Category Archives: Science

Anti-Catholic science fiction

Clerical Catholic Scientists/Engineers
Lay Catholic Scientists/Engineers
St Albert the Great, OP
Msgr Georges Lemaitre, Father of the Big Bang Theory
Rev Gregor Mendel, Father of Modern Genetics
Pope to scientists: faith does not hurt science, it leads to greater truth

-by Steve Weidenkopf

“This past September, Apple TV+ launched an ambitious science fiction television series described as “based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov” that “chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire.”

The show takes its name, Foundation, from the first of three Asimov novels originally published as short stories from 1942 to 1950. Asimov received the prestigious Hugo Award for best all-time science fiction series in 1966 for the novels. Decades later, he added several prequels and sequels to the body of work. The books were considered notoriously difficult to adapt to film, as efforts by studios in the late 1990s and mid-2000s failed to achieve results. However, Apple TV acquired the rights in 2018 and ordered a ten-episode season. Released to mostly positive critical reviews, Apple ordered a second season last month.

Foundation purports to tell the story of the coming end of the Galactic Empire, ruled by three clones of the emperor, Cleon I. Imperial power rests with the seemingly consistent cloned rulers, who enforce galactic peace through extreme violence. However, trouble erupts when Hari Seldon, a university professor of mathematics, develops the theory of “psychohistory” (“a predictive model designed to forecast the behavior of very large populations”) that he claims foretells the fall of the empire. Arrested and tried for treason, Seldon confronts the cloned emperors and predicts the impending collapse of peace, security, and order in the galaxy. The TV show chronicles the adventures of the imperial clones, Seldon’s band of exiled followers, and the impending collapse of galactic society.

No book can be understood without reference to its author and what influenced him. Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) was born in Russia, but his family moved to the United States when he was a boy. He earned advanced degrees in chemistry, which led to a position as a professor in biochemistry at Boston University. Asimov enjoyed creative writing from an early age and was drawn to science fiction. Although raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, Asimov rejected his family’s faith, became an atheist, and embraced the Enlightenment ideals of humanism and rationalism. He was named “Humanist of the Year” in 1984 by the American Humanist Association, an organization dedicated to establishing a “progressive society where being good without a god is an accepted and respected way to live life,” and served as its president from 1985 to 1992. Asimov continued to write and speak on scientific topics until his death in 1992.

Asimov found inspiration for his Foundation narrative after reading Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon (1737-1794) was an English Enlightenment scholar who was raised Anglican, converted to the Catholic Faith at Oxford while a student, and then reverted to Protestantism when his outraged father sent him to Calvinist Switzerland to regain the “true” faith. Later, after meeting Voltaire, the French skeptic and enemy of the Church, Gibbon embraced skepticism and rationalism. In his famous work on the Roman Empire, Gibbon posited the theory that the Church enfeebled the once mighty imperial structure. He speculated that the Church’s objection to Roman immorality and its failure to embrace the Roman way of life disrupted the unity of the empire.

According to Gibbon, the teachings of the Catholic Church produced a “servile and effeminate age,” where Roman imperial society was undermined by the clergy and its insistence on living Christian virtues. He argued that the political life of the empire was radically changed by the adoption of the Christian faith as the official (and only) religion in the empire in the late fourth century. Emperors, Gibbon opined, were distracted by worthless and ridiculous religious disagreements, which hampered their ability to deal with the rising political and military situation on the imperial borders.

Gibbon’s theory on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire became the standard narrative in the English-speaking world and found favor with Enlightenment thinkers with an animus against religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular. Enlightenment intellectuals believed that the Church was a negative influence in the world and that the collapse of the Roman Empire produced a thousand-year “triumph of barbarism and religion” that was finally broken with the return of the classical knowledge of ancient Greece and Rome during the Renaissance. The Frenchman Denis Diderot (1713-1784), an Enlightenment leader, summed it all up when he famously quipped, “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”

