Darwin, and they collaborated in research. With Charles Lyell, Hooker encouraged the publication of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He served (1855-65) as assistant director to his father, Sir William Jackson Hooker, of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, whom he succeeded as director for another 20 years. He was also a president of the Royal Society. At age 94, he died in his sleep and was buried at Kew.

See Jim Endersy’s website on J.D. Hooker, and his new book, Imperial Nature: Joseph Hooker and the Practices of Victorian Science. Also, my post on Hooker from March 2008, and today’s post from Mystery of Mysteries.

Abraham Werner (Died 30 Jun 1817; born 25 Sep 1750). Abraham Gottlob Werner was a German geologist who founded the Neptunist school, holding that all rocks have aqueous origins. This contrasts with the Plutonists, or Vulcanists, who maintain that granite among other rocks were of igneous origin. Werner also rejected the idea of uniformitarianism whereby geological evolution has been a uniform and continuous process.

And on this day in 1860, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and Thomas Henry Huxley squared off in a debate. Prof. Olsen has more, but also read Did Huxley really mop the floor with Wilberforce? from Brian at Laelaps.

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