ÂŠ Katy Harrald, 2014
Written and Illustrated by Katy Harrald
From the sprawling beauty of the Jurassic coast in England, to the very summit of Ben Nevis in Scotland; the foundations for modern science were laid in the British Isles. Though small in size and population, Great Britain throughout human history has been called home by many of the great scientific minds, whose dedicated work has paved the way for modern living and scientific understanding. From Isaac Newtonâ€™s influential Principa, regarded as one of the most important scientific writings, to the invention of the world wide web by Tim Berners Lee, universities up and down the country have produced a plethora of extraordinary individuals; and continue to nurture the intellect we deem human endeavour. Coupled with the groundbreaking research conducted in some of the oldest scientific institutions, Great Britain will forever be remembered as the home of science. In this modern age of disease vaccination, personal computers and space travel, it may be all too easy to take these advancements for granted, forgetting the hard graft and toil that made it all possible. British science has undoubtedly revolutionised the way we live, and will continue to build the foundations for our future. It is important to remember our history and heritage, and appreciate modern endeavours so that we may continue to advance and thrive on this small, insignificant, and yet important rock we call Earth.
John Flamsteed 1646-1719 Astronomer
After commissioning the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in 1675, King Charles II created the position of Astronomer Royal and appointed John Flamsteed as the first. Throughout his life, he made many valuable contributions to our understanding of the planets in our solar system, the motion of comets around the sun and recent supernovae. During his reign as Astronomer Royal, he spent many a decade as a skilled observer meticulously cataloging stars for Tycho Braheâ€™s sky atlas. In 1752, John Flamsteed published his Historia Coelestis Britannica, containing accurate data on 3000 stars, far exceeding any previous publications.
Thomas Young 1773-1829 Polymath
Thomas Young contributed to many a field of scientific research and theory. His work in vision, light, energy and physiology amongst others is remembered in the many books he published throughout the 19th Century. The Double- slit experiment, which helped to establish the wave theory of light, is perhaps his most well known field of study; overcoming dated beliefs set in Isaac Newtonâ€™s Optics. Less well known was his adoration for languages. Having been acquainted with thirteen languages from the age of fourteen, Thomas Young made a number of innovations in the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone. By 1814, he had translated the entirety of the demotic segment of the stone.
Mary Anning 1799-1847 Paleontologist
Well known globally for numerous important finds in the English Jurassic coast, Mary Anning contributed greatly to major changes in scientific thinking surrounding prehistoric life. At the tender age of twelve she unearthed the first Ichthyosaur skeleton followed by two Plesiosaurs. Owing to the popular belief at the time, that the Earth was only a few thousand years old, these finds generated much thought from the public and the scientific community. Her devotion to Paleontology also furthered our understanding of Coprolites and Cephalopods. Her gender and social class meant she suffered financially in an occupation dominated by wealthy gentlemen, and was considered an outcast within the scientific community. The zeal with which she completed her dangerous job, and the subsequent influence she had over scientific knowledge mark her as an important figure in scientific history.
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace 1815-1852 Mathematician
Principally known for her collaborative work on Charles Babbageâ€™s Analytical Engine, Ada Lovelaceâ€™s mathematical notes included, what is thought to be the first algorithm. It explained a method to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers with the machine, an important milestone in the very early years of the computer. Her notes on the subject reached beyond the simple calculations, and asked important questions about human interaction and collaboration with technology; with the possibility of using it to create music of extreme complexity. With a number of scientific developments attached to her name, Ada Lovelace earned the title of of the worldâ€™s first computer programmer.
John Tyndall 1820-1893 Physicist
Through lively demonstrations at the Royal Institution, John Tyndall was at the forefront of bringing science to the general public. Equally as famous for his extensive scientific knowledge, his research included studies in diamagnetism, infrared radiation, the physical properties of air, dynamic polarity and magnetism. Spending a considerable proportion of his time giving hundreds of public lectures to non- specialist audiences for the every man, John Tyndall earned his reputation as both a prominent mind and a brilliant educator.
Alfred Russel Wallace 1823-1913 Biologist & Anthropologist
With valuable contributions to evolutionary theory, natural section and biogeography; throughout the scientific community, Alfred Russel Wallace is held in as high esteem as his contemporary Charles Darwin. As a leading evolutionary thinker of the 19th Century, he spent many years travelling the length and breadth of the globe, collecting hundreds of thousand of specimens, with 5000 previously unknown to science. Of these, his better known finds include the gliding tree frog, Rhacophorus nigropalmatus, commonly known as Wallaceâ€™s flying frog; and the Ornithoptera croesus or Wallaceâ€™s Golden Birdwing butterfly. At the turn of the century, Alfred Russel Wallace was Britainâ€™s best known naturalist, and remains to this day an important individual in scientific history.
Eadweard James Muybridge 1830-1904 Motion Photographer
Although not considered a figure of science in a traditional sense, the work produced by Eadweard Muybridge paved the way for many advancements in scientific knowledge. What many artists of the time failed to achieve, the pioneering photographs he produced helped greatly in the scientific understanding of animal and human motion. His photographs provided documented proof of the horse in unsupported locomotion, a popular question of the day. These experiments and groundbreaking images led him to design and produce the first Zoopraxiscope, possibly considered the first film projector, marking a developmental stage for cinematography.
