Dictionary of Scientific Biography
Linda Hall Library Collection Table of Contents
AGRICOLA, GEORGIUS, also known as Georg
Bauerb. Glauchau, Germany, 24 March 1494; d.
Chemnitz, Germany [now Karl-Marx-Stadt, German
Democratic Republic], 21 November 1555), mining,
BALDI, BERNARDINO(b. Urbino, Italy, 5 June
1553; d. Urbino, 10 October 1617), mechanics.
BORELLI, GIOVANNI ALFONSO(b. Naples, Italy,
January 1608; d. Rome, Italy, 31 December 1679),
astronomy, epidemiology, mathematics, physiology
(iatromechanics), physics, volcanology.
BRUNO, GIORDANO (b. Nola, Italy, 1548; d. Rome,
Italy, 17 February 1600), philosophy.
BUCKLAND, WILLIAM (b. Axminster, England, 12
March 1784; d. Islip, England, 14 August 1856),
BUFFON, GEORGES-LOUIS LECLERC, COMTE
DE (b. Montbard, France, 7 September 1707; d. Paris,
France, 16 April 1788); natural history.
BURNET, THOMAS (b. Croft, Yorkshire, England,
ca. 1635; d. London, England, 27 September 1715),
CARDANO, GIROLAMO (b. Pavia, Italy, 24 September
1501; d. Rome, Italy, 21 September 1576),
medicine, mathematics, physics, philosophy.
CHAMBERS, ROBERT (b. Peebles, Scotland, 10 July
1802; d. St. Andrews, Scotland, 17 March 1871), biology,
COMMANDINO, FEDERICO (b. Urbino, Italy,
1509; d. Urbino, 3 September 1575), mathematics.
CONYBEARE, WILLIAM DANIEL (b. London,
England, June 1787; d. Llandaff, Wales, 12 August
CUVIER, GEORGES (b. Montbéliard,
23 August 1769; d. Paris, France, 13 May 1832),
zoology, paleontology, history of science.
DESCARTES, RENÉ DU PERRON (b. La Haye,
Touraine, France, 31 March 1596; d. Stockholm,
Sweden, 11 February 1650), natural philosophy, scientific
method, mathematics, optics, mechanics, physiology.
DESCARTES: Mathematics and Physics.
GALILEI, GALILEO (b. Pisa, Italy, 15 February
1564; d. Arcetri, Italy, 8 January 1642), physics,
Professorship at Pisa.
Professorship at Padua.
Early Work on Free Fall.
Controversies at Florence.
Dialogue on the World Systems.
The Trial of Galileo.
Two New Sciences.
Sources of Galileo's Physics.
Experiment and Mathematics.
The Influence of Galileo.
GASSENDI (GASSEND), PIERRE (b. Champtercier,
France, 22 January 1592; d. Paris, France, 24 October
1655), philosophy, astronomy, scholarship.
GESNER, KONRAD (b. Zurich, Switzerland, 26
March 1516; d. Zurich, 13 March 1565), natural sciences,
GOMPERTZ, BENJAMIN (b. London, England, 5
March 1779; d. London, 14 July 1865), mathematics.
GOODRICH, EDWIN STEPHEN (b. Weston-super-Mare,
England, 21 June 1868; d. Oxford, England,
6 January 1946), comparative anatomy, embryology,
GOULD, JOHN (b. Lyme Regis, England, 14 September
1804; d. London, England, 3 February 1881),
HITCHCOCK, EDWARD (b. Deerfield, Massachusetts,
24 May 1793; d. Amherst, Massachusetts, 27
February 1864), geology.
HARRIS, JOHN (b. Shropshire [?], England, ca.
1666; d. Norton Court, Kent, England, 7 September
1719), natural philosophy, dissemination of knowledge.
HOBBES, THOMAS (b. Malmesbury, England, 5
April 1588; d. Hardwick, Derbyshire, England, 4 December
1679), political philosophy, moral philosophy,
HOOKE, ROBERT (b. Freshwater, Isle of Wight,
England, 18 July 1635; d. London, England, 3 March
HUTTON, JAMES (b. Edinburgh, Scotland, 3 June
1726; d. Edinburgh, 26 March 1797), geology, agriculture,
physical sciences, philosophy.
The Theory of the Earth.
Reception of the Theory.
Agriculture and Evolution.
JORDANUS DE NEMORE (fl. ca. 1220), mechanics,
LAMARCK, JEAN BAPTISTE PIERRE ANTOINE
DE MONET DE (b. Bazentin-le-Petit, Picardy,
France, 1 August 1744; d. Paris, France, 28 December
1829), botany, invertebrate zoology and paleontology,
Invertebrate Zoology and Paleontology.
