. 18
( 21)


because molecular energy states are discrete and His conclusions had important effects on ideas
precisely defined. Thus the ammonia molecule about the scale of the universe.
(NH3) may flip between two configurations rather More recent work has shown that starlight is
like an umbrella blowing inside-out, but with the polarized by the interstellar dust, which implies
absorption of a specific microwave frequency, of that its grains are elongated and partly aligned,
1.25 cm wavelength. probably as a result of magnetic effects.
Tswett, Michel, also Mikhail Tsvet [tsvet] (1872“
In 1951, Townes realized that a wave of photons
could be amplified in a practical way by the spon- 1919) Russian botanist: developed the technique of
taneous emission process first suggested by chromatography.
Einstein. That is, if a molecule in the higher energy The son of a Russian father and an Italian mother,
state is stimulated by photons of just the correct Tswett was educated in Switzerland and held posts
frequency, it will fall back to its lower state and in Poland and Russia. His research was mainly on
emit another photon of precisely the same fre- plant pigments and it was to separate these that he
quency or energy. If there are fewer molecules in effectively introduced chromatography, although
the lower energy state to absorb photons than in as with most inventions, precursors of success can
the upper state, a net amplification results. He also be traced. In 1903 Tswett separated his plant leaf
recognized that if the wave is reflected back and colours (chlorophyll a and b, carotenes and xantho-
forth in a resonant cavity, it interacts with the mol- phylls) by passing the mixture, dissolved in light
ecules for some time, steadily gaining more energy petroleum, down a column of powdered chalk.
or amplification and resulting in a coherent output Distinct colour bands developed in the column and
signal consisting of a wavetrain of extremely well- could be easily separated with a knife. By the 1930s
defined frequency. and especially after the Second World War this
To obtain ammonia with many molecules in the method of column chromatography (usually using
higher energy state, Townes took advantage of alumina) and later its variants “ notably ion-
molecular beam techniques, separating out a beam exchange, thin layers, paper chromatography and
of molecules in a high energy state with a non- gas-liquid chromatography (both the last due to
uniform electric field. This ˜population inversion™ Martin) “ became essential chemical methods.
method, giving a majority of the high- rather than Chromatography did for chemical analysis what
low-energy molecules, then provided a working the computer did for calculation.
Tull, Jethro (1674“1741) English agriculturist and
amplifier and oscillator (1954). It was called a maser
(microwave amplification by stimulated emission engineer: his inventions began the mechanization
of radiation). A somewhat similar idea was sug- of crop production.
gested in the Soviet Union by A Prokhorov (1916“ Tull, educated at Oxford and a qualified barrister,
2002) and Basov. gave up law for a healthier life as a country farmer.
Masers were soon used in atomic clocks and in Agriculture at the time had no tradition of system-
sensitive receivers, for example for radio telescopes atic experimentation or of mechanization, but the
and space communications. In 1958 Townes and Enclosure Acts (which made larger plots available)
Schawlow showed that an optical version of the and new scientific attitudes encouraged change.
maser (the laser, for ˜light amplification by stimu- Cereal and root crops were still sown broadcast and
lated emission of radiation™) was possible, and dis- weeding was difficult. Tull had visited French vine-
cussed its properties and oscillation theoretically. yards and concluded that breaking the soil
The first operating system was constructed, how- between rows of vines to clear weed, aerate and
ever, by Maiman (1960), and now many versions are allow access of water was important. To apply his
made. ideas to cereal and root crops he invented the seed
Townes, Prokhorov and Basov were awarded the drill. This device, drawn by one horse, had three
1964 Nobel Prize for physics ˜for fundamental work cutters that made parallel slots in the soil: behind
in the field of quantum electronics, which had led the cutters, hoppers dropped seed into the grooves
Tyndall, John

and a harrow covered the sown seeds with soil. Turing was a near-Olympic-standard long-distance
With the seed-drill three operations became one. runner. He was also an active homosexual at a time
Tull followed this with an improved horse-drawn when this was a criminal offence. In 1952 he reported
hoe to operate between the rows; and went on to to the police that a young male Manchester print-
design improved ˜plows™ for both light and heavy worker, with whom he was having an affair, was
soils. All were described in his book The New Horse- involved in the theft of some goods from his house.
Houghing Husbandry (1733); his methods were only This was unwise of Turing, because it led foresee-
slowly adopted in Europe, but more quickly in ably and inevitably to him being charged with gross
North America. Thanks to Tull™s careful experi- indecency, and convicted. He was placed on proba-
mentation, crop yields were eventually improved tion and required to accept hormone drug treat-
and food supplies were generally adequate to meet ment. He seemed remarkably unaffected by all of
the needs of the rapid population growth after 1790. this, although exasperated by some of the effects of
Turing, Alan (Mathison) [tooring] (1912“54) British the drug, but a year after the probation and the
mathematician and computer scientist: math- treatment ended, he was found dead in his bed,
ematically formalized the concept of the theoretical with potassium cyanide and a partly eaten apple
computer. nearby. A rather casual inquest concluded that his
After graduating from Cambridge, Turing was death was due to suicide.
Tuve, Merle Antony (1901“82) US geophysicist: a
elected a Fellow of King™s College there in 1935,
and then spent 2 years in Princeton. In 1937 he pioneer of radio techniques for ionospheric studies.
described a theoretical computer in precise math- Educated at the University of Minnesota and at
ematical terms (the Turing machine), an important Johns Hopkins University, Tuve was appointed to
step that formalized the hitherto vague concept of the department of terrestrial magnetism at the
computability and computable numbers. During Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1926. He is
the Second World War he worked on code-breaking, remembered for pioneering radio techniques for
playing a dominant part in breaking the German studying the upper atmosphere. In 1925 he devel-
naval code, which enabled the Allies ultimately to oped, together with Breit, an early form of radar in
win the crucial Battle of the Atlantic against German order to determine the height of the ionosphere.
submarines. This work was done at Bletchley Park, Tuve also investigated long-range seismic refrac-
under military control which was sensibly relaxed tion by the Earth™s upper mantle, his results sub-
on discipline for the civilian cryptanalysts. Had it sequently providing evidence for the theory of
been otherwise, the Army would no doubt have isostasy, the process whereby areas of crust tend to
become aware of Turing™s barely concealed homo- float in conditions of near-equilibrium on the plastic
sexuality. Such awareness would have led to Turing™s mantle.
Twort, Frederick William (1877“1950) British
removal, which possibly would have cost the Allies
the Second World War. microbiologist: discovered first virus infection of
After the war, he put his ideas on computing into bacteria (bacteriophage).
practice when he supervised the construction of Qualifying in medicine in London in 1900, Twort
the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at the became a professor of bacteriology there in 1919;
National Physical Laboratory, and at Manchester he was eccentric and reclusive. In 1915 when study-
where he was assistant director of the work on ing staphylococci he noticed that some cultures
MADAM (Manchester Automatic Digital Machine). became transparent, and he traced the effect to an
His work on the design of such machines and the agent which was infecting the cocci. He offered
way in which they could be programmed was of several possible explanations for the effect, includ-
great significance in the development of the com- ing virus action, and planned to continue the work,
puter, but his concept of an automatic electronic but army service in the First World War inter-
digital computer with internal program storage rupted him and he did not take it up again, but
could not be realized until after his death, when expended much effort in an attempt to show that
advances in electronics made it possible. pathogenic bacteria were descendants of non-path-
In 1952 Turing attacked the problem of the forma- ogenic types. In 1917 F H d™Herelle (1873“1949)
tion of shapes and patterns in biology; the range found a similar result with some mixed cultures
includes flower patterns, bone symmetry and the of dysentery bacilli, and named the infective
tiger™s stripes. He argued that chemicals diffusing agent bacteriophage (˜phage™); vigorous dispute on
through tissue and reacting can explain such pattern priority followed, which was not resolved until
formation, and he devised equations that describe a dis- adjudication (in Twort™s favour) by one Professor
tribution of reactants that can lead from homogeneity Flu of Leiden in the 1930s. Twort™s laboratory and
to pattern formation. These ideas have been much records were entirely destroyed by German bombs
developed since then, and the problem is far from in 1944. Since the 1950s, these viruses which infect
solved, but Turing™s work was a valuable starting point. bacteria have been much studied; many strains
Turing was also interested in artificial intelli- exist, and some have proved of great value in
gence and developed a useful criterion for an intel- genetic engineering.
Tyndall, John [tindl] (1820“93) British physicist:
ligent machine: that it would be able to answer
enquiries over a data-link in a manner indistin- made pioneering studies of heat and the scattering
guishable from a human being. of light.
Tyndall, John

Tyndall lacked a university education, leaving such scattering. Following Rayleigh™s work on the
school to work as a surveyor and civil engineer in frequency-dependence of the scattering of light,
Ireland. He subsequently studied physical sciences Tyndall was the first to realize why the sky is blue:
at Marburg in Germany and became first a pro- atmospheric dust particles scatter the shorter
fessor and later director of the Royal Institution. wavelength (blue) components of sunlight to a
He was a talented lecturer and popularizer of greater degree than the longer wavelength (red)
science. components. His interest in airborne particles led
Tyndall™s early research was on diamagnetism, him to study airborne microorganisms and to sup-
but he is chiefly remembered for his studies of heat. port Pasteur™s arguments against spontaneous
He measured the thermal conductivity of crystals generation in the 1870s. Practical innovations due
along their different axes, investigated the effect of to him include an improved fog horn for use at sea,
radiant heat on gases and made pioneering studies and the fireman™s respirator.
of glaciers (he was also one of the first men to climb He died tragically. His devoted wife confused two
the Matterhorn). His studies of the scattering of medicines he took routinely and gave him an exces-
light by fine particles in the air and in liquids sive dose of his sleeping draught (chloral); anti-
resulted in his discovery in 1859 of the Tyndall dotes failed and he died within hours. She survived
effect, whereby a beam of light is made visible by him by 47 years.

Uhlenbeck, George Eugene [ulenbek] (1900“88)
Dutch“US physicist: discovered that electrons
possess spin.
Uhlenbeck emigrated to the USA once he had
completed his PhD at Leiden (1927), and worked at
the University of Michigan (1927“60), where he
became professor of theoretical physics in 1939.
From 1960“74 he held a post at the Rockefeller
Medical Research Center in New York.
In 1925 Uhlenbeck and Goudsmit collaborated
on an experiment whereby a horizontal beam of
silver atoms was split by a vertical magnetic field
into two components. This occurred because the
electrons in the silver atoms possess ˜spin™, the
name arbitrarily given to their property of having
half a quantum unit of momentum directed either
up or down in the applied magnetic field. The
result was that the silver atoms were deflected
according to their spin. This was the first observa-
tion of this purely quantum mechanical effect, and
was an early piece of evidence that the new quantum George Uhlenbeck (left) and Samuel Goudsmit (fore-
mechanics was both necessary and correct. ground) in 1926.