Sir William Ramsay 1852-1916 Chemist
Morris William Travers 1872-1961 Chemist
Discovering an entirely new distinction within the Periodic Table of Elements earned William Ramsay and Morris Travers a place in the history of great scientific achievements. After discovering and naming a new gas Argon, William Ramsay and Morris Travers expanded on this research to discover five more. Through subjecting liquid air to fractional distillation, Krypton, Neon and Xenon were discovered. William Ramsay continued to discover Radon and isolate Helium. These six gases were labelled as Noble Gases.
Sir Joseph John â€œJ.J.â€? Thomson 1856-1940 Physicist
Joseph John Thomson, a brilliant physicist credited with many discoveries, and the invention of the mass spectrometer. His most famous discovery however, earned him the Nobel Prize in 1906 for physics. This is perhaps the largest milestone attached to his name. Through experimentations with cathode rays, Joseph John Thomson concluded that the rays were composed of very light, negatively charged particles, we now know as Electrons. To explain the neutral charge of the atom, he proposed the electrons, known at the time as corpuscles, were evenly distributed in the positive charge much like a plum pudding. Although we now know this to be an incorrect representation of the atom, without his ground breaking research, we would know very little of the building blocks of the universe.
Charles Thomson Rees Wilson 1869-1959 Physicist & Meteorologist
With an interest primarily in meteorology, Charles Wilsonâ€™s studies of clouds began in 1893 and continued for many years; working for some time at the observatory on Ben Nevis. Inspiration struck atop the mountain by the sightings of Brocken spectre. In 1894 he began developing expansion chambers in an effort to reproduce these effects in laboratory conditions. Finally perfecting the Cloud chamber in 1911, this work earned him the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley 1876-1941 Engineer
A prominent figure in British engineering, Nigel Gresley is responsible in large for the great reputation of British steam locomotion. His engines were both aesthetically and mechanically elegant, producing better results in terms of running and power than any previous designs. His designs of some of the most famous steam locomotives in Britain, include the LNER Class A1 and The Flying Scotsman, the first passenger train to reach over 100 mph. His interest in breeding wildfowl, inspired the naming of his famous engine The Mallard; which still holds the world speed record for steam locomotives.
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington 1882-1944 Astronomer & Physicist
Contributing his time to many elements of physics, mathematics, and philosophy; Arthur Eddington is perhaps best known for his work in astrophysics regarding the theory of relativity. His research conducted on the island of Principe has had one of the most profound impacts in modern science. On the 29th May 1919, Arthur Eddington observed the positions of stars during the solar eclipse, and upon noticing their position change before and afterwards; confirmed Albert Einsteinâ€™s theory of general relativity. Arthur Eddington, a brilliant analytical and philosophical mind, without whom we may never have heard of Albert Einstein.
Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley 1887-1915 Physicist
Measuring the X- ray spectra of chemical elements, Henry Moseley discovered the mathematical relationship between the element wavelengths and the atomic numbers of metals used as targets in X- ray tubes. This research led to what is known as Moseleyâ€™s law; an empirical law which determines an elements place within the Periodic table of elements, and justifying the atoms nuclear model. This method of numeration shed light on the missing elements which were discovered in subsequent years, and emphasised the importance of atomic numbers as something more than a simple arbitrary number. His outstanding contribution to chemical concepts marks him as an iconic figure in both physics and chemistry history.
Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher 1890-1962 Statistician & Evolutionary Biologist
Although a trained mathematician and statistician, Ronald Fisherâ€™s work in evolutionary biology has him described as one of the greatest biologists since Darwin. Of all his achievements, the most profound was the use of statistics in neo- darwinian synthesis and the analysis of variance. The strong force of natural selection was recognised in his research, changing a long standing belief that it played only a small role in evolutionary biology. Research conducted on poultry, mice and snails culminated in theories about gene dominance and fitness; and with the help of these unlikely test subjects added to the growing understanding of human evolutionary knowledge.
Thomas “Tommy” Harold Flowers 1905-1998 Engineer
A prominent engineer during the Second World War, his expertise allowed British Intelligence to decode numerous German messages and in turn save many lives. Thomas Flowers worked closely with Frank Morrell at Bletchley Park to design the ‘Heath Robinson’, a machine to decrypt Lorenz machine ciphers. In 1943 he proposed a new electrical system called “Colossus”, five time faster than previous systems, using a total of 1500 valves. The Colossus was the first programmable electronic computer to help solve encrypted German messages. The Mark II Colossus provided vital information for the historical D- Day landings. Of ten Colossi built in total, two were later employed to decipher during the Cold War.
Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley 1917-2012 Physiologist & Biophysicist
& Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin 1914-1998 Physiologist & Biophysicist
Using the giant axon in the Atlantic squid Loligo pealeii, Andrew Huxley and Alan Hodgkin made valuable headway in determining the movements of nerve impulses. They discovered that instead of travelling down the core of the fibre, nerve impulses travel as cascading waves along the outer membrane composed of sodium ions diffusing inwards on a rising pulse; and as potassium ions diffusing out on a falling edge. This amazing discovery earned them a joint Nobel Prize in 1963 for Physiology or Medicine.
Katy Harrald is an illustrator based in the New Forest. Her illustrations often play with use of line weight and tonal qualities of graphite; frequently combining multiple textures and patterns with shading. The majority of her work is centered on scientific history, and the convergence of art with maths and science, producing images of equipment, portraits, and collections of objects. A growing library of text books and historical replicas coupled with dedicated attendance to lectures and museums, and a penchant for research, provides a multitude of inspirational subjects for her monochromatic works.
Published on May 9, 2014