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Zoom Astronomy British Astronomers, Paleontologists and Some Other Scientists Zoom Dinosaurs

ADAMS, JOHN C.
John Couch Adams (1819-1892) was an English astronomer and mathematician who, at 24 years old, predicted the existence of the planet Neptune (Le Verrier also predicted its existence, independently).

AIRY, GEORGE

Sir George Bidell Airy (1801-1892) was the director of Greenwich Observatory/Astronomer Royal of England from 1835 to 1881. Airy installed a transit (a precise surveying device) at Greenwich, England, which was used to define the zero degree meridian of the Earth (zero-degrees longitude). A crater on Mars about 5 degrees south of the equator and on what is defined as Mars' prime meridian (zero-degrees longitude) is call Airy. A small crater within this crater (which is called Airy-0) is where the meridian line (zero-degrees longitude) crosses. A crater on the moon is also named for him (latitude 18.1 degrees, longitude 354.3 degrees, diameter 36 km). Airy is supposed to have stated incorrectly that Charles Babbage's new "analytical engine" (the predecessor of the computer) was "worthless," effectively ending Babbage's government funding.
ANNING, MARY
Mary Anning (1799-1847) was an early British fossil hunter who began finding fossils as a child, and supported herself and her family by finding and selling fossils. She lived on the southern coast of England, in Lyme Regis. Anning found the first fossilized plesiosaur and Ichthyosaurus. She found many important fossils, including Pterodactylus, sharks, and many other reptiles and fish.
BELL, JOCELYN
Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943- ) is an astronomer who discovered the existence of pulsars in 1967, while she was a graduate student at Cambridge University. A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star that emits energy in pulses. Bell's graduate advisor (Anthony Hewish) was given a share of the 1974 Nobel Prize, but Bell was ignored. No one had any idea what these unusual objects were at the time, so the name little green men (LGM) was used. Soon, Thomas Gold suggested that pulsars were rapidly-spinning neutron stars, the remnants of a supernova.
BUCKLAND, WILLIAM
William Buckland (1784-1856) was a British fossil hunter, clergyman, and Oxford don (a Reader in Geology and Mineralogy) who discovered Megalosaurus in 1819 and named it in 1824. It was the first dinosaur ever described scientifically and the first theropod dinosaur discovered (theropods were the meat-eating dinosaurs). Buckland always collected his fossils in a large blue bag, which he carried around most of the time.
CAVENDISH, HENRY
Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) was an English chemist and physicist. Cavendish discovered that hydrogen gas was a substance different from ordinary air (whose components he analyzed), he described the composition of water (hydrogen and oxygen) and made other important discoveries. Cavendish was the first person to determine Isaac Newton's gravitational constant and accurately measured the Earth's mass and density.
DARWIN, CHARLES R.
Charles Robert Darwin (February 12, 1809-April 19, 1882) was an English naturalist who revolutionized scientific thought with the theory of evolution and natural selection. After studying at Cambridge University, Darwin served as naturalist on the ship HMS Beagle (captained by Robert Fitzroy) during its five-year voyage around the world traveling west ( December 27, 1831-October 2, 1836). On this trip, Darwin studied a tremendous variety of plant and animal life. Darwin's book called "On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle of Life" was published in November 24, 1859 (and sold out in one day). This world-shaking book outlined the gradual change in a species from generation to generation through natural selection. Alfred Lord Wallace independently proposed the theory of evolution the same time as Darwin. In 1871, Darwin published "The Descent of Man," which focused on the origins of people. The theory of evolution has been debated since it was proposed, but most scientists accept evolution and natural selection as the method of species formation and the foundation of biology.

For more information on Darwin, click here.

