BIG IDEAS
Galileo Galilei was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer. He has been called the "father of the scientific method”. Before Galileo, most science was based merely on the opinions of philosophers. Galileo taught us to search for physical proof to support our theories and he encouraged experimentation.
Galileo studied speed velocity and gravity. He dropped two spheres of different weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to prove that both objects fell at the same rate, thus disproving Aristotle.
Galileo championed the work of Nicolaus Copernicus who theorized the sun, not the earth, was at the center of our solar system. He met with opposition from doubting astronomers but he defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632).
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Rachel Louise Carson was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring is credited with advancing the global environmental movement.
Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award, recognition as a gifted writer, and financial security. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. 
Late in the 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially some problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was the book Silent Spring, which brought environmental concerns to the American people. Although Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a ban on DDT and other pesticides. It also inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author. He is widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time. His book Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy first published in 1687, laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton also made contributions to optics, and shares credit for developing calculus.
Newton formulated laws of motion and universal gravitation and used his mathematical description of gravity to account for tides, the paths of comets, the seasons and other phenomena. Popular legend suggests Newton developed his concept of gravity while watching apples fall from trees.
Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a sophisticated theory of color based on the observation that a prism separates white light into the colors of the visible spectrum. He also made the first theoretical calculation of the speed of sound. 
Newton was a fellow of Trinity College and a professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Newton served two brief terms as Member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge. He was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705 and spent the last three decades of his life in London, serving as Warden and Master of the Royal Mint, as well as president of the Royal Society.
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Alan Turing was highly influential in the development of computer science, and the concepts of algorithm and computation. He is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence
Turing studied as an undergraduate from 1931 to 1934 at King's College, Cambridge, where he was awarded first-class honors in mathematics. In 1935, at the age of 22, he was elected a fellow of King's on the strength of a dissertation in which he proved the central limit theorem
In 1936, Turing published his paper On Computable Numbers. In this paper, Turing reformulated the devices that became known as “Turing machines” and lead to the development of the “busy beaver game”, two essential steps in the creation of the modern computer.
During the Second World War, Turing worked for Britain's code-breaking center. Turing played a pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in the Battle of the Atlantic. It has been estimated that this work shortened the war in Europe by more than two years and saved over 14 million lives.
After the war, Turing worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he designed the ACE, among the first designs for a stored-program computer. In 1948 Turing joined Max Newman's Computing Machine Laboratory at the Victoria University of Manchester, where he helped develop the Manchester computers.
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Marie Curie was a Polish and French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris.
Born in Warsaw, in the Kingdom of Poland, she studied at Warsaw's clandestine Flying University and began her practical scientific training in Warsaw. In 1891, aged 24, she followed her older sister Bronisława to study in Paris, where she earned her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work. She shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with her husband Pierre Curie and with physicist Henri Becquerel. She won the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Her achievements included the development of the theory of radioactivity, a term that she coined, techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium. Under her direction, the world's first studies into the treatment of neoplasms were conducted using radioactive isotopes. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw, which remain major centers of medical research today. During World War I, she developed mobile radiography units to provide X-ray services to field hospitals.
Jane Goodall is an English primatologist and anthropologist. Considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her 55-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program, and she has worked extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues. She has served on the board of the Nonhuman Rights Project since its founding in 1996. In April 2002, she was named a UN Messenger of Peace.
Without collegiate training directing her research, Goodall observed things that strict scientific doctrines may have overlooked. Instead of numbering the chimpanzees she observed, she gave them names, and observed them to have unique and individual personalities, an unconventional idea at the time. She found that, "it isn't only human beings who have personality, who are capable of rational thought and emotions like joy and sorrow." These findings suggest that similarities between humans and chimpanzees exist in more than genes alone, and can be seen in emotion, intelligence, and family and social relationships.
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Barbara McClintock was an American scientist and cytogeneticist who was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. McClintock received her PhD in botany from Cornell University in 1927. There she started her career as the leader in the development of corn cytogenetics, the focus of her research for the rest of her life. From the late 1920s, McClintock studied chromosomes and how they change during reproduction in maize. She developed the technique for visualizing maize chromosomes and used microscopic analysis to demonstrate many fundamental genetic ideas. She produced the first genetic map for maize, linking regions of the chromosome to physical traits. She was recognized as among the best in the field, awarded prestigious fellowships, and elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1944. During the 1940s and 1950s, McClintock discovered transposition and used it to demonstrate that genes are responsible for turning physical characteristics on and off. She developed theories to explain the suppression and expression of genetic information from one generation of maize plants to the next. McClintock's research became well understood in the 1960s and 1970s, as other scientists confirmed the mechanisms of genetic change and genetic regulation that she had demonstrated in her corn research in the 1940s and 1950s. Awards and recognition for her contributions to the field followed.
