Independant Discoveries

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As I have mentioned in previous post that after my Matric (class X) I became increasingly interested in science history. I decided to write an article for my college magazine. The topic was related to science history. The main theme of the article was scientific discoveries made by two or more scientists independantly of each other. I became interested in this topic after learning in calculus text book that it was discovered by Isaac Newton and Gotfried W Leibniz independantly of each other. There were about 40 entries. One section was completely devouted to the discovery of chemical elements. My handwriting was not good, so I asked one of my friend, now Dr Bilal Saeed, to write it for me. He dedicatedly wrote it for me. However I was not able to send it for publication as I became  somewhat late. Moreover I was not able to write opening paragraph as I was not that much good in English at that time. For article I consulted various encyclopedias, textbooks and science history books. I kept the article for a long time. Now it is not available with me. So I am sharing some of these discoveries from my memory.

  1. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), German mathematician and philospher, developed calculus independently of English scientist Isaac Newton (1642-1727), and Leibniz’s mathematical notation has been widely used ever since it was published. Issac Newton discovered calculus years before Leibniz but published his work much later. Following Wikipedia article explains the controversy in much detail. Following the death of Leibniz, Newton is reported to have declared that he had taken great satisfaction in “breaking Leibniz’s heart.”
  2. Analytic geometry, also called coordinate geometry, is a mathematical subject in which algebraic symbolism and methods are used to represent and solve problems in geometry. The importance of analytic geometry is that it establishes a correspondence between geometric curves and algebraic equations. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) and Pierre de Fermat (1607-1665), both French, independently founded analytic geometry in the 1630s.
  3. Boyle’s law states that the volume of a gas increases when the pressure decreases at a constant temperature. British chemist and physicist Robert Boyle (1627-1691) published the original law in 1662. The French physicist Edme Mariotte (1620–1684) discovered the same law independently of Boyle in 1676. The law is sometimes reffered as Boyle-Mariotte law.
  4. English physicist George Paget Thomson (1892-1975) was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1937 for his work in discovering the wave-like properties of the electron. The prize was shared with American physicist Clinton Joseph Davisson (1881-1958) who had made the same discovery independently.
  5. In 1963 American physicist Sheldon Lee Glashow (1932-) proposed that the weak nuclear force and electricity and magnetism could arise from a partially unified electroweak theory. In 1967, Pakistani Abdus Salam (1926-1996) and American Steven Weinberg (1933-) independently revised Glashow’s theory. For their insights, Salam, Glashow and Weinberg were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979.
  6. A quark is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei. The quark model was independently proposed by American physicists Murray Gell-Mann (1929-) and George Zweig (1937-) in 1964. The introduction of quarks provided a cornerstone for particle physics. In 1969 Murray Gell-Mann received the Nobel Prize in physics for his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions.
  7. Oxygen was independently discovered by Swedish Chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786), in 1773 or earlier, and English chemist Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) in 1774, but Priestley is often given priority because his work was published first. Antoine Lavoisier, a French chemist, also discovered oxygen in 1775, was the first to recognize it as an element, and coined its name “oxygen” – which comes from a Greek word that means “acid-former”.
  8. The Brønsted–Lowry theory is an acid-base theory that was proposed independently by Danish physical chemist Johannes Nicolaus Brønsted (1879-1947) and English physical chemist Thomas Martin Lowry (1874-1936) in 1923. The Bronsted-Lowery concept of acids and bases is that acid-base reactions can be seen as proton-transfer reactions.
  9. Both Charles Roberet Darwin (1809-1882) and Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) are credited for independently proposing a theory of evolution due to natural selection. Darwin began formulating his theory of natural selection in the late 1830s but he went on working quietly on it for twenty years. During those years he corresponded briefly with Wallace. He sent Darwin his theory in 1858, which, to Darwin’s shock, nearly replicated Darwin’s own.
  10. The laws of inheritance were derived by Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), a 19th-century Austrian priest-monk conducting hybridization experiments in garden peas. From these experiments, he deduced two generalizations which later became known as Mendel’s Principles of Heredity or Mendelian inheritance. He described these principles in a two-part paper, “Experiments on Plant Hybridization”, that he read to the Natural History Society of Brno on February 8 and March 8, 1865, and which was published in 1866. Mendel’s conclusions were largely ignored. In 1900, however, his work was “re-discovered” independently by three European scientists, Dutch Hugo de Vries (1848-1935), German Carl Correns (1864-1933) and Austrian Erich von Tschermak (1871-1962). The exact nature of the “re-discovery” has been somewhat debated.

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