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Heroes of Progress: Wilhelm Rontgen

Wilhelm Rontgen

Wilhelm Rontgen

The German scientist was the first person to identify electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength that we today know as an x-ray.

The most common usage of x-rays includes detecting broken or fractured bones, heart problems, breast cancer, scoliosis, and tumors. X-ray machines are used to help save the lives of millions of people.

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Louis Pasteur
Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur is known as the father of microbiology. He is renowned for developing the germ theory of disease, creating the process of pasteurization, and for changing the way sci...

The life of Louis Pasteur
  • He was born on December 27, 1827, to a poor Catholic family in Jura, France.
  • In 1842, he graduated with a degree in science from the Royal College of Besançon. A year later, he started studying at École Normale Supérieure, and in 1848, Pasteur was appointed professor of chemistry at the University of Strasbourg.
  • In 1856, Pasteur started to study fermentation to help a local wine manufacturer overcome the problem of alcohol souring.
The "spontaneous generation" theory

Before Pasteur, people believed the doctrine of "spontaneous generation" - that life spontaneously appeared from non-living matter.

This theory was used to explain why food spoiled and how infection developed. Pasteur disproved this theory.

Lucy Wills
Lucy Wills

Lucy Wills was a hematologist who discovered that folic acid could be used to prevent life-threatening types of anemia in pregnant women.

Will's research into women's health...

The life of Lucy Wills
  • Lucy Wills was born on May 10, 1888, in Sutton Coldfield, England.
  • Her father was a science graduate, and her mother was the daughter of a doctor, thus she received a robust scientific education.
  • In 1903, she attended Cheltenham School that train female students in science and mathematics.
  • In 1907, Wills began studying natural sciences and botany at Newnham College, an all-women's college.
  • In 1915, Wills enrolled at the London School of Medicine for Women and became qualified in 1920.
  • She taught and researched in the department of pregnant pathology at the Royal Free Teaching Hospital in London.
Starting to study anemia

In 1928, Lucy Wills was recruited to India and tasked to investigate why millions of pregnant women in the developing world suffered from a severe and often deadly form of anemia.

She found the red blood cells of anemic pregnant women were extremely swollen and consequently not carrying enough hemoglobin. Wills first thought that a bacteria or virus might have caused anemia. But she noticed that richer women in India who had a more nutritious diet were less likely to become anemic during pregnancy.

Johannes Gutenberg
Johannes Gutenberg

He was a 15th-century German goldsmith and inventor and is known for creating the first metal movable-type printing press.

Gutenberg's inventions included a process for mass...

The printing revolution

Johannes Gutenberg's ideas started a printing revolution, as they accelerated the spread of information.

The printing press was used to fuel the later part of the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution, making possible the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Johannes Gutenberg's life
  • He was born into a wealthy patrician merchant family between 1394 and 1404 in the city of Mainz. He grew up learning the trade of goldsmithing.
  • In 1411, the Gutenbergs were exiled after an uprising against the patrician class.
  • He ended up living in Strasbourg, where he was a goldsmith and a member of the Strasbourg militia.
  • He created metal hand mirrors that pilgrims bought and used when visiting holy sites.
  • In 1440, Gutenberg supposedly declared he had perfected the art of printing.
  • In 1448, Gutenberg moved back to Mainz, and with a loan from his brother-in-law, he built an operating printing press in 1450.
  • With a working press, Gutenberg got a wealthy moneylender, Johann Fust, to lend him more capital to fund further refinement of the printing process.