Alexander Graham Bell Biography

Alexander Graham Bell was a noteworthy scientist, innovator and inventor. Along with his invention of the telephone, he has made a valuable contribution to the field of hydrofoils and aeronautics. This article gives an overview of his illustrious work and the inspiring journey of his life.
Born on March 3, 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Alexander showed a flair for art, poetry, and music since his childhood years. He was a student of the Royal High School, from which he dropped out. However, he continued pursuing his interest in science. At the age of ten, Alexander adopted ‘Graham’ as his middle name.
Since an early age, Alexander was experimental. At the age of twelve, he came up with a dehusking machine that used nailbrushes and rotating paddles. This was Bell’s first invention.
Elocution skills ran in Bell’s family. His father and grandfather were elocutionists. Alexander took keen interest in his father’s work related to the fields of elocution and visible speech. He soon became a part of his father’s demonstrations of deciphering symbols in different languages.
Alexander Bell received great encouragement from his father to continue with his experiments on speech. He deduced that if vowel sounds could be produced through electrical means, so could consonants and articulate speech.
In 1865, the Bell family moved to London after which Alexander focused on his experiments with electricity. He also helped his father with Visible Speech demonstrations. Alexander soon began to work at the Hull’s private school for the deaf, where he taught two students.
In 1870, the Bells moved to Ontario and started staying with Reverend Thomas Henderson, their family friend. They later purchased a property and began to stay in their own house. Alexander set up a small workshop near his new residence to continue with his experiments on human voice.
Alexander Bell was instrumental in translating the unwritten vocabulary of the Mohawk language into visible speech symbols. This work earned him the title of Honorary Chief. In 1871, he traveled to Boston to give a demonstration of visible speech to the instructors at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf. He was later invited to conduct the same demonstration for the instructors at the American Asylum for Deaf-mutes in Hartford and the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton.
In 1872, Alexander Bell established a school for deaf pupils in Boston. He called it ‘Vocal Physiology and Mechanics of Speech’. He also worked as a private tutor, thus helping many deaf and dumb students to cope with their disabilities. Helen Keller was one of his most famous students.
Alexander Graham Bell and one of his financial supporters, Anthony Pollok, sought guidance from Joseph Henry, a famous scientist, on the electrical multi reed apparatus that Bell wanted to use as a transmitter of human voice. In Bell’s idea of using electrical multi reeds for voice transmission, Henry saw the potential of it turning into a great invention.
Bell's telephone
Bell pursued his experiments with the electrical multi reeds with his newly hired assistant, Thomas Watson. On June 2, 1875, Watson happened to pluck a reed from the apparatus and the overtones of the reed could be heard at the other end of the wire. This accidental plucking of a reed revealed the key to transmit voice over wire and the invention of the telephone was on its way! Bell soon devised the telephone and started concentrating on improving it.
Did You Know?

Franklin School Building
Franklin School Building, Washington, D.C.

A small plaque on this building’s exterior notes Alexander Graham Bell’s first wireless communication in 1880, an important event in the history of telecommunications. In the experiment, a voice message was transmitted using a beam of light with the help of a Photophone invented by Bell.

By 1877, the Bell Telephone Company was established and within a decade, more than 150,000 people in the United States owned telephones.
On January 25, 1915, Bell made his first transcontinental call from New York City to San Francisco. Thomas Watson received this call, marking it as the first telephonic conversation ever held.

Alexander Bell on postage stamp

Some of Bell’s later inventions include, the metal detector and the hydrofoil. He received the Volta Prize for his invention of the telephone. He was one of the founders of the National Geographic Society and became its second President. In 1914, he became the proud winner of the AIEE’s Edison Medal for the invention of the telephone.
Alexander Graham Bell was struck by pernicious anemia, which became the cause of his death on August 2, 1922 at the age of 75. Upon his death, all the telephones across the United States stilled their ringing as a tribute to this great inventor.

