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Ness Creighton

Egyptian Muslim mathematician, also known as al-Hasib al-Misri, the Egyptian Calculator (or Reckoner). His full name was Abu Kamil Shujaʿ ibn Aslam ibn Muhammad ibn Shuja. Very few biographical details are known concerning Abu Kamil, but his productive peak appears to have been at the end of the ninth century. The year of his birth and the year of his death are known with a decent degree of certainty as he is known to have died before al-Imrani (who died in 955) but to have lived well beyond al-Khwarizmi (who died in 850). A direct successor in the development of algebra to al-Khwarizmi, his texts on algebraic theory helped to form the groundwork for later mathematicians, including al-Karaji. Fibonacci would later adopt his mathematical techniques.

Abu Kamil worked to perfect many of al Khwarizmi s algebraic methods including work with the multiplication and division of algebraic objects and the addition ...

Article

Benjamin Hebblethwaite

was born on 25 August 1939 in Haiti. Over the course of his career, Beauvoir contributed to the sciences, established a prominent Vodou temple and cultural organization, and published cornerstone volumes of Vodou sacred literature. His publishing solidified his status as the most influential Vodou priest of his generation. Son of one of the first black graduates from Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia, Beauvoir graduated from City University of New York with a degree in chemistry in 1958 and earned a degree in biochemistry in 1962 from the Sorbonne in Paris. As a chemist he worked at Cornell Medical Center in New York City on the synthesis of metabolic steroids; later he worked on the synthesis of hydrocortisone from plants.

In 1973, Beauvoir’s nonagenarian grandfather, an oungan (Vodou priest), designated him as the head of the family religion prior to his death. In 1974 Beauvoir and his ...

Article

Edwin Corena Puentes

was born in the city of Cali, Colombia, to Alicia Angulo and Héctor Caicedo, parents of African descent. From a very young age, he demonstrated in his math classes a strength for defining realities with numbers. He went to high school at the Colegio Antonio José Camacho, then completed his undergraduate studies at the Universidad del Valle, where he earned a degree in electronics engineering in 2005. During those years of training, he began to contribute to research projects in topics such as information services and thin-film technology. For his academic performance and discipline, he was advised by researchers at the university’s Escuela de Electrónica (Electronics School) to participate in the creation of a digital electrocardiograph system. In more common terms, this is a cardiovascular diagnostic procedure that is commonly utilized in modern medicine.

Caicedo s passion for research and innovation in the field of applied technology for curing ...

Article

Osire Glacier

the first female pilot in Morocco and the Maghreb, was born into a bourgeois family in Fez on 14 December 1936. Her father, Abdelwahed Chaoui, was an avant-garde journalist and an actor who wanted his daughter to have an exemplary education, including training in Arabic and French and in Moroccan and Western cultures (Morocco was at the time a French protectorate). From her childhood, she distinguished herself by her exceptional intelligence, impressing her teachers as well as the director of her school.

In addition to her success in school Chaoui demonstrated strong leadership skills When she was seven years old she organized a strike in her school to protest against the violence of the colonial authorities She made her young peers promise that they would not return to their classrooms until the French authorities liberated the students who had been arrested in a public demonstration in favor of Morocco ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

construction engineer in the Central African Republic (CAR), was born 17 December 1931 in Boali, a town north of Bangui known for its waterfalls and hydoelectric plants, in what is now the CAR’s Ombella Mpoko prefecture. His mother was a Banda from central Ubangi-Shari, and his father was a Gbanu, an ethnic group classified with the Gbaya-speaking peoples who constitute about one-half of the population of the CAR. Béfio is a common Gbaya name, but Béfio’s father died when he was very young and so he was raised for the most part by Banda members of his family.