THE ORIGIN OF LIFE ON EARTH: sible™ in 1878 and DARWIN in 1871 had speculated
AN UNSOLVED PROBLEM that protein, a characteristic chemical type found in
all living things, might have originated in ˜some
There is now a consensus of informed opinion on warm little pond™. In the early 1900s ARRHENIUS sug-
some important dates in the Earth™s history. Several gested that life on Earth might have begun through
lines of astronomical evidence point to the ˜Big the arrival of organisms from elsewhere in the uni-
Bang™, the high-temperature, high-density event verse (the theory of ˜panspermia™) and in the 1970s
when the universe began, as occurring roughly 15 this proposal was revived by HOYLE, but has found
billion years ago. Then about 4.5 billion years ago, little support.
the Sun and then the Earth formed, essentially by the A valuable proposal was made by the Soviet bio-
accretion of dust and small particles, and without chemist OPARIN and independently by HALDANE, who
living forms of any kind for its first billion years. argued that the early atmosphere of the Earth con-
About 3.5 billion years ago, life appeared: the oldest tained little free oxygen (O2), and that this was gener-
known fossilized microorganisms, found in datable ated much later as a result of photosynthesis by
rock formations in Western Australia, are of that age. green plants, a view now generally accepted.
So began life on Earth, with its defining characteris- By the 1950s a good deal of information more or
tic, the ability to replicate itself through the storage less relevant to the problem of the origin of life had
and passing on of genetic information from genera- been accumulated. For example, reasonably well-
tion to generation. Rather slowly the first primitive, based estimates of the origin, age and composition of
single-cell microorganism led, through evolutionary the universe and of the solar system and of the Earth
changes that are now understood in outline, to the were available, and a range of simple organic com-
whole range of multicell plants and animals known pounds (but none characteristic of living forms)
today. Modern man and woman (Homo sapiens) is had been identified in the dust and gas of space
about 50 000“100 000 years old. beyond Earth™s atmosphere and in meteorites arriv-
PASTEUR™S work in the 1860s established that ing on the Earth™s surface from the outer parts of the
˜spontaneous generation™ of life does not occur in system.
laboratory conditions, although his experiments did In 1952 UREY argued that the important energy
not exclude all possibility. He ˜did not think it impos- source for early geochemical and prebiotic

Urey, Harold Clayton

chemical reactions was very probably the stream of acids, leading perhaps to proteins and on to the
solar ultraviolet radiation, together possibly with simplest living cells, could form a satisfactory model
lightning discharges and meteor impacts; and that for the origin of life, is clearly unsatisfactory. In any
the early (˜primordial™) Earth™s atmosphere was com- case, as A G Cairns-Smith pointed out, it is hard to
posed mainly of CH4, NH3, H2 and H2O. The next year see how a thin soup could organize its amino acids
his co-worker S L MILLER passed electric discharges and proteins in a way describable as ˜life™ rather than
through this mixture and showed that within a week merely undergoing unfruitful chemical interactions.
an impressive range of organic molecules was Despite much effort by many investigators (theo-
formed, including no fewer than 25 amino acids. rists, analysts and experimentalists), the question of
Amino acids react rather easily together to form how life originated remains very open indeed. There
protein, whose presence is so ubiquitous in living is fairly widespread belief that the simpler class of
systems. nucleic acid, RNA, probably formed at an early stage
However, the discovery by CRICK and WATSON (also in the path to the first, and doubtless very simple,
in 1953) of the double helix of the nucleic acid DNA as living cells. From RNA, it is not difficult to see in
the key material forming the genes, a discovery which general terms how protein and then simple cells may
effectively created the new science of molecular have developed; and thereafter, evolution may have
biology, generated a new difficulty for theorists of the followed a broadly understood network of increasing
origin of life. By 1958 Crick laid down the ˜central complexity. But how did the RNA, a rather complex
dogma™ of the new science: that the direction of flow biopolymer, originate? A credible route to it from the
of chemical synthesis in living systems is one-way and fairly simple organic molecules that might have been
irreversible, in the sense: ˜DNA makes RNA, and RNA available has yet to be devised.
makes protein™. (Exceptions to this have proved to be The mystery remains. It may prove to be unsolv-
rare, but cases are known: the retroviruses contain able, permanently. Likewise the question of whether
RNA as the genetic molecule, and this makes the more life only exists on Earth and if not, whether it began
complex DNA, a reversal of the general rule.) here or came here, may be unanswerable.
So the idea that a thin ˜primordial soup™ of amino

Urey, Harold Clayton [yooree] (1893“1981) US afterwards in the work on securing tritium for
physical chemist: pioneered isotope separation the H-bomb. The same expertise led him to an
methods and their application. ingenious way of measuring the past temperature
Although originally a graduate from Montana in of the oceans, and to ideas on the origin of the
zoology, Urey soon turned to chemistry, first in Earth and life upon it. He believed that the Earth
industry and then at university, and following a was formed by the cold accretion of mainly
year with Bohr he afterwards spent his career in metallic particles and that it had a primitive reduc-
chemical physics at four US universities. In 1932 he ing atmosphere; and that the Moon was formed
isolated deuterium, the heavy isotope of hydrogen, separately. Later work has given broad support for
and went on to devise a large-scale process for his views, developed by 1952; and the next year
obtaining heavy water (D2O) by electrolysis, which Miller in Urey™s laboratory carried out successful
slightly concentrates it, and to examine a range of experiments on the synthesis of organic compounds
deuterium compounds. His expertise on isotope from an atmosphere on the Urey model. Urey won
separation gave him a critical role in the Second a Nobel Prize in 1934. His introduction of isotopi-
World War in the atomic bomb project (which cally labelled compounds has been of immense
required the separation of uranium isotopes) and value in chemistry, physics, biology and medicine.

Van Allen, James (Alfred) (1914“ ) US physicist: van Leeuwenhoek, Antony see Leeuwenhoek
van ™t Hoff, Jacobus Henrikus see Hoff
discovered the magnetosphere (the Van Allen radi-
Van Vleck, John (Hasbrouck) (1899“1980) US
ation belts).
Van Allen was educated at Iowa Wesleyan College physicist: a major contributor to modern theories
and the University of Iowa. During the Second of magnetic systems.
World War he served in the US Navy, helping to Van Vleck™s father and grandfather were both
develop the radio proximity fuse for missiles and eminent mathematicians. Van Vleck emerged from
anti-aircraft shells. Afterwards he worked at Johns study at Wisconsin and Harvard to take up a post at
Hopkins University, and was appointed professor of Minnesota in 1923. He later returned to chairs at
physics at the University of Iowa in 1951. Wisconsin and Harvard.
Van Allen™s contributions, to a large extent, Van Vleck largely founded the modern theory of
reflected his war-time experiences with rocketry magnetism, taking Dirac™s quantum mechanics
and miniaturized electronics. After the war he used and working out the implications for the magnetic
left-over German V-2 rockets to carry instruments properties of atoms. In 1932 he published The Theory
to measure cosmic radiation into the upper atmos- of Electric and Magnetic Susceptibilities, which laid out
phere, and in 1958 put a Geiger radiation counter the theory and which remains in use today as a clas-
on the first American satellite, Explorer 1. This and sic text. In it the paramagnetic properties of atoms
later Explorer satellites revealed a region of high are discussed; the temperature-independent sus-
levels of radiation at a height of several hundred ceptibility is now called Van Vleck paramagnetism.
kilometres above the Earth. More detailed investi- He also studied chemical bonding in crystals and
gation has since shown that there are in fact two developed the crystal field and ligand field theo-
toroidal (doughnut-shaped) belts, which are cre- ries. These allow one to predict and explain some
ated by charged particles (electrons and protons) features of magnetic, electrical and spectroscopic
from the Sun being trapped by the Earth™s mag- properties of metal compounds. Furthermore,
netic field. These Van Allen radiation belts consti- Van Vleck explained how local magnetic moment
tute the Earth™s magnetosphere. formation is assisted by electron correlation (the
van Beneden, Edouard see Beneden interaction between the motion of electrons). His
Van de Graaff, Robert (Jemison) (1901“67) US wartime work resulted in showing how water and
physicist: invented the Van de Graaff generator. oxygen in the atmosphere give rise to absorption of
Van de Graaff had a varied education, studying radar signals, and was important in devising useful
engineering at the University of Alabama and radar systems.
physics at the Sorbonne, where he was attracted to Van Vleck has been described as ˜one of the few
particle physics by Marie Curie™s lectures, and true gentlemen and scholars™; he was a quiet man
Oxford. On returning to the USA in 1929 he worked with charm. In 1977 his pioneering research was
at Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of recognized with a joint award of the Nobel Prize for
Technology, becoming associate professor of physics physics.
Vauquelin, Louis Nicolas [vohkl˜ (1763“1829)
at the latter in 1934. i]
While a research student at Oxford, Van de Graaff French analytical chemist: discoverer of chromium
realized that the conventional means of generating and beryllium.
static electricity, the Wimshurst machine, could be As a boy Vauquelin worked in the fields with his
greatly improved by storing the charge on a hollow peasant father; he did well at school, and at 14 was
metal sphere. In 1929 his first model of the Van de sent to work in an apothecary™s shop, at first in
Graaff generator achieved potentials of up to 80 kV, Rouen and then in Paris. Soon the chemist A F de
and he subsequently built versions capable of gen- Fourcroy (1755“1809) heard of his enthusiasm for
erating millions of volts. The Van de Graaff genera- chemistry and took him on as an assistant, and
tor has been an important tool in atomic and nuclear later as a friend and co-worker. Vauquelin rescued
physics for accelerating charged particles, and in a Swiss soldier from a mob during the French
medical and industrial X-ray equipment where Revolution, and as a result had to leave Paris in
high voltages are required. In 1960 Van de Graaff 1793; but he soon returned and in 1809 he suc-
resigned his post at MIT to become chief scientist at ceeded Fourcroy as professor there.
the High Voltage Engineering Corporation, a com- In 1797 he examined the rare, brilliant orange
pany he had formed in 1946 to develop and market mineral crocoite and discovered in it a new metal,
such devices. which he named chromium. Crocoite is actually
van de Hulst, Hendrik Christofell see Hulst lead chromate, PbCrO4; Vauquelin obtained Cr2O3
van der Waals, Johannes Diderik see Waals from it and, by strongly heating this with charcoal,
van Helmont, Jan Baptista see Helmont secured the metal as a powder. The next year he
Vavilov, Nikolai Ivanovitch

studied specimens of the minerals beryl and emer- measurements by the conventional pendulum
ald sent to him by the mineralogist Haüy, who sus- technique impossible. Vening Meinesz realized
pected from their crystal forms that they were that a submarine might provide a sufficiently
chemically identical. Vauquelin proved that this stable base and, with the assistance of the Dutch
was correct and that emerald owes its green colour navy, he made the first marine gravity determina-
to traces of chromium; both minerals are beryllium tions in the Pacific in 1923, finding that he could
aluminosilicate. He realized that a new metal (beryl- obtain results consistent within 1 mgal, compara-
lium) was present, which he was not able to isolate; ble with land-based measurements, using three
this was achieved in 1828 by Wöhler. Vauquelin pendulums in an ingenious cradle. From the mea-
was also the first to isolate an amino acid; this was surements made during a total of 10 such voyages
asparagine, which he got from asparagus. Vening Meinesz discovered a belt of negative gravity
Vavilov, Nikolai Ivanovitch [vavilof] (1887“1943) anomalies beneath the deep submarine trenches
Russian botanist and plant geneticist: a pioneer of associated with island arcs. He correctly inter-
cross-breeding to improve crops. (Photograph on p. 365) preted this as being due a subduction zone, ie a
Trained in Moscow and with Bateson at the John compressive down-buckling of the oceanic crust
Innes Horticultural Institute at Merton in Surrey, below the continental crust. He did not support ideas
Vavilov returned to Russia in 1914 and quickly rose on continental drift, but when this became estab-
to become, by 1920, director of the All Union lished his results fitted in with modern tectonic
Institute of Plant Industry, controlling over 400 plate theory.
Venter, Craig (1945“ ) US molecular biologist:
research institutes in the USSR with 20 000 staff by
1934. Between 1916 and 1933 he led plant-collect- head of Celera Genomics; a dynamic contributor to
ing expeditions all over the world, the intention elucidation of the human genome.
being to conserve and use the valuable genetic Venter grew up to be a high-school drop-out at 17
resources in wild and cultivated plants on which whose time was spent swimming, surfing, boat-
crop improvement depends. He devised useful the- building and sailing in San Francisco Bay (his par-
ories on where centres of genetic diversity are to be ents had met in the Marines), until call-up in 1965.
found by plant hunters. His programme was very Briefly a naval swimming instructor, he came high-
successful, his collection of new plants reaching est in an IQ test of 35 000 conscripts, scoring 144,
250 000 by 1940; it was the largest-scale enterprise and was rewarded by a four-month course in basic
of its kind and the model for later work of this sort. medicine, before service as an orderly in a naval
Vavilov supported the ideas in genetics due to hospital. The brutal experience of the Vietnam War
Mendel and to Morgan, and this was to prove fatal. led him to study biochemistry, physiology and
The politically active Marxist botanist T D Lysenko pharmacology on his release in 1968; he achieved a
(1898“1976), who had reverted to a Lamarckian doctorate in minimal time (six years) and became a
view, resented his success; Vavilov was arrested in molecular biologist impatient to see the subject
1940 while plant collecting, charged with ˜right- advance, and was soon working at NIH in Maryland
wing activities™ and sentenced to death after a 5- which was involved in the HGP from its inception
minute trial; his name was erased from all records. in 1990. He was there until 1992, and after that
He died about 2 years later of starvation in a labour headed genome research in the ˜commercial sector™
camp, an ironic fate for the man who did most to which aimed to patent some genetic information
feed Russia during the war by improved agricul- even when its possible clinical applications were
tural methods. His seed collections were largely unknown; an approach strongly opposed by
eaten during the siege of Leningrad. At present he Watson, Sulston and others, and antipathetic to
is re-recognized in Russia and the Vavilov Institute the HGP ˜free access™ philosophy. In 1992, using
is named in his honour. novel methods he had devised for rapid sequenc-
Vening Meinesz, Felix Andries [vayning miynes] ing, Venter obtained the first complete genome for
(1887“1966) Dutch geophysicist: pioneer of subma- a free-living organism, the bacterium H. influenzae,
rine gravity measurements. with 1743 genes. Thereafter, elucidation of the
After graduating in engineering from the Tech- human genome (with many more genes) was seen
nical University of Delft in 1910, Vening Meinesz as clearly achievable; targets were set (NIH in 1993
worked on a Government gravity survey of the planned for success by 2005) and a clear competition
Netherlands. In 1927 he was appointed professor between the ˜private™ and ˜public™ (ie Human Genome
extraordinary of geodesy, cartography and geo- Project, or HGP) organizations was apparent, though
physics at Utrecht, and also professor of geophysics at times denied.
at Delft. His life-long interest was in gravity and the Automated sequencing machines using capillary
deductions he could make from its accurate mea- electrophoresis, and massive computing power to
surement. use the overlaps in DNA fragments to solve the
Gravity determinations can yield useful informa- jigsaw-like problems of deducing larger sequences
tion about underlying geological structure, but from overlaps, opened the way to solving the prob-
very accurate measurements are necessary since lems of the genome in months rather than years.
the variation in gravity is small. However, for the The ebullient, risk-taking Venter exploited these
majority of the Earth™s surface, that covered by techniques in his company, Celera Genomics of
the oceans, the lack of a stable platform makes Rockville, MD. By June 2000 an armistice between
Vine, Frederick John

