Science Nerd

James D. Watson (American molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist) was born on April 6, 1928

James Dewey Watson is an American molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist, best known as a co-discoverer of the structure of DNA in 1953 with Francis Crick. Watson, Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”. After studies at the University of Chicago and Indiana University, he worked at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory in England, where he first met his future collaborator and friend Francis Crick. In 1956, Watson became a junior member of Harvard University’s Biological Laboratories, holding this position until 1976, promoting research in molecular biology. Between 1988 and 1992, Watson was associated with the National Institutes of Health, helping to establish the Human Genome Project. Watson has written many science books, including the textbook The Molecular Biology of the Gene (1965) and his bestselling book The Double Helix (1968) about the DNA structure discovery.

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Daniel Dennett (American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist) was born on March 28, 1942

Daniel Clement Dennett is an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and a University Professor at Tufts University. Dennett is a firm atheist and secularist, a member of the Secular Coalition for America advisory board, as well as an outspoken supporter of the Brights movement. Dennett is referred to as one of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism,” along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens. Dennett sees evolution by natural selection as an algorithmic process (though he spells out that algorithms as simple as long division often incorporate a significant degree of randomness). This idea is in conflict with the evolutionary philosophy of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, who preferred to stress the “pluralism” of evolution (i.e., its dependence on many crucial factors, of which natural selection is only one).

Science Nerd

John Sulston (British biologist) was born on March 27, 1942

Sir John Edward Sulston is a British biologist. He is a joint winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He is currently Chair of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation (iSEI) at the University of Manchester. Sulston was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood and Pembroke College, Cambridge graduating in 1963. He joined the Chemistry Department in Cambridge, gained his PhD degree for research in nucleotide chemistry and devoted his scientific life to biological research, especially in the field of molecular biology. After working as a Postdoctoral researcher at the Salk Institute, USA for a while, he returned to Cambridge to work under Sydney Brenner at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Sulston played a central role in both the Caenorhabditis elegans worm and human genome sequencing projects. He had argued successfully for the sequencing of C. elegans to show that large-scale genome sequencing projects were feasible. As sequencing of the worm genome proceeded, the project to sequence the human genome began. At this point he was made director of the newly established Sanger Centre (named after Fred Sanger and now the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), located in Cambridgeshire, England.

Science Nerd

David Suzuki (Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist) was born on March 24, 1936

David Suzuki is a Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist. Suzuki earned a Ph.D in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1961, and was a professor in the genetics department at the University of British Columbia from 1963 until his retirement in 2001. Since the mid-1970s, Suzuki has been known for his TV and radio series and books about nature and the environment. He is best known as host of the popular and long-running CBC Television science magazine, The Nature of Things, seen in over forty nations. He is also well known for criticizing governments for their lack of action to protect the environment. A long time activist to reverse global climate change, Suzuki co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation in 1990, to work “to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that sustains us.” The Foundation’s priorities are: oceans and sustainable fishing, climate change and clean energy, sustainability, and Suzuki’s Nature Challenge. He also served as a director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association from 1982-1987. Suzuki was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2009.

Computer Nerd, Science Nerd

Norbert Pohlmann (computer scientist) was born on March 20, 1960

Norbert Pohlmann is a computer scientist and a professor at the University of Applied Sciences Gelsenkirchen. Norbert Pohlmann studied Electrical Engineering (1981–1985), specialized in Computer Science, and has written his doctoral thesis on “Possibilities and Limitations of Firewall Systems”. He was Managing Director at KryptoKom (Company for information security and communication technology) from 1988 to 1999. After the merger with Utimaco Safeware AG he was a member of the Utimaco Safeware AG management board from 1999 to 2003. Since 2003 Norbert Pohlmann is Professor in the Computer Science Department for distributed systems and information security and director of the Institute for Internet Security at the University of Applied Sciences Gelsenkirchen. He is one of the founders of the IT Security Association TeleTrusT (which establishes reliable conditions for the trustworthy application of information- and communication technologies) where he is member of the board since 1994 and chairman of the board since April 1998. Norbert Pohlmann is one of the initiators of the “Information Security Solutions Europe” (ISSE) and chairman of the ISSE program committee of the ISSE conference. In addition to that he is also a member of the academic council of the GDD (The German Association for Data Protection and Data Security) as well as a member of the advisory council eco (Association of the German Internet Industry). He used to be a member of the Permanent Stakeholders’ Group of the ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency) from 2005 to 2010.

Science Nerd

Mario J. Molina (Mexican chemist) was born on March 19, 1943

Mario José Molina-Pasquel Henríquez is a Mexican chemist and one of the most prominent precursors to the discovering of the Antarctic ozone hole. He was a co-recipient (along with Paul J. Crutzen and F. Sherwood Rowland) of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in elucidating the threat to the Earth’s ozone layer of chlorofluorocarbon gases (or CFCs), becoming the first Mexican-born citizen to ever receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Molina is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and The National College of Mexico. He serves on the boards of several environmental organizations and also sits on a number of scientific committees including the U.S. President’s Committee of Advisors in Science and Technology, the Institutional Policy Committee, the Committee on Global Security and Sustainability of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Mario Molina Center. He also served on the board of trustees for Science Service, now known as Society for Science & the Public, from 1999-2006. He has also received more than 18 honorary degrees and Asteroid 9680 Molina is named in his honor.

Science Nerd, Writer Nerd

Albert Einstein (German-born theoretical physicist) was born on March 14, 1879

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who discovered the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics. 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”. Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led to the development of his special theory of relativity. He realized, however, that the principle of relativity could also be extended to gravitational fields, and with his subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916, he published a paper on the general theory of relativity. 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 which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe as a whole. He escaped from Nazi Germany in 1933, where he had been a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences, and settled in the U.S., becoming a citizen in 1940. On the eve of World War II, he helped alert President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Germany might be developing an atomic weapon, and recommended that the U.S. begin similar research. He taught physics at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955. Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works, and received honorary doctorate degrees in science, medicine and philosophy from many European and American universities; he also wrote about various philosophical and political subjects such as socialism, international relations and the existence of God. His great intelligence and originality have made the word “Einstein” synonymous with genius.