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
German physicist Gustav Theodor Fechner discovers that an increase in the intensity of a stimulus does not produce a one-to-one increase in the intensity of sensation. Instead, the sensation seems to increase as the logarithm of the excitation.
Mathematician Bernard Bolzano's Paradoxien des Unendlichen is published, two years after the Bolzano's death. It is the first work to use the word "set" in a modern mathematical sense, and also treats infinite sets.
In Über die bewegende Kraft der Wärme, mathematical physicist Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius articulates what comes to be known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The law states that heat can only be transferred from a warmer body to a colder body. In 1865, he'll restate the Law, saying that in the closed system entropy always increases.
Painting by Gustave Courbet: A Burial At Ornans (French: Un enterrement à Ornans, also known as A Funeral At Ornans) represents one of the major turning points of 19th-century French art. The painting records the funeral in September 1848 of his great-uncle in the painter's birthplace, the small town of Ornans. It treats an ordinary provincial funeral with unflattering realism, and on the giant scale traditionally reserved for the heroic or religious scenes of history painting. Its exhibition at the 1850–51 Paris Salon created an "explosive reaction" and brought Courbet instant fame. It is currently displayed at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France.
Mathematician Joseph Liouville demonstrates the existence of transcendental numbers (transcendentals are numbers that are not the solution to any algebraic equation).
Léon Foucault demonstrates that the Earth rotates using a pendulum, suspended from the ceiling of a church.
Physicist William Thomson proposes a concept of "absolute zero", at which the energy of molecules is zero. He draws on Charles' Law to show that such a condition would hold at -273 degrees Celsius.
Daguerreotype by John Adams Whipple: Daguerreoype of the moon. Whipple was an American inventor and early photographer. He was the first in the United States to manufacture the chemicals used for daguerreotypes; he pioneered astronomical and night photography; he was a prize-winner for his extraordinary early photographs of the moon; and he was the first to produce images of stars other than the sun — the star Vega and the Mizar-Alcor stellar sextuple system, which was thought to be a double star until 2009.
Albrecht von Kölliker publishes the first textbook of histology, Handbuch der Gewebelehre.
Hermann Ludwig von Helmholtz becomes the first to discover how fast a message travels along a nerve, measuring the speed of transmission in a frog nerve cell.
James Prescott Joule and William Thompson, later Lord Kelvin, establish that an expanding gas becomes cooler. This is now known as the Joule-Thompson effect.
Daguerreotype by John Adams Whipple: Henry Winthrop Sargent and His Family. Whipple kept several distinctive pieces of furniture in his studio that he used to solidify his compositions by disposing them within an image in characteristic ways without having the sitter use them. In fact, it is this unique posing style that identifies Whipple as the artist of the portrait of Henry Winthrop Sargent and his family, taken in Boston in the early 1850s. Here, Whipples composition is complex and masterful. The empty armchair at the lower left faces the viewer and draws the eye in. The covered table at the far right connects an occupied chair to the edge of the plate and suggests a vanishing point while giving diagonal movement to what is basically a horizontal composition. The corner of a plain backdrop, barely perceptible at the right, aids the illusion of movement and space. The empty armchair acts as a backrest for young Francis Sargent, who is actually supported by a posing stand, the base of which can be seen between his feet and his mothers skirts. Caroline Olmsted Sargent appears to be reading a letter to her assembled family. Her oldest son, Winthrop Henry Sargent, sits facing her, and their profiles echo across the space as he leans toward her. Henry Winthrop Sargent, at the apex of the composition, leans dynamically into the gathering, supporting his weight on the back of a carved side chair. The division of the family into two pairs of linked figures creates powerful parallel diagonals; but despite this calculated arrangement, all of the sitters appear to be at ease and engaged with one another.
Rudolph Albert von Kölliker discovers the cellular origin of spermatozoa, which were believed by some to originate from a fermentation process.
In Britain, vaccination against small pox is made compulsory.
Léon Foucault demonstrates that the velocity of light is lesson water than in air, tending to confirm the wave theory of light.
William John Macquorn Rankine introduces the concept of potential energy, or energy of position.
Daguerreotype by John Adams Whipple: Cornelius Conway Felton with His Hat and Coat. Felton was Eliot Professor of Greek Literature at Harvard University, reaching for his felt hat and duster. The first son of a poverty-stricken furniture maker, Felton became one of the most renowned classical scholars in the country and, in 1860, Harvard's president. This witty photograph lampoons the rigid formality of the portrait process through narrative gesture (the implied reach across two separate images) and nuance (the delicate crush of the soft hat's crown). As opposed to the inflexible silk top hat worn by dandies and professors alike, the broad-brimmed felt hat was worn by outdoorsmen and was practical, casual, and fundamentally democratic.
Mathematician George Boole, whose "Calculus of Logic," appeared in 1848, publishes An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities, which articulates a system of "symbolic logic".
Painting by Gustave Courbet: The Meeting (French: La rencontre) is traditionally interpreted as Courbet greeted by his patron Alfred Bruyas, his servant Calas, and his dog while traveling to Montpellier. The composition is based on the Wandering Jew. The Meeting was exhibited in Paris at the 1855 Exhibition Universelle, where critics ridiculed it as "Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet". Bruyas did not exhibit The Meeting until he donated it to the Musée Fabre in Montpellier in 1868.
Alfred Russel Wallace publishes "On the Law which has Regulated the Introduction of New Species," anticipating Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.
Rudolf Virchow states the principle that new cells come into being only by division of previously existing cells: Omnis cellula e cellula.
