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The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project: Providing access to classic scientific papers and other scholarly materials, since 1993. More About: ESP | OUR CONTENT | THIS WEBSITE | WHAT'S NEW | WHAT'S HOT
The ESP Timeline (one of the site's most popular features) has been completely updated to allow the user to select (using the timeline controls above each column) different topics for the left and right sides of the display.
New Left Column
New Left Column
New Right Column
New Right Column
Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel shows that light can initiate chemical reactions that produce an electric current.
Charles Darwin's Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle appears.
Martin Barry expressed the belief that the spermatozoon enters the egg.
(no entry for this year)
(no entry for this year)
German physician and physicist Julius Robert Mayer is the first to state the law of conservation of energy, noting specifically that heat and mechanical energy are two aspects of the same thing.
On the uniform motion of heat in homogeneous solid bodies, by William Thomson, aka Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), is published. Thomson's concern with the physics of cooling bodies will draw him into debates concerning the age of the Earth. In 1846 he calculates that the Earth can be no more than 100 million years old.
The change in the observed frequency of waves emitted from a source, moving relative to the observer, is described by Christian Johann Doppler (1803-1853). This phenomenon is now known as the Doppler Effect.
Charles Darwin's book The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs being the first part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, is published. During the year Darwin composes an abstract of his theory of species evolution.
Carl Wilhelm von Nägeli (1817-1891) publishes Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Pollens. His paper describes cell division in plants with remarkable accuracy, and discusses seed formation in flowering plants.
Richard Owen names Cetiosaurus, the sixth named dinosaur species.
Die Thierchemie, by chemist Baron Justus von Liebig (1803-1873), is published, and the science of biochemistry begins.
The term DINOSAUR is coined by Richard Owen (1804-1892) to describe a class of animals that we now believe were dominant on the Earth for approximately 175 million years.
James Prescott Joule determines the mechanical equivalent of heat by measuring the rise in temperature produced in water by stirring it.
Louis Agassiz completes Les Poissons Fossiles describing fossil fish of the world. This single monograph increases tenfold the formally described vertebrates known to science.
That the nervous system uses electricity in communicating between different parts of the body is demonstrated by Emil Heinrich du Bois-Reymond (1818-1896). He founds the field of electrophysiology.
(no entry for this year)
Charles Darwin first outlines his thoughts on natural selection in an unpublished essay.
Robert Chambers, a Scottish journalist, publishes (anonymously) his Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, an early book outlining an evolutionary view of the natural world.
The second part of the Geology of the Beagle, Charles Darwin's Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands Visited During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, is published. Darwin's book claims to supply evidence for the geological theories of Charles Lyell (1797-1875), from areas that Lyell himself had never seen.
That all the cells in an organism are generated from successive divisions of the egg cell is described by Rudolf Albert von Kölliker (1817-1905). Kölliker shows that the egg is itself a cell.
Michael Faraday relates magnetism to light after finding the magnetic field effects the polarization of light in crystals. He proposes that light may be waves of electromagnetism. He also describes the phenomena of diamagnetism and paramagnetism, which he explains in terms of his concept of a magnetic field.
(no entry for this year)
James Prescott Joule discovers that the length of an iron bar changes slightly when the bar is magnetized.
Karl Wilhelm Von Nägeli shows that plant cells are not formed as buds from the surfaces of existing cells, as was proposed by Theodore Schwann.
Joseph Leidy identifies in pork the parasite that causes trichinosis, a potentially fatal human disease.
Über die Erhaltung der Kraft ("On the Conservation of Force"), by Hermann Ludwig von Helmholtz (1821-1894), is published. It articulates what later becomes known as the Conservation of Energy.
Jakob Mathias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann announce that cells are the basic units of all living structures.
An absolute scale of temperatures is proposed by William Thomson (1824-1907). Thomson will become Baron Kelvin of Largs, in 1892, and the scale will come to bear his name.
Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau suggests that light from a source of moving away from the observer will be shifted toward the red end of the spectrum, a phenomenon known as redshift. This is closely related to, but not exactly the same as, the Doppler effect.
On the archetype and homologies of the vertebrate skeleton, by Richard Owen (1804-1892), is published. In the book Owen argues that the skull, and other parts of the body, are formed by the modification of the vertebra of different animals.
Richard Owen describes "homologies" — similarities of design in bird wings, fish fins and human hands.