EDDINGTON, ARTHUR
Arthur Eddington (1882-1945) was an English astronomer who first described the internal structure of a star.
GALTON, PETER M.
Peter M. Galton is a British paleontologist working in the USA. He named: Aliwalia (1985), Blikanasaurus (with J. van Heerden, 1985), Bugenasaura (1995), Callovosaurus (1980), Camelotia (1985), Dracopelta (1980), Gravitholus (with W. P. Wall, 1979), Lesothosaurus (1978), Ornatotholus (with H. Sues,1983), Othnielia, (1977), Stygimoloch (with H. Sues,1983), Torvosaurus (with J.A. Jensen, 1979), Valdosaurus (1977), and Yaverlandia (1971). He named the dinosaur families: Blikanasauridae (with J. van Heerden, 1985), Fabrosauridae (1972), Staurikosauridae (1977), and Ruehleia (2001). He named the order Herrerasauria (1985). He also championed the cladistic theory that birds are modern-day dinosaurs (with R. Bakker, 1974), showed that Hypsilophodon was not arboreal (did not live in trees), that hadrosaurs did not drag their tails but used the tail as a counterbalance for the head, and that the Pachycephalosaurs butted heads like rams.
GREGORY, JAMES
James Gregory (1638-1675), a Scottish mathematician, invented the first reflecting telescope in 1663. He published a description of the reflecting telescope in "Optica Promota," which was published in 1663. He never actually made the telescope, which was to have used a parabolic and an ellipsoidal mirror.
HADLEY, JOHN H.
John Hadley (1682-1744) was an English mathematician and inventor who built the first reflecting telescope and invented an improved quadrant (known as Hadley's quadrant).
HALLEY, EDMUND
Edmund Halley (1656-1742) was an English astronomer who predicted the return of a spectacular comet in 1758 (after his death, this was confirmed by Johann G. Palitzsch). This comet had previously been seen in 1531, 1607, and 1682. This comet is now known as Halley's Comet.
HAWKING, STEPHEN
Stephen Hawking (1942- ) is a British physicist and cosmologist. His work centers on the physics of black holes and singularities in space-time. Hawking (1971) proposed that early after the Big Bang, mini-black holes existed, obeying quantum-mechanical laws due to their sub-atomic size. Hawking (1974) hypothesized that black holes emit subatomic particles until they explode.
HAWKINS, BENJAMIN W.
The first dinosaur models were made by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins of England in 1854. He made and sold plaster-cast dinosaurs through the Ward's catalogue of scientific supplies. His original models included Igauanodon, Hylaeosaurus, Megalosaurus, Plesiosaurus and Ichthyosurus. The first dinosaur used for adult amusement was a life-size model of an Iguanodon (made of concrete by Hawkins) that was used to house a dinner party for scientists (including Richard Owen, who coined the term dinosaur) at a major exhibition in London, England, in 1854. The invitations to the party were sent on fake pterodactyl wings.
HERSCHEL, WILLIAM
Sir William Herschel (1738-1822) was a British astronomer and organist who built an improved reflecting telescope and used it to discover the planet Uranus (March 13, 1781) and moons of Uranus and of Saturn. Herschel cataloged over 2500 discoveries, mostly deepsky objects. Herschel's sister Caroline Lucretia Herschel (1750-1848) helped him in his discoveries and discovered many clusters and nebulae (and 8 comets) herself.
HUGGINS, WILLIAM and MARGARET
Sir William Huggins (February 7, 1824-May 12, 1910) was an amateur English astronomer who was the first person to use spectroscopy to determine the compositions of astronomical objects (in 1861). He determined that the Sun and the stars are composed mostly of the element hydrogen. He also examined the spectra of nebulae and comets. Huggins' wife (they were married in 1875), Margaret Lindsay Murray Huggins (1848-1915), was a self-taught astronomer who did extensive work in spectroscopy and photography. Margaret studied the Orion Nebula extensively. William and Margaret were the first people to realize that some nebulae, like the Orion Nebula, consisted of amorphous gases (and were not a congregation of stars, like the nebula Andromeda). A lunar crater, a Martian crater, and an asteroid (#2635 Huggins) have been named for William Huggins.
HOLMES, ARTHUR
Arthur Holmes (1890 - 1965) was a British geologist who first proposed the idea of a geologic time scale in 1913. This was soon after the discovery of radioactivity, and using radio-isotope dating, Holmes estimated that the Earth was about 4 billion years old - this was much greater than previously believed.

