Category Archives: Science

Scientists one should know

Richard Feynman
( American phycisit known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics (he proposed the parton model).

Richard Feyman Online

Science buff John Turnbull lists five outstanding living scientists that everyone should know about.

Here’s a little experiment for you: next time you’re having a conversation with a friend (or stranger, whatever takes your fancy) ask them to name three scientists.  If you’re lucky, you might hear the names Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein.  If you’re unlucky – and my small sample size suggests you might be – the response may include God, Doctor Strangelove or the Professor from Futurama.
This may be because educational standards around the world are dropping, or it might be that media coverage of scientific topics is rubbish, but fear not! Help is at hand. For your entertainment and education, here are five living scientists that you really should know.

5. Bill Nye
Better known by his full name: Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bill is a legend among science educators. From 1993 to 1998, Bill produced 100 episodes of his Bill Nye the Science Guy, a short form TV series that covered scientific topics aimed at a pre-teen audience. The show was so good that science teachers around the world started using the shows in the classroom throughout both junior and senior school.
Topics that Bill covered included gravity, evolution, the moon, momentum and space exploration, each presented with an over-the-top enthusiasm and love for science. His on screen persona is informed by Nye’s love for stand up comedy, sparked when he won a Steve Martin look-a-like contest in Seattle.
Not to be confused with English actor Bill Nighy (Love Actually), Bill Nye is a man with a mission:
‘to foster a scientifically literate society, to help people understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work’.

4. Eugenie Scott
As director of the National Centre for Science Education, Eugenie Scott has spent more than 25 years fighting for the teaching of real science in the classrooms of America. Along the way she has battled Creationists, Intelligent Design proponents, Fundamentalist Christians and other assorted nutbags, all the while retaining a positive attitude and passion for science.
Originally raised as a Christian Scientist (not what it sounds like — they prefer prayer to modern medicine) Eugenie now describes herself as nonthiest, which might give you the tip on who she likes in her first book Evolution vs Creationism: An Introduction.
Eugenie is also the answer to a popular brainteaser — name a female scientist other than Marie Curie. Other possible answers include Dian Fossey, Rosalind Franklin and Hypatia. Google them.

3. Sir Tim Berners-Lee
The man credited with inventing the World Wide Web, which is widely regarded to be a good thing, particularly if you like pornography or cats. This achievement was recognised in 2004, when Berners-Lee was knighted by the Queen, who is known to be highly tech-savvy and one of the earliest web surfers (not really).
TimBL, as he is widely known by people who don’t like typing long names, spent much of his career working at CERN, now best known as the home of the Large Hadron Collider. He currently works at MIT and is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium, overseeing the Internet’s continued development.

2. Phil Plait

It takes a certain sense of humour to call yourself ‘The Bad Astronomer’, and Phil Plait has the personality to pull it off. A multi-talented educator, Phil has worked on the Hubble space telescope, blogged extensively, debunked pseudoscience, written books and even recorded a song about the odds of being killed by a meteor (Death From the Skies with George Hrab).
Host of the TV series Bad Universe and founder of the website, Phil has made it his life’s work to correct misconceptions of science promulgated by movies and TV.  The site features critical views of the science featured on popular movies and TV shows, presented not in a snarky tone but with the gleeful desire to show how much cooler reality is than fiction.
Top quote:
“The Universe is cool enough without making up crap about it.”

1. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist, cosmologist and all around nice guy, Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the best speakers that modern science has to offer. He first started lecturing on astronomy at the age of 15, graduated from Harvard University and became a protégé of the great Carl Sagan. It was under Sagan that he learnt the value of having a media-friendly persona, which eventually led to appearances on TV programmes including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report and The Big Bang Theory.
As director of the Hayden Planetarium, Tyson was instrumental in the movement to reclassify Pluto from a proper planet to a dwarf planet.  He argued (rather sensibly) that there were bigger objects in our solar system and unless we wanted to come up with names for a new planet every couple of years then Pluto needed to be reclassified. For the record, other dwarf planets include Eris, Ceres and Haumea.
Tyson is a prolific writer, with his twelfth book about to be published.  He is also one of the few people worth following on Twitter, and was named one of Time Magazine’s Top Tweeters in 2011. Other awards include the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Medal of Excellence from Columbia University and the Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive by People Magazine.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is the man.

