Saturday, August 18, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Louis Pasteur
Louis PasteurLouis Pasteur (December 27, 1822 – September 28, 1895) was a French chemist best known for his remarkable breakthroughs in microbiology. His experiments confirmed the germ theory of disease, also reducing mortality from puerperal fever (childbed), and he created the first vaccine for rabies. He is best known to the general public for showing how to stop milk and wine from going sour - this process came to be called pasteurization. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of bacteriology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch. He also made many discoveries in the field of chemistry, most notably the asymmetry of crystals.

“He believed that the Genesis account that created life reproduces its own kind. He worked to deomonstrate the fallacy of spontaneous generation, which many continued to believe despite the work of Leeuwenhoek in the previous century”

Louis Jean Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822 in Dole in the Jura region of France and grew up in the town of Arbois. There he later had his house and laboratory, which is a Pasteur museum today. His father, Jean Pasteur, was a tanner and a veteran of the Napoleonic wars. Louis's aptitude was recognized by his college headmaster, who recommended that the young man apply for the École Normale Supérieure, which accepted him. After serving briefly as professor of physics at Dijon Lycée in 1848, he became professor of chemistry at Strasbourg University, where he met and courted Marie Laurent, daughter of the university's rector in 1849. They were married on May 29, 1849 and together they had five children, only two of whom survived to adulthood. Throughout his whole life, Louis Pasteur remained an ardent Catholic. A well-known quotation illustrating this is attributed to him: "I have the faith of a Breton peasant, and by the time I die I hope to have the faith of a Breton peasant's wife."


Friday, August 17, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Gregor Mendel
Gregor Johann MendelGregor Johann Mendel (July 20, 1822 – January 6, 1884) was a German-Czech Augustinian priest and scientist often called the "father of modern genetics" for his study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants. Mendel showed that the inheritance of traits follows particular laws, which were later named after him. The significance of Mendel's work was not recognized until the turn of the 20th century. Its rediscovery prompted the foundation of genetics.

As an Augustinian monk, Gregor Mendel was a Christian who belived in creationism.

Mendel was born into a German-speaking family in Heinzendorf, Silesia, then part of the Austrian Empire (now Hynčice in the Czech Republic), and was baptized two days later. During his childhood Mendel worked as a gardener, and as a young man attended the Philosophical Institute in Olomouc (Olmütz). In 1843 he entered the Augustinian Abbey of St. Thomas in Brno, (Brünn). Born Johann Mendel, he took the name Gregor upon entering monastic life. In 1851 he was sent to the University of Vienna to study, returning to his abbey in 1853 as a teacher, principally of physics.

Gregor Mendel, who is known as the "father of modern genetics", was inspired by both his professors at university and his colleagues at the monastery to study variation in plants. He commenced his study his monastery's experimental garden. Between 1856 and 1863 Mendel cultivated and tested some 29,000 pea plants. His experiments brought forth two generalizations which later became known as Mendel's Laws of Inheritance.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: James Clerk Maxwell
James Clerk MaxwellJames Clerk Maxwell (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish mathematician and theoretical physicist. His most significant achievement was formulating a set of equations — eponymically named Maxwell's equations — that for the first time expressed the basic laws of electricity and magnetism in a unified fashion. He also developed the Maxwell distribution, a statistical means to describe aspects of the kinetic theory of gases. These two discoveries helped usher in the era of modern physics, laying the foundation for future work in such fields as special relativity and quantum mechanics. He is also known for creating the first true colour photograph in 1861.

“(The work of Maxwell) ... the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.” —Albert Einstein, The Sunday Post

The majority of Maxwell's illustrious career took place at the University of Cambridge, where his investigations often made use of his mathematical aptitude, drawing on elements of geometry and algebra. With these skills, Maxwell was able to demonstrate that electric and magnetic fields travel through space, in the form of waves, and at the constant speed of light. Finally, in 1861 Maxwell wrote a four-part publication in the Philosophical Magazine called On Physical Lines of Force where he first proposed that light was in fact undulations in the same medium that is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: William Thomson
A photograph of William Thomson, likely from the late-19th century William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, OM, GCVO, PC, PRS, FRSE, (26 June 1824 – 17 December 1907) was a mathematical physicist, engineer, and outstanding leader in the physical sciences of the 19th century. He did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form. He is widely known for developing the Kelvin scale of absolute temperature measurement. The title Baron Kelvin was given in honour of his achievements, and named after the River Kelvin, which flowed past his university in Glasgow, Scotland.

He also enjoyed a second career as a telegraph engineer and inventor, a career that propelled him into the public eye and ensured his wealth, fame and honour.

Thomson was a defender of Christian education, and he studied the Bible, its history, and the geography of the ancient world.

Thomson remained a devout believer in Christianity throughout his life: attendance at chapel was part of his daily routine, though he might not identify with fundamentalism if he were alive today. He saw his Christian faith as supporting and informing his scientific work, as is evident from his address to the annual meeting of the Christian Evidence Society, 23 May 1889.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: James Prescott Joule
James Joule - English physicist James Prescott Joule, FRS (December 24, 1818 – October 11, 1889) was an English physicist, born in Sale, near Manchester. Joule studied the nature of heat, and discovered its relationship to mechanical work (see energy). This led to the theory of conservation of energy, which led to the development of the first law of thermodynamics. The SI unit of work, the joule, is named after him. He worked with Lord Kelvin to develop the absolute scale of temperature, made observations on magnetostriction, and found the relationship between the flow of current through a resistance and the heat dissipated, now called Joule's law.

"I shall lose no time in repeating and extending these experiments, being satisfied that the grand agents of nature are by the Creator's fiat, indestructible; and that wherever mechanical force is expended, and exact equivalent of heat is always obtained."

"After knowledge of, and obedience to, the will of God, the next aim must be
to know something of His attributes of wisdom power and goodness as evidenced by His handiwork. It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no
less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed."
-James Prescott Joule


Monday, August 13, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday holding a glass bar of the type he used in 1845 to show that magnetism can affect light. Detail of an engraving by Henry Adlard, based on an earlier photograph by Maull and Polyblank c 1857 Michael Faraday, FRS (September 22, 1791 – August 25, 1867) was an English chemist and physicist (or natural philosopher, in the terminology of that time) who contributed significantly to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry.

Faraday studied the magnetic field around a conductor carrying a DC electric current, and established the basis for the magnetic field concept in physics. He discovered electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis. He established that magnetism could affect rays of light and that there was an underlying relationship between the two phenomena.

His inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices formed the foundation of electric motor technology.

As a chemist, Faraday discovered chemical substances such as benzene, invented an early form of the bunsen burner and the system of oxidation numbers, and popularized terminology such as anode, cathode, electrode, and ion.