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Inventors’ Wall of Fame

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Born in England; Sir Isaac Newton was one of the foremost scientific intellects of all time. He was a physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and alchemist. Tradition has it that he discovered the force of gravity while sitting under an apple tree. He recognized that objects always fall down, toward the earth. Newton made an astounding number of scientific discoveries and advancements including his Three Laws of Motion.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

This British naturalist is famous for his theories of evolution and natural selection. Charles Darwin believed that life on Earth developed gradually, or evolved, from a few common ancestors, over millions of years. He traveled the world, as a naturalist aboard the H.M.S. Beagle. On this expedition, he visited South America and the Galapagos Islands. He studied the plants and animals living there and collected specimens to study.

George Washington Carver (1864-1943)

As an Agricultural Chemist George Washington Carver discovered three hundred uses for peanuts as well as hundreds of uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. Carver worked for the good of his countrymen and cared little for his own fame and fortune. He only ever issued three patents, but spent his efforts suggesting new ways to economically improve southern farms. As a child on the Moses farm, he earned the nickname “The Plant Doctor”.

Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Dr. Marie Curie was a Polish physicist and chemist. She had a very good memory as a child and dreamed of being a scientist like her father. Marie married Pierre Curie and together they discovered the radioactive elements radium and polonium that they extracted chemically from pitchblende ore. They discovered that the harmful properties of x-rays could kill tumors, and were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 and a second in 1911. Marie Curie died of leukemia caused by her repeated exposure to radioactive metal but was probably the most famous woman in the world because of her discoveries.

Archimedes (287BC-212BC)

Archimedes was an outstanding mathematician and was fascinated with geometry. Archimedes was the son of Phidias, an astronomer. He was from Syracuse, Sicily but it is reported by some authors that he visited Egypt and invented a device now known as Archimedes' screw. This is a pump, still used in many parts of the world. Archimedes invented many machines of war for King Hieron, a friend and possible relation that greatly helped Rome to defend it against sieges. Though his mechanical inventions brought him fame, his pursuit was pure mathematics. He believed that his most significant accomplishments were those concerning a cylinder circumscribing a sphere and had them inscribed on his tomb.

Robert H. Goddard (1882-1945)

Robert Hutchings Goddard was a pioneer of the space age. His father was a Boston machine shop owner. Robert H. Goddard developed the fundamental mathematics of rocket propulsion. He also envisioned the possibility of sending a rocket to the moon. He backed up his theories with experiments that included: The first liquid-fueled rocket and the first rocket with a barometer and camera for gathering scientific data.

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

Nicolaus Copernicus (Nicolai Kopernik) was born in Torun, Poland. He first guessed that the Sun, not the Earth is at rest in the center of the Universe, with the planets and stars revolving around it in circular orbits. Copernicus wrote the theory entitled On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, published in 1543.

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

Louis Pasteur, born in Dole, France, lost three of his five children to Typhoid fever. He then fought to convince surgeons that germs exist and carry diseases, an idea that was controversial at the time. He found cures for chicken cholera, anthrax and rabies but is best known for his pasteurization process that kills germs and prevents the spread of disease. Pasteur also introduced the existence of viruses, too small to be seen with the microscopes of the time.

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)

Known as “The Genius of Menlo Park”, Thomas Edison had many important and useful inventions. He was not always viewed as a genius however. While in school, a schoolmaster told his mother that he believed that Thomas was “addled”. His mother disagreed and began to each him at home. Edison later gave credit to his mother for believing in him. Later in life, Edison invented the phonograph, Kinetophone, and a practical incandescent electric light. With a lifetime dedicated to invention, Thomas A. Edison earned 1,093 U.S. patents.

William Harvey (1578-1657)

This English physician developed the theory of blood circulation and explained how the heart works. People used to believe air was found in the arteries, but William Harvey disproved this. Harvey was a successful doctor and eventually was promoted to Royal Physician. He wrote a book with his published theories called “On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals”.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Benjamin Franklin was a scientist, inventor, statesman, diplomat, philosopher, printer, musician and economist. He was very practical, and loved to experiment with ideas to make life easier. He invented bifocals, swim fins, watertight bulkheads for ships, the glass harmonica, an odometer and the Franklin stove.

Ben was fascinated by electricity. He started doing experiments with static electricity and then came up with a device he called an electrical battery. At first, he couldn’t think of a practical use for electricity. After being shocked painfully and knocked senseless a few times, he said that the only use of electricity was that “it may help make a vain man humble.” But he kept experimenting, and invented things to make his friends laugh. Once he made a charged metal spider that leaped around like a real one. Another time, he electrified the iron fence around his house to make sparks that amused visitors. Franklin and his friends used electricity to cook with and made the first fried turkey. Finally, one cloudy day, he flew a kite with a wire at the top and a key at the end of the string. When the kite string began to stiffen, he put his knuckle to the key and was able to draw sparks, thus proving that lightning was electricity. (He was lucky to survive. Another person in Europe tried to copy the experiment, and was electrocuted.) After that, he invented a lightning rod to tame the lightning, which had been such a mystery to people for so many years.