Famous American Scientists

The land of America has produced many inventors and scientists. The period between 19th and 20th century was that of speedy growth for scientific development. However, the foundation for development was laid prior to this period. The great scientists from America worked in various fields of science to make path-breaking discoveries and inventions. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Alva Edison, George Washington Carver, Barbara McClintock, and many others brought glory to America by making valuable contributions in this field.

Scientists and Inventors from America

Short profiles of famous American scientists are presented in this article. The following content about renowned American scientists for kids should prove to be informative.

Benjamin Franklin
Born on 17th January, 1706, Benjamin Franklin mainly worked in the field of physics. His notable inventions include the bifocal lens, lightning rod, carriage odometer, Franklin Stove, and glass harmonica. One of the specialties of Franklin’s work was that he never patented the inventions. The principle of ‘conservation of charge’ was first discovered by Franklin. Electrical fluid, as it was referred to in those days, was classified in two categories i.e., vitreous and resinous. Franklin had claimed that these weren’t two different types but the same entity under different pressures.

Thomas Edison
He was not only one of the famous American inventors, but also was a successful businessman. Born on 11th February, 1847, Thomas Alva Edison came from Milan, Ohio. The electric bulb is one of his most notable inventions. Other inventions include the motion picture camera and phonograph. Improvements made in the incandescent light by Edison laid the foundation for inventing electric bulb. A system for distribution of electricity was patented by Edison in 1880. He earned large profits by first patenting the inventions, and then setting up mass production systems.

George Washington Carver
He was one of the most famous African-American scientists. He taught the farmers to make a variety of recipes from peanuts. George Washington Carver also made improvements in the preparation of various items including the edible ones. The list of these items is as follows: axle grease, adhesives, instant coffee, fuel briquettes, chili sauce, buttermilk, bleach, sidewalk, plastic, paper, metal polish, etc.

Barbara McClintock
She was a specially distinguished cytogeneticist, and she won the Nobel Prize for ‘Physiology or Medicine’ in the year 1983. The technique developed by McClintock to visualize the corn chromosomes was one of her most notable works. The phenomenon of transposition was discovered by this scientist in the 40s and 50s decade. In this research work, the role of genes in exhibiting the physical characteristics was explained.

Linus Pauling
He was basically a chemist. However, he also worked as an educator and peace activist. He is amongst the most important scientists, and one of the first ones to work in the field of molecular biology and quantum chemistry. Linus Pauling is the only person along with Marie Curie to have won the Nobel Prize in two different fields (Chemistry and Peace). He developed interest in the study of quantum mechanics while being at the Oregon State University.

Percy Julian
Basically a research chemist, Percy Lavon Julian is credited for his pioneering work in the field of medicinal drugs synthesis from plants. He also pioneered the large-scale industrial production of hormones like testosterone, progesterone, etc., from plant sterols. Sitosterol and stigmasterol were the ones that were used for this production. He was able to secure more than 130 patents in his lifetime.

The works of these above-mentioned famous scientists from USA should prove to be inspiring for all of us.

Famous Forensic Scientists

If you have read Julius Caesar, then you must remember the part where after his assassination, one physician claimed that out of all the 23 wounds on his body, only one was fatal. This was the result of a forensic investigation of Caesar’s murder. Surprised that the forensic science goes back so long? Well, the history of forensic science does go back to thousands of years (approximately 44 BC). The term ‘forensic’ has been derived from the Latin word forensis which means ‘of or before the forum’. In simple terms it means the process of applying scientific principles to legal questions. Forensic science has come a long way from the time when the Chinese used fingerprints in order to identify certain documents, to forensic experts using modern technology today to find out more about historical objects aged more than thousands of years old. This field has become more popular due to some of the TV shows like ‘Dexter’, ‘Bones’ and so on. More and more people are studying hard to be an expert in this field, while there are some people who have already made a name for themselves in history. Would you like to know more about them? Then keep reading.

There are so many people who have made their name in forensic science, who have solved some of the most difficult crime cases in history and whose footsteps are being followed by hundreds of aspiring forensic experts. Here’s a list of some of the scientists.