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Pythagoras of Samos was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher. His political and religious teachings influenced the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. Knowledge of his life is clouded by legend, but he appears to have been the son of a gem-engraver on the island of Samos. Modern scholars disagree regarding Pythagoras's education and influences, but they do agree that, around 530 BC, he travelled to Croton in southern Italy, where he founded a school in which initiates lived a communal, ascetic lifestyle. 
The teaching most identified with Pythagoras is the "transmigration of souls", which says that every soul is immortal and, upon death, enters into a new body. He may have also devised the doctrine of musica universalis, which holds that the planets move according to mathematical equations and thus resonate to produce an inaudible symphony of music. 
Pythagoras was credited with many mathematical and scientific discoveries, including the Theory of Proportions, the sphericity of the Earth, and the identity of the morning and evening stars as the planet Venus. It was said that he was the first man to call himself a philosopher ("lover of wisdom"). Pythagoras was regarded as a great philosopher throughout the Middle Ages and his philosophy had a major impact on scientists such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton. 
Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science. In a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, he introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding. Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history. Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. His five-year voyage on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell's conception of gradual geological change, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author. Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin began detailed investigations, and in 1838 conceived his theory of natural selection. Darwin's scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.
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Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 which has been called "the world's most famous equation". He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory.
Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics were no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led him to develop his special theory of relativity. He subsequently realized that the principle of relativity could be extended to gravitational fields, and published a paper on general relativity in 1916 introducing his theory of gravitation. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light and the quantum theory of radiation, the basis of laser, which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, he applied the general theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe.
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Hypatia was a philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt. She was a prominent thinker of the Neoplatonic school in Alexandria where she taught philosophy and astronomy. She is the first female mathematician whose life is reasonably well recorded. Hypatia was renowned as a great teacher and a wise counselor. She wrote a commentary on Diophantus's thirteen-volume Arithmetica. Many modern scholars also believe that Hypatia may have edited the surviving text of Ptolemy's Almagest
Hypatia is known to have constructed astrolabes and hydrometers, but did not invent either of these. Although she herself was a pagan, ancient sources record that Hypatia was widely beloved by pagans and Christians. Towards the end of her life, Hypatia became embroiled in politics and, in March 415 AD, she was murdered by a mob. Her murder shocked the empire and transformed her into a "martyr for philosophy”. During the Age of Enlightenment, she became a symbol of opposition to Catholicism. In the nineteenth century, European literature, romanticized her as "the last of the Hellenes". In the twentieth century, Hypatia was seen as an icon for women's rights and a precursor to the feminist movement. Since the late twentieth century, some portrayals have associated Hypatia's death with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, despite the fact that it no longer existed during Hypatia's lifetime.
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René Descartes was a French-born philosopher, mathematician, and scientist who spent a large portion of his working life in the Dutch Republic. One of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age, Descartes is also widely regarded as one of the founders of modern philosophy
Many elements of Descartes's philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century. In the opening section of the Passions of the Soul, an early modern treatise on emotions, Descartes goes so far as to assert that he will write on this topic "as if no one had written on these matters before." His best known philosophical statement is "cogito, ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am”.)
In the 17th-century Dutch Republic, the rise of early modern rationalism exerted a profound influence on modern Western thought in general. The 17th-century arch-rationalists like Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz  give the "Age of Reason" its name and place in history. Leibniz, Spinoza, and Descartes were all well-versed in mathematics as well as philosophy. Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments and he is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry—used in the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis
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Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived. While his fame initially rested on his achievements as a painter, he also became known for his notebooks, in which he made drawings and notes on science and invention; these involve a variety of subjects including anatomy, astronomy, botany, cartography, painting, and palaeontology. Leonardo's genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist idea.
Leonardo was born to a notary and a peasant woman in Vinci, in the region of Florence, Italy. Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Italian painter Andrea del Verrocchio. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan, and he later worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice. He spent his last three years in France, where he died in 1519. 
Although he had no formal academic training, many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as the prime exemplar of the "Renaissance Man" or "Universal Genius", an individual of "unquenchable curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination. Leonardo is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Mona Lisa is the most famous of his works. The Last Supper is the most reproduced religious painting of all time and his Vitruvian Man drawing is also regarded as a cultural icon.