Celera led by Venter, and the HGP groups centred descriptions and fine woodcuts, some by himself
on the Sanger Centre in Cambridge, England and and the rest made under his direction. The book set
led by Sulston, allowed publication of a ˜working a completely new level of clarity and accuracy in
draft™ of the human genome, and comparison of anatomy and made all earlier work outdated. Many
the contributions the ˜private™ and ˜public™ teams structures are described and drawn in it for the
had made. Further rapid progress followed to check first time (eg the thalamus) and the book also broke
and complete the sequencing, to locate the genes with tradition by its critical view of earlier work (eg
within the DNA chains (which contain much appar- Vesalius notes that he was unable to find a passage
ently redundant sequenced material), and to find for blood between the ventricles of the heart, as
ways in which this wealth of new knowledge (the Galen had assumed). At 29, with his master-work
˜blueprint for the human being™) can provide bene- published, Vesalius became a court physician, at
ficial uses. first to Charles V and then to Philip II of Spain. His
Vernier, Pierre [vairnyay] (1584“1638) French math- research largely ceased. He found that Spanish doc-
ematician and engineer: devised a precision mea- tors were Galenists who were hostile and jealous,
suring scale. and he tried to recover his job in Padua. To leave
Vernier worked as a military engineer in Spain. Spain he needed Philip™s permission, which he got
Requiring an accurate method of measuring small by proposing a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He proba-
distances for map-making, he devised in 1631 a pre- bly got his job on the way to Jerusalem, but died on
cision scale, consisting of a movable part with nine the return journey, in Greece.
Viète, Fran§ois [vyet] (1540“1603) French math-
divisions which slid past a fixed part with 10 divi-
sions. Observing where the two marks on the two ematician: made many early contributions to
scales most closely coincide effectively adds another algebra.
decimal place to the accuracy of the measurement. Viète grew up in the Poitou region of France, and
The method is a refinement of a multiple-scale in 1556 entered the University of Poitiers to study
device invented by the 16th-c Portuguese math- law. While practising law between 1560 and 1564
ematician Pedro Nu±ez (1492“1577). he took up cryptography and mathematics as hob-
Vesalius, Andreas (Lat), Andries van Wesel (Flemish) bies; the former was useful when he moved to Paris
[vuhzayliuhs] (1514“64) Flemish anatomist: the in 1570 and became a court official to Charles IX.
founder of modern anatomy. The persecution of the Huguenots forced him to go
A pharmacist™s son, Vesalius studied medicine at into hiding from 1584, and during this time he
Louvain, Paris and Padua. He did well, and was absorbed himself in mathematics and did work of
made professor of anatomy and surgery at Padua historic importance.
when he was 24. His first lectures were novel; he After 5 years Henri IV succeeded Charles and
carried out dissections himself, instead of leaving Viète returned to the royal court. In the war against
this to an assistant while reading from a text book Spain, Viète broke the Spanish secret cipher, allow-
as was usual; and he used drawings to help his stu- ing intercepted dispatches between Philip II of
dents. During the next four years, he was busy with Spain and his embassy to be deciphered. He was dis-
his research on anatomy based on human dissec- missed from the court in 1602 and died shortly
tion. His results were published in De humani cor- afterwards.
poris fabrica libri septem (1543, The Seven Books on Viète™s mathematical research was in algebra,
the Structure of the Human Body), which included which he applied to solve geometrical problems. He
used letters to denote constants as well as variables,
and he introduced the terms ˜coefficient™ and ˜neg-
ative™. Using algebraic methods he solved a prob-
lem that dated back to the Greek Apollonius, that
of constructing a circle touching three given circles.
Viète published a systematic account of how to
solve problems in plane and spherical trigono-
metry, making use of all six trigonometric func-
tions for the first time. The cosine law for plane
triangles and the law of tangents were included. He
also discovered a new and elegant solution to the
general cubic equation using trigonometric multi-
ple-angle formulae. The familiar relations between
the positive roots of an algebraic equation, its coef-
ficients and the powers of the unknowns are also
due to Viète. Always he preferred to establish his
identities and his proofs algebraically rather than
geometrically, thereby setting a trend.
Vigneaud, Vincent Du see Du Vigneaud
Vine, Frederick John (1939“ ) British geologist:
co-discoverer of magnetic anomalies across mid-
ocean ridges.
Andreas Vesalius
Virtanen, Arthuri Ilmari

After graduating from the University of Cam- aided by the improvements in microscopes after
bridge in 1965, Vine spent 5 years at Princeton before 1850 and the introduction of the microtome for
returning to England in 1970, becoming reader and making thin sections and dyes for selective stain-
later professor of environmental science at the ing. Modern pathology begins with him, and he
University of East Anglia. In 1963, whilst a research became Germany™s leading medical scientist.
student under the supervision of Matthews, Vine Pasteur was his near-contemporary; however,
showed that the oceanic crust on either side of a mid- Virchow did not enthuse over the germ theory of
ocean ridge was remanently magnetized in alter- disease. He saw disease as a continuous change in
nately normal and reversed polarity in bands the cells, rather than as a result only of an invasive
running parallel to the ridge. This, they argued, was agent (we now recognize diseases of both types, of
consistent with the sea-floor-spreading hypothesis course). Similarly he saw the theory of evolution as
proposed by H H Hess the year before, and was seen a hypothesis only and voted against its inclusion in
as powerful support for Hess™s hypothesis (see school biology.
Matthews). Vine became professor of environmen- He was an enthusiast for anthropology and
tal sciences at the University of East Anglia in 1970. archaeology and worked on the 1879 dig to discover
Vine and Matthews™s work, combined with the the site of Troy. In practical politics, his efforts in
idea of continental drift, effectively created the public health in Berlin led to improved water and
major concept of plate tectonics. sewage purification.
Virtanen, Arthuri Ilmari (1895“1973) Finnish bio- Vleck, John (Hasbrouck) Van see Van Vleck
Volta, Alessandro (Giuseppe Anastasio),
Count (1745“1827) Italian physicist: the inventor
Virtanen studied science at Helsinki, and after
graduation concentrated on biochemical topics of the electric battery.
during further study in Zurich and Stockholm. Born in Como of an aristocratic family devoted to
Back in Helsinki from 1920, he was professor of the Church, Volta was professor of natural philoso-
biochemistry there from the 1930s, and in 1948 phy at Pavia (1778“1818) and, after some political
became President of the Finnish State Academy of turbulence, became rector of Pavia. Highly reli-
Science and Arts. His research was initially on bac- gious, but not prudish, a friend records that he
terial fermentation reactions of glucose, which he ˜understood a lot about the electricity of women™.
showed followed similar initial paths even when Following Galvani™s discovery in the 1780s that
the final products differed. The fermentation of an electric spark, or contact with copper and iron,
dihydroxyacetone by E.coli to give glycerol and glyc- caused a disembodied frog™s leg to twitch, Volta
eric acid was the first fermentation reaction to be (who had long studied electricity) was interested in
elucidated chemically from beginning to end, in finding the cause of the phenomenon. Experiment
1929. showed him that an electric current could be gen-
From 1925 he studied the nitrogen-fixation reac- erated by bringing different metals into contact
tion associated with leguminous plants; vitamin with one another. In 1799 he succeeded in con-
formation in plants; and the atypical amino acids structing a battery consisting of metal discs, alter-
and organosulphur compounds found in plants. nately silver and zinc, with brine-soaked card
His work in applied dairy chemistry led to improve- between them. This voltaic pile produced a steady
ments in silage-making, fodder preservation and electric current and was the first reliable source of
vitamin content in dairy products. He won the electricity. Volta did little further work on the
Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1945. device, but it was to transform the study of the sub-
Virchow, Rudolf (Ludwig Carl) [feerkhoh] (1821“ ject and was invaluable to men such as Nicholson,
1902) German pathologist and anthropologist: Davy and Faraday. It also laid to rest the contem-
founder of cellular pathology. porary theory that animal tissue was somehow
Virchow graduated in medicine at Berlin, and
then secured a junior post in Berlin™s great hospi-
tal, the Charit©. He was a skilful pathologist who
recognized leukaemia in 1845 and went on to study
thrombosis, embolism, inflammation and animal
parasites. He was always politically active, and his
liberal sympathies in the unrest of 1848 helped to
lose him his Berlin post; but Würzburg gave him
another and 7 years later he returned to Berlin as
professor of pathological anatomy. He remained
in politics and, as a Reichstag member, opposed
Bismarck so forcefully that the latter challenged
him to a duel in 1865; Virchow managed to avoid
this. In the 1850s Virchow took up Schwann and
Schleiden™s cell theory with enthusiasm, and
applied it to pathology; he saw disease as originat-
ing in cells, or as the response of cells to abnormal
conditions. His ideas led to much fruitful work, Alessandro Volta: with his 'voltaic pile' in the background.
Panel: The development of the computer

