Author Archive

David Suzuki

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 David Suzuki
Born: March 24, 1936 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Fields: Natualism, Scince Communication

Biography - Awards - Books

 

Biography 

David Suzuki is a third generation Japanese Canadian naturalist, activist and science communicator. He is most notable for his climate change activism, as well as numerous books and media appearances, including the long-running CBC documentary series, The Nature of Things. In an effort to lead by example, Suzuki has limited his travelling, which he claims he has done more than enough of to exceed his carbon limit “by hundreds of tonnes”. He no longer vacations overseas and chooses locations close to each other for speaking engagements. Video conferencing is his favorite method of spreading his message.

According to Suzuki, climate change skeptics and deniers are policy makers who receive funding from the oil and gas industry and have practically nothing to do with climate science. In a famous February 2008 speech at the McGill University in Montreal, Suzuki urged the students to speak out against politicians’ lack of action to address climate change, stating ”What I would challenge you to do is to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there’s a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they’re doing is a criminal act.”

Since 1974, Suzuki has received numerous honorary degrees from universities in Canada, the United States and Australia. He also has over 52 books on his resume, starting with An Introduction to Genetic Analysis in 1986. His most recent work is The Legacy: An Elder’s Vision for a Better Future, where Suzuki presents his vision of a better future. The book was published in 2010, in a  partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation, a Vancouver-based environmental organization founded by Suzuki in 1991.

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Michael Faraday

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 Michael Faraday
Born: 22 September 1791, Newington Butts, England.
Died: 25 August 1867, Hampton Court, England
Fields: Physics, Chemistry

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Biography 

Despite having almost no formal education, Michael Faraday was one of the most influential people in the history of science thanks to his contributions to the study of magnetism. He is the most well known for having formulated the concept of an electromagnetic field, laying the foundation for electric motor technology and essentially making electricity practical for use in technology. As a chemist, he invented the precursor to the Bunsen burner and is credited with the discovery of benzene, along with some other contributions that eventually made him the Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

Faraday’s reputation as an experimentalist made him an inspiration to other scientists that came after him. Albert Einstein, for example, had a picture of Faraday hanging next to Isaac Newton and  James Clerk Maxwell. Physicist Earnest Rutherford, the man who first split the atom, referred to Faraday as “ one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time”.

Faraday is said to have seen faith as a vital part of his research and was an advocate of co-existence between science and religion. The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion was named in his honor with a mission to promote understanding within the two. He has been honored in many ways, especially in his native England, with numerous statues and educational facilities named after him. British 20 pound notes issued prior to 2001 had a portrait of Faraday and a visual of him giving a lecture on the back. Streets named after him are found in England, France, Germany and the United States.

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Categories : Chemistry, Physics
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Leonardo Da Vinci

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 Leonardo Da Vinci
Born: Vinci, Republic of Florence, April 15, 1542
Died: May 2, 1519, Amboise, Kingdom of France.
Fields: Engineering, Biology

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Biography 

Leonardo Da Vinci is widely regarded as an icon (perhaps the icon) of the Reinassance period. He is said to possess the most diverse skill set of all time – he was a painter, inventor, musician, mathematician, geoologist, cartographer, botanist and writer.  He is widely regarded as the personification of Reinassance, a man of ”unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination” .

Da Vinci’s technological ingenuity was ahead of his time by a long margin. He was the first man to conceptualize a tank, a helicopter, a calculator and solar power among others. He devised a series of movable barricades to defend Venice in 1499 and worked with Nicholo Machiavelli to devise a scheme to divert the flow of the Arno river. He was always fascinated with flight, recording numerous observations of bird flight into the Codex on the Flight of Birds and drew up plans for an early version of a helicopter and hang-glider. One of the greatest examples of Da Vinci’s prowess as an engineer was his proposal to Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) for a 720 foot single-span bridge. The Ottoman turned down the proposal, believing that such construction is impossible. Five hundred years later, in 2001, Da Vinci was proven right when a smaller bridge was successfully built in Norway using his design.

As an artist, he was fascinated with the human anatomy. After he began to dissect human corpses and made an effort to draw everything he saw, which is how his famous human body diagram came about. He was also the first person to make a scientific drawing of a human fetus.

Even over five centuries after his death, Leonardo Da Vinci and his work draw a great deal of attention from not only the public, but scientists and writers as well. He has been described as a “universal genius par excellence”.