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Friar-Scientist Gregor Mendel – Father of Genetics

Google has celebrated the 189th birthday of Gregor Johann Mendel, a scientist and friar whose work on genetics helped form the basis for modern day theories. Like most great historical figures Mendel’s work wasn’t recognised until long after he died, Google has played their part by ensuring more people learn of his work.

Gregor Mendel Doodle

Today’s doodle is formed by a selection of peas, carefully cross sectioned and arranged to make up the letters of the word Google. The doodle isn’t animated but this doesn’t detract from the meaning behind it. Mendel’s early work focused on the genetic makeup of peas, he discovered that certain traits where passed on in peas when cross pollinated.


Google Doodle pays tribute to friar-scientist Mendel

07/20/2011 | 08:40 AM

Search giant Google paid tribute to Augustinian friar and scientist Gregor Johann Mendel Wednesday, as it marked his 189th birth anniversary with one of its Doodles.

Visitors to Google’s homepage ( were greeted with a doodle of peas, referring to Mendel’s experiments on plant hybridization.

A screenshot of Wednesday’s Google Doodle marking the 189th birth anniversary of friar-scientist Gregor Johann Mendel, whose study on pea plants earned him posthumous fame in science of genetics.GMANews.TV

Online encyclopedia Wikipedia said his study of inheritance of traits in pea plants earned him posthumous fame as the figurehead of the science of genetics.

Mendel had been noted to have cultivated some 29,000 pea plants between 1856 and 1863, with his experiments leading him to make Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance – the Law of Segregation and the Law of Independent Assortment.

The Law of Segregation states that when any individual produces gametes, the copies of a gene separate so that each gamete receives only one copy.

Or, two coexisting alleles of an individual for each trait segregate (separate) during gamete formation so that each gamete gets only one of the two alleles. Alleles again unite at random fertilization of gametes.

The Law of Independent Assortment or “Inheritance Law” states that alleles of different genes assort independently of one another during gamete formation.

However, the significance of his work was not recognized until the turn of the 20th century. — LBG, GMA News (


Der Genetiker Gregor Mendel bekommt zu seinem 189. Geburtstag von Google ein Doodle spendiert. Berühmt wurde Gregor Mendel durch die Entdeckung der Vererbungsregeln.

Jahrelang züchtete der unermüdliche Gregor Mendel Erbsen, seine bahnbrechenden Thesen blieben jedoch lange unverstanden und von seinen Zeitgenossen weitgehend unbeachtet. Heute findet man die Mendelschen Regeln in jedem Schulbuch und der Wissenschaftler und katholische Priester erfährt als Begründer der Genetik späte Anerkennung.

Gregor Mendel / Foto - Gregor Mendel / Photo -
Foto: picture-alliance / akg-images/akg Gregor Mendel entdeckte 1865 die nach ihm benannten Mendelschen Gesetze der Genetik

Der Bauernsohn wuchs in einem kleinen Dorf in Mähren auf konnte zunächst nicht einmal das Gymnasium zu besuchen, da sein Vater nach einem schweren Unfall arbeitsunfähig war. Der 1822 als Johann Mendel geborene Forscher (den Namen Gregor nimmt er erst nach seiner Priesterweihe an) richtete sich zunächst darauf ein, ebenfalls Bauer zu werden. Doch es sollte anders kommen: Sein Schwager übernimmt den Hof, und Johann tritt in das Augustiner-Kloster in Brünn ein.


Gregor Mendel studiert in Wien

Dort studierte er zunächst Theologie, Agrikultur und Botanik und wurde später zum Priester geweiht. Zwischen 1851 und 1853 studierte er an der Universität Wien zunächst Mathematik und Physik. Nach seinem Studium führte ihn sein Weg wieder zurück ins Kloster, wo er für die nächsten vierzehn Jahre unterrichtete. Er gilt als lebenslustiger und durchaus humorvollen Priester und Lehrer.