The influence of Enlightenment intellectuals, and especially Gibbon’s work, is clearly seen in the first episode of Foundation, when Hari Seldon stands in the docket during his treason trial. Seldon predicts the collapse of imperial civilization within five centuries (Rome collapsed at the end of the fifth century) followed by a dark age of barbarism and violence consisting of 30,000 years, which Seldon argues can be reduced to a thousand years with the creation of an Encyclopedia Galactica, a compilation of human knowledge that can be used by future generations climbing out of the post-imperial dark ages as a “foundation” for the re-establishment of civilization. After rebels detonate suicide bombs, initiating events that may lead to the empire’s demise, the emperors decide to spare Seldon’s life and send him along with his followers into exile on a remote planet, where they will compile their Encyclopedia Galactica to ride out the impending dark ages.

Now it’s time to set the record straight. Although the Foundation Apple TV+ series is a well written show containing majestic set pieces, beautiful cinematography, stunning computer-generated graphics, and a cast of fascinating characters brilliantly acted, its foundation (pun intended) rests on a tired anti-Catholic historical myth about the role of religion and the Church in the collapse of ancient civilization.

Contra the show’s writers—and Isaac Asimov, and Edward Gibbon—embracing the Catholic faith did not cause the collapse of the Roman Empire. The early Church did not desire the downfall of the established political order and in fact supported the Roman state, spiritually through prayer and materially by individual Christians joining the army, working as imperial officials, and paying their taxes.

The empire persecuted the Church and tried to eradicate it for numerous political, religious, and social reasons. The Church’s moral teachings certainly placed it at odds with Roman culture, and there is no doubt that these were a cause of Roman animosity against the Church. Ten general persecutions exploded against the Church in its first four centuries of existence. The Great Persecution under Diocletian in the early fourth century was undertaken at a time of relative peace and stability in the empire and certainly did not distract the emperor from more important affairs of state, as Gibbon claimed. By the time of the western imperial collapse in the late fifth century, Rome had made peace with the Church and embraced its teachings for over a hundred and fifty years.

So if the Church was not responsible for the “fall” of Rome, who or what was? The key to understanding the question of why Rome collapsed is found in the Roman army, which underwent a series of transformations that doomed the longevity of the empire. The Roman army of the early empire comprised Roman citizens who saw military service as a central piece of citizenship. The army, totaling 300,000 men, focused on a perimeter defense on the borders of the empire to protect the 60 million imperial inhabitants. But by the third century, the Roman army had become a professional entity with recruitment primarily drawn not from citizens, but from slaves and poor free men. Recruiting became difficult, so imperial bureaucrats developed the idea of offering the Germanic tribes on the imperial borders entrance into the empire in exchange for military service. By the fifth century, the Roman army in its vital components was staffed by ethnically German warriors, raised in the empire and self-identifying as Roman but not beholden to the wealthy Roman nobility nor the imperial bureaucracy.

The empire collapsed in the West in the late fifth century because it was exhausted from five hundred years of imperial rule. Romans lost confidence in their society. Central bureaucratic control from Rome collapsed in the West in the late fifth century, and power fell into the hands of the local Roman military commanders—again, ethnic Germans. These local chieftains were forced to forge a new identity and societal structure when the last Western emperor was overthrown in the late fifth century. Contrary to what the Enlightenment thinkers claimed—and the line of thought that provides the grist for Foundation—the Church, with its bishops and dioceses (organized according to the imperial governmental structure), provided the Romans a chance at unity in belief, practice, and life.

No one needs to be convinced that Foundation is a work of fiction. But unfortunately, in our age, rife as it is with animosity against the Catholic Church, what does need spelling out is that Foundation is based on fiction, too—not true history, but the tendentious work of bitter philosophers and historians with an axe to grind against the one institution mandated by God to produce hope and light in a chaotic world.”

It was the Catholic Church that saved and preserved Western civilization despite the collapse the what was left of the western Roman Empire beneath it.

Love & truth,

Nov 15 – St Albert the Great, OP (1206-1280) – Light of Science, Light of Religion

In a 1988 letter to the Rev. George V. Coyne, S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory, His Holiness Pope St John Paul II wrote, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.” 

