Alessandro Volta: Facts About the Famous Scientist

Here are some facts about Alessandro Volta.

  • Alessandro Volta was an Italian chemist and physicist. He discovered the gas methane, and is regarded as the inventor of the battery and the unit of measurement, the Volt.

  • He was born in Como, Italy in 1745. While at school, he learned Latin, French, English and German, all of which helped him to communicate later in his career with other European scientists.
  • Volta’s family wanted him to become a lawyer. However, he became a physics teacher at a local school and helped to invent a device that produced static electricity, called an electrophorus.
  • In 1778, Alessandro Volta was given the post of Head of Experimental Physics at the University of Pavia in Italy. He kept this important position for the next 40 years.
  • In 1791, Volta was voted a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. A few years later he was awarded the Society’s top prize for his contributions to the science of electricity.
  • In 1800, Volta invented a basic type of battery – the first of its kind. This invention led to the discovery of new chemical elements, and the development of the first electric motor.

Alessandro Volta

  • Volta worked closely with an Italian biologist, Luigi Galvani. The two experimented with conducting electricity through the legs of dead frogs, which led to Mary Shelley writing the famous book Frankenstein.
  • During his life, Volta travelled all over Europe meeting other scientists. The French emperor Napoleon was so impressed with his work that he made him a Count.
  • Alessandro Volta died in Italy in 1827. He is remembered with a memorial and a small museum near Lake Como, which displays some of his scientific equipment and experiments.
  • The electrical unit of a Volt was named for Alessandro Volta. He also gave his name to the term photovoltaic, meaning the conversion of light into electricity.

Marie Curie: Facts About the Famous Scientist

Here are some facts about Marie Curie.

  • Marie Curie was a Polish physicist and chemist. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and is best known for her important research on radioactivity.

  • She was born in Poland in 1867, and studied science in Warsaw and Paris. She tutored in the evenings to earn extra money, but sometimes she didn’t earn enough money. Apparently, she once fainted from hunger.
  • Marie married Pierre Curie, a physics and chemistry teacher, in 1895. During the late 1890s, much of Marie’s research was carried out in a converted shed next to a college in Paris.
  • In 1898, Marie Curie and her husband discovered the element radium. The Curies discovered that radium could be used to destroy diseased cells in the body.
  • Curie and her husband succeeded in isolating radium as an element in 1904. She also invented the word ‘radioactive’ and devised an international measurement for radioactive emissions.

Marie Curie

  • During World War I, Marie Curie established France’s first military radiology centre. She treated over a million wounded soldiers with portable X-rays, and was made director of radiology at the Red Cross.
  • During her lifetime, Curie didn’t know how dangerous radiation exposure was. She often had radioactive materials in her home or laboratory, and even used a sample as a nightlight.
  • Curie died in 1934, from complications caused by prolonged exposure to radiation. Her remains are in the Pantheon in Paris, along with her husband’s, and she is one of the few women to be buried there.

  • Marie Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903 and in chemistry in 1911. Several scientific institutions and schools are named after her, as well as a nuclear reactor and a Paris metro station.
  • In 1944, the 96th element on the periodic table was discovered, and named Curium.
  • Marie Curie has been voted the most inspirational woman in the scientific world.

Humphry Davy: Facts About The Famous Scientist and Inventor

Here are some facts about Humphry Davy.

  • Humphry Davy was born on 17th December 1778 in Penzance, Cornwall.

  • He went to Truro Grammar School.
  • In 1794 his father died and Humprhy Davy was apprenticed to John Bingham Borlase, a surgeon from Penzance.
  • As an apprentice, Humphry became interested chemistry and carried out experiments in John Tonkin’s house, where he was boarder.
  • As a young man, Humphry Davy wrote poetry and painted landscapes.
  • In 1798, Davy became a member of the Pneumatic Institute in Bristol.
  • In Bristol he became friends with James Watt and his son Gregory, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey.
  • In 1804, Davy became a Fellow of the Royal Society. His lectures often involved dangerous experiments with different types of gas.
  • Humphry Davy was a key pioneer in the use of electrolysis to split compounds. He isolated several new elements, including potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, boron and barium.
  • In 1810, Humphry Day named chlorine, after proving that it didn’t in fact contain oxygen and was element.

Humphry Davy

  • Davy damaged his eyesight in an experiment with nitrogen trichloride. He hired Michael Faraday as a co-worker, as a result.
  • He was knighted as Sir Humphry Davy in 1812.
  • In 1813, he demonstrated that iodine was an element, and he showed that diamond is made of pure carbon.
  • He visited Alessandro Volta in Milan, Italy in 1814.
  • Davy designed his version of the safety lamp for use in coal mines. It used wire gauze to enclose the lamp’s flames, preventing the methane in the mines from igniting. The Davy Lamp worked well at first, but the gauze rusted very quickly in the mines, making it unsafe to use after a while.
  • In 1820, he was named President of the Royal Society.
  • He died in 1829 in Geneva, Switzerland. He is buried in Plainpalais Cemetery in Switzerland. There is a memorial tablet for him in Westminster Abbey, London.
  • A lunar crater has been named after him.
  • There is a Humphry Davy statue in Penzance, Cornwall.
  • He enjoyed fly-fishing and wrote a book on the subject called Salmonia.
  • Humphry Davy was addicted to nitrous oxide (laughing gas).