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatetic school of philosophy, and the Aristotelian tradition. His writings cover many subjects including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics, and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion. 
Little is known about his life. Aristotle was born in the city of Stagira in Northern Greece. His father, Nicomachus, died when Aristotle was a child, and he was brought up by a guardian. At seventeen or eighteen he joined Plato's Academy in Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven. Shortly after Plato died, Aristotle left Athens and, at the request of Philip II of Macedon, tutored Alexander the Great beginning in 343 BC. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues for publication, only around a third of his original output has survived. 
Aristotle's views on physical science profoundly shaped medieval scholarship. Their influence extended from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages into the Renaissance.
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Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage who founded Epicureanism, a highly influential school of philosophy. He was born on the Greek island of Samos to Athenian parents. Influenced by Democritus, Aristippus, Pyrrho, and possibly the Cynics, he turned against the Platonism of his day and established his own school, known as "the Garden", in Athens. Epicurus and his followers were known for eating simple meals and discussing a wide range of philosophical subjects. He openly allowed women and slaves to join the school. Epicurus is said to have originally written over 300 works on various subjects, but the vast majority of these writings have been lost. Only three letters written by him—the letters to Menoeceus, Pythocles, and Herodotus—and two collections of quotes—the Principal Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings—have survived intact, along with a few fragments of his other writings. Most knowledge of his teachings comes from later authors, particularly the biographer Diogenes Laërtius, the Epicurean Roman poet Lucretius and the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus, and with hostile but largely accurate accounts by the Pyrrhonist philosopher Sextus Empiricus, and the Academic Skeptic and statesman Cicero. 
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Confucius  was a Chinese philosopher, poet and politician of the Spring and Autumn period who was traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages. Confucius's teachings and philosophy formed the basis of East Asian culture and society, and continues to remain influential across China and East Asia as of today.
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His philosophical teachings, called Confucianism, emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, kindness, and sincerity. Confucianism was part of the Chinese social fabric and way of life. His followers competed successfully with many other schools during the Hundred Schools of Thought era, only to be suppressed in favor of the Legalists during the Qin dynasty. Confucius's thoughts received official sanction in the new government. 
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Confucius is traditionally credited with having authored or edited many of the Chinese classic texts, including all of the Five Classics, but modern scholars are cautious of attributing specific assertions to Confucius himself. 
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Confucius's principles have commonality with Chinese tradition and belief. He championed strong family loyalty, ancestor veneration, and respect of elders by their children and of husbands by their wives, recommending family as a basis for ideal government. He espoused the principle "Do not do unto others what you do not want done to yourself". 
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Hedy Lamarr  was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor. After a brief early film career in Czechoslovakia, she fled from her husband, a wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer, and secretly moved to Paris. Traveling to London, she met Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio head Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood. She became a film star with her performance in Algiers (1938). Her MGM films include Lady of the Tropics (1939), Boom Town (1940), H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), and White Cargo (1942). Her greatest success was as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949). She also acted on television before the release of her final film, The Female Animal (1958). She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
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At the beginning of World War II, she and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes that used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. Although the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, the principles of their work are incorporated into Bluetooth and GPS technology and are similar to methods used in legacy versions of CDMA and Wi-Fi. This work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
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Archimedes of Syracuse  was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, astronomer, and inventor  Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Considered to be the greatest mathematician of ancient history, and one of the greatest of all time, Archimedes anticipated modern calculus and analysis by applying the concept of the infinitely small and the method of exhaustion to derive and rigorously prove a range of geometrical theorems, including: the area of a circle; the surface area and volume of a sphere; area of an ellipse; the area under a parabola; the volume of a segment of a paraboloid of revolution; the volume of a segment of a hyperboloid of revolution; and the area of a spiral.
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His other mathematical achievements include defining and investigating the spiral that now bears his name; and devising a system using exponentiation for expressing very large numbers. He was also one of the first to apply mathematics to physical phenomena, founding hydrostatics and statics. Archimedes' achievements in this area include a proof of the principle of the lever, and the widespread use of the concept of center of gravity. He is also credited with designing innovative machines, such as his screw pump and compound pulleys. Legend tells us that Archimedes discovered his law of buoyancy (what allows objects to float) while bathing in an Ancient Greek bath-house. He supposedly became so excited that he ran through the streets without his cloths crying “Eurica,” meaning “I have found it.”
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