Ben Franklin also shaped all the founding documents of America, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Throughout his life, he trusted common people more than the wealthy upper class and was a champion for democracy.

Sally Ride (1951- )

Sally Ride was the first American Woman in space. After earning her degree in physics, she trained for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. In 1983 she served on the Challenger. “The thing that I remember the most about the flight is that it was fun!” Sally Ride retired from NASA but founded an organization that helps girls study math and science called Imaginary Lines.

Jaques Cousteau (1910-1997)

Jaques Cousteau was born in France. He was interested in water, machines and filmmaking from an early age. Cousteau became an officer in the French Navy but still found time for his underwater explorations. He perfected the aqualung, a device that allowed a diver to stay underwater for several hours. He produced many films and books to fund his voyages on the Calypso and to increase public awareness.

Albert Einstein (1979-1955)

Albert Einstein was born in Germany and began his school career in Munich. He became a professor of Mathematics and Physics. Albert Einstein looked like your typical mad scientist, but he was a devoted thinker. He revolutionized our concepts of space and time and developed the theories used to build models of the universe. Einstein wrote three papers of tremendous significance. One gave a mathematical description of the random motions of tiny particles. A second described the photoelectric effect, in which electrons are emitted when light falls on certain metals. (Many people are surprised to learn that he won the Nobel Prize for this description and not for his theories of relativity.) The third paper of the year was on special relativity, in which he described the physics of objects moving at constant velocities and discovered the equivalence of mass and energy as related by the equation E=mc2. He is most famous for his theory of general relativity.

Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)

Gregor Johan Mendel was bon in Hizendorf, Austria. He trained to be a teacher but had little success. Mendel discovered groundbreaking theories of heredity that became the basis for the studies of modern genetics. He studied seven basic characteristics of pea pod plants. He then traced these characteristics to discover three basic laws governing the passage of traits. He also found proof of the existence of genes and is now considered the father of genetics.

Jane Goodall (1934-)

Jane Goodall is known as the great conservationist and is the ultimate authority on chimpanzees. She actually lived in the jungles of the Gombe Game Reserve in Africa, closely observing the chimpanzees, and has been there for the past quarter of a century. Jane Goodall was awarded the J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize for “Helping millions of people understand the importance of wildlife conservation to life on this planet.”

Louis Leakey (1903-1972)

Louis Leakey was born in Kenya and grew up with children from the Kikuyu tribe. Some say he was born to be an archeologist. He believed that early man began in Africa and found many artifacts and studied the Homo sapiens skeleton. He discovered the first Proconsul skull, the missing link between monkey and ape. He and his wife Mary returned to the Olduvai site and found a new skeleton called “Zinj”, that brought him worldwide fame.

James Watson (1928- ))
and Francis Crick (1916-2004)

James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins jointly received the Nobel Prize for their discovery of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). DNA contains the patterns for constructing proteins in the body and is the molecule that is the basis for heredity. They determined that the structure of DNA consists of double helixes, or two chains twisted around each other. These breakthrough discoveries caused much advancement in science and medicine, and the understanding of genetics.,14989,427588,00.html

Steven Wozniak (1950- )

Steven Wozniak was an inventor even as a child. From an early age, his hobby was constructing electronic devices. He and his friends started the Homebrew Computer Club. Together with Steve Jobs and Mike Makkula, Wozniak designed the commercial model computer and in 1977, the Apple II made its debut. At the age of 30, he was worth millions and became the Silicon Valley Legend.,14989,635551,00.html

Charles Goodyear (1800-1860)

Goodyear was born in New Haven, Connecticut. At the time, natural India rubber melted in hot weather and cracked in cold weather. Goodyear worked to improve India rubber so that it was more useful. By accident, he dropped some rubber mixed with sulfur on a hot stove. His discovery was the vulcanization of rubber that strengthened it so that it would be more useful industrially. If you think of Goodyear tires, or the Goodyear blimp, you can imagine how important and useful this discovery was.

Dmitri Ivanovitch Mendeleyev

Dimitri Mendeleyev was born in Siberia. He is best known for developing the periodic law of the properties of elements. This law states that when the elements are arranged according to atomic weight, they show a regular pattern of properties or periodicity. Mendeleyev classified the elements according to their chemical properties in his book Principles of Chemistry and published the first version of what became known as the periodic table.

Jonas Salk (1914-1995)

Jonas Salk was born in New York City. He attended New York University and researched influenza, the flu virus. He discovered that the virus could be weakened so that it could not infect the patient. He developed a flu vaccine to prevent an outbreak during WWII and he applied this to his work on polo. He then developed a polio vaccine, made from a “killed” poliovirus that had the potential, when injected, to give someone just enough of the disease so that his or her body would build up an immunity or resistance to that disease. Polio has been virtually eliminated in countries where Salk’s vaccine has remained in use.