The Gold Mass, which follows in the tradition of special Masses for members of different professions, was selected because gold is the color of the hoods worn by individuals graduating with a Ph.D. in science. It is also the color associated with the patron saint of scientists St. Albert the Great.

The first Gold Mass for scientists and engineers was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Nov. 15, 2016.

-by Kevin Vost, Psy. D.

The proper roles and relative importance of faith and reason have been pondered and argued across the centuries. In our day, the debate is often cast in the form of religion (faith) and science (reason), with an underlying assumption that the issue boils down to religion versus science, and we really need to take sides, either clinging to outdated “religious superstition” or progressing with the times to “follow the science.”

Pope St. John Paul summed up the extremes of this false dichotomy in his encyclical Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) in 1998 using the terms fideism (from the Latin fides for faith) and scientism. Fideism, embodied by some of our Protestant brethren, “fails to recognize the importance of rational knowledge and philosophical discourse for the understanding of faith, indeed for the very possibility of belief in God” (50). We see this most commonly in Biblicism, which makes the Bible “the sole criterion of truth.” Scientism, embodied by many modern atheists and agnostics, is “the philosophical notion which refuses to admit the validity of forms of knowledge other than those of the positive sciences; and it relegates religious, theological, ethical, and aesthetic knowledge to the realm of mere fantasy” (88).

John Paul knew well that St. Thomas Aquinas made clear in the thirteenth century, as he put it in the Summa Contra Gentiles, that “there exists a twofold truth concerning the divine being.” One kind of truth is accessible through reason, and the other is obtained through God’s direct revelation. Indeed, one nice metaphor casts such truths as written in two books—the book of nature and the book of Scripture. John Paul provided a particularly beautiful and relevant metaphor: “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.”

Today, we celebrate the feast of one of the people who flew the highest upon both wings—all the way to heaven. Albert of Cologne (c.1200-1280) is perhaps best known today as the teacher and mentor of Thomas Aquinas. Indeed, as Thomas has become the patron saint of scholars, Albert is the patron saint of scientists. (Seems they both did a fair job of choosing faith and reason.)

Though he is overshadowed by the towering figure of his mighty student, Albert was known as Albertus Magnus (Albert the Great), even while he was alive on earth. So why was he so great? Because he read so well the books of Scripture, like many great Church Doctors before him, and because he read the book of nature like none before him and few since! He also wrote many books of his own, and both different kinds of books.

Albert was called the Great due to his incredible breadth of knowledge and mastery of virtually every scientific discipline known to man at the time—from A to Z, with contributions to fields as diverse as anatomy, anthropology, astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, dentistry, geography, geology, medicine, physiology, physics, psychology, and zoology. Some people in his day said you could completely repopulate the forests and rivers of Bavaria with all the plants and animals he had written about. Some said Albert knew all there was to know!

Working without any modern instruments, two hundred years before the printing press, and in the midst of a variety of roles throughout his lifetime, including professor at the University of Paris, bishop of Cologne, and Dominican provincial of Germany, here are some of Albert’s scientific accomplishments:

  • He isolated arsenic.
  • He provided the first description in Western writing of the spinach plant (surely becoming the favorite Church Doctor of Popeye the Sailor Man.)
  • He did early work in the theory of protective coloration of animals—including predicting that animals in the extreme north would have white coloring.
  • He determined that the Milky Way is a huge assemblage of stars.
  • He determined that the figures visible on the moon were not reflections of the earth’s mountains and seas, but features of the moon’s own surface.
  • He predicted land masses at the earth’s poles.
  • He predicted a large land mass to the west of Europe (and a copy of his prediction has been found in the personal library of Christopher Columbus).
  • He determined, with the use of mathematical formulae, that the earth was spherical.
  • He integrated the theories of Aristotle on the nature of human memory with the literature on practical improvement of memory that came down through Cicero.

So Albert clearly was no slouch on the science side of the ledger. As for religion, Albert also wrote many treatises of biblical commentary and was said to be perhaps the most prolific Mariologist of the thirteenth century. Indeed, when Pope Pius XII declared the dogma of the Assumption of Mary on November 1, 1950, he cited Albert as a key champion of the Assumption, having gathered the arguments from Scripture and the Church Fathers to conclude that the Mother of God had indeed been assumed body and soul into heaven.