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HUXLEY, THOMAS H.
Thomas H. Huxley (1825-1895) was a British scientist and friend of Charles Darwin. He was the first scientist to notice the similarity between birds and dinosaurs. He named: Acanthopholis (1865), the family Archaeopteryglidae (1871), Euskelosaurus (1866), Hypsilophodon (1869), and the family Megalosauridae (1869).
KELVIN
Lord Kelvin, William Thomson (1824 - 1907) designed the Kelvin temperature scale in which 0 K is defined as absolute zero and the size of one unit is the same as the size of one degree Celsius. Water freezes at 273.16 K; water boils at 373.16 K.
LASSELL, WILLIAM
William Lassell was an amateur English astronomer (a brewer by trade) who discovered Triton, the largest moon of Neptune (in 1846) and Ariel, the brightest moon of Uranus in 1851. With W.C. Bond, he discovered Saturn's moon Hyperion in 1848.
MANTELL, GIDEON
Gideon A. Mantell (1790-1852) was an amateur British fossil hunter, one of the first in the world. This physician named Hylaeosaurus (1833), Iguanodon (1825), Pelorosaurus (1850), and Regnosaurus (1848). Mary Ann Mantell, his wife, is commonly thought to have found the first Iguanodon tooth in 1822; there is no substantiation to this story, however.
MOORE, PATRICK
Patrick Moore (1923- ) is an English astronomer who has written over 60 books on astronomy and made regular BBC television appearances popularizing astronomy. He has done work on lunar mapping.
NEWTON, ISAAC
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was an English mathematician and physicist who invented calculus (simultaneously, but independently of Leibniz), formulated the laws of gravitation, investigated the nature of light (he discovered that sunlight is made of light of different colors), and the laws of motion: 1. An object in uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it (the Law of Inertia). 2. A force causes a change in the velocity (acceleration) of an object (F=ma). 3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton also improved the design of the refracting telescope (using an objective mirror, instead of a lens), and it is now called a Newtonian telescope. For more on Newton, click here.
NORMAN, DAVID
David B. Norman is a British paleontologist who has extensively studied ornithischian clades, especially the genus Iguanodon. He noted that Iguanodon's beak structure would let it eat a wide range of plants, not simply soft plants as was thought before. He also realized that Iguanodon's tail was held horizontally, suggesting that it walked on four legs. He has also written many books about dinosaurs, including The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs (1985).
OWEN, RICHARD
Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) was a pioneering British comparative anatomist who coined the term dinosauria (from the Greek "deinos" meaning terrible, and "sauros" meaning lizard), recognizing them as a suborder of large, extinct reptiles in 1841. He proposed this new name in a 1842 article published in the "Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science."

Owen also named and described the following dinosaurs: Anthodon (1876), Bothriospondylus (1875), Cardiodon (1841), Cetiosaurus (1841 - but Owen incorrectly thought that it was a kind of crocodile and not a dinosaur), Chondrosteosaurus (1876), Cimoliornis (1846), Cladeidon (1841), Coloborhynchus (1874), Dacentrurus (1875), Dinodocus (1884), Echinodon (1861), Massospondylus (1854), Nuthetes (1854), Polacanthus (1867), and Scelidosaurus (1859).
SEELEY, HARRY G.
Harry Govier Seeley (1839-1909) was a British paleontologist. In 1887, he divided the dinosaurs by hip structure, into the orders Saurischia and Ornithischia. He named Agrosaurus (1891), Anoplosaurus (1878), Aristosuchus (1887), Craterosaurus (1874), Macrurosaurus (1869), Orthomerus (1883), Priodontognathus (1875), Rhadionsaurus (1881), and Thecospondylus (1882).
THOMPSON, J. J.
Joseph John Thomson was a British scientist who discovered the existence of the electron in 1897. Electrons are tiny, negatively-charged atomic particles. In an atom, they orbit around the nucleus.
WRIGHT, THOMAS
Thomas Wright (1711-1786) was a British cosmologist. Wright was one of the first people (along with Johann Lambert (1728-77) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) ) who in 1750 speculated about the structure and origin of our solar system and galaxy. Using religious and philosophical arguments, Wright hypothesized that the Milky Way was a thin flat system of stars with our solar system near the center and that there were other similar but distant star systems (which he called nebulae).







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