What next? discover some facts about other famous inventors.

Gregor Mendel: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Gregor Mendel.

  • Gregor Mendel was a 19th century Augustinian monk and scientist.
  • He is famous for his plant experiments which helped to establish some of the now accepted laws of heredity.

  • Mendel was born in July, 1822 on his family’s Austrian farm (although its location is now within the borders of the Czech Republic).
  • He did well at school and university, where he studied mathematics and physics. He made extra money from tutoring.
  • Mendel graduated from university in 1843, despite abandoning his studies several times because of depression. Against his family’s wishes, he studied to be a monk.

Gregor Mendel

  • In 1854, Mendel began studying hereditary features in plants. Looking at pea plants, he concluded that all living things, including humans, passed on their characteristics to their children in predictable ways.
  • Gregor Mendel also experimented on mice and bees. He referred to the bees as his ‘dearest little animals’, although the other monks found them annoying and asked him to get rid of them.
  • Mendel grew and tested almost 30,000 pea plants during 8 years of research. The results of his work were criticized at the time, but are now considered to be very important.
  • Mendel came up with the terms recessive and dominant, to describe types of genes that are passed down through generations. He published his work in 1866, although, at the time, it did not attract much attention.
  • He founded the Austrian Meteorological Society in 1865, and studied astronomy and the weather. Many of his scientific ideas were not widely accepted until after his death.
  • Gregor Mendel died in January, 1884 at his monastery in the Czech Republic. The Abbot who replaced Mendel burned many of his research papers to try to avoid arguments over taxes.
  • In 1900, several other scientists found his 1866 research papers and verified much of it was accurate. A lot of the research carried out into genetics and DNA over the next few decades was because of Mendel’s work.

Robert Hooke: Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about Robert Hooke.

  • Robert Hooke was a 17th century English philosopher and architect. He is best known for Hooke’s Law which addresses the relationship between force and distance in physics.

  • Robert Hooke was born on the Isle of Wight in 1635 and was fascinated by drawing and by mechanical devices.
  • He attended London’s Westminster School, and studied mechanics, Latin and Greek.
  • In 1655, Hooke moved to Oxford and became assistant to the chemist Robert Boyle.
  • In 1662, he became Curator of Experiments for the Royal Society, a post he held for 40 years.
  • Aged just 30, in 1665 Robert Hooke published one of the most important science books ever, the Micrographia. It described his experiments with telescopes and microscopes.
  • Hooke suggested that a pendulum could be used to measure gravity. He was also the first person to realize that light rays could bend, and that matter expands when heated.
  • Hooke was a keen astronomer and tried to measure the distance to various stars. He was one of the first to see the Rings of Saturn, and he also studied moon craters.
  • He invented the iris type diaphragm for cameras, and the balance wheel used in watches. He also discovered that all life is made up of cells and how they affect physical appearance.
  • Robert Hooke also worked as an architect, and made more money from architecture than science. He helped to design many buildings in London after many were destroyed in the Great Fire of London of 1666.
  • During his later years, Hooke often argued with other scientists, especially Isaac Newton.
  • He died in 1703 and was buried in a pauper’s grave in St Helen Bishopsgate Church, in London.

Robert Hooke

  • Nobody knows for sure what Robert Hooke looked like, as there is no portrait known to be of him.
  • A likeness of Hooke was on a window in a London church, but was destroyed in 1993.

Jane Goodall: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Jane Goodall.

  • Jane Goodall is considered to be the world’s leading expert on chimpanzees and has studied them for over 40 years. She is also an anthropologist and is involved in animal rights and conservation.

  • She was born in April, 1934 in London and as a child was given a toy chimp, which she still keeps in her bedroom. She went on to study animal behavior at Cambridge University.
  • From an early age she dreamed of visiting Africa. She became interested in bird watching and read books on animals and first visited Kenya, Africa to meet a childhood friend.
  • In Kenya, she worked for the well-known anthropologist Louis Leakey. She studied monkeys on an island and worked on an archaeological site to find evidence of early humans.
  • In 1960, she began studying the chimps in Gombe Stream Park, Tanzania.
  • She discovered that chimps were able to catch food and make basic tools from tree branches.
  • While in Africa, she devised the Banana Club, a feeding system to get as close as possible to the chimps. She ate the same food as the chimpanzees and spent time in the trees with them.
  • The Jane Goodall Institute was established in 1977 to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. It has offices in over 12 countries and over 10,000 groups in over 100 countries.
  • Jane Goodall has always given her chimps names, rather than just numbers, and treated them as individuals. Their names include Frodo, Goliath, David Greybeard and Mr. McGregor.
  • Jane Goodall is an enthusiastic supporter of animal rights. She has been the president of Advocates for Animals, and supporter of an Australian animal protection group called Voiceless.
  • She has won many awards, including the London Zoo Silver Medal, the Rain Forest Champion Alliance Award and she has been given an OBE. She has a plaque dedicated to her at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida.