THE DEVELOPMENT OF Even with data storage, mechanical calculating
THE COMPUTER machines were far too slow to be of much practical
value, and DE FOREST™S invention of the thermionic
Computers today are used to perform a dazzlingly triode in 1907 sowed the seeds for a potentially much
wide range of functions and have become indispens- faster type of electronic calculator. A number of tran-
able to modern life. Although most of their develop- sitional machines marked the passage from mechani-
ment in their current electronic form has happened cal devices to purely electronic machines, such as
over the past 20 years, they have their origins in the those of Konrad Zuse (1910“95), who between 1938
mechanical calculating machines of the 17th-c. and 1945 used mechanical parts and electromechani-
Calculating machines are a very primitive form of cal relays to make several automatic programmable
computer in that they can only perform one arith- calculators. In 1943 Howard Aiken (1900“73)
metic operation at a time, whereas computers can be devised a giant, electrically driven mechanical calcu-
programmed to perform a whole sequence of opera- lator, the Harvard Mark 1, which helped demonstrate
tions, using the answers from the first calculation as that large-scale automatic calculation was possible.
the input to the second and so on. This makes them It took the stimulus provided by the Second World
infinitely more powerful than the humble calculator. War, however, together with the development at that
Among the first calculating machines were the time of the thermionic valve as a reliable and mass-
1624 ˜calculating clock™ of Wilhelm Schickard produced device (for radio and radar), to open up a new
(1592“1635), which could perform addition and sub- range of possibilities for electronic machines. Many
traction, PASCAL™S calculator of 1642 and that of scientists and engineers made simultaneous develop-
LEIBNIZ in the 1670s. Although Leibniz™s invention ments in the history of the computer around this time.
used a stepped gear principle which became common Colossus, a British computer designed in 1943 specifi-
in future designs, all of these were essentially curiosi- cally for code-breaking work, first established the
ties rather than practical machines. In 1820 Thomas practical large-scale use of thermionic valves in com-
de Colmar (1785“1870) made a practical calculator puters, and the American ENIAC (Electronic Numerical
which partially mechanized all four basic arithmetic Integrator And Computer) built in 1945 by John
operations, and in 1875 another major advance was Mauchly (1907“80) and John Presper Eckert (1919“95)
made with the invention by the American Frank was designed to compute ballistics tables for the US
Baldwin (1838“1925) of the pinwheel, a gearwheel army. Also involved in the ENIAC project was the math-
with a variable number of teeth. These developments ematician VON NEUMANN, who went on to formalize the
led in turn to perhaps the zenith of mechanical calcu- two essential components of the modern stored-
lator technology, the ˜comptometer™ of Dorr Felt program computer “ a central processing unit (CPU)
(1862“1930) in 1885, which was a reliable desktop and the ability to hold the results of calculations in
calculator with the convenience of entering numbers memory and use them in subsequent operations.
by striking keys as on a typewriter. The comptometer After the war many of these experimental
became a standard office calculating machine until it machines began to be developed into commercial
was superseded by electronic devices in the 1970s. computers. In Manchester the first electronic stored-
While these were the forerunners of today™s calcu- program machine was run in 1948, and a collabora-
lators, they still lacked the essential ability of the tion with the Ferranti Company resulted in a number
computer to perform a sequence of operations auto- of computers such as Pegasus (1956), Mercury (1957)
matically. The first attempt at that was made by and Atlas (1962). In Cambridge, WILKES built the
BABBAGE in 1834, who conceived, but never built, an EDSAC computer in 1949, which was developed in
˜analytical engine™ capable of executing any series of 1951 via a collaboration with the J Lyons Company
arithmetic operations input via punched cards and to into the first machine designed exclusively for busi-
print the answer. Sadly, and despite substantial ness use, LEO (Lyons Electronic Office). In 1946 at the
financial backing and ingenious design, Babbage National Physical Laboratory, London, TURING, a
never saw any of his machines completed, and many mathematician who had been involved in the
of his ideas were subsequently reinvented by the pio- wartime code-breaking work at Bletchley Park,
neers of electronic computers in the 1940s. However, designed ACE (Automatic Computing Engine). First
Babbage™s machine was to store its instructions on run in 1950, ACE was commercialized as DEUCE by
punched cards, and this concept was turned into the General Electric Company in 1955. In the USA,
reality in the 1890s by HOLLERITH, who developed the Eckert and Mauchly founded the first electronic com-
idea into a practical means of storing data that could puter business, and in 1951 produced their first
be read by mechanical calculating machines (for the UNIVAC computer. This was used to correctly predict
American census, in his case). Hollerith went on to the results of the US presidential election the follow-
found a company to market his inventions, which ing year, a widely televised feat which did much to
subsequently grew to become IBM. popularize the computer.

von Baer, Karl Ernst

The next step forward came in the early 1960s with doubling of speed and decreasing price becom-
with the transistor, invented by SHOCKLEY, BARDEEN ing routine. Recent developments in computing have
and BRATTAIN in 1947, which began to be utilized to increasingly focused on the software that runs on the
make a new generation of compact and relatively computer, rather than the hardware itself.
power-efficient machines. Even so, computer circuit Developments such as the graphical user interface
boards were so large that their size and complexity (GUI), pioneered by Apple Computer, Inc., have made
limited overall speed and performance. In 1958 Jack sophisticated computer systems accessible and
Kilby (1923“ ) of Texas Instruments established that useful to many people. In areas such as in engineer-
a number of transistors could be manufactured on ing, advanced visualization techniques that use 3D
the same block of semiconductor material, and the colour graphics to interactively display and analyse
following year Robert Noyce (1927“90) of rival problems have become commonplace. The develop-
Fairchild Semiconductors devised a way of intercon- ment of high-capacity data-storage devices such as
necting and integrating such components to form an CD-ROM and DVD has opened up another role for
integrated circuit, or ˜microchip™. The next stage was the computer in publishing and education, and the
to put most of the essential components for a com- current development of fast public information
plete computer on a single chip, and the resulting networks and multimedia promises yet more uses,
˜microprocessor™ was announced by Intel Corporation which will combine the traditional roles of computer,
in 1971. This led to the pocket-sized calculators of television and telephone. Today the ˜computer™ effec-
the early 1970s and to the development of the tively embraces a host of devices and applications
desktop personal computer in 1977. based on microprocessor technology, and few are
Subsequent development in computer hardware used just for computing.
has largely been one of continued refinement and
miniaturization of the microprocessor components,

necessary for the generation of electricity. Volta was and became one of the most eminent mathema-
given the title of Count by Napoleon, who invaded ticians of his day. Educated at the Universities of
Italy in the 1790s and who had become very inter- Budapest, Berlin and Zürich, he moved to the USA
ested in electricity and correctly foresaw its impor- in 1930.
tance to science. The SI unit of electric potential, the Aside from his work in mathematics (he was pro-
volt (V), is named after him. If the work done in caus- fessor of mathematics at Princeton 1933“55) Von
ing one coulomb of electric charge to flow between Neumann is principally remembered for his contri-
two points is one joule, then the potential difference butions, during and after the Second World War,
between the points is one volt. to the development of electronic computers. He is
von Baer, Karl Ernst see Baer widely credited with the concept of the ˜stored-pro-
von Baeyer, Adolf see Baeyer gram computer™, whose two essential components
von Behring, Emil (Adolf) see Behring are a memory in which to store information and a
von Braun, Wernher Magnus Maximilian see control unit capable of organizing the transfers
Braun between the different ˜registers™ in memory in accor-
von Euler, Ulf Svante see Euler dance with a program also stored in memory. All
von Fehling, Hermann Christian see Fehling modern computers work on this principle, and are
von Fraunhofer, Josef see Fraunhofer sometimes called ˜Von Neumann machines™. The
von Frisch, Karl see Frisch credit for the work (which was carried out in wartime
von Guericke, Otto see Guericke secrecy) is now recognized not to be entirely his, how-
von Haller, Albrecht see Haller ever, and ought more properly to be shared with
von Helmholtz, Hermann (Ludwig Ferdinand) others in the development team.
see Helmholtz He also participated in the American atomic bomb
von Hofmann, August Wilhelm see Hofmann project (the Manhattan Project) and, together with
von Humboldt, (Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich) others, developed the ˜high explosive lens™ that was
Alexander, Freiherr (Baron) see Humboldt essential to its success. In later years he became a
von Kármán, Theodore see Kármán leading proponent of nuclear power.
von Klitzing, Klaus see Klitzing He founded the theory of games in 1926: its focus
von Laue, Max (Theodor Felix) see Laue is to model strategies leading to success in situations
von Liebig, Justus, Freiherr (Baron) see Liebig involving chance or free choices, which by 1944 he
von Naegeli, Carl Wilhelm see Naegeli applied in economics and which has since been
Von Neumann, John (János) [noyman] (1903“57) used widely in this and other social sciences, and in
Hungarian“US mathematician: suggested the con- military applications. (See panel on p. 363.)
von Sachs, Julius see Sachs
cept of the stored-program computer.
von Siemens, (Ernst) Werner see Siemens
Born in Budapest the son of a Jewish banker, Von
von Szent-Györgi, Albert see Szent-Györgi
Neumann was a mathematical prodigy as a child
Vries, Hugo de

De Vries, son of a Dutch prime minister of 1872,
studied medicine in Holland and Germany and
taught botany in both countries, mainly in
Amsterdam. As a pupil of Sachs at Würzburg he
worked on turgor in plant cells, and used the term
plasmolysis to describe shrinkage of protoplast
from the plant cell wall, with loss of turgidity. He
used these studies on water relations in plants both
to advance knowledge of plant physiology and to
confirm van ™t Hoff™s views on osmotic pressure. In
the 1880s he became interested in heredity,
although he did not then know of Mendel™s work of
the 1860s, and he began breeding plants in 1892. He
got clear examples of the ˜3:1 ratio™ and then came
across Mendel™s work in 1900, and did much to
make the work widely known. His breeding exper-
iments included some on the evening primrose,
and the striking results led him to propose a bold
general ˜theory of mutation™; but we now use the
word in a different sense and de Vries™s mutations
resulted from changes in chromosome number (to
N. I. Vavilov in 1932
which the evening primrose is prone; its genetic
von Wassermann, August see Wassermann make-up is complex) and not to changes in genes.
von Weizs¤cker, Carl Friedrich, Freiherr (Baron) However, despite being wrongly based, de Vries™s
see Weizs¤cker ideas on a rapid alternative to Darwinian evolution
Vries, Hugo de [duh vrees] (1848“1935) Dutch plant led to valuable debate and experimentation, which
physiologist and geneticist: early investigator of ultimately did much to establish the Darwinian
plant genetics. view.

Waals, Johannes Diderik van der [van der vahls] Walcott has a strange place in science. His great
(1837“1923) Dutch physicist: devised a new equa- discovery, made in 1909, was largely misinter-
tion of state for gases. preted by him, and it was many years before others
Van der Waals, a carpenter™s son, became a primary recognized the exceptional role in evolution repre-
school teacher and a headmaster in The Hague. He sented by the creatures he had collected from the
trained for secondary school work in 1866, and then Burgess Shale deposits.
studied physics at Leiden. His doctoral dissertation Despite his lack of formal education he became
on the physics of gases appeared in 1873. His interest his country™s leading scientific administrator.
was directed to the observations of T Andrews and From his first interest in trilobites, when he was a
others, who had shown that real gases deviate from young farm worker, he developed his studies in
the simple gas law pV = RT, deduced from kinetic geology and in 1876 became assistant to the New
theory for an ˜ideal™ gas whose particles have no York State geologist. By 1894 he had risen to
volume and no attraction for one another. Real gases become director of the US Geological Survey and,
follow the law only approximately, and not at all at in 1907, he became secretary (ie head) of the
high pressures or low temperatures. Andrews also Smithsonian Institution and the most powerful
showed that a critical temperature exists below figure in science in the USA. Thereafter he added
which a real gas can be condensed to liquid only by other senior committee posts while retaining his
pressure. Van der Waals devised a modified gas equa- expertise in geology and a special interest in aero-
tion by introducing two new constants; a is related to nautics; field geology and the problems of the
intermolecular attraction and b to the volume of the Cambrian rocks were his passionate relaxation.
molecules themselves. The new equation of state has From the time of his discovery, in the Burgess
the form (p + a/V2)(V “ b) = RT, (again for one mole of Shale, of strata rich in the fossils of novel soft-
gas) and with suitable values of a and b gives results bodied animals, typically a few centimetres long,
in fairly good accord with observation for real gases Walcott and his family spent his vacations there
over a range of temperatures above the critical point. collecting specimens. In total he secured nearly
Van der Waals was professor of physics at Amsterdam 70 000 and stored them in the Smithsonian in
from 1877 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Washington. Nearly 90% are animals and most of
physics in 1910. the rest algae. Most of the animals are soft-bodied
Waksman, Selman (Abraham) (1888“1973) and the remainder have shell-like skeletons; they
Russian“US biochemist: isolated the antibiotic contain 119 genera in 140 species, with nearly 40%
streptomycin and demonstrated its effectiveness of the genera being arthropods “ a phylum of ani-
against tuberculosis. mals with jointed appendages, some specialized for
Waksman had a difficult time as a young Jewish mastication, a well-developed head and usually a
boy in the Ukraine, and was glad to emigrate to the hard exoskeleton. They include insects, crustacea,
USA in 1910; he worked his way through his agri- spiders etc.
culture course at Rutgers College, gained his PhD Walcott studied his specimens with care, but he
in California in biochemistry and returned to was highly conservative by nature and this led him
Rutgers, becoming professor of soil biology in 1930. to classify his finds within an existing taxonomy
From 1939 Waksman began a systematic search for and to place these weird animals within an evolu-
antibiotics from soil organisms. He had rich experi- tionary sequence continuing from their Cambrian
ence of such organisms, and in 1943 he isolated the origins to the present. Revision of these ideas began
new antibiotic streptomycin from the soil organ- in the late 1960s, with the work of H Whittington,
ism Streptomyces griseus (which he had discovered in D Briggs and S Conway Morris of the UK, whose
1915). This is active against the human tubercle laborious dissections gradually allowed three-
bacillus and, mixed with two other compounds, it dimensional reconstructions to be devised from
became widely used in treatment. Previously there the shale-flattened specimens. The conclusion
had been no effective drug for this major killing from their work is that ˜the Burgess Shale includes
disease, but by its use tuberculosis became a prob- a disparity in anatomical design never again
lem that had largely been solved in developed coun- equalled, and not matched today by all the crea-
tries by the 1970s. Waksman won the Nobel Prize tures in all the world™s oceans™ (S J Gould). In terms
in 1952. He and his co-workers found a number of evolution most of these designs are ˜losers™ and
of other antibiotics in soil organisms, including only a few are ˜winners™ with descendants still
neomycin, valuable in intestinal surgery. existing after 530 million years. Some major prob-
Walcott, Charles (Doolittle) (1850“1927) US lems remain: notably, how did such disparity arise
palaeontologist: discovered in the Burgess Shale of and over such a geologically short time and what
British Columbia a vast range of fossilized animals. factors decided who should win and who would
Wallace, Alfred Russel