After attending primary school in Boali from 1939 to 1943 and in Bangui from 1943 to 1946 and secondary school in Bangui in 1946, Dallot-Béfio became the first Central African student granted a scholarship to study in France, where he attended the Lycée de garçons in Nice from 1947 to 1952 ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

astrophysicist and politician, was born in Nioro a town in Mali close to the border with Mauritania He was the son of Moussa Diarra a clerk for the French colonial government and a trade unionist who backed the Parti Progressiste Soudanais of Fily Dabo Sissoko The leftist regime of the early 1960s had Moussa Diarra exiled to a town in northern Mali Modibo Diarra and three of his four brothers had remarkable careers later in life Cheick Sidi Diarra went on to become the special Africa advisor for United Nations chairman Ban Ki Moon Cheick Hamallah Diarra later was an urban planner for the New York City municipal government Sidi Sosso Diarra the eldest of the brothers was a skilled accountant who later went on to be an influential civil servant for the Malian government Modibo Diarra relocated to the larger city of Segu when he was relatively ...

Article

Dior Konaté

Senegalese scientist and specialist in artificial intelligence, was born in Dakar, Senegal. She was one of seven children. Combining her passion for sciences and her fascination for knowledge webs, Dieng-Kuntz made significant contributions to computer science research.

Dieng-Kuntz received her elementary education in Dakar and planned to be a writer, yet she became passionate about mathematics after her teachers convinced her to switch to that discipline. Dieng-Kuntz attended Van Vollenhoven High School in Dakar and at the school’s concours général, she took the top places in mathematics, French, and Latin, and second in Greek. In 1972 she passed her scientific baccalaureate with honors and congratulations of the jury. She then earned a scholarship to the Grande École Polytechnique in Paris. Rose Dieng-Kuntz was the first black African woman to be admitted to that prestigious institution. Upon graduation from the École Polytechnique in 1978 with a doctorate in information ...

Article

Kahiudi C. Mabana

Congolese writer and chemist, was born on 14 July 1941 to a Congolese father and a central African mother. He was nineteen when Congo-Brazzaville achieved independence, which allowed him to refine his views on history and the surrounding world.

After secondary school in the Congo, Dongala embarked for the United States, where he obtained a BA in chemistry at Oberlin College and an MA at Rutgers University. He completed a doctorate in organic chemistry in France. Returning to his country, he worked as a chemistry professor at the Université Marien Ngouabi in Brazzaville, where he passed a large part of his life. But he spent most of his time on literature and theater. For years he ran the Théâtre de l’Éclair in Brazzaville, until the political troubles that arose in the Congo forced him into exile in 1998 First he went to France where to the surprise of all involved ...

Article

Duane W. Roller

Greek polymath most noted for his calculation of the circumference of the earth and his invention of the discipline of geography, was born in Cyrene in modern Libya, an outpost of Greek culture; he was exposed early to exotic contacts at the end of the Greek world. Nothing is known about his youth, but by the 260s BCE he was studying in Athens, primarily with the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, and Arcesilaus of Pitane, the director of the Academy. He was also a close associate of the mathematician Archimedes, who dedicated at least one work to him. Eratosthenes was thus trained in the wide variety of thought that Hellenistic Athens offered, and his early writings demonstrate his ability in philosophy, philology, and mathematics. But there are few details about the nearly twenty years that he spent in the city.

In 246 BCE the new Ptolemaic king Ptolemy III ...

Article

Peter Fraser

Eugenicist and statistician. A cousin of Charles Darwin, Galton's interests in statistics (he founded the science of biostatistics) and genetics led him to the idea that selective breeding to improve the human race would lead to the development of ‘a galaxy of genius’. He first set out these thoughts in an article published in 1865 but at the same time demonstrated that his views on the differences between ‘races’ was conventional: to him Africans were lazy, stupid, and cruel. The basic theory that underlay his political eugenics programme was that, heredity being more important than environment, selective breeding was the only way to improve humanity.