Theory of Evolution.
Origins of Lamarck's Theory.
LEA, ISAAC (b. Wilmington, Delaware, 4 March
1792; d. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 8 December
LEIBNIZ, GOTTFRIED WILHELM (b. Leipzig,
Germany, 1 July 1646; d. Hannover, Germany,
14 November 1716), mathematics, philosophy, metaphysics.
LEIBNIZ: Physics, Logic, Metaphysics
LISTER, MARTIN (christened Radclive, Buckinghamshire,
England, 11 April 1639; d. Epsom, England,
2 February 1712), zoology, geology.
LYELL, CHARLES (b. Kinnordy, Kirriemuir, Angus,
Scotland, 14 November 1797; d. London, England,
22 February 1875), geology, evolutionary biology.
MANTELL, GIDEON ALGERNON (b. Lewes, Sussex,
England, 3 February 1790; d. London, England,
10 November 1852), geology.
MILLER, HUGH (b. Cromarty, Scotland, 10 October
1802; d. Portobello, Scotland, 24 December 1856),
MONTE, GUIDOBALDO, MARCHESE DEL (b.
Pesaro, Italy, 11 January 1545; d. Montebaroccio,
6 January 1607), mechanics, mathematics, astronomy.
MURCHISON, RODERICK IMPEY (b. Tarradale,
Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, 19 February 1792;
d. London, England, 22 October 1871), geology.
NEWTON, ISAAC (b. Woolsthorpe, England,
25 December 1642; d. London, England, 20 March
1727), mathematics, dynamics, celestial mechanics,
astronomy, optics, natural philosophy.
Lucasian Professor. On 1 October 1667, some two
years after his graduation, Newton was elected minor
fellow of Trinity, and on 16 March 1668 he was
admitted major fellow. He was created M.A. on
7 July 1668 and on 29 October 1669, at the age of
twenty-six, he was appointed Lucasian professor. He
succeeded Isaac Barrow, first incumbent of the chair,
and it is generally believed that Barrow resigned his
professorship so that Newton might have it.10
Mathematics. Any summary of Newton's contributions
to mathematics must take account not only
of his fundamental work in the calculus and other
aspects of analysis--including infinite series (and most
notably the general binomial expansion)--but also his
activity in algebra and number theory, classical and
analytic geometry, finite differences, the classification
of curves, methods of computation and approximation,
and even probability.
Dynamics, Astronomy, and the Birth of the
Mathematics in the “Principia.”
The “Principia”: General Plan.
The “Principia”: Definitions and Axioms.
Book I of the “Principia.”
Book II of the “Principia.”
Book III, “The System of the World.”
Revision of the “Opticks” (the Later Queries);
Chemistry and Theory of Matter.
Alchemy, Prophecy, and Theology. Chronology and
The London Years: the Mint, the Royal Society,
Quarrels with Flamsteed and with Leibniz.
Newton's Philosophy: The Rules of Philosophizing,
the General Scholium, the Queries of the “Opticks.”
OWEN, RICHARD (b. Lancaster, England, 20 July
1804; d. Richmond Park, London, England,
18 December 1892), comparative anatomy, vertebrate
PACIOLI, LUCA (b. Sansepolcro, Italy, ca. 1445;
d. Sansepolcro, 1517), mathematics, bookkeeping.
PLAYFAIR, JOHN (b. Benvie, near Dundee,
Scotland, 10 March 1748; d. Edinburgh, Scotland,
20 July 1819), mathematics, physics, geology.
PLAYFAIR, LYON (b. Chunar, India, 21 May 1818;
d. London, England, 29 May 1898), chemistry.
PLOT, ROBERT (b. Borden, Kent, England,
13 December 1640; d. Borden, 30 April 1696), natural
history, archaeology, chemistry.
SCHEUCHZER, JOHANN JAKOB (b. Zurich,
Switzerland, 2 August 1672; d. Zurich, 23 June
1733), medicine, natural history, mathematics,
SCHOTT, GASPAR (b. Königshofen, near Würzburg,
Germany, 5 February 1608; d. Würzburg,
22 May 1666), mathematics, physics, technology.
SCROPE, GEORGE JULIUS POULETT (b. London,
England, 10 March 1797; d. Fairlawn [near
Cobham], Surrey, England, 19 January 1876), geology.
SEDGWICK, ADAM (b. Dent, Yorkshire, England,
22 March 1785; d. Cambridge, England, 27
January 1873), geology.