lose? The answers, or even attempts to find them, enzyme: this together with the work of Paul D
will inevitably much expand current ideas on the Boyer (1918“ ) of UCLA and that of Jens C Skou
process of evolution. (1918“ ) of Aarhus University in Denmark gives a
Waldeyer-Hartz, Wilhelm [vahldiyer harts] (1836“ good picture of the formation and action of ATP.
1921) German medical scientist: gave the first ATP synthase forms, as Boyer notes, a molecular
modern description of cancer. machine, which rotates and produces three ATP
After studying science and mathematics, Wal- molecules per turn. How ATP acts on muscle fibre
deyer (as he was usually known) graduated in med- to produce movement has since 1997 been exam-
icine at Berlin and later taught physiology and ined by Yoshida in Tokyo: the story will continue.
anatomy at three universities; he moved to Berlin Walker moved to head the Dunn Nutrition Unit in
in 1883 and soon made his institute famous. He Cambridge in 1998. Walker, Boyer and Skou shared
first used haematoxylin as a histological stain; he the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1997.
Wallace, Alfred Russel (1823“1913) British natu-
introduced the name ˜chromosome™ for the rods
seen in cell nuclei, which are readily stained; and ralist: developed the theory of evolution indepen-
he coined the name ˜neuron™ in neurology. His dently of Darwin.
anatomical work included a description of the lym- Wallace left school at 14 and after a period as a
phoid tissue of the throat (the faucial and pharyn- surveyor became a teacher at a school in Leicester,
geal tonsils), known as Waldeyer™s ring. where he met the amateur naturalist H W Bates
In 1863 he gave an account of the genesis and (1825“92). The two developed a passion for collect-
spread of cancer in essentially modern terms. He ing, especially insects and butterflies, and inspired
classified the types of cancer and concluded that by Darwin™s account of his travels, they set out on
cancer begins in a single cell and may spread to a collecting expedition in tropical South America.
other parts of the body by cells migrating from the After many adventures Wallace started to return to
original site through the blood or lymphatic system the UK, intending to sell specimens to finance their
(metastasis). This implied that removal of the ini- travels, but his ship was destroyed by fire at sea,
tial cancerous cells at an early stage could effect a with most of his specimens and records. Undeterred,
cure, in contrast with the view that cancer was a he went to Malaya in 1854 on a similar expedition,
generalized attack on the body and that treatment and while there wrote up his ideas on species and
was useless. This approach to oncology (the study of evolution. Like Darwin, he was convinced that
tumours in the animal body) became of great value plant and animal species were not fixed, but show
when radiotherapy and later chemotherapy were variation over time. He concluded that ˜we have
available as well as surgery in the treatment of can- progression and continued divergence™ of organ-
cerous growths. isms and, with no knowledge that Darwin had
Walker, Sir John (Ernest) (1941“ ) British molec- closely similar ideas, he decided that competition
ular biologist: co-elucidator of the enzymatic syn- and differential survival determined the path of
thesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). evolution. He sent his ideas to Darwin, whose
From boyhood in West Yorkshire, Walker (son of friends arranged concurrent publication in 1858;
a stone mason and an amateur musician) was inter- no conflict over priority occurred, the two were on
ested in science, especially chemistry, an interest the best of terms, and Wallace became by his own
which took him to Oxford and then on to DPhil wish the secondary figure and a leading advocate
work there with Sir Edward Abraham on the antibi- for ˜Darwinism™.
otic subtilin. A move to Madison in 1969 enhanced Wallace™s career continued on rather mixed lines.
his knowledge of proteins and notably of enzymes. He became an enthusiast for spiritualism, socialism
He learned at this time the novel method of finding
amino acid sequences in proteins by mass spectro-
metric methods, and he worked on this with a
master of the technique during a period in France.
In 1978 he joined the MRC Lab of Molecular Biology
in Cambridge, working mainly on the biosynthesis
and function of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This
intriguing, not very complex molecule, known
since 1929 and synthesized by A R Todd in 1948, is
the universal energy carrier in all living organisms.
It captures the energy obtained by oxidation of
nutrients and transfers it to biological reactions
requiring energy, such as the building-up of cell
components, contraction of muscles, and the trans-
mission of nerve messages.
ATP is made in living cells by an enzyme, ATP-
synthase, which like all such biological catalysts is
a protein. Walker™s work from the 1980s onwards
gave detailed knowledge (obtained notably by
X-ray crystallography) of the active part of this Alfred Russel Wallace, aged 30
Panel: Human inherited disease

HUMAN INHERITED DISEASE AND gene, and hence the form and function of the
The DNA in the 23 human chromosomes of a
Some 4000 inherited human disorders are known. gamete contains roughly 100 000 genes, comprising
None are curable (although many are treatable), and about 3 billion base-pairs in the double-helical DNA
they result from gene or chromosome defects. Human chains. The ordinary cells of a female have two copies
cells, other than gametes (the sex cells), have in their of every gene; males differ in having only one copy of
nuclei 46 chromosomes, in the form of 22 pairs of the genes on the X chromosome.
autosomes and a sex-chromosome pair (XX in Some inherited diseases (eg Huntington™s disease)
females, XY in males). The chromosomes can be iden- are due to a mutation defect in only one gene of the
tified and distinguished by their microscopic appear- pair in each cell; these are called autosomal-domi-
ance, after staining which produces a characteristic nant diseases. Autosomal-recessive diseases are less
banding. common, and only show when the patient has a
Carried on or within the chromosomes are the double dose of affected genes, one from each parent.
genes, the units whereby the development of a new Examples include cystic fibrosis and sickle cell
organism by cell division is directed. Since 1950 it has anaemia. The frequency of each inherited disorder is
been recognized that genes are composed essentially low, but the total is 1“2% of all live births. In addi-
of large molecules of nucleic acid (DNA), which tion, a genetic predisposition appears to be linked
control the form and function of the new cells made with some diseases which typically appear in later
in reproduction, and in 1953 CRICK and WATSON were life, such as rheumatoid arthritis, some forms of
able to show how the double-helical molecules of schizophrenia, and Alzheimer™s and Parkinson™s
DNA are able to do this. An essential feature is that diseases.
DNA molecules are partly composed of four different Inherited diseases will be much better understood
kinds of cyclic nitrogen-containing base (designated when more results are available from the Human
A, C, G and T) which recur along the helical chains. Genome Project (HGP) which effectively began in
It is the sequence of the A, C, G, T units which carry 1990. The genome is the totality of the DNA
the genetic information, by controlling (in ˜codons™ sequences in the cell nucleus: the genes comprise
of three letters) the type of protein made by that only about 2% of the genome. The function of the

and women™s rights, and he was also a founder of ˜big bombs™ were best for deep protected targets
zoogeography: he recognized that there are some such as those housing the flying bombs that
half-dozen regions, each with characteristic fauna, attacked London in 1944, and 12 000 lb (26 400 kg)
whose separation could be linked with the geology Wallis bombs were used effectively against them,
and geography of the regions. Wallace™s line is an and to destroy the battleship Turpitz.
imaginary line dividing the oriental fauna from the After the war he continued to work on aircraft
Australian fauna and passing among the Malayan design, developing the principles of the swing-wing
islands. aircraft, employed in the Tornado fighter. He also
Wallis, Sir Barnes (Neville) (1887“1979) British worked on bridge design, commercial submarines
engineer: innovative designer and inventor of the and large radio telescopes, notably the Parkes
˜bouncing™ bomb and the geodetic lattice. Radio telescope in Australia, completed in 1961.
Wallis was trained as a marine engineer but he Characteristically, Wallis wanted it to have a
spent most of his professional life at Vickers in aero- 1000 ft (305 m) diameter dish; cost limits cut this to
nautical design, joining them in 1913. After the 210 ft (64 m).
Wallis, John (1616“1703) English mathematician:
Second World War he led their aeronautical
devised an expression for π as infinite series.
research and development department.
Wallis™s reputation is based on diverse and bril- Wallis had a curious career. A member of a fairly
liant inventions of great practical application. He wealthy family, he studied medicine and philoso-
designed a very successful airship, the R100, and phy at Cambridge, was ordained in 1640 and
the geodetic lattice (a triangular lattice of great became a private chaplain. Then in 1649 Cromwell
strength, which he applied to buildings and air- made him professor of geometry at Oxford; his
craft wings), and which led to the Wellington appointment was a surprise, but his work in deci-
bomber. This was the dominant British bomber of phering intercepted letters for the Parliamentarians
the Second World War and over 11 000 were built; in the Civil War was probably influential. From
later in the war, the Avro Lancaster with four about this time he began to meet with Boyle and
engines became the main RAF bomber. others to discuss science, and these meetings led to
Wallis™s most famous invention, however, was the formation of the Royal Society in 1660, with
the ˜bouncing™ bomb, a spinning cylindrical device Wallis as a founder-member. He also became a
developed to enable the RAF to destroy the Möhne highly creative mathematician.
and Eder dams in 1943. Wallis was convinced that His book Arithmetica infinitorum (1655) made
Warburg, Otto

remaining 98%, which used to be called ˜junk DNA™, to allow a joint announcement in mid-2000 of a
is unknown. ˜working draft™ of the human genome, with 85%
When in 1990 Watson wrote that ˜the United sequenced, covering some 38 000 genes. The target
States has now set as a national objective the date for the ˜gold standard™ genome to be completed,
mapping and sequencing of the human genome™ he with an accuracy of 99.99%, is 2003.
went on to note that this was similar to the 1961 Some of the implications of the HGP outcome are
decision to send a man to the Moon, although he clear. When, with massive computer aid, the genetic
expected the financial cost to be less. The task is messages within DNA are fully interpreted, a near-
clearly substantial. In 1990 the largest fully sequen- ultimate understanding of the chemical basis of
ced DNA was that of a herpes virus, consisting of human life will be available. The mysterious function
under 250 000 base-pairs. For larger organisms the of the 98% of the genome that contains no genes is
most fully known was the bacterium E. coli, which likely to be resolved (present suggestions, among
has more than 800 000 base-pairs of its 4.8 — 106 others, are that it exerts some sort of control over the
base-pair genome established: the human genome is genes; or that it provides a ˜clean sheet™ on which
almost 1000 times larger. The HGP needed interna- new genes can evolve; or that it is a dumping ground
tional collaboration and methods akin to automated for abandoned genes). The HGP will certainly provide
production lines for sequencing and data analysis. a basis for detecting the carrier state for inherited dis-
The first director of the HGP was J D Watson, who at eases in parents, and will allow the diagnosis of such
an early stage took the view that ˜the human genome disorders during pregnancy. It may allow improved
belongs to the world™s people™ and opposed the US treatment methods to be devised for some genetic
Government™s view that patent protection should be diseases, even though there is a substantial gap
applied to HGP™s results: Watson resigned in 1993. between understanding the molecular basis of a
Work continued both in the US and, notably, at the disease and developing an effective strategy for its
Sanger Centre in Cambridge, England, under John elimination or for its cure. And, intriguingly, it is
SULSTON. In 1998 a commercial project, Celera surely likely that the HGP, even before its target date
Genomics of Rockville, MD, directed by Craig VENTER of completion, will yield some important results of a
also began work. Competition and conflicts of view kind not yet foreseeable.
between Celera and the HGP were resolved enough