His lasting legacies were his use of statistics and his research into heredity but he is best known for his eugenics programme Though his own interpretation of eugenics tended to be fairly benign focusing on research into hereditary disease or supporting the intelligent ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

primate dealer and zoologist, was born on 19 February 1848 in Abingdon, Virginia. Garner grew up in a middle-class family shortly before the American Civil War. His family owned several slaves, and sent him to an African-born slave healer and herbalist for treatment as a young boy. During the Civil War, Garner served in the Confederate Army from 1862 to 1865. Once the war ended, Garner completed his secondary education in Blountville, Tennessee. He spent several years wandering in the western territories in the United States, but then returned to Virginia and married Mary Gross in 1872. Garner worked as a teacher and a real estate broker in the 1870s and 1880s, but harbored an ambition to become a well-known scientist despite his lack of a university education.

Garner s interest in Africa came out of his commitment to biological racism and his fascination with monkeys and ...

Article

Eric Bennett

Jane Goodall, the daughter of an engineer father and a novelist mother, was born in London, England. She had not received any college training in biology before taking her first trip to Africa as a tourist at the age of twenty-three. She went to Kenya, where she met paleontologist and anthropologist Louis Leakey. Goodall was a passionate amateur natural historian, and Leakey hired her as his assistant. In 1960, with Leakey's help, Goodall established a camp in the Gombe Stream Game Reserve in Tanzania, from which she ventured out each day to observe chimpanzees.

During the early 1960s, with extreme patience and slow progress, Goodall became acquainted with a group of chimpanzees on the shores of Lake Tanganyika By winning their trust Goodall was able to sit among them observing a hitherto undiscovered complexity of their relationships Goodall learned that chimpanzees maintain specific social ...

Article

Irica Grant

was born to Herbert Smith and Vera Smith in the parish of St. Ann, Jamaica, on 27 June 1939. After graduating from Ardenne High School in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1958, Gordon decided to further her education at the University of Manitoba, Canada, where between 1978 and 1985 she obtained a bachelor’s degree and a master of science degree in microbiology. During the same period, Gordon also earned a bachelor’s degree in the field of secondary education and teaching from the University of South Florida. She married Donald K. Gordon, a university professor, in 1964, and the couple have a son, Kevin, and a daughter, Lisa. Throughout her career, she was committed both to her family and to community development, along with the development of science and technology, both as a practicing scientist and a teacher.

Subsequent to working as a technologist at the Government Laboratory in Kingston ...

Article

Georgia L. Irby-Massie

Greek polymath who worked in mathematics, astronomy, and mechanics. He is especially famous for descriptions of automata (air-, water-, and steam-powered mechanical devices) and steam-powered aeolipiles. “Hero’s engine,” deriving from Ctesibius of Alexandria’s design (290250 bce), is the first device to transform steam into rotary motion. The aeolipile consists of a hollow sphere attached by pipes to an enclosed water-filled cauldron. When the cauldron is heated, the sphere spins on a pivot as it releases steam (Pneumatics 50).

Hero’s much disputed floruit was pinpointed by Neugebauer (1975, 846), who noted that Hero used eyewitness evidence of a lunar eclipse of 62 ce, visible from both Rome and Alexandria, to calculate the distance between those two cities (Dioptra 35). Making no use of Ptolemy of Alexandria (127after 146 ce Hero likely predated Ptolemy Neugebauer Very little is known of Hero s life His mathematical corpus ...

Article

Leila Kamali

Historian, editor, and political activist born on 10 December 1921 near Johannesburg, the child of Latvian Jews. Hirson was educated at Hebrew school in Johannesburg, and studied mathematics at the University of Witwatersrand, where he later worked as a physicist. In 1940 he joined the left‐wing Hashomer Hatzair, subsequently becoming a member of various Trotskyist groups. Between 1944 and 1946 he was a political organizer for the Workers' International League.

Hirson participated in setting up black trade unions, in extremely difficult conditions created by the Suppression of Communism Act. He became involved in the Non‐European Unity Movement, and in the late 1950s joined the Congress of Democrats, the white arm of the ANC‐led Congress Alliance.

After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 Hirson and his colleagues highly critical of the Congress Alliance s leadership and policies organized the National Committee for Liberation which advocated sabotage as a substitute for peaceful ...