Henry C. Lee
Born in the year 1938, Henry C. Lee, was one of the most famous forensic experts. He had worked on more than 6000 cases. Some of the famous cases where he had assisted were that of the murder of a six year old beauty queen, JonBenet Ramsey, suicide of Vince Foster, murder of Laci Peterson and so on. Lee had also been accused of hiding evidence from the Phil Spector case. Right now, he is the faculty member at the University of New Haven and he is also serving as the chief emeritus of the Connecticut State Police.

Dr. Michael Baden
Dr. Baden had served as a consulting and leading pathologist in a number of cases such as the death of actor John Belushi, investigation of the remains of Czar Nicholas II, the last Russian monarch, investigation of the TWA Flight 800 crash and several more. His recent investigation was the autopsy of the death of actor David Carradine. He is also the host of the HBO show ‘Autopsy’.

Clea Koff
Clea Koff was just 23 years old when she was selected to join a team of 15 forensic experts to go to Rwanda in order to investigate the physical evidence of the war crimes. She is the founder of ‘The Missing Persons Identification Resource Center’ which helps families find out missing people in America. She had also written a book about her Rwanda experience and it is called The Bone Woman: A Forensic Anthropologist’s Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo.

Joseph Bell
Joseph Bell was the one who had inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write about Sherlock Holmes. He was Queen Victoria’s personal surgeon and also taught at the medical school of University of Edinburgh. He was the one who had inspired the beginning of some of the forensic techniques which are famous in the field of forensic science today.

Edmond Locard
I am sure you must have heard the phrase, “Every contact leaves a trace.” This phrase was stated by Edmond Locard, who was also known as the Sherlock Holmes of France. He started his career as an assistant to Alexandre Lacassagne, a criminologist. He was also the one who started the first police laboratory in Lyons police department.

Sara Bisel
Sara Bisel is known for her work and investigation of Herculaneum, which was a town that had been destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Her works have been of a major help for the advancement of forensic anthropology. She is known for uncovering information about the past.

Here are some of the other famous scientists who have contributed a lot to forensics.

– Sir Alec Jeffreys
– William Bass
– William Maples
– Cyril Wecht
– Dr. Khunying Pornthip Rojanasunand.

Thanks to these science sleuths, crime busters had an edge over their quarry. As a result of their efforts, forensic science has become an effective tool in the crime investigator’s arsenal.

10 Famous Scientists and Their Discoveries

All the technologies that make our lives easier, all the medicines and medical equipment that save us, and indeed all of our understanding of the world itself are the result of the tireless efforts of all those scientists who spent thousands of hours inventing and discovering these things. Humanity shall forever be indebted to the invaluable contributions made by all these great minds. Presented below, is a list of some of the world’s greatest and most famous scientists, in no particular order, along with brief descriptions of the things they invented/discovered.

Archimedes (287 – 212 BC)
A very versatile personality, Archimedes was a mathematician, physicist, astronomer, engineer, and a very successful inventor. He was popular for his ingenious thinking, and was responsible for developing many innovative machines. He is best known for formulating the method for finding the exact volume of an irregularly shaped object.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and philosopher. He is known as the father of modern observational astronomy, the father of modern physics, and also the father of modern science. From among his several inventions and discoveries, Galileo is best known for his contributions to astronomy. Using the telescope, he was able to confirm the phases of planet Venus, discover and document the four largest satellites of planet Jupiter, which have been named as Galilean moons in his honor, and also observe and analyze sunspots. He even championed the theory of a heliocentricism, at a time when most of the world supported geocentricism.

Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1726)
Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist and mathematician, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest and most influential scientists of all time. He played a key role in the development of calculus, and through his extensive study of light, made the first practical reflecting telescope, a technology which till date is used to study the heavens. But perhaps the most important and famous of his discoveries was that of gravity. Newton was able to, not only describe why an apple fell towards the Earth rather than fly away from it, but also provide the mathematical basis for this theory, and describe the motion of objects. His discoveries went on to lay the foundation of classical mechanics, and are considered to be some of the most significant contributions to the world of physics.