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Categories : Biology, Engineering
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Galileo Galilei

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 Galileo Galilei
Born: 15 February 1564 in Pisa, Italy
Died: 8 January, Arcetri, Italy
Fields: Astronomy, Physics

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Biography 

Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist and astronomer and a key figure of the Scientific Revolution, when science and the occult began to part ways. He was a supporter of Nicolaus Copernicus’ theory of heliocentrism, which stated that the Sun is at the center of the universe. This upset the clergy, who had him arrested and convicted for heresy since the theory contradicted the Holy Scriptures. A popular legend says that Galilei rebelliously muttered “And yet, it moves” after being forced to recant this theory, but there is no evidence that this was the case.

Galileo’s numerous contributions to the fields of astronomy and physics include improvements to the telescope, confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of Jupiter’s four largest sattelites (later named the Galilean moons), improvements to the military compass

Galileo’s arrest came after the publishing of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. In this book, he defended his heliocentric views, which were highly controversial at the time, even among astronomers. The Dialogue was interpreted as an attack on Pope Urban VIII, which led to Galileo not only being arrested, but also alienating a lot of his supporters. He was tried, found ”vehemently suspect of heresy” and spent the rest of his life under house arrest in his villa at Arcetri, near Florence.

In recent times, the Catholic Church expressed regret over Galileo’s imprisonment on multiple occasions. In 1992, Pope John Paul II officially acknowledged the wrongdoings of the clergy towards Galileo. In 2008, Pope Benedict XIV praised his contributions to astronomy. According to Stephen Hawking, nobody had as much impact on the birth of modern science as Galileo, while Albert Einstein dubbed him the father of modern science.

 

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Categories : Astronomy, Physics
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Nicolaus Copernicus

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 Nikolaus Kopernikus
Born: 19 February 1473, Torun, Polish Kingdom
Died: 24 May 1543, Prince-Bishopric of Warmia, Polish Kingdom
Fields: Astronomy

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Biography 

Nicolaus Copernicus is a German-Polish astronomer who first formulated the theory of a heliocentric universe, with the Sun at the center. This theory, later outlined in his book On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, began the Copernican revolution, which was a cornerstone of the scientific revolution, when science and the occult became more and more distinct from each other.

Controversy against Copernicus’ theory was very scarce initially. Even the clergy approached the idea with an open mind when the Archbishop of Capua (southern Italy) wrote Copernicus a letter, encouraging him to spread the idea and send him his writings. The full Revolutions ,howeverwasn’t printed until shortly before Copernicus’ death. After Copernicus’ passing, his book attracted a much greater deal of controversy, with prominent members of the clergy condemning heliocentrism, mostly becuase it contradicted the Bible. Galileo Galilei, one of Copernicus’ most well-known supporters, was infamously convicted for heresy in 1633, placing him under house arrest for the rest of his life.

Works defending heliocentrism were on the Catholic Church’s list of banned books until 1758 and the original uncensored Revolutions wasn’t removed from the list until 1835. In 2005, Copernicus’ remains were exhumed and given a proper burial in 2010, with the tombstone shaped like a golden sun with 6 planets surrounding it.

 

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Categories : Astronomy
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Isaac Newton

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 Isaac Newton
Born: 25 Dec 1642, Woolsthrope-by-Colsterworth, England
Died: 20 March 1727 (aged 84), Kensington, England
Fields: Physics

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Biography 

Isaac Newton was a prominent English physicist and mathematician, who is widely regarded as the one of the most influential people in science and a key figure in the scientific revolution of the 1500s and 1600s. His most iconic accomplishment was conceiving the theory of gravity, inspired by watching apples fall from an apple tree. Contrary to popular belief, the apple did not hit Newton on the head and some even believe the whole story to be a myth told by Newton himself, even though some of Newton’s acquaintances have confirmed it as true.

In his book ”Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”, he outlined the laws of motion and the concept of universal gravitation. The book heavily influenced scientists’ perception of the universe for the next three centuries. It also showed that other celestial bodies move using the same principles as Earth, essentially removing any doubt about a heliocentric model of the cosmos.