Article

Hypatia  

Michael A. B. Deakin

Alexandrian astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher, was the first woman mathematician of whose life and work we have reasonably detailed and secure knowledge. She was active as a public figure, taking a leading part in the civic affairs of Alexandria and also delivering popular lectures on philosophy: a Neoplatonist philosophy heavily influenced by mathematics. She also taught students the intricacies of technical mathematics and astronomy. Her public profile alone was probably distinguished enough to earn her a place in history, but this has been cemented by the lurid nature of her death. She died in 415, murdered by a crowd of Christian zealots who seized her, stripped her, and proceeded to dismember her and to burn her mangled corpse. Undoubtedly this further circumstance has served to keep her name alive.

Hypatia was the daughter of the mathematician Theon and taught both mathematics and philosophy in the then Greek city of Alexandria ...

Article

was born in Buenaventura on the Pacific coast of Colombia in the mid-1950s. He was one of the eight children of Heladio Ibarguen and Indelira Palomino. In 1974 he graduated from the Pascual de Andagoya secondary school, and that same year he took the entrance exams at the National University of Colombia, the Bogotá campus, in order to study biology. Because of his extremely high score on the entrance exam, he was offered admission to the more selective school of medicine, but turned down that offer after deciding that his real desire was to study biology.

In 1977 while in the third year of his degree the National University of Colombia closed For this reason Heladio decided to move to the city of Cali and continue his studies as a biologist at the University of Valle In Cali he met the Colombian microbiologist and inventor Raúl Cuero with whom ...

Article

Abdelhamid I. Sabra

Egyptian scientist, was known in his lifetime as al-Basri, where he was first in Basra, Iraq, and as al-Misri, since he ended his life in Cairo, having escaped from the “widespread plagues” described in some detail by the Christian physician Ibn Butlan (d. AH 458/1066 CE). Ibn Butlan witnessed the plagues while he traveled to Aleppo, al-Fustat, and al-Qustantiniyya, and he lists Ibn al-Haytham among “the men of science” who fell victim to the plague.

Ibn al-Haytham’s education is known mainly from his extant writings, which luckily are many, most of them original and impressive, with continuous interest in astronomy, and especially a new significant emphasis on the study of light as a clear branch of “physics”: “light,” he noted, in his Optics book 5 does not behave in the way it does for the sake of the eye He was not an atomist but he accepted ...

Article

Ness Creighton

Egyptian astronomer, whose full name was Abu’l-Hasan ʿAli B. Abi Saʿid ʿAbd Al-Rahma, Ahmad B. Yunus Al-Sadafi, was one of the most prominent Muslim astronomers, not only of his time, but in terms of general influence. His al-Zidj al-kabir al-hakimi, considered one of the finest surviving astronomical handbooks, has been used extensively as a source of data by early and modern astronomers.

Ibn Yunus was the son of an eminent Egyptian historian ʿAbd al Rahnan and great grandson of the companion Yunus of the legal scholar al Shafi i While his exact date of birth is unknown it can be inferred from his reported age at the date of his father s death that he was born in the year 950 CE He is known not only as an astronomer but also as a poet and a musician having had much reported talent with the lute Some of Ibn Yunus s poems ...

Article

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Hubert Julian, the son of Henry and Silvina (Lily) Hilaire Julian, owners of a cocoa plantation and a shoe factory, became one of the first African American pilots when he earned an aviation license at the age of nineteen. Instead of becoming a doctor as his parents hoped, Julian lived a life of international intrigue as a pilot, arms dealer, and mercenary. Sent to school in England, Julian left Europe for Canada when World War I (1914–1919) broke out. He earned a pilot's license in Canada and arrived in Harlem in the early 1920s with hopes of flying from North America to Africa.

Julian earned the name “The Black Eagle of Harlem” after a stunt in 1923 that typified his ability to parlay failures and defeats into publicity and monetary successes Flamboyant and charming Julian turned a failed parachute ...