Thomas Alva Edison (1847 – 1931)
Among the numerous inventions of Thomas Alva Edison, the most prominent one is the electric bulb, which is still used today to light up our nights. Apart from that, he also invented a number of useful instruments, including the telegraph devices, phonograph, carbon transmitter, direct current generator, gramophone – which was the improved version of the phonograph, the dictating machine, universal electric motor, besides many others.

Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 – 1955)
Sir Alexander Fleming worked in the army medical corp in the First World War, where he witnessed many soldiers die from sepsis resulting from infected wounds. He began actively searching for antibacterial agents, until he discovered the drug penicillin, which revolutionized modern medicine science, by becoming the world’s first antibiotic.

Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867)
Michael Faraday was an English physicist, who made some of the most significant contributions to the fields of electromagnetism and electro-chemistry. Although his formal education was scarce, through extensive research and experimentation, he was able to discover the principle of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and then put forth the laws of electrolysis. He invented the electromagnetic rotary devices, which laid the foundation for the development of the electric motors, which today are the main workhorses of most industries.

Alexander Graham Bell (1857 – 1922)
It was during his experiments with the telegraph that Alexander Graham Bell thought up the concept of the telephone, which, without a question, is one of the most useful inventions of all time. Bell himself, however, considered the telephone to be intruding, and did not have a telephone at his place of work.

Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
Albert Einstein was a German theoretical physicist, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest minds of modern times. He was wholly responsible for the development of the modern theory of gravity, and partly responsible for the development of quantum mechanics, both of which are the pillars of modern physics. His special and general theories of relativity have captured the minds of the scientific community for decades, and are thought to be so complex that very few people are able to actually grasp their full extent. Einstein is best known for his equation E=mc2, which gives the relation between energy and mass, and forms the basis of atomic energy generation.

Frederick Banting (1891 – 1941)
He started with his education in politics, but ended up shifting to medicine. He completed his MD in the year 1916, and served as a doctor in World War I, attending to many wounded soldiers. Banting’s real interest was in diabetes and its cure, which he worked on with another scientist named Dr. Charles Best. He discovered the hormone insulin, and became the first person to successfully use it on humans.

Stephen William Hawking (1942 – present)
Stephen William Hawking is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, as well as the Director of Research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology in the University of Cambridge. From the age of 21, Hawking has been suffering from a slow-progressing form of ALS, which has gradually paralyzed him over the years. However, that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most famous scientists of modern times. He collaborated with Roger Penrose, and proposed the gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity. He later went on to predict that black holes emitted radiation, a phenomenon which has been named Hawking radiation, in his honor. He was also the first to try to explain cosmology, by a unification of general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.

American Inventors

More than six million patents have been granted to American inventors, since 1790, by the US Patent Office. With the impetus of the American industrial revolution fueling it even further, there was a dramatic increase in the number of patents issued in the 19th century. In fact, the middle to the latter half of the 19th century was regarded as the golden age of American inventors and their inventions, with stalwarts like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell exemplifying it. The technological breakthroughs made by them, from the light bulb to the computers that are so ubiquitous today, have improved the lives of people all over the world. Of course, there are many American inventors, and their numbers continue to grow, with each of them, along with their invention, impacting the society in unique ways. So, here are a few of them.

Samuel F. B. Morse: He was born on the 27th of April 1791 and died on the 2nd of April 1872. It was in 1832 that he got the idea of an electromagnetic telegraph, and subsequently constructed a prototype in 1835. However, it was in 1844, that he actually made a workable system, when he constructed a line from Baltimore to Washington D.C. He applied for a patent, which was granted in 1849, wherein it is described as a system of marking dots and dashes on paper. In the next 10 years, 23,000 miles of telegraph wires crisscrossed all over the country. Morse’s invention had a profound effect in the development of the West, making travel by railroad much safer, along with enabling businessmen to carry out their business in a more profitable manner.

