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.
BRUNO, GIORDANO (b. Nola, Italy, 1548; d. Rome,
Italy, 17 February 1600), philosophy.
Table of Contents
Page 20 of 314
ignored. Leo Olschki was probably one of the first
to notice that no coherent philosophical system could
be drawn from Bruno's works through this approach;
and Antonio Corsano emphasized the magical ingredients
in Bruno's thought and the politico-religious
aspects of his activities. It is, however, the work that
has been done in recent years on the Renaissance
Hermetic tradition that has at last made it possible
to place Bruno within a context in which his philosophy,
his magic, and his religion can all be seen
as belonging to an outlook that, however strange,
makes historical sense.
Now that Giordano Bruno has been, as it were,
found out as a Hermetic magician of a most extreme
type, is he therefore to be rejected as of no serious
importance in the history of thought? This is not the
right way to pose the question. Rather, it should be
recognized that Renaissance magic, and that turning
toward the world as a revelation of the divine that
is the motive force in the “religion of the world” that
inspired Bruno, was itself a preparation or a stage
in the great movement that, running out of the Renaissance
into the seventeenth century, gradually shed
its irrational characteristics for the genuinely scientific
approach to the world. Bruno's leap upward through
the spheres into an infinite universe, although it is
to be interpreted as the experience of a Gnostic
magician, was at the same time an exercise of speculative
imagination presaging the advent of new world
views. Although Bruno infused the innumerable
worlds of which he had learned from Lucretius with
magical animism, this was in itself a remarkable
vision of a vastly extended universe through which
ran one law. We can accept Bruno's Renaissance
vision as prophetic of coming world views, although
formulated within a very strange frame of reference.
Again, Bruno's atomism, derived from his study of
Lucretius through magical interpretation of Lucretius
in such a writer as Palingenius, whose Zodiacus vitae
was one of Bruno's inspirations, may have stimulated
the attention of other thinkers. The Renaissance
interpretation of Lucretius, which was begun by
Ficino, is a stage in the history of atomism which has
not yet been adequately examined. When that history
comes to be written, Bruno's magically animated
atoms may be found to hold some transitional place
Another example of Bruno's thought as a presage
of scientific discovery is his remarkable intuition
about the circular movement of the blood, which he
based on parallelism between man and the universe;
he believed that “spirit” is the driving force that
moves the blood, the same spirit that is diffused
through the universe and that Plato defined as “number
which moves in a circle.” Hence, the movement
of the blood within the body, said Bruno, is circular,
diffused from the heart in a circular movement.
One of the closest connections between Bruno and
a seventeenth-century scientific philosopher is that
which can be discerned in the influence of Bruno's
Cena de le ceneri on William Gilbert's De magnete.
The magnet is always mentioned in textbooks on
magic as an example of the occult sympathies in
action; and Bruno, when defending his animistic
version of heliocentricity, brought in the magnet.
Gilbert's language when defending heliocentricity in
the De magnete is extremely close to that of Bruno;
like Bruno, he cites Hermes and others who stated
that there is a universal life in nature when he is
arguing in favor of earth movement. The magnetic
philosophy that Gilbert extended to the whole universe
seems most closely allied to that of Bruno, and
it is not surprising that Francis Bacon should have
listed Gilbert with Bruno as proud and fantastic magi
of whom he strongly disapproved.
Even the strangest and most formidably obscure
of Bruno's works, those on his magic arts of memory,
can be seen to presage, on the Hermetic plane, seventeenth-century
strivings after method. Bruno aimed
at arranging magically activated images of the stars
in memory in such a way as to draw magical powers
into the psyche. These systems were of an incredible
complexity, involving combinations of memory
images with the revolving wheels of Lull to form ways
of grasping everything in the universe at once and
in all possible combinations. Bruno's Hermetic computers,
if one may be permitted to call them such,
were almost certainly known to Leibniz, who was also
familiar with the art of memory and with Lullism.
When introducing his universal calculus, Leibniz uses
language that is remarkably similar to that in which
Bruno introduced his art of memory to the doctors
of Oxford. The many curious connections between
Bruno and Leibniz may, when fully explored, form
one of the best means of watching the transitions from
Renaissance occultism to seventeenth-century science.
Within that view of the history of thought in which
the Renaissance magus is seen as the immediate precursor
of the seventeenth-century scientist, Giordano
Bruno holds a significant place, and his tragic death
early in the first year of the new century must still arrest
our attention as symbolic of a great turning point
in human history.
I. ORIGINAL WORKS.
Bruno's Latin works are in Opera
latine, Francisco Fiorentino, Vittorio Imbriani, C. M.