SMITH, WILLIAM (b. Churchill, Oxfordshire,
England, 23 March 1769; d. Northampton, England,
28 August 1839), geology.
STENSEN, NIELS, also known as Nicolaus Steno
(b. Copenhagen, Denmark, 1%6111 January 1638; d.
Schwerin, Germany, 25 November/5 December
1686), anatomy, geology, mineralogy.
STERNBERG, KASPAR MARIA VON (b. Prague,
Bohemia [now in Czechoslovakia], 6 January 1761;
d. Březina castle, Radnice, 20 December 1838),
botany, geology, paleontology.
WOODWARD, JOHN (b. Derbyshire, England, 1
May 1665; d. London, England, 25 April 1728),
geology, mineralogy, botany.
Electronic edition published by Cultural Heritage Langauge Technologies (with permission from Charles Scribners and Sons) and funded by the National Science Foundation International Digital Libraries Program. This text has been proofread to a low degree of accuracy. It was converted to electronic form using data entry.
Table of Contents
Page 16 of 314
BRUNO, GIORDANO (b. Nola, Italy, 1548; d. Rome,
Italy, 17 February 1600), philosophy.
Bruno's baptismal name was Filippo; he took the
name Giordano, by which he is always known, on
entering the Dominican order. His father, Giovanni,
was a soldier, and probably a man of fairly good
position; his mother, Fraulissa Savolino, has been
conjectured to have been of German descent, although
there is no real evidence. Hardly anything is
known of Bruno's early years in Nola, a small town
At the age of fifteen, Bruno entered the Dominican
order and became an inmate of the great Dominican
convent in Naples. Here he acquired a grounding in
Scholastic philosophy and the reverence for Thomas
Aquinas (who had lived and taught in the Naples convent)
that he professed throughout his life. Here,
too, he became proficient in the art of memory, for
which the Dominicans were noted, and was taken to
Rome to display his mnemonic skill to Pope Pius V.
Another influence which he may have come under
in these early years was that of the famous natural
magician and scientist Giambattista della Porta, who
in 1560 had established in Naples his academy for
investigating the secrets of nature. Bruno was formed
during these years in Naples: his mind and character
never lost the imprint of his training as a friar; and
it was as a passionate ex-friar that he wandered over
Europe, combining philosophical speculation with a
religious mission evolved through deep immersion in
Renaissance magic and its Hermetic sources.
Bruno's religion was the moving force behind both
his wandering career and his philosophical and cosmic
speculations. He believed that he was reviving
the magical religion of the ancient Egyptians, a
religion older than Judaism or Christianity, which
these inferior religions had suppressed but of which
he prophesied the imminent return. It included a
belief in the magical animation of all nature, which
the magus could learn how to tap and to use, and
a belief in metempsychosis. The historical origins of
Bruno's “Egyptianism” and the printed sources
whence he derived it are now clear, owing to the work
done by scholars in fairly recent years on the Hermetic
core of Renaissance Neoplatonism.
As propagated by Marsilio Ficino, Renaissance
Neoplatonism included a firm belief that both Plato
and his followers had been inspired by a tradition
of prisca theologia, or pristine and pure theology,
which had come down to them from the teachings
of Hermes Trismegistus, a mythical Egyptian sage,
and other figures supposedly of extreme antiquity.
This belief rested on the misdating of certain late
antique texts, of which the most important were the
Asclepius and the Corpus Hermeticum, which were
supposed to have been written by Hermes Trismegistus
Ficino believed that these texts contained authentic
revelations about ancient Egyptian religion and that
in them their supposed author prophesied the coming
of Christianity—and, hence, could take on sanctity
as a Gentile prophet. The scraps of Platonic notions
incorporated by the late antique Gnostic writers of
the Hermetic texts were, for Ficino, evidence that
these ancient “Egyptian” teachings were the pristine
source at which Plato and the Neoplatonists had
drunk. These beliefs could be supported from works
of some Church Fathers, notably Lactantius. Nor
were they peculiar to Ficino; on the contrary, the
whole Renaissance Neoplatonic movement contained
this Hermetic core, and the religious magic, or
theurgy, taught by Hermes Trismegistus, particularly
in the Asclepius, seemed corroborated by the intensive
Renaissance study of the later Neoplatonists, such as
Porphyry and Iamblichus. As a pious Christian,
Ficino was encouraged by the sanctity of Hermes
Trismegistus as a Gentile prophet to embark on the
astral magic described in the Asclepius, which lies
behind his own work on astral magic, the De vita
coelitus comparanda, although he did this hesitantly