him famous; it is mainly concerned with series, converted into circular motion, with resultant
theory of numbers, and conics, discusses infinities stress and limitations.
(he invented the symbol ∞) and includes the Wankel was born in the Black Forest, the son of a
curious formula for 2/π = 3 — 3 — 5 — 5 — 7 — 7¦/ ranger. He never attended university, but he showed
2 — 2 — 4 — 4 — 6 — 6 — 8 — 8¦. He went on to write skill in engineering mathematics and an obsessive
impressive books on mechanics and on algebra; his interest in vehicle propulsion; however his work on
Treatise of Algebra (1685) includes the first graphical a novel engine was delayed by employment in air-
representation of complex numbers a + bi. His job craft development before the Second World War and
continued after the Restoration and Charles II even later by being a prisoner of the French.
made him a royal chaplain (he had always been a From 1929 he had in mind a novel engine using
royalist and had joined a protest against the execu- hydrocarbon fuel, and eventually made a prototype
tion of Charles I) and he continued to decipher let- in the 1960s. The Wankel rotary engine has an
ters for the new government. As he wrote, he was approximately triangular central rotor, geared to a
˜willing, whatever side was upmost, to promote¦ driving shaft and turning in a close-fitting oval-
the public good™. shaped chamber so that the power stroke is applied
As well as being one of the century™s leading to the three faces of the rotor in turn as they pass a
mathematicians he wrote on a variety of subjects, single spark plug. The engine is valveless. The
and had some pioneering success in teaching deaf- German car maker NSU used the engine in its RO 80
mutes to speak. He was remarkably quarrelsome luxury saloon in the 1960s, but it showed problems
(he maintained a public dispute with the philoso- of high fuel consumption and exhaust pollution;
pher Hobbes for over 25 years) and the contempo- Mazda used it in sports cars in the 1980s, as have
rary biographer Aubrey claims he was a plagiarist high performance motor-cycle makers. Wider use
and that he was ˜extremely greedy of glorie™. of the Wankel engine is clearly possible if the above
Wankel, Felix [vangkl] (1902“88) German engineer: problems are fully solved; it remains the most
the inventor of the Wankel rotary engine. radical innovation in its field since the familiar
Two types of internal combustion engine have reciprocating internal combustion engine was
dominated road transport: they use either the Otto developed in the 19th-c.
Warburg, Otto (Heinrich) [vah(r)boork] (1883“1970)
cycle or the compression ignition system devised by
Diesel. Both have the inherent defect of requiring German biochemist: had an important influence on
the linear reciprocating motion of a piston to be biochemistry through applying chemical techniques.
Wassermann, August von

Warburg was an enormously influential bio- DNA, together with a suggestion of a path for the
chemist; his use of chemical methods to attack bio- replication of genes (the basis of heredity) and the
logical problems led him to ideas and techniques effective beginning of the whole new science of
that were widely imitated, and his pupils domi- ˜molecular biology™ (see Crick™s entry for a brief
nated biochemistry for a generation. He first stud- account). Watson™s book The Double Helix (1968) gave
ied chemistry, at Berlin under E Fischer, and then a striking and uninhibited non-technical account
medicine at Heidelberg, qualifying in 1911. Except of its discovery; and his The Molecular Biology of the
for the years of the First World War, when he served Gene proved an influential textbook.
in the Prussian Horse Guards, his life was spent in Watson, Crick and Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize
Berlin, where he headed the Max Planck Institute for physiology or medicine in 1962. From 1955
for Cell Physiology until he retired at 86. Watson was at Harvard, from 1976 he directed the
Much of his work was on intracellular respira- Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory of Quantitative
tion, and from 1923 he used the Warburg manome- Biology and from 1988 directed the Human Genome
ter (or respirometer), in which very thin tissue Research project of the National Institutes of
slices are incubated with a buffered nutrient and Health, which aims to elucidate the chemistry of
their uptake of oxygen is measured by the fall in the 100 000 genes making up the human genome:
pressure. With this he studied both normal cellular he resigned in 1993 in opposition to the principle of
respiration and model systems, the action of patenting genetic information from the project.
enzyme poisons (such as cyanide) and catalytic (See panel on p. 368.)
Watson-Watt, Sir Robert Alexander (1892“1973)
metals such as iron, and the activity of cancerous
cells. From his work and that of his students (who British physicist and pioneer of radar.
included Meyerhof and Krebs) much information Watson-Watt was educated at University College,
emerged on cell chemistry, enzyme action, co- Dundee, concentrating on physics. He remained
enzymes and the function of nicotinamide adenine there as assistant to the professor of natural philos-
dinucleotide (NAD), cancerous cells, and photosyn- ophy, before joining the Meteorological Office in
thesis in plant cells. He was an early user of spec- 1915. He subsequently became head of the radio
troscopy as an invaluable aid to biochemical department of the National Physical Laboratory at
analysis. Awarded a Nobel Prize in 1931, his later Teddington.
career was marred by his increasingly intolerant During the First World War, Watson-Watt worked
attitude to ideas other than his own, which eventu- on the radio location of thunderstorms (detecting
ally isolated him. the radio pulses produced by lightning discharges)
Wassermann, August von [vaserman] (1866“1925) and developed a system capable of detecting storms
German immunologist: devised the Wassermann several hundred miles away. In 1921 he became
test for syphilis. superintendent of the radio research station at
Wassermann studied medicine in Germany, grad- Ditton Park, near Slough, and in 1935 proposed the
uated in 1888, was an assistant to Koch and in 1910 development of a radio detection and ranging
became head of a new Institute for Experimental (RADAR) system for aircraft location. Powerful
Therapy at Berlin-Dahlem. In 1906 he and his group pulses of radio energy at a frequency of about
30 GHz and a duration of 10 “5 s were transmitted,
devised a test for the presence of syphilitic infec-
tion at any past time in an individual™s life; this and reflections from aircraft were detected and dis-
Wassermann reaction was formerly widely used. played with an oscilloscope. The time delay
Watson, James (Dewey) (1928“ ) US molecular between transmission and receipt of the echo gave
biologist; a co-discoverer with Crick of the double the distance to the aircraft and, with the direction
helical structure of nucleic acids and of their place from which the signal was received, yielded its posi-
in molecular genetics. tion. Under his direction, E G Bowen and A F
Watson™s boyhood enthusiasm for bird-watching Wilkins quickly developed equipment capable of
led him to entry, aged 15, to Chicago University detecting aircraft at a range of 130 km. By the
where he graduated in zoology when only 19. He beginning of the the Second World War a network
worked for his PhD at Indiana University at of radar stations was in place along Britain™s chan-
Bloomington, studying phages (bacterial viruses), nel coasts and proved to be crucial in the country™s
learning much about bacterial viruses and bio- defence. Portable radar sets were soon fitted to
chemistry and becoming convinced that the chem- fighter aircraft to help them locate their targets in
istry of genes, then little understood, was of cloud or at night.
fundamental importance for biology. A fellowship It has to be said that Watson-Watt did not invent
took him to Copenhagen in 1950 to study bacterial radar: the basic principle of the reflection of radio
metabolism, but soon his enthusiasm for DNA led waves had been known for some years and devel-
him to Cambridge and to collaboration with Crick oped in at least five countries, but it was his fore-
in the Cavendish Laboratory. Their talents and sight and direction, coupled with the demand
personalities were highly complementary; their created for such a system in wartime, that produced
joint ideas, assisted by X-ray diffraction studies by a working system. He led the successful team, and
Rosalind Franklin and by M H F Wilkins (1916“ ), he led the team of seven who successfully claimed
achieved a revolution in biology with publication in the money for the invention of radar after the
1953 of the proposed double helix structure for Second World War. He was elected a Fellow of the
Weierstrass, Karl Wilhelm Theodor

Royal Society in 1941 and knighted in 1942. Today, describe successful contact prints obtained by
radar systems are used for navigation, the safe rout- pressing leaves, insect wings etc, on sensitive paper
ing of air traffic and shipping, rainfall detection, and exposing to strong light, and he found no way
and many other non-military applications. even of ˜fixing™ these ˜heliotypes™ or ˜sun pictures™,
Watt, James (1736“1819) British instrument maker which darkened further in light. Wedgwood™s
and engineer: invented the modern steam engine. health was always frail, and he died aged only 34,
The son of a Clydeside shipbuilder, Watt had little leaving Daguerre, Ni©pce and Talbot to succeed in
formal education because of his poor health, but converting the basic idea of photography into a
his skills enabled him to set up in business as an practical success.
Wegener, Alfred (Lothar) [vayguhner] (1880“
instrument maker in the University of Glasgow.
While repairing a working model of a Newcomen 1930) German meteorologist and geophysicist: pro-
steam engine, Watt realized that its efficiency posed theory of continental drift.
could be greatly improved by adding a separate con- Educated at the universities of Heidelberg,
denser, preventing the loss of energy through Innsbruck and Berlin, Wegener obtained his doc-
steam condensing to water in the cylinder. He torate in astronomy in 1905. Although primarily a
formed a business partnership with M Boulton meteorologist, Wegener is remembered for his
(1728“1809) in Birmingham to develop the idea, theory of continental drift, which he proposed in
improved the engine in several other ways, and in 1912. Unable to reconcile palaeoclimatic evidence
1790 produced the Watt engine, which became cru- with the present position of the continents, he sug-
cial to the success of the industrial revolution. Soon gested that originally there had been a single
it was being used to pump water out of mines and ˜supercontinent™, which he termed Pangaea. He
to power machinery in flour, cotton and paper then provided a number of arguments to support
mills. Watt retired, a very rich man, in 1800. The SI his hypothesis that Pangaea had broken up in
unit of power, the watt, is named after him: it is the Mesozoic times (about 200 million years ago),
power producing energy at the rate of 1 J s “1. and that continental drift had subsequently led to
Watt also invented (in 1779) the first office copy- the present continental arrangement. Initially
ing process: he used a gelatinous ink, from which a Wegener™s ideas met with great hostility, largely
copy was obtained by pressing damp unsized copy due to the lack of any obvious driving mechanism
paper on the original. The copy was viewed in a for the movement of the continents, but the sug-
mirror. gestion of a viable mechanism by Holmes in 1929,
Wedgwood, Thomas (1771“1805) British inventor: together with geomagnetic and oceanographic evi-
made first attempt to link photosensitivity of silver dence obtained during the late 1950s and early
salts with image formation in the camera obscura, 1960s, has since established plate tectonics as one
and so create photography. of the major tenets of modern geophysics. Wegener
Of the several people who have places in the pre- went on several expeditions to Greenland, and it
history of photography, Tom Wedgwood most was while crossing the ice sheet on his fourth visit
clearly perceived its possibility. As the youngest son that he died.
Weierstrass, Karl Wilhelm Theodor [viyershtrahs]
of the first Josiah Wedgwood (1730“95), the famous
Staffordshire potter and pioneer industrialist, Tom (1815“97) German mathematician: introduced
grew up with a family interest in science. At some rigour into mathematical analysis.
date in the 1790s, it occurred to him that two con- Pressed by his overbearing father, a customs offi-
cepts, already well-known, might with advantage cer, to study law, Weierstrass spent 4 unsuccessful
be brought together. These were, firstly, the sensi- years at Bonn, learning little law but becoming a
tivity to light of silver salts and, secondly, the skilful fencer and reading mathematics. Emerging
camera obscura, a device consisting of a box with a in disgrace, he was sent to Münster to prepare for
convex lens at one end and a screen at the other. the state teacher™s examination and had the good
The lens formed an inverted image on the screen fortune to be able to pursue mathematics under
and this image could be traced (or simply copied) by the guidance of C Gudermann (1788“1852), whose
an artist desiring to reproduce the scene facing the enthusiasm at that time was that power series
lens. Thomas™s father Josiah used the method often; could be used as a rigorous basis for mathematical
when he secured an order from the Empress of analysis.
Russia for a dinner service of over 900 pieces, each Weierstrass developed this approach during his
to show an English country scene, he used the stint of nearly 15 years as a teacher in the small
camera obscura to sketch hundreds of scenes in the Prussian villages of Deutsch-Krone and Braunsberg,
course of his travels. completely isolated from contemporary mathe-
Encouraged by Priestley and assisted by the matical research. In 1854 he published in Crelle™s
youthful Davy, young Wedgwood attempted to cap- Journal a paper on Abelian integrals that he had
ture the camera image on a sheet of paper impreg- written 14 years earlier. The quality and impor-
nated with silver nitrate. However, his papers were tance of this work, which completed areas that
insufficiently photosensitive and/or his exposures Abel and Jacobi had begun, was immediately rec-
in the camera were not long enough, and so he was ognized, and he was appointed a professor at the
unsuccessful. His ˜Account of a method of copy- Royal Polytechnic School and lecturer at the
ing¦™, published with Davy in 1802, could only University of Berlin in 1856.
Weinberg, Steven