A Neanderthal skull is excavated from Forbes Quarry on the northern side of the Rock of Gibraltar. Over the next few decades, the skull will be stashed in a library cabinet in Gibraltar, dusted off and sent to London, accurately likened to the ancient skullcap from Neander Valley in Germany, nearly named Homo calpicus, and finally stored and largely forgotten in the Royal College of Surgeons.
Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau measures the velocity of light in error by measuring the time it takes for a beam of light to pass between the teeth of a rotating gear. The light is reflected by a mirror and stopped by the next tooth of the gear. The result, 315,000 km/se4c (196,000 miles/sec), is within 5% of today's accepted value.
In describing Sadi Carnot's theory of heat, published in 1824, William Thomson (1824-1907) uses the term THERMODYNAMICS.
The speed of light is measured by physicist Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau (1819-1896) to be approximately 186,000 miles per second.
Botanist Carl Friedrich von Gärtner (1772-1850) publishes Versuche und Beobachtungen über die Bastarderzeugung im Pflanzenreiche. The book describes thousands of experiments, many involving the production of hybrids, on more than 500 species of plants. Mendel will study this book in detail when he attends the University of Vienna in the early 1850s, and will cite the book in the opening of his paper of 1865.
Based on a humerus 58 inches in circumference, Mantell names a new dinosaur species: Pelorosaurus, the first recognized sauropod.
ESP Quick Facts
In the early 1990's, Robert Robbins was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, where he directed the informatics core of GDB — the human gene-mapping database of the international human genome project. To share papers with colleagues around the world, he set up a small paper-sharing section on his personal web page. This small project evolved into The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.
In 1995, Robbins became the VP/IT of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Robbins secured funding, through the ELSI component of the US Human Genome Project, to create the original ESP.ORG web site, with the formal goal of providing free, world-wide access to the literature of classical genetics.
Although the methods of molecular biology can seem almost magical to the uninitiated, the original techniques of classical genetics are readily appreciated by one and all: cross individuals that differ in some inherited trait, collect all of the progeny, score their attributes, and propose mechanisms to explain the patterns of inheritance observed.
In reading the early works of classical genetics, one is drawn, almost inexorably, into ever more complex models, until molecular explanations begin to seem both necessary and natural. At that point, the tools for understanding genome research are at hand. Assisting readers reach this point was the original goal of The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.
Usage of the site grew rapidly and has remained high. Faculty began to use the site for their assigned readings. Other on-line publishers, ranging from The New York Times to Nature referenced ESP materials in their own publications. Nobel laureates (e.g., Joshua Lederberg) regularly used the site and even wrote to suggest changes and improvements.
When the site began, no journals were making their early content available in digital format. As a result, ESP was obliged to digitize classic literature before it could be made available. For many important papers — such as Mendel's original paper or the first genetic map — ESP had to produce entirely new typeset versions of the works, if they were to be available in a high-quality format.
Early support from the DOE component of the Human Genome Project was critically important for getting the ESP project on a firm foundation. Since that funding ended (nearly 20 years ago), the project has been operated as a purely volunteer effort. Anyone wishing to assist in these efforts should send an email to Robbins.
With the development of methods for adding typeset side notes to PDF files, the ESP project now plans to add annotated versions of some classical papers to its holdings. We also plan to add new reference and pedagogical material. We have already started providing regularly updated, comprehensive bibliographies to the ESP.ORG site.
ESP Picks from Around the Web (updated 06 MAR 2017 )
CRISPR-Cas: Bringing precise editing to DNA manipulation.
Treating Disease with Fecal Transplantation
Fossils of miniature humans (hobbits) discovered in Indonesia
Science Policy & Funding
Overbuilding Research Capacity: an important editorial in which Bruce Alberts argues that the current funding trajectory is unsustainable.
Rescuing US biomedical research from its systemic flaws: Bruce Alberts and others argue that "it is time to rethink some fundamental features of the US biomedical research ecosystem."
Gates Foundation research can't be published in top journals
DNA barcoding shows that restaurant seafood is often not what it seems
Dinosaur tail, complete with feathers, found preserved in amber.
Dinosaurs and Feathers: A Bibliography
Mysterious fast radio burst (FRB) detected in the distant universe.
Colliding stars will light up the night sky in 2022
Big Data & Informatics
Big Data: Buzzword or Big Deal?
Hacking the genome: Identifying anonymized human subjects using publicly available data.
Using DNA as a mass-storage device for digital data.