Thomas Wedgwood: the Uncle of Photography

Thomas Wedgwood (1771–1805)

As historians of science are forever reminding us (although nobody listens to those killjoys), we enter dangerous territory when we start to discuss the ‘first’ person to do X, the ‘lone genius’ who invented Y, or the ‘Father of’ Great Idea Z.

W.B. Tegetmeier

WB Tegetmeier

This article was first published on 04-Nov-2012: William Bernhardt Tegetmeier's 196th birthday. For every giant that strides the scientific world like a colossus, there are many thousands more mini-heroes of science whose contributions are sometimes overlooked or forgotten. One of my particular favourite mini-heroes is William Bernhardt Tegetmeier, whose 196th birthday gives me the perfect…

Sir Richard Owen: the archetypal villain

Sir Richard Owen (1804–1892).

What a strange man to be envious of a naturalist like myself, immeasurably his inferior! —Charles Darwin to J.S. Henslow 8th May, 1860 If ever an example were sought of the old dictum that history is written by the victors, we need look no further than that of the brilliant Victorian anatomist and palaeontologist, Sir…

FitzRoy's Bicentenary

Robert FitzRoy’s name is forever associated with—and has been eclipsed by—Darwin’s. The poor man has received something of a bad press over the years. He is remembered as a bad-tempered, religious fundamentalist who refused to see the self-evident truth of evolution, despite having travelled the world for five years in the company of Charles Darwin. But he deserves to be remembered as more than the tragically misguided figure who fell out with Darwin: he was a fascinating and complex man, whose sense of duty and strong moral values drove him to great feats—and more than once landed him in trouble.