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James McCarthy

Scottish explorer, naturalist, surgeon, and philologist who opened up the Niger region to European trade and influence, was born in Kirkwall, Scotland, the eldest son of a Royal Navy captain, John Baikie. He was educated for a time at Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney, but mainly privately, in company with his cousins. He gained a medical degree from Edinburgh University, where he also developed his interest in natural history. In 1848, together with Robert Heddie, he wrote the first part of a published study of the natural history of Orkney, Historia naturalis Orcadensis. In the same year he joined the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon, serving on no less than five different ships in the Mediterranean before being appointed in the same capacity to Haslar Hospital, Portsmouth, from 1851 to 1854. It was from here in 1854 that through the patronage of the influential Sir Roderick ...


Osire Glacier

Moroccan explorer, professor, and astronomer, was born on 11 October 1969 in Casablanca. Her father was a blacksmith and her mother a housewife who took care of the couple’s seven children. In spite of her humble origins, Chadid decided to be an astronomer at the age of twelve, when her brother Mustapha gave her a book by the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler. Since then, she has pursued her goal one step at a time.

During her adolescent years, Chadid read extensively about the sky, the stars, and the planets. In 1992 she graduated with a master s degree in Physics from the University of Casablanca After graduation Chadid faced a difficult decision leave her family in order to pursue the relevant field of study for her professional objectives at a French university or remain with her family and renounce the opportunity to turn her passion into a profession The ...


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 ...


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 ...



Carmen De Michele

ancient Hellenistic mathematician, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, is considered the “father of geometry.” He is one of the most prominent mathematicians of Greco-Roman antiquity; his best known work is his treatise on geometry, the Elements.

Little is known about Euclid s life His date and place of birth as well as the circumstances of his death are unknown so that they can only be estimated by looking at contemporaries named in references The only reliable source is Proclus s 410 485 CE summary of the history of Greek mathematicians written centuries later Euclid was probably one of Plato s students at his Academy in Athens where he studied mathematics Euclid moved to Alexandria the largest city in the ancient world and taught mathematics at the Library of Alexandria under the reign of Ptolemy I Soter A questionable anecdote describes how when Ptolemy I asked the mathematician if ...


Raymond Dumett

treaty maker, cartographer, and one of the great West Africans of his generation, was born to an African mother and a Scottish father in the central coastal town of Anomabu in the Gold Coast’s Fanti region in present-day Ghana. Like several prominent members of the African middle class, he was educated at the famous Wesleyan School of Cape Coast. He also attended school in Sierra Leone. On the basis of strong recommendations, Ferguson was selected to join the colonial government as a clerk in 1881. In 1884 he began his career as a mapmaker by drawing a map of the Gold Coast Colony and Protectorate which was of assistance to the governor in showing the approximate boundaries of various linguistic groups their states and chieftaincies Ferguson proceeded from strength to strength and with each new job effectively completed he was rewarded with greater responsibilities by the colonial government ...


David Killingray

Fantesurveyor and colonial agent born on the Gold Coast and educated in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He became a teacher and then a civil servant. As an employee of the Gold Coast colony he accompanied the Governor on a mission inland, producing a map that showed the ethnic divisions of the colony. He was entrusted with a further mission to the interior that resulted in Akwamu becoming part of the British protectorate. Ferguson's surveying skills were developed by his work with the British–German Boundary Commission of 1886. In 1887 he came to London and studied mining and surveying at the School of Mines, graduating with a first‐class certificate. During the 1890s Ferguson led important political missions to Asante and to the northern hinterland of what is now modern Ghana. By 1894 he had signed eighteen treaties of trade and friendship with northern rulers Ferguson s reports and precise ...


Stephen Cory

, famous mathematician born in Pisa, spent much of his youth in Algeria where his father, Guilieimo Bonaccio, served as a representative for Italian merchants engaged in the leather trade. Fibonacci is often known as Leonardo of Pisa. Leonardo was one of the first mathematicians to introduce the Arabic (Hindu) numeral system into Europe. He also brought the concepts of the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid into European use, having encountered an Arabic translation of Euclid’s Elements in North Africa. Fibonacci is best known for introducing a number series that is named after him (the Fibonacci sequence) and whose ratios closely approximate the “golden ratio,” or 1.618034, which reproduces a geometric symmetry often found in nature. His work was noticed by the king of Sicily, Frederick II, who also served as the Holy Roman Emperor from 1215 As a result Leonardo conducted his research and published his texts with royal ...


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 ...


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 ...



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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Gary L. Frost

Malawian inventor, was born on 5 August 1987 in Dowa, Central Region, Republic of Malawi, to Trywell and Agnes Kamkwamba. He is the second of their seven children and the only son. Kamkwamba’s father is a member of the Chewa people, and his mother belongs to the Yao ethnic group. When Kamkwamba was one year old, his family began living in Dowa as subsistence farmers, raising tobacco, maize, and other food crops.