Edwin Hubble: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Edwin Hubble.

  • Edwin Hubble was an American astronomer who devised several theories about the universe. He is regarded as one of the most important astronomers of the 20th century.
  • Hubble was born in Missouri in 1889 and at school was good at sports and running. He later attended the University of Chicago and studied astronomy and mathematics.

  • Hubble fought in World War I in the US Army.
  • Before war broke out, he coached basketball at school, broke the school’s high jump record and taught Spanish and physics.
  • He was given his first telescope at age 8 and became interested in astronomy.
  • In 1919 he took a job at the Mount Wilson observatory in California, and worked there for the rest of his life.
  • Hubble helped to prove that other galaxies existed in addition to the Milky Way. He also determined that the universe is enormous and is expanding.
  • Hubble also helped to prove that all galaxies must have come from a single central point. This idea helped to make the so-called Big Bang Theory more popular, explaining the universe’s creation.
  • Edwin Hubble  helped to devise a system for classifying galaxies, which became known as the Hubble system. The galaxies were sorted based on their appearance and patterns.

Edwin Hubble

  • The Hubble Space Telescope was named after Edwin Hubble in 1990. The powerful telescope has helped to measure distances to stars more accurately, and to compute how many so-called black holes might exist.
  • Edwin Hubble died in 1953 following a heart attack a few years earlier. A funeral was never held for him and his wife never told anyone where he was buried.
  • Hubble also has an asteroid and a crater on the moon named after him.
  • He featured on a 2008 US postage stamp and has a stretch of road named for him in his home state of Missouri.

Sir Isaac Newton: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Sir Isaac Newton.

  • Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, and one of the most influential scientists ever. He created laws on gravitation and motion which would be used for 300 years.
  • Newton was born in Lincolnshire on 25th December 1642. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge where he worked waiting tables, and at the age of 23 developed a mathematical theory that would become infinitesimal calculus.

  • Isaac Newton escaped the effects of the plague in 1665, by being sent home from college for 2 years. During this time, he came up with his theories on gravity, optics and light.
  • Along with the astronomer Edmond Halley, Newton invented a reflecting telescope in 1688, and carried out experiments on the composition of light.
  • He became president of the Royal Mint in 1696 and was knighted in 1705.
  • Apparently, Newton came up with his well known theory of gravity after seeing an apple fall from a tree. An apple tree in the garden of Newton’s birthplace is said to be the one that produced the fruit that inspired him.
  • His most important work was published in 1687. The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy showed how all objects in the universe were affected by gravity in the same way.
  • Isaac Newton was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1689, serving for exactly a year. During that entire time, the only thing he ever said was a request to shut the window.
  • Newton was fascinated by alchemy, the turning of metals into gold. He was also fascinated by The Bible, often trying to find hidden codes or meanings in it.

Isaac Newton

  • Newton has been portrayed in various episodes of Star Trek and Dr. Who. He was also the last person to appear on British £1 notes, from 1978 to 1988.
  • Because Newton was born on December 25th, some people refer to the holiday Newtonmas instead of Christmas. Apples and science themed gifts are popular with followers.

What next? Discover facts about other famous mathematicians.

Albert Einstein: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Albert Einstein, the famous scientist.

  • Albert Einstein was one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century. He is most famous for his theory of relativity (and for his wild hair style).
  • Einstein was born in Germany in 1879 and moved to the United States in 1933. He published over 300 scientific papers before his death in 1955.

  • Einstein’s parents thought he wasn’t very intelligent as he spoke very slowly as a child and muttered words to himself. He also failed his university entrance exam at the age of 17.

Albert Einstein

  • Einstein had a very poor memory and could often not remember phone numbers and dates. He sometimes couldn’t recall his own phone number.
  • His theory of relativity has been described as the world’s best known theory, and e=mc squared as the most well known equation. Today’s GPS systems still rely on the theory for accuracy.
  • In addition to his famous theory, Einstein also investigated wormholes, invented a fridge, published a paper on the effects of gravity on light, and played the violin.
  • Einstein left Germany because of the rise of the Nazi Party (led by Adolf Hitler) and their persecution of the Jews during World War 2.
  • In 1952, Albert Einstein was asked to be the president of Israel, although he declined the offer.
  • One of the most famous photographs of Albert Einstein shows him sticking his tongue out at the camera.
  • He charged people for his autograph and then gave the money to charity.
  • After his death, Einstein’s brain was removed and bits of it sent to scientists all over the world.
  • Several schools and colleges, buildings and streets are named after Albert Einstein. He has also been mentioned in songs by James Taylor, Bob Dylan and Kelly Clarkson and has been featured on the stamps of many countries.

What next? Discover facts about other famous mathematicians.