On The Shoulders Of Giants
I'm not a scientist, but I play one on the internet. I'm not a teacher but I sometimes play one in a classroom. It can be argued that I'm an educator because I like to tell people stuff about things but so does the sketchy guy on the street corner who yells at trees and trashcans. I prefer to think of myself as part of a proud tradition that stretches back into antiquity.
Thales of Miletus 624 - 546 BC: Maybe the first scientist, maybe an urban legend like the Chupacabra or Manbearpig. Credited with being the first philosopher to explain natural phenomena without resorting to mythical causes. Believed water was the ultimate substance from which all other substances were derived. Left no writings which isn't surprising because in available pictures of him he has no arms.
Ibn al-Haytham 965 - 1039 AD: One of many Arabic mathematicians and philosophers, he created the pinhole camera, the laws of refraction, and pinhole pornography. He also enjoyed studying rainbows and eclipses and was probably the first person to freak out over a double rainbow. Most importantly he popularized using experiments to test his hypotheses as opposed to the Greek habit of simply arguing by logic.
WIlliam Gilbert 1544 - 1603: Astronomer, physician, physicist and natural philosopher. A contemporary of and influence upon Galileo, he was one of the first to record his work so minutely that his experiments could be replicated by others. He was the first philosopher to correctly posit that the Earth has an iron core and his early conjectures on magnetism continue to be explored by his dedicated followers:
By 1834 the word "scientist" entered the English language meaning someone who studies the structure and behavior of the physical world through observation and experiment. Also by this point those who study the physical world were engaged in recording their methods and results, repeating the experiments of others to replicate results and sharing their conclusions and experiments with non-scientists.
In the form of public lectures and demonstrations, both professionals and amateurs began entertaining the masses with sufficiently advanced science sometimes appearing indistinguishable from magic. Whether it was a cryogenics demonstration based on the work of James Dewar or an explanation of electrostatic forces based on the work of James Clerk Maxwell, people would attend public lectures to learn and be entertained by the wacky antics of the scientific world.
Scientists like Nikola Tesla were known for demonstrating the safety of AC electricity by passing large amounts of current through his body.
Other scientists like Thomas Edison were known for demonstrating the dangers of AC electricity by electrocuting stray dogs and perhaps an elephant.
And on and on until we reach the current day where the dazzling Don Riefler and myself continue to share the same knowledge with as many people as possible, although hopefully without the wanton animal cruelty. Wanton cruelty to Don however..........