The significance of Weierstrass™s work was that get so near the modern view. He was wrong in his
he gave the first rigorous definitions of the fun- belief that the germ plasm is unalterable and
damental concepts of analysis; for example a immune to environmental effects, as others were
function, derivative, limit, differentiability and later to demonstrate.
convergence. He investigated under what condi- Early in his work Weissman believed (rather
tions a power series would converge, and how to ineptly) he had demonstrated that acquired char-
test for this. Above all, he made great contributions acters are not inherited: he cut off the tails of a
to function theory and Abelian functions. family of mice for 22 generations, mutilating 1592
Weinberg, Steven [wiynberg] (1933“ ) US physicist: mice, but they still failed to produce tail-less
produced a unified theory of electromagnetism offspring.
Weizmann, Chaim (1874“1952) Israeli biochemist:
and the weak nuclear interaction.
The son of a New York court stenographer, devised fermentation synthesis of acetone; became
Weinberg was educated at Cornell and Princeton President of Israel.
universities. He held appointments at Columbia, Born in Belorus, chemistry was Weizmann™s
Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology enthusiasm from childhood, and he studied it at
and Harvard before becoming professor of physics Darmstadt and Berlin and became a university lec-
at the University of Texas at Austin in 1986. turer in organic chemistry at Geneva, combining
In 1967 Weinberg produced a gauge theory (ie academic work with commercial dye chemistry,
one involving changes of reference frame) that cor- and with rising involvement in Zionism. In 1904 he
rectly predicted both electromagnetic and weak moved to Manchester as lecturer in biochemistry,
nuclear forces (such as are involved in nuclear with particular interest in fermentation processes,
decay), despite the two differing in strength by a and a leading position also in the Zionist move-
factor of about 1010. The theory also predicted a ment. In 1912 he found a strain of the Clostridium
new interaction due to ˜neutral currents™, whereby bacterium which fermented starch to give ethanol,
a heavy chargeless particle (the Z0 boson) is butanol and acetone. In the First World War acetone
exchanged, giving rise to an attractive force was urgently needed by the allies for aircraft dope
between particles. This particle (short-lived when (the varnish used on the fabric of aircraft bodies)
free) was duly observed at CERN in 1983 (generated and for making cordite, the major military and
by proton“antiproton collision), so giving strong naval weapon propellant. The small pre-war need
support to the theory now called the electroweak or had been met by pyrolysis of timber: Weizmann™s
Weinberg“Salam theory. As the work was indepen- process saved the situation. It also aided him when
dently developed by Weinberg and Salam, and sub- in 1917 he led negotiations with A J Balfour (then
sequently extended by Glashow, all three shared the UK™s Foreign Secretary) which culminated in
the 1979 Nobel Prize for physics. the Balfour declaration, which formally gave
Weinberg™s book on the early universe, The First British support for the concept of a Jewish national
Three Minutes (1977), has become a classic. home to be created in Palestine. The state of Israel
Weismann, August [viysman] (1834“1914) German was proclaimed in 1948, with Weizmann as its
biologist: devised a theory of heredity. first president. He was also the founder of the
Weismann qualified in medicine and practised Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot in 1934.
Weizs¤cker, Carl Friedrich, Freiherr (Baron) von
for a few years before the attractions of biological
research drew him to university teaching in [viytseker] (1912“ ) German physicist: proposed
Freiburg, a town which he greatly liked. He was a theories for stellar energy generation, and for the
skilled microscopist, but failing sight from 1864 origin of the solar system.
eventually pushed him to become a theorist, with a Weizs¤cker studied and later taught physics at
special interest in heredity. Basing his ideas in part both Berlin and Leipzig; from 1957 he was professor
on his earlier work on the sex cells of hydrozoa, of philosophy at Hamburg. Independently of Bethe
he proposed that all organisms contain a ˜germ- he suggested in 1938 that the energy of stars is gen-
plasm™, associated especially with the ovum and erated by a catalytic cycle of nuclear fusion reac-
sperm cells, which he later located in what are now tions, whereby hydrogen atoms are converted into
called the chromosomes. In his view, it was germ- helium with much evolution of energy. More
plasm that gave the continuity from parent to off- specifically, this reaction (the proton fusion reac-
spring. All other cells are merely a vehicle to convey tion) has as its net result the conversion of four
the germ-plasm, and it alone is in a sense immortal; hydrogen nuclei (ie protons) into a helium nucleus.
The reaction requires a high temperature (≈ 109 K)
other cells are destined to die. As Samuel Butler the
satirist phrased it, ˜a hen is only an egg™s way of pro- and yields also a massive amount of thermal
ducing another egg™. Weissman saw the major energy, along with gamma radiation. The energy is
events in reproduction as the halving of the chro- sufficient to maintain a star™s energy output (such
mosome number in germ-cell (ova and sperm) for- as the Sun™s) for billions of years. It is widely accepted
mation, and in the later union of chromosomes as the key process in stellar energy generation.
from two individuals; he suggested that variability Weizs¤cker proposed a scheme in 1944 for the
resulted from the combination of different chro- origin of the solar system; this scheme developed
mosomes. His ideas are of course broadly correct, the older ideas of Laplace that the Sun had been
and it is surprising that he was able in the 1880s to surrounded by a disc of gas, which rotated, became
Weyl, Hermann

turbulent and aggregated to form the planets. Auer, by now von Welsbach, also introduced the
Weizs¤cker™s theory (like Laplace™s) failed to use of a pyrophoric alloy of iron with cerium and
account for the angular momentum of the solar lanthanum in igniters, in which the ˜flint™ is
system, but it was developed by Alfv©n and then by abraded by a steel wheel and the sparks ignite gas
Hoyle, who proposed that the Sun™s magnetic field or petrol vapour.
Werner, Abraham Gottlob [verner] (1749“1817)
could generate the required momentum.
During the Second World War Weizs¤cker German mineralogist and geologist: proposed
worked with Heisenberg to develop nuclear energy Neptunist theory of geology.
from uranium for power or weaponry, but with Werner came from a well-off family operating
trivial success in comparison with the Allies. ironworks in a traditional mining area, and he was
Werner, Alfred [verner] (1866“1919) German“Swiss educated at the Freiberg Mining Academy and the
inorganic chemist: founded the modern theory of University of Leipzig, studying law and languages
co-ordination compounds. and returning to Freiberg in 1775 as a lecturer in
Werner was born in Alsace; it was French when he mining. He became the foremost geologist of his
was born, became German when he was 4, and time, now remembered for his Neptunist theory of
French again in 1919. Werner had allegiances to the origin of the Earth, which was widely accepted
both French and German culture; he usually wrote for much of the 18th-c. He proposed that all rocks
in German. He lived in Switzerland from the age of were precipitated as sediments or chemical precip-
20, graduating at Zürich, and held a professorship itates in a universal ocean created by the biblical
there from 1895 until his death. Flood, and that all geological strata thus followed a
From 1892 he worked on the inorganic complexes universal and specific sequence. The lowest layer
of metals. This large class of chemical compounds contained ˜primitive™ rocks such as granites and
had seemed confused; the sort of structure theory slates, the next higher layer included shales and
that had served well in organic chemistry did not fossilized fish, then followed limestones, sand-
appear to apply, and neither did ordinary valence stones and chalks, and finally alluvial clays and
rules. Werner brought a new view to them. He pro- gravels. Although such a scheme fitted moderately
posed that the central atom (usually a transition well with the geology around Freiberg, increased
metal atom) had its normal valence, and also knowledge of the geology of other parts of Europe
secondary valences that bonded it to other revealed the flaws in his ideas, and it was largely
atoms, groups or molecules (collectively, ˜ligands™) modified by Hutton™s uniformitarian theory.
arranged in space around it. This theory of co- However, much of his work was of lasting value, his
ordination complexes allowed two to nine ligands ideas and his many students having a great influ-
to be co-ordinated to the central atom; the com- ence in shaping modern geology.
Weyl, Hermann [viyl] (1885“1955) German mathe-
monest co-ordination number is six, with the
ligands arranged octahedrally. During 20 years, matician: contributed to symmetry theory, topo-
Werner worked out the consequences of this theory logical spaces and Riemannian geometry.
extensively, and rejuvenated inorganic chemistry Weyl was a student under Hilbert at Göttingen
as a result. Metal complexes are of great impor- and, on becoming a Privatdozent there, also worked
tance also in plant and animal biochemistry. with him. In 1913 he declined a professorship at
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in Göttingen and moved to Zürich, where he worked
1913. with Einstein. He returned to take up the profes-
Welsbach, Carl Auer, Baron von (1858“1929) sorship when Hilbert retired in 1930, but increas-
Austrian chemist: inventor of the gas mantle. ing Nazi power led him to move to Princeton with
Carl Auer studied chemistry at the polytechnic in Gödel and Einstein, retiring in 1951. As well as his
his birthplace, Vienna, and later in Heidelberg with outstanding mathematical work, Weyl published on
Bunsen. His interest in minerals, especially in the philosophy, logic and the history of mathematics.
˜rare earth™ minerals of northern Europe, led him Weyl acquired from Hilbert research interests in
to discover in 1885, as their oxides, two new metal- group theory and Hilbert space and operators. Once
lic elements which he named praseodymium and developed, these techniques proved central to the
neodymium. rapidly evolving theory of quantum mechanics and
At that time artificial lighting was by candles, oil, the unification of matrix mechanics and wave
or town gas (usually coal gas) which gave a lumi- mechanics. Weyl showed how symmetry relates to
nous flame, but electric lighting was clearly com- group theory and continuous groups, and how
petitive after 1882. Auer found that a mixture of this can be a powerful tool in solving quantum
hot rare-earth oxides was strongly luminescent. In mechanical problems.
1885 he patented his ˜gas mantle™ made by soaking When Weyl moved to Zürich, Einstein interested
a cylinder of cotton in a solution of thorium nitrate him in the mathematics of relativity and
with 1% cerium nitrate and burning off the cotton Riemannian geometry. In seeking to generalize
to give a fragile cup-shaped frame of the metal this, Weyl developed the geometry of affinely con-
oxides. These mantles, heated by a hot non-lumi- nected spaces and differential geometry. Weyl
nous flame, gave new life to gas as an illuminant, anticipated the non-conservation of parity in parti-
and it was used for public and home lighting until cles, a feature that has since been observed by par-
the 1950s. ticle physicists working with leptons.
Wheatstone, Sir Charles