Im Kloster beginnt Gregor Mendel 1856 schließlich mit seinen Kreuzungs-Experimenten an Erbsen.

In der Landwirtschaft des 19. Jahrhunderts ist es eine zentrale Frage, wie bestimmte Merkmale von Pflanzen vererbt werden und Mendel machte sich daran, diese Frage genauer zu untersuchen. Dazu vollzog Mendel im Klostergarten über 10.000 Kreuzungsversuche und stellte dabei drei wesentliche Regeln der Vererbung auf.

Neben der Uniformität der Vererbung formulierte er die Regel von der freien Kombinierbarkeit der Merkmale. Die dritte Regel, die Dominanzregel, besagt, dass bei der Vererbung eines der beiden Merkmale immer dominant, das andere rezessiv ist. Alle früheren Versuche der Wissenschaft, die Vererbungsregeln zu ergründen, waren bis dahin gescheitert.

Die Wissenschaftler hatten angesichts der vielen einzelnen Merkmale, die von Generation zu Generation vererbt werden, keine passende Versuchsanordnung gefunden. Mendel war da erfolgreicher und ging einen ganz anderen Weg: Er konzentriert sich auf einzelne, leicht identifizierbare Merkmale wie Farbe und Form der Erbsen.

1865 veröffentlichte Gregor Mendel seine Ergebnisse in dem gerade mal 45-seitigen Aufsatz “Versuche über Pflanzenhybride“. Er enthält die berühmt gewordenen Mendelschen Regeln, die noch heute in jedem Biologiebuch stehen. Seine Erkenntnisse wurden allerdings lange weitgehend ignoriert oder stießen unter den Wissenschaftlern der Zeit sogar auf Ablehnung. So schickte er beispielsweise seinem berühmten Kollegen Charles Darwin ein Exemplar seiner Arbeit – allerdings fand man die später ungelesen in Darvins Nachlass.


Frustriert, Krank und Unbekannt

Frustriert gab Gregor Mendel daraufhin die Forschung ganz auf und wurde später zum Abt des Klosters ernannt. Seine letzten Lebensjahre waren durch verschiedene schwere Krankheiten geprägt. Als er am 6. Januar 1884 stirbt, ist er der wissenschaftlichen Fachwelt praktisch unbekannt.

Erst um 1900, rund sechzehn Jahre nach seinem Tod, entdeckte die Wissenschaft die Tragweite der Mendelschen Forschung. Seitdem gilt Gregor Mendel als derjenige, der die Grundlagen der Vererbungslehre entdeckte und als unumstrittener Vater der Genetik.


Die Meilensteine der Genforschung

1865: Gregor Mendel entdeckt durch Kreuzungsversuche bei Bohnen und Erbsen die grundlegenden Gesetze der Vererbung.

1909: Der dänische Biologe Wilhelm Johannsen verwendet erstmals die Bezeichnung “Gen”.

1944: O. T. Avery, C. M. MacLeod und M. McCarty weisen die DNA als Träger der Erbinformation aus.

1953: James Watson und Francis Crick entwickeln das DNA-Doppelhelix-Modell.

1990: Start des Öffentlichen internationalen Humangenomprojekt (HUGO).

2000: Craig Venter (Celera) und Francis Collins (HUGO) geben die Entschlüsselung des menschlichen Genoms bekannt.

Great words by Robert Ingersoll

“We are not endeavouring to chain the future but to free the present. We are not forging fetters for our children but we are breaking those our fathers made for us. We are the advocates of inquiry, of investigation and thought. This of itself is an admission that we are not perfectly satisfied with all our conclusions. Philosophy has not the egotism of faith. While superstition builds walls and creates obstructions, science opens all the highways of thought. We do not pretend to have circumnavigated everything and to have solved all difficulties but we do believe that it is grander and nobler to think and investigate for ourselves than to repeat a creed. We are satisfied that there can be but little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven. We do not expect to accomplish everything in our day but we want to do what good we can and to render all the service possible in the cause of human progress. We know that doing away with gods and supernatural beings and powers is not an end. It is a means to an end – the real end being the happiness of man…