Thomas Alva Edison: Born on the 11th of February, 1847, Thomas Edison is famous for inventing the light bulb, which he did towards the latter part of 1879. In fact, the version he created in 1880, had practically all the features of the modern light bulb, including an incandescent filament in an evacuated and transparent glass bulb, along with a base that could be screwed on to a holder. He is also credited for inventing the phonograph and the fluoroscope, which is an X-ray machine that has a source of X-ray along with a fluorescent screen, which enables direct observation. He died on the 18th of October, 1931.

Alexander Graham Bell: He was born on the 3rd of March 1857, and died on the 2nd of August 1922. He was one of the most eminent American inventors. It was in the early part of the 1870s, while he was experimenting with the telegraph, when Alexander Graham Bell realized that perhaps the human voice could be transmitted through a wire, with the help of electricity. In fact, he had made a transmission by the month of March, in 1876. However, the sound that was carried was very faint. He continued working on it, and on the 26th of November, he demonstrated that sound could be transmitted clearly, during a critical test, between Cambridge and Salem, in Massachusetts. The instrument functioned as a transmitter as well as a receiver.

The Wright Brothers: Orville Wright, who was born on the 19th of August 1871 and died on the 30th of January, and Wilbur Wright, born on the 16th of April 1867 and died on the 30th of May 1912, are credited with inventing the airplane, as well as making the first controlled and powered human flight, which they demonstrated on the 17th of December 1903. Within two years of that first flight, they developed their flying aircraft into a fixed wing airplane, the first of its kind.

Vladimir Kozmich Zworykin: Born on the 30th of July 1889, he was a Russian born American inventor who pioneered television technology. He was the inventor of a television system that transmitted and received signals using cathode ray tubes. He was partly instrumental in the development of television from the early part of the 1930s, which included charge storage type of tubes, infrared image tubes, as well as the electron microscope. Many biographers have named him the real inventor of television, although others dispute it. He died on the 29th of July 1982.

Raymond Samuel Tomlinson: Born in 1941, he graduated from MIT. He is one of the pioneering figures of the Internet, since he worked on ARPANET, which was the precursor of the Internet. His greatest gift to society was an email system, which he devised in 1971, thus fostering the global communication system of today.

Charles Darwin Biography

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury in England on 12th February, 1809. His father was a wealthy doctor and financier, Robert Darwin and his mother was Susannah Darwin. Although Robert Darwin was a freethinker, Charles was baptized in the Anglican Church in keeping with his mother’s religious beliefs. Charles had 5 siblings and they attended the day school run by the preacher of a Unitarian Chapel.

Early Years

Robert Darwin wanted his son to become a doctor, and even sent him to University of Edinburgh to study medicine. But seeing the brutality of surgery, Charles neglected his studies. He pursued his interests in taxidermy, natural history, marine biology, botany and zoology. He joined the Plinian Society which was a student group interested in natural history. He also became a pupil of Robert Edmund Grant who followed Lamarck’s theory of evolution by advanced characteristics. He also attended Robert Jameson’s natural history course and learned geology and plant classification.

His father recognized his son’s lack of interest in medicine and enrolled him into the Bachelor of Arts program at Christ College. This way he thought that his son would become a clergyman and get a good income. But Charles was just not interested. He studied botany with the Reverend John Stevens Henslow. He was also enthusiastic about William Paley’s writings about the divine design in Nature. When his exams were due, Charles managed to pass them.

Career as a Naturalist

Charles joined the geology course of Reverend Adam Sedgwick. Reverend Henslow then sent a letter to Robert FitzRoy, who was the captain of the HMS Beagle, recommending Charles as his gentleman companion on his voyage to chart the coastline of South America. The voyage lasted 5 years. Darwin spent a majority of that time on land and collected a variety of fossils and specimens of living organisms, studied many a geological features and made extensive notes. These were later published as ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’. Since that voyage, Charles suffered from frequent bouts of fever.

Charles observed in this voyage, that the landmasses were rising with the passage of time. He concluded this by observing the geological strata, marine and plant life, fossils and observing the variety of birds present on the islands of South America. Studying the mockingbirds and tortoises in the area, the theory of the origin of the species began to take root in his mind. Meanwhile Charles kept sending back specimens and letters describing his findings, which became greatly admired.

