The Origin of Natural History Museums and Zoos

This post is about the earliest research-dedicated natural history museums of Europe. Their roots go back to the aftermath of the French Revolution. After the storming of the Bastille (14.07.1789), it was realised that the specimen collections housed in the royal collections in Versailles, Paris, and Trianon would be in …

“Gradients” and “Fields” in Developmental Biology: A history of the ideas

Anyone who’s taken a course in developmental biology will have heard of “developmental gradients” or “embryonic fields” or “morphogenetic fields”; I learned these in German, so the English names might be different (I’ve seen those three being used). This post is about the history of these ideas of fields and …

Avicenna

Avicenna (a.k.a. Avicenna of Balkh; Ibn Sina; Shaykh Al-Ra’ees Abu Ali Al-Hussein Ibn Abdullah Ibn Sina Balkhi) was one of the most influential philosophers and scientists at the turn of the first millenium, and can rightly be named as the first of the Islamic philosophers.

German Idealism and Systematics

This post is about how Naturphilosophie, the natural science branch of German idealism, was expressed in systematics back in the first third of the 19th century. Reads those two links as background knowledge, if needed. The idealists (the natural scientists who followed Schelling and Oken‘s idealism) were also trying to …

Laura Bassi

Note: This post was originally titled “Who was the First Female Professor?”, based on my reading at the time that said it was Laura Bassi. However, this was false, as a benevolent Anonymous pointed out in the comments. Sorry for any confusion and misinformation. The very first female professor was …

Charles Darwin

“There is probably no more original, more complex, and bolder concept in the history of ideas than Darwin’s mechanistic explanation of adaptation.” – Ernst Mayr in The Growth of Biological Thought (1982), p. 481. Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), one of the many grandchildren of Erasmus Darwin (an equally remarkable person), …