Monday, January 15, 2018

THE GREAT SCIENTISTS

Some scientists who have contributed monumentally to scientific knowledge by their pure or basic research include:
  a.  Robert Boyle (1627 - 1691). He is regarded as the Father of Chemistry.  He is famous for his discoveries on the physics of gases.  
b.  Marcello  Malppghian (1628 - 1694). He has  been referred to as  the  ‘Father of Microscopy’. This is because of his numerous anatomical and botanical   investigations   with   the   newly   invented   microscope.   The malppghian layer in leaves of plants is named after him.
  c.  Christian Huygens (1629 - 1695). He was a reputed mathematician and  an astronomer. He built the first accurate pendulum clock. 
 d.  Robert Hooke (1635 - 1703). He made his  living as a surveyor and an architect. He was a research assistant to Boyle. He carried out various researches  in  biology  and  physics.  He  is  most   remembered   for   his microscopic discovery of the cells of plants. 
 e.  Isaac  Newton (1642 - 1727). He  was  a  brilliant  mathematician  and physicist. He is remembered  mainly for  his  laws  of  motion, and  the discovery of  the composite nature of white light using a sunbeam and a prism. 

f.  Michael  Faraday (1741  - 1867).  He  was  a  brilliant  physicist.  He  is remembered for his  discovery of  electricity in 1813 during a series  of deliberate researches with very simple apparatus.  On   the   other   hand,   the   production   of   steam   power,   a   technical development is the most important in the whole history of modern industrial  civilisation. This technical production proceeded without any help from pure or basic science. The   original incentive  for this invention was cormcmlyercial  and industrial.  That  is  how to solve the  problem of  pumping water  from  a mine. 

The only significant contribution form  theory was the invention  of  separatedcondenser   in 1764  by James  Watt (1736 -1819). Apart from this the steam engine was invented and improved by a succession of practical inventors without any training in mathematics or physics.  


  Invention is  an  outstanding feat emanating  from  science and technology. The claim is often made that modern industry depends on basic science for  its supply of  innovations. It is also said that the support of  pure science is justifiable because it would lead, eventually to economic benefits through improved industrial products or processes.  For  instance,  the   zip   used   to   fasten   a   piece   of  clothing,   especially  women’s  dresses  was   invented  by  W.  L.  Judson.  He  was   an  American  mechanical engineer. He applied for the first patent of his invention in 1891.  (The patent is an open letter from the government of  a country, conferring  the  sole  right  for  a  period  of  time  to make, use  or  sell  some  invention.)  Judson’s  invention was a unique one. He formed a company to try to make  and  market  a saleable product. But  the  company  failed after  a period of  twenty years. It took another  company called the Automatic Hook and Eye  Company and a  Swedish electric  engineer  called  G. Sundback (1913)  to  improve and finally come up with the essential design we know today. But  public acceptance of this new product only came in 1918.  Another  notable invention was that  of  antibiotics. The invention was  a  technical   innovation   that   sprang   directly   from   pure   or   basic   scientific  research. In 1928, Alexander  Fleming accidentally observed the effects  of  microorganisms (fungi)  named  Penicillium  on a bacterial  culture. He was deeply   interested in natural products   that could   kill bacteria. 

He immediately started research on the penicillium phenomena. Over  a period of  three to four  years, he extracted the active agent in the fungi, tested its action on animals and humans. He found out that it was not toxic to animals and humans. He published his results in a journal. But because Fleming was a   man   who   didn’t   like   publicity,   his   discovery  was   almost  completely ignored. Again, he didn’t  have the  money to isolate and purify the active agent   for   commercial   purposes.   Additionally,   he   didn’t   seek   publicity because   commercial   pharmacists   of   that   time   generally   considered   the concept of a non-toxic bactericide, a contradiction.  Ten years later in 1939, a group under Howard Florey and Ernest Chain began work on natural antibiotics. They came across Fleming’s  paper  in the literature  and soon  confirmed  Fleming’s  work  that  penicillin  was  highly effective.

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