Weyl produced a small number of highly influen- that every well-educated man should know some-
tial papers on number theory, proving results on thing of engineering theory. In mineralogy, he
the equidistribution of sequences of real numbers founded mathematical crystallography (on the
modulo 1. This was taken up in later work by Hardy basis of Haüy™s theory of crystal structure) and
and J E Littlewood (1885“1977). developed Mohs™s classification of minerals. He
Wheatstone, Sir Charles (1802“75) British physi- became the authority on names for new scientific
cist: a contributor to cable telegraphy. concepts, creating the now-familiar ˜scientist™
Wheatstone was privately educated and started and ˜physicist™ by analogy with ˜artist™. They soon
work in the family tradition as a maker of wood- replaced the older term ˜natural philosopher™.
wind and other musical instruments. In 1834 he Other useful words were coined to help his friends:
was appointed professor of experimental physics at biometry for Lubbock; Eocine, Miocene and Pliocene
King™s College, London. His science was self-taught. for Lyell; and for Faraday anode, cathode, dia- and
Much of Wheatstone™s early work was (under- para-magnetic, and ion (whence the sundry other
standably) concerned with acoustics and the theory particle names ending in -on).
of resonance of columns of air, and led to his In meteorology Whewell devised a self-recording
London appointment. This gave him a wider inter- anemometer. He was second only to Newton in his
est in physics, particularly optics and electricity. He work on tides and tidal theory, including organiz-
was a prolific inventor, patenting the concertina ing and collating tidal observations worldwide and
and other musical devices, and in 1838 invented a winning a Royal Medal.
stereoscope in which two pictures of slightly differ- His History and Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences
ing angles of perspective could be combined to give (1837“60) examined the nature of scientific discov-
an impression of three-dimensional solidity. In ery, which he saw as requiring imaginative guesses
1837 he collaborated with W F Cooke (1806“79) on which were capable of disproof or verification. Now
a commercial electric telegraph project, which was a classic, it still has authority in its survey of scien-
a great success, with thousands of miles of tele- tific ideas from the Greeks to the 19th-c.
graph lines being constructed. The telegraph used Rather unusually for a scientist he died as a result
a Daniell cell to provide current and a Sturgeon of being thrown from his horse.
Whipple, Fred Lawrence (1906“ ) US astronomer:
electromagnet in the recorder. Wheatstone was
responsible for several related inventions, such as proposed ˜dirty snowball™ model for comets.
the printing telegraph and the single-needle tele- Whipple had a distinguished career in astronomy
graph. He popularized (but did not invent) the in California and Harvard. In 1950 he proposed that
Wheatstone bridge, a device invented by S Christie cometary nuclei consist of a mixture of water ice
(1784“1865) and utilizing Ohm™s law for comparing and dust, frozen carbon dioxide, methane and
resistance. ammonia. This model, known as the ˜dirty snow-
Whewell, William [hyooel] (1794“1866) British ball™ theory, accounts for the fact that comets only
polymath, now best known for his survey of the sci- develop their characteristic tails as they approach
entific method and for creating scientific words. the Sun, when the solar wind vaporizes the volatile
Whewell was the son of a Lancastrian carpenter; components in the nucleus. Radiation pressure is
he gained a scholarship to Trinity College, then responsible for the fact that the tail always
Cambridge and showed his breadth of talent by points away from the Sun. Another feature of
winning prizes for poetry and for mathematics. He comets, their slight variability of orbital period,
remained there and from 1820“40 taught and was also explained by the formation of an evapo-
wrote on mechanics, geology, astronomy, theology, rated surface crust, through which jets of volatile
ethics and architecture. He was also active in the material are sometimes ejected. Whipple™s ideas
work of the Royal Society, the British Association were largely confirmed by observations made from
for the Advancement of Science and the Geological space probes during the visit of Halley™s comet in
Society. He was successively professor of mineral- 1986.
Whipple, George Hoyt (1878“1976) US medical sci-
ogy and of moral philosophy, Master of his college
from 1841 and vice-chancellor of the university in entist.
1842 and 1855. From his medical student days at Johns Hopkins,
The liking many felt for him was not universal; he Whipple was particularly interested in the oxygen-
was both self-conscious and forceful. As Master, he carrying pigment of red blood cells (haemoglobin)
did not allow Fellows to have keys to their college, and in the bile pigments that are formed in the body
or dogs or cigars within it, or to marry (he was twice from it. Working in the University of California
married himself). Undergraduates could not sit in from 1914“22, he examined the effect of diet on
his presence and he required nude paintings to be haemoglobin formation. To do this he bled dogs
removed from view in the Fitzwilliam Museum. A until their haemoglobin level was reduced to a
Royal Commission™s proposal that all Fellows be third of normal, and then studied the rate of red
allowed to vote at college meetings infuriated him. cell regeneration when the dogs were fed various
More positively, he inspired many able young diets; he found that meat, kidney and especially
men and his texts and his teaching in applied math- liver were effective in stimulating recovery. Since
ematics gave the necessary basis for Cambridge™s the fatal human disease of pernicious anaemia is
later successes in physics; and he pressed his view associated with red cell deficiency, it was reasonable
Wieland, Heinrich Otto

to attempt to treat it similarly, and G Minot was Whittle, von Ohain had jet-driven aircraft in
(1885“1950) and W Murphy (1892“1987) found in service with the Luftwaffe in mid-1944, slightly
1926 that large additions of near-raw liver in the ahead of Whittle. Jet engines made supersonic flight
patient™s diet were effective: Minot, Murphy and practicable, initially in fighters and then for civil
Whipple shared a Nobel Prize for physiology or med- air travel.
Widdowson, Elsie (1906“2000) British nutritionist:
icine in 1934. It was another 20 years before other
workers isolated the active curative compound, made scientific studies of human diet and nutri-
vitamin B12, and made it available for treatment and tion, and with Robert McCance ensured that the
study. austere British Second World War civilian diet was
Whipple spent the rest of his career at the the healthiest diet the population had ever had.
University of Rochester, continuing to work on After a first degree in chemistry at Imperial
blood and especially on thalassaemia, a genetic College, London, in the mid-1920s, Elsie Widdowson
anaemia due to a defect in the haemoglobin mole- remained there for a doctoral thesis on the chemi-
cule found especially in Mediterranean races. cal changes in ripening and stored fruit. A meeting
White, Gilbert (1720“93) British naturalist: author with Robert McCance (d. 1993) at St Bartholomew™s
of the first English classic on natural history. Hospital, where he was studying the loss of nutrients
White™s enthusiasm for all kinds of natural his- in food during cooking, led to a scientific partner-
tory is remarkable. He followed a family tradition ship that lasted 60 years, looking at the composi-
by becoming a curate and living in the family tion of human foods. McCance became a Reader in
home, ˜The Wakes™ at Selborne in Hampshire. He medicine at Cambridge in 1938 and Widdowson
declined more senior posts in order to stay there so joined him in studying the absorption and excre-
that he could study nature in his large garden and tion of iron, copper and zinc in the body and the
the nearby countryside. His accounts of this were chemical composition of foodstuffs in the British
shared with friends in his letters to them; shortly diet. With the onset of war and a meagre diet (only
before his death the diffident White was at last per- potatoes, carrots and cabbage being plentiful), they
suaded to edit 110 of his letters to form The Natural devised a basic diet which would provide the neces-
History and Antiquities of Selborne. The book so sary nutrients for survival. Using themselves as
pleased its many readers that it has been in print guinea-pigs and testing their fitness by fell-walking
ever since. White™s keenest interest was in birds, in the Lake District, their work led to important
whose song and habits he studied; other orni- changes in the national diet. They caused the statu-
thologists at that time interested themselves only tory inclusion of calcium in bread (still in force),
in plumage and anatomy. He studied mammals, and the use of dried eggs. The results of their stud-
bats, reptiles (especially his pet tortoise, Timothy), ies were published in The Chemical Composition of
insects, plants and the weather. His observations Foods (1940), a dietician™s bible which was updated
gave some evidence for Darwin™s theory of evolu- in constant re-editions. Her later research included
tion, but its main value has been to provide plea- studying changes in body composition during child
sure and inspiration to generations of naturalists. development, and malnutrition in Germany (she
As one zoologist wrote in 1901: ˜White is interest- showed that white bread was as nutritious as any
ing because nature is interesting; his descriptions other). In 1968 she moved to the Medical Research
are founded upon natural fact, exactly observed Council™s Dunn Nutrition Laboratory in Cambridge
and sagaciously interpreted™. as head of infant nutrition research. She was
Whittle, Sir Frank (1907“96) British aeronautical elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1976.
Wieland, Heinrich Otto [veelant] (1877“1957)
engineer: invented the jet engine.
After entering the RAF as a boy apprentice, German organic chemist: carried out important
Whittle qualified as a pilot at Cranwell College and work on the structure of cholesterol and other
studied engineering at Cambridge. He served as a steroids.
test pilot with the Royal Air Force, later working as The son of a gold refinery chemist, Wieland stud-
a consultant for a number of companies. In 1977 ied and taught in several German universities before
he became research professor at the US Naval succeeding Willst¤tter at Munich in 1925. His early
Academy, Annapolis. He joined the Order of Merit work was on organic compounds of nitrogen, includ-
in 1986. ing the fulminates; and in 1911 he made the first
Whittle™s principal claim to fame was the inven- nitrogen free radicals. He also worked on natural
tion of the turbojet aircraft engine, on which he products; plant alkaloids, butterfly-wing pigments
took out his first patent in 1930 while still a stu- (pterins) and especially the steroids. In steroid chem-
dent. In 1936 he formed his own company to istry, he showed that three bile acids can all be con-
develop the concept, and in 1941 a Gloster aircraft verted into cholanic acid, which he also made from
with his engine made its first test flight. Due to the cholesterol. It therefore followed that the bile acids
war development was rapid, and the Gloster was in and cholesterol had the same carbon skeleton, and
service with the RAF by 1944. Wieland proposed a structure for this parent steroid
In Germany, Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain skeleton. His first structure was shown to be incor-
(1911“98) completed his designs for a jet engine in rect, but a revised version which he and others
1933 and, better supported by his employers and by produced in 1932 is correct. For his steroid work he
industry (notably the aircraft makers Heinkel) than was awarded the 1927 Nobel Prize. His other work
Wien, Wilhelm

included studies on toad venom, on curare and on including journalism and writing encyclopedia
biological oxidation (which he showed is often, in entries, before obtaining a post in mathematics at
fact, dehydrogenation). Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1919. He
Wien, Wilhelm [veen] (1864“1928) German physi- held this until retirement.
cist: discovered the energy distribution formula for Wiener began research on stochastic, or random
black body radiation. processes such as Brownian motion, including
Wien grew up in a farming family and originally work on statistical mechanics and ergodic theory
planned to spend his life farming. He studied (which is concerned with the onset of chaos in a
briefly at Göttingen and continued his degree work system). Other areas that he advanced were integral
at Berlin from 1884. In 1886 Wien received his doc- equations, of a kind now known as Wiener inte-
torate for research on light diffraction and associ- grals, quantum theory and potential theory. As part
ated absorption effects, and returned to manage of his war work, Wiener applied statistical methods
his parents™ farm. A severe drought 4 years later to control (eg of anti-aircraft guns) and communi-
forced the sale of the farm, and he became assistant cation engineering. Extending this broadly, for
to Helmholtz in Berlin. In 1900 he took up the pro- example into neurophysiology, computer design
fessorship at Würzburg and after 20 years he was and biochemical regulation, led to his founding
appointed as Röntgen™s successor at Munich. cybernetics as a subject. Cybernetics is the study of
In 1892 Wien began research on thermal (or black control and communication in complex electronic
body) radiation (see Boltzmann), a study which ini- systems and in animals, especially humans.
tiated the transition from classical physics to His standing as a mathematician is hardly dis-
Planck™s quantum theory. Wien showed that the puted, but his writings are hard to read and uneven
wavelength », at which a black body radiation in quality. As a person he was extraordinary; small,
source at absolute temperature T emits maximum plump, myopic, playful and self-praising, he spoke
energy, obeys a law: »T = constant = 0.29 cm K (the many languages and was hard to understand in any
constant was measured by Lummer and E of them. He was a famously bad lecturer, perhaps
Pringsheim). This is known as Wien™s displacement because his mind worked in a very unusual way.
Wigner, Eugene Paul [wigner] (1902“95) Hun-
law; in accord with it a red-hot black body on fur-
ther heating emits shorter-wavelength radiation garian“US physicist: applied group theory to quan-
and becomes white hot as the wavelength of maxi- tum mechanics and discovered parity conservation
mum radiation shifts from the long wavelength in nuclear reactions.
(red) end to the centre of the visible spectrum. Wigner was the son of a businessman and took
Developing this, in 1896 he produced Wien™s for- his doctorate in engineering at the Berlin Institute
mula describing the distribution of energy in a of Technology in 1925. He moved to Princeton in
radiation spectrum as a function of wavelength 1930, became professor of theoretical physics there
and temperature. It was based on an assumption in 1938 and held this post until his retirement in
that a hot body consists of a large number of oscil- 1971. He was a brother-in-law of Dirac.
lators emitting radiation of all possible frequencies He made major contributions in quantum theory
and all in thermal equilibrium. Interestingly, and nuclear physics, in particular by showing the
Wien™s formula is well obeyed at short wavelengths value of symmetry concepts and the methods of
but is clearly wrong for longer values while group theory applied to physics. In 1927 he con-
Rayleigh produced a formula accurate at longer cluded that parity is conserved in a nuclear reac-
wavelengths but not at lower ones. tion: the laws of physics should not distinguish
Planck gave much thought to these discrepancies between right and left; or between positive and
and showed that, if one assumed that radiation negative time. As a consequence a nuclear reaction


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