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Fulton, Robert

1765-1815


U.S. inventor who brought steamboating to commercial success.

As a young man, Fulton dreamed of becoming a painter and went to Paris to study. But he soon turned to engineering and inventions. He designed an experimental sub-marine, which caught the eye of Livingston, the American ambassador to France. Livingston convinced Fulton to return to the United States and concentrate on steamboat design.

Fulton's first boat, the 'Clermont', was tested on the Hudson River. In the hull of the ship, he placed an engine he had shipped from England, and on each side, a primitive paddle wheel. The boat carried on its way to Albany, arriving thirty-two hours later and Fulton's s steamboat began service in New York in 1807.

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His Life and his Results


































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Galvani, Luigi

1737-1798


Italian experimental scientist who studied electrical phenomena in living things.

In 1780 he built an electric cell with two different metals and the natural fluids from a dissected frog. In another experiment he applied current to the nerves of a frog and observed the contractions of the muscles in their legs.

Galvani's colleague Alessandro Volta was able to reproduce the results, but was skeptical of Galvani's explanation. This gave rise to a disagreement between Galvani and Volta over the explanation of the phenomenon. Galvani's work was nevertheless instrumental in leading Volta to the invention of the first electric battery.

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da Gama, Vasco

c.1469-1524


Vasco da Gama - a Portuguese navigator - was the first European to travel by sea around Africa to India (1497 - 99). At the order of King Manuel I of Portugal, he commanded four vessels to Calicut, where he opened up the lucrative spice trade, thus beginning the Portuguese empire, one of the great European empires, which lasted 500 years.

He returned to India with 20 ships in 1502 and established Portuguese power in India and Africa. He was sent back to India as viceroy in 1524 but soon died.

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Gauss, Karl Friederich

1777-1855



Gauss was one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, he applied mathematics to gravitation, electricity, and magnetism.

Born in Brunswick, Germany, Gauss was a prodigy in mental calculation, who conceived most of his mathematical theories by the age of 17. He wrote the first modern book on number theory, in which he proved the law of quadratic reci-procity, and discovered the intrinsic differential geometry of surfaces. The unit of magnetic induction has been named after him.

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Biography + links

From the University of St. Andrews, Scotland
School of Mathematics
Biography