In 1704, Newton attempted to extract scientific data from the Bible and concluded that the world will end no sooner than 2060, even though he stated that it wasn’t an attempt to predict the end of the world, but “to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end”. During Newton’s time, distinctions between science and the occult were virtually nonexistent, which is why Newton authored a number of works dealing with chronology, alchemy and Biblical interpretation. After analyzing some of Newton’s works, economist John Maynard Keynes said ”Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians”

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Categories : Physics
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Earnest Rutherford

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 Earnest Rutherford
Born: August 30, 1871 in Brightwater, New Zeland
Died: 19 October 1937 in Cambridge, England
Fields: Physics, Chemistry

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Biography 

Earnest Rutherford was physicist born in New Zealand. He is considered by many to be the father of nuclear physics, having established the structure of the atom and the concept of radioactive decay.

Even though Rutherford died before controlled nuclear chain reactions i.e. nuclear power came to existence, Leo Szilard, the Hungarian American physicist responsible for its introduction, stated that his thinking was inspired by his speech on nuclear transmutation published in the Times. The nuclear transmutation of one element into another and differentiation between alpha and beta radiation was the foundation of the work that got Rutherford a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908.

Rutherford’s most famous accomplishment is his 1917 splitting of the atom, where his theory about a nucleus being at the center of the atom was confirmed. He also discovered and named the proton. While working with Niels Bohr in 1921, he theorized about the existence of neutrally charged particles within the atom, which he dubbed neutrons. This theory was proven by his associate James Chadwick, earning him a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1935.

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Categories : Chemistry, Physics
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Michio Kaku

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 Michio Kaku
Born: Jan 24, 1947 in San Jose, CA, USA.
Fields: Physics, Science Comm.

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Biography 

Michio Kaku is an American (born to Japanese immigrants with Tibetan ancestry) theoretical physicist and science communicator. He is responsible for popularizing his field of science with a number of famous books, including the New York Time bestsellers Physics of the Impossible (2008) and Physics of the Future (2010). He has hosted specials on BBC, the Discovery Channel, Science Channel and History Channel.

As a high school student, Kaku built a particle accelerator in his parents’ garage. This earned him a Hertz Engineering Scholarship. He graduated from Harvard University at the top of his physics class before moving on to obtaining a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley and a lectureship from Princeton, both in 1972.
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Chris Hadfield

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 Chris Hadfield
Born: 29 August 1959, Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
Fields: Science Communication

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Biography 

Chris Hadfield is a retired Canadian astronaut who commanded the International Space Station from December 2012 until May 2013 and the first Canadian to walk in space, spending a total of 14 hours and 50 minutes outisde his vessel. Despite numerous awards and honors including the Order of Ontario and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, he is best known for his contributions to science communication, having been dubbed ”perhaps the most social media savvy astronaut ever to leave Earth”  by Forbes. As of June 2013, he has over a million Twitter followers. Shortly after handing over command of the ISS to Russian astronaught Pavel Vinogradov, Hadfield released a video of himself performing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, recorded in the Space Station’s zero gravity conditions. The video currently has over 15 million views on YouTube. He also has one of the most popular Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) threads. These accomplishments make Hadfield one of the most successful science communicators since the rise of social media.

Before becoming an astronaut, Hadfield enjoyed a successful career in the Royal Canadian Air Force and as a pilot in general. He was the first Canadian to intercept a Soviet Tu-95 long range bomber over the arctic while flying intercept missions for NORAD and flew over 70 different aircaft over his career.

Awards

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1996: Order of Ontario
2001:
Vanier Award
2002:
NASA Exceptional Service Medal
2003:
Queen’s Jubilee Medal

Books


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#GoodMorningEarth: Chris Hadfield   Synopsis and Bibliography

More Chris Hadfield books

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Alfred Nobel

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 Alfred Nobel
Born: 21 October 1833
Stockholm, Sweden
Died: 10 December 1896 (aged 63) Sanremo, Italy
Fields: Chemistry, Engineering

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Biography 

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, inventor, engineer, entrepreneur  and weapons manufacturer. He is best known for the Nobel Prize, awarded for achievements in the fields of  Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Peace. An award for Economics exists as well, but is called the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and was created as an homage to Nobel, not by Nobel himself.

Nobel’s most controversial invention was dynamite, which plays a big part in how the Prizes came to existence. After Nobel’s brother Ludvig’s death while visiting Cannes in 1888, a French newspaper published an erroneous obituary, thinking it was Nobel himself. The obituary condemned him for the invention of dynamite, stating  ”Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” After reading the obituary, Nobel became concerned with his legacy, which eventually led to the creation of the Prizes.
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Categories : Chemistry, Engineering
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