- Published: 22 February 2018
As the shortest month of the year flashes by, we’re now looking ahead to March.
Some of the highlights in March include: World Book Day, St David’s Day, National Apprenticeship Week, International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day, and St Patrick’s Day.
But this month’s Top 5 will celebrate British Science Week (9th – 18th March).
What better way to celebrate than taking a look at some of the most influential British scientists over the past 200 years – and wow, they’ve invented some cool stuff!
So our scientific trip through history starts almost 200 years ago with the Theory of Evolution.
Charles Robert Darwin, was born in Shrewsbury in February 1809, and suggested that fish climbed out of the ocean, grew arms and legs and created man. Ok it’s a little more complex than that, but Darwin is best known for his contributions to the science of evolution and his theory that all species of life have descended from common ancestors through the process that he called natural selection. His ground-breaking research and theory made him one of the most influential figures in human history.
Alexander Graham Bell
Next up is the man who invented the one object that many of us simply cannot live without, the telephone.
For many people, their phones are never more than an arm’s length away – but if it wasn’t for this Scottish innovator then phones may not be the life-organising tools we know them as today. Thanks to Bell’s patent for the first practical telephone, he became the founder the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in 1885. Perhaps ironically, Bell considered his invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study.
Sir Alexander Fleming, by his own admission, didn’t plan to revolutionise all medicine by discovering the world's first antibiotic, or bacteria killer, but that is exactly what he did.
Fleming was a Scottish physician, microbiologist, and pharmacologist who discovered Penicillin from mould in 1928. Known as the accidental discovery, Fleming was already a fantastic researcher but had a reputation for being untidy. After returning from a family holiday he noticed that some of his cultures had grown fungus, leading him to carry out more experiments. The rest, as they say, is history. His discovery revolutionised the world of medicine and earned Fleming a knighthood.
Rosalind Elsie Franklin made significant contributions to the world of science with her research into DNA and viruses.
In her early career she trained as an X-ray crystallographer, and during an X-ray diffraction image of DNA, particularly Photo 51, the process led to the discovery of the DNA double helix. Sadly, her career was cut short when she died in 1958 at the age of just 37; and it wasn’t until after her death that her work was truly recognised.
Alan Turing is most famous for his problem solving abilities to help the Allied forces win the Second World War.
He was an English computer scientist, mathematician, logician, and cryptanalyst who, while working for the Government, played a pivotal role in cracking the German Enigma messages to give the Allies the upper hand on the Nazi’s strategy. His work is said to be the start of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
Because the inventions and discoveries over the past 200 years have been so significant, we couldn’t stop at 5.
John Logie Baird
John Logie Baird is the third Scot in our list, and made binge-watching Nexflix possible.
Without TV, there would be no Nexflix (unthinkable). Baird moved to Hastings in 1923 and built what was to become the world's first working television set using an old hat box, a pair of scissors, some darning needles, a few bicycle light lenses, and a used tea chest. Baird then went on to develop his ideas to create the world’s first transatlantic broadcast.
6 great Britons there - but if you think we’ve missed anyone, let us know!