Recherches sur la putréfaction, by Louis Pasteur, is published. The book describes how fermentation is caused by microorganisms.
(no entry for this year)
The remains of the first known example of what come to be known as the "Neanderthals" is found in a cave near Düsseldorf, in the Neander Valley. The discovery was made by limestone quarry miners and consists of a skullcap, two femora, the three right arm bones, two of the left arm bones, ilium, and fragments of a scapula and ribs. The fossils were given to Johann Carl Fuhlrott, a local teacher and amateur naturalist. The first description of the remains was made by anatomist Hermann Schaaffhausen and the find was announced jointly in 1857.In 1997, the specimen was the first to yield Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA fragments. The description of this discovery represents the beginning of paleoanthropology as a scientific discipline.
Louis Agassiz publishes Essay on Classification advocating a theory of multiple creations and contradicting both evolution and Noah's ark.
Gregor Mendel, a monk at the Augustinian monastery of St. Thomas in Brünn, Austria (now Brno, Czechoslovakia), begins breeding experiments with the garden pea, Pisum sativum.
Heinz Christian Pander describes conodonts — toothy microfossils that will puzzle paleontologists for many years.
Painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres: The Source (French: La Source), was begun in Florence around 1820 and not completed until 1856, in Paris. When Ingres completed The Source, he was seventy-six years old, already famous, and president of the École des Beaux-Arts. The pose of the nude may be compared with that of another by Ingres, the Venus Anadyomene (1848), and is a reimagination of the Aphrodite of Cnidus or Venus Pudica. Two of Ingres' students, painters Paul Balze and Alexandre Desgoffe, helped to create the background and water jar. The first exhibition of The Source was in 1856, the year it was completed. The painting was received enthusiastically. Duchâtel acquired the painting in 1857 for a sum of 25,000 francs. The state assumed title to the painting in 1878 and it passed to the Musée du Louvre. In 1986 it was transferred to the Musée d'Orsay. The painting has been frequently exhibited and widely published. Haldane Macfall in A History of Painting: The French Genius describes The Source as Ingres' "superb nude by which he is chiefly known". Kenneth Clark in his book Feminine Beauty observed how The Source has been described as "the most beautiful figure in French painting."
Über die Art der Bewegung, welche wir Wäe nennen (On the type of motion turned heat) by Rudolf Clausius is establishes his kinetic theory of heat of the mathematical basis. It also explains how evaporation occurs.
Photograph by Gustave Le Gray: Lighthouse and Jetty, le Havre, an albumen print.
Photograph by Gustave Le Gray: The Great Wave. The dramatic effects of sunlight, clouds, and water in Le Gray's seascapes stunned his contemporaries and immediately brought him international recognition. At a time when photographic emulsions were not equally sensitive to all colors of the spectrum, most photographers found it impossible to achieve proper exposure of both landscape and sky in a single picture. Le Gray solved this problem by printing two negatives on a single sheet of paper: one exposed for the sea, the other for the sky, and sometimes made on separate occasions or in different locations. Le Gray's marine pictures caused a sensation not only because their simultaneous depiction of sea and heavens represented a technical tour de force, but also because the resulting poetic effect was without precedent in photography.
Painting by Jean-François Millet: The Gleaners (Des glaneuses) depicts three peasant women gleaning a field of stray grains of wheat after the harvest. The painting is famous for featuring in a sympathetic way what were then the lowest ranks of rural society; this was received poorly by the French upper classes. The painting immediately drew negative criticism from the middle and upper classes, who viewed the topic with suspicion: one art critic, speaking for other Parisians, perceived in it an alarming intimation of "the scaffolds of 1793." Its size (33×44 inches) was also considered offensive, as it was too large for an image depicting mere labor.
Rudolf Virchow finalizes the cell theory originally announced by Schleiden and Schwann 11 years earlier by declaring that cells are the basic units of all living things, and all cells are formed by the division of existing cells.
Alfred Russel Wallace sends to Darwin a manuscript — "On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type" — that shows clearly that Wallace has independently formulated a model of evolution by natural selection.
Darwin's and Wallace's ideas are jointly presented to the Linnaean Society of London.
The first relatively complete dinosaur skeleton, of Hadrosaurus foulkii, is found in New Jersey.
Physician Henry Gray publishes Anatomy of the Human Body, Descriptive and Surgical. Gray's Anatomy will be a standard textbook of anatomy for more than a century.
The concept of "bonds" is introduced by chemist Archibald Scott Couper, who believes that carbon atoms are the fundamental building blocks of organic compounds.
Julius Plücker shows that cathode rays bend under the influence of a magnet, suggesting they are connected in some way with charge. This is an early step along the path that will lead in 1897 to the discovery that cathode rays are composed of electrons.
(no entry for this year)
Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species.
An exceptionally well-preserved skeleton is discovered in Bavaria. Two years later, this bird-like, bipedal dinosaur will be named Compsognathus, meaning "dainty jaw."
Catholic priest Jean-Jacques Pouech describes fossil eggshell fragments. They will eventually prove to be the first described dinosaur eggs.
Matrix algebra begins, as mathematician Arthur Cayley discusses the matrix in the context of a theory of invariant transformations.
Gustav Kirchoff recognizes that sodium is found on the sun and discovers his black-body radiation law.
Physicist Gustav Robert Kirchhoff and chemist R. W. Bunsen explain that when light passes through a gas, or heated material, only certain wavelengths of the light are absorbed. Therefore, an analysis of the spectrum of the light can reveal the chemical makeup of the gas or material.
Photograph by Gustave Le Gray: The Pont du Carrousel Seen from the Pont Royal, an albumen print.
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.
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