In 1836, when he returned from his voyage, he was already quite famous. He had proved himself as a competent naturalist. Upon his return, Henslow also advised him to find naturalists to describe and catalog his collections, while Henslow took his botanical specimens. Through Charles Lyell, Darwin met Richard Owen and began to analyze the various fossils that he had found on his voyage. The results were astounding. The fossils contained bones of huge sloths and the extinct Glyptodon.

In 1837 he presented his paper on the rising landmasses to the Geological Society of London and presented his mammal and bird specimens to the Zoological Society. He also moved to London and interacted with several prominent members of the scientific society, including Charles Babbage and John Herschel. He also received a grant of 1000 Pounds for his book ‘Zoology of the Voyage of the HMS Beagle’.

Darwin’s health began to suffer. He was under a lot of pressure to complete his book. He began to have heart palpitations and went to Maer Hall to visit his maternal cousins and to relax. It was then that he also studied earthworms. He used this information to deliver a paper to the Geological Society about the process of soil formation and the role of the earthworms. This was when he met Emma Wedgwood.

In 1838, Darwin became the secretary of the Geological Society. Meanwhile he continued with his studies of transmutation of the species. At that time, Darwin read Malthus’ ‘An Essay on the Principle of Population’ which proved to be an inspiration to his theory of natural selection.

In 1837, Charles visited his maternal cousins. That was where he first met Emma Wedgwood. She was nine months older to him. During 1838, he kept on falling ill on and off. It was during this time, that he began to contemplate marriage. He wanted to marry Emma, but kept putting it off. He even visited her once in July 1838, but did not propose. He returned to Maer Hall in November and finally proposed to Emma. She accepted. They were married in January 1839. Charles and Emma had 10 children of which 2 died in infancy and his daughter Anne died when she was 10 years old. Charles was quite an attentive and devoted father.

Whenever any of his children fell ill, he greatly feared that his children may have inherited weaknesses. This was because Emma was his cousin and he studied the effects of inbreeding among the species as a matter of course. The death of Anne left him devastated and destroyed any feeling he had for a benevolent God.

Charles Darwin and The Theory of Evolution

Throughout this time Charles was working on his theory of natural selection. However, he feared revealing the theory to the world at large because he saw the critics debunk similar theories posed by other scientists such as Alfred Russel Wallace. Also several prominent scientists of the time like Thomas Henry Huxley were dead set against evolution. However, he did manage to convey a brief idea of his theories to his botanist friend Joseph Dalton Hooker who showed a positive response and a keen interest. These and similar events urged him on. The death of his daughter Anne also contributed to creating a feeling within him that there was no benevolent God.

Meanwhile he published a book on coral reefs and also published his research on barnacles. In November 1859, his book The Origin of Species was published and was sold out. The book generated a lot of controversy and criticism. Yet, the common man was hooked on to the theory. The Church reacted and stood against him; chief among those anti this theory were his old teachers Henslow and Sedgwick. However, Darwin was too ill to take part in these debates and was defended by his friend Joseph Dalton Hooker. He also wrote to several people and garnered a lot of support for his work.

He pursued with his work nevertheless. He wanted to clarify certain aspects of his book in later works. But his daughter fell ill and he accompanied her to a seaside resort. There he developed an interest in orchids and the process of pollination and cross fertilization.

Finally as the amount of his writings grew and grew, in 1871, he published ‘The Descent of Man, and The Selection in Relation to Sex’. In 1872 he published ‘The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals’. In this book he focused on the process of the evolution of man’s psychology and how it related to animal behavior. This was the birth of evolutionary psychology as we know it today. He also wrote a book titled ‘The Power of Movement in Plants’ where he focused on methods of fertilization in plants and also on the effect of earthworms in soil formation.

Charles Darwin died on the 19th of April, 1882. He is buried in Westminster Abbey, quite close to where John Herschel and Isaac Newton have been buried.