At an early age Kamkwamba began to investigate electrical phenomena by examining everyday technologies When thirteen years old he tinkered with radios for example in an attempt to understand how they worked Malawi had only two broadcast stations but radio constituted the principal means of contact with the larger world for farmers so battery powered receivers were ubiquitous even in rural areas Although he had only trial and error to learn by he nevertheless acquired sufficient knowledge to make ...


Michael A. B. Deakin

mathematician, astronomer, and geographer, was the principal figure of the “silver age” of ancient Greek mathematics. Little is known of his life; what the sources tell us is contradictory and unreliable. The little we do know reliably is gleaned rather from what survives of his writing. His principal work, at least in what has survived, is the Synagoge or Collection, and even this has not reached us in its entirety. It is described as having comprised eight books, of which the first and part of the second are missing. The only other work of his that survives in the original Greek (and that only in part) is a commentary on Ptolemy’s Almagest. Beyond these are works in other languages that are thought to be translations of originals by him. An Arabic commentary on Book X of Euclid’s Elements may be a translation of a work he is ...



Prudence Jones

was an ancient Alexandrian astronomer geographer and philosopher Almost nothing is known about the life of Claudius Ptolemy or as he would have called himself Claudius Ptolemaeus From astronomical observations he made in Alexandria we know he was active between 127 and 141 CE As a scientist in Alexandria he was probably connected with the Library of Alexandria His name indicates that he was a Roman citizen and that citizenship was probably conferred upon him or upon one of his ancestors by someone named Claudius perhaps even the emperor Claudius He shares the name Ptolemy with the rulers of the Ptolemaic dynasty which controlled Egypt from 323 to 30 BCE although there is no evidence that he was related to that family The name Ptolemaeus could indicate that he was born in the Egyptian city of Ptolemais but it is not known whether he was born there or at Alexandria ...


Meghan Elisabeth Healy

South African activist and botanist, was born Edward Rudolph Roux in 1903 in the Transvaal town of Pietersburg (now known as Polokwane). His father, Phillip Roux, was a pharmacist, and his mother, Edith Wilson Roux, was a nurse who had come to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. His father was an outspoken iconoclast: Despite his conservative Afrikaner upbringing, he was an atheist, socialist, and Anglophile who fought with the British in the Anglo-Boer War and dismissed Afrikaans as a peasant dialect. Eddie Roux was named after King Edward VII and his grandfather Eduard Roux.

In 1904, Roux moved with his parents to Johannesburg, where his father opened a pharmacy in the Bezuidenhout Valley and the family grew to include three more sons and two daughters. His father was active in the South African Labor Party and International Socialist League politics, and the 1913 miners strikes culminated in ...



Daniela Dueck

Hellenistic geographer and historian, of Amasia, Pontus, was born and raised in Amasia in northern Asia Minor and educated by renowned Hellenistic Asian teachers. His ancestors on his mother’s side were companions of the kings of Pontus but supported the Romans during the Mithridatic War. In his adult life Strabo visited and lived in Rome, Alexandria, Nysa, and possibly Smyrna and Athens. In Rome (in 44 and 29 BCE) he met and socialized with Roman notables and Greek intellectuals. In 25 BCE he traveled to Egypt with Aelius Gallus the Roman governor. He probably got as far as many other regions in the world, more than he expressly reveals. After writing earlier historiographical work(s), Strabo composed his Geography sometime between 18 and 23 CE and died in Rome or, less likely, in Asia Minor.

His works included (1) History a survey of events at least from the time of ...



Michael A. B. Deakin

Alexandrian astronomer and mathematician was the leading mathematician of his era and the last attested member of the famed Alexandrian Museum The mid to late fourth century of the Common Era was not a time conducive to mathematics Indeed Constantius a Roman Emperor of the day promulgated a law to the effect that no one may consult a soothsayer or a mathematician The word soothsayer is the key mathematicians were bundled together with numerologists and other such charlatans Small wonder that the great mathematical achievements of earlier researchers like Archimedes were no longer being actively pursued or extended The research agenda of Archimedes and the great works of synthesis such as Euclid s could scarcely be expected to flourish in such a climate of opinion Contemporaneous with this shift of opinion was a rising tide of militancy in Christianity which in particular saw the destruction of the Alexandrian Serapeion and ...


Christine D. Baker

early Islamic historian and geographer, was born in Baghdad in the ninth century. Although commonly known as al-Yaʿqubi, his full name was Abu al-ʿAbbas Ahmad ibn Abi Yaʿqub ibn Jaʿfar ibn Wahb ibn Wadih. Little is known of his birth, early history, family, or background. He was a bureaucrat, trained as a katib, a member of the secretarial class, in Baghdad. He is believed to have been raised in Armenia. He later served under the Tahirids, a Persian dynasty of governors of Khurasan who served the Abbasid caliphate, before settling in Egypt. His precise date of death is uncertain.

Although not much detail is known about his life, al-Yaʿqubi is recognized for his historical writings, which are known for eschewing some of the dominant historiographic trends of the time. They are an example of an early proto-Shiʿi perspective on Islamic history. Three of his works survive, the Taʾrikh al-Yaʿqubi ...