Though Albert’s greatest student, the Angelic Doctor Thomas Aquinas, was as calm and placid as they come, our great Albert could get testy at times, but only because he so cherished the truth. Later in his life, he would speak out with strong words against those opposed to acquiring human knowledge, the fideists of his day: “There are those ignorant people who wish to combat by every means possible the use of philosophy, and especially among the preachers, where no one opposes them; senseless animals who blaspheme that of which they know nothing.”

Albert loved science and philosophy because he loved God. He knew well that the book of Scripture guides us to the book of nature, and vice versa: “For the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their creator” (Wis. 13:5). Albert never looked at or wrote about a plant, an animal, or even a star without glorying in the fact that each is a creature, reflecting in its own way the beauty and perfection of its creator. That is why the whole world was theology to him.

St. Albert the Great, pray for us, that we may grow in faith and reason, in religion and in science.”

Love & truth,

Roman Catholic lay – scientist/engineers

-“Vitruvian Man“, Leonardo da Vinci, 1490, pen and ink with wash over metalpoint on paper, 34.6 cm × 25.5 cm (13.6 in × 10.0 in), Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice.

The ancient world was fascinated by symmetry (think classical architecture/statuary) in nature, not only for its beauty, but also for its potential revelations regarding the transcendent (God): the movements of the planets, originally attempted to be understood as circles in Ptolemaic Egypt, but eventually and correctly understood as elipses, but still. This was true especially human symmetry and dimensions: foot (length), pound (weight), etc. Considering how many contemporaries we are acquainted with who consider themselves the center of the universe, this ancient view seems quite logical/rational/reasonable. In fact, before metric, all measurements were based on human dimension. And, this symmetry should be unquestionably in architecture, to the ancient mind. What other conclusion was possible? The ancient Roman architect Vitruvius (from whence cometh the name) in Book III of his treatise De architectura. Vitruvius described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the classical orders of architecture. (As Plato, Socrates, Aristotle sought the fundamental forms – theory of forms, to understand the physical and the transcendent) Somewhat like any academic question posed which no one can answer for hundreds of years, even though academic fame and financial prizes incentivize, the geometric problem of how does one fit the human dimension in the geometric ideals of the square and the circle? Every attempt had ASSUMED the centers of the circle and the square and the human to be concentric. da Vinci finally, brilliantly, simply realized the problem was solvable if the square was NOT concentric, but if its center were shifted down.

Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718–1799) – mathematician who wrote on differential and integral calculus
Georgius Agricola (1494–1555) – father of mineralogy[5]
Alois Alzheimer (1864–1915) – credited with identifying the first published case of presenile dementia, which is now known as Alzheimer’s disease[6]
André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836) – one of the main discoverers of electromagnetism
Leopold Auenbrugger (1722–1809) – first to use percussion as a diagnostic technique in medicine
Adrien Auzout (1622–1691) – astronomer who contributed to the development of the telescopic micrometer
Amedeo Avogadro (1776–1856) – Italian scientist noted for contributions to molecular theory and Avogadro’s Law
Francisco J. Ayala (1934–present) – Spanish-American biologist and philosopher at the University of California, Irvine
Jacques Babinet (1794–1872) – French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer who is best known for his contributions to optics
Stephen M. Barr (1953–present) – professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware and a member of its Bartol Research Institute
Joachim Barrande (1799–1883) – French geologist and paleontologist who studied fossils from the Lower Palaeozoic rocks of Bohemia
Laura Bassi (1711–1778) – physicist at the University of Bologna and Chair in experimental physics at the Bologna Institute of Sciences, the first woman to be offered a professorship at a European university
Antoine César Becquerel (1788–1878) – pioneer in the study of electric and luminescent phenomena
Henri Becquerel (1852–1908) – awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his co-discovery of radioactivity
Carlo Beenakker (1960 – present) – professor at Leiden University and leader of the university’s mesoscopic physics group, established in 1992.
Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778–1823) – prolific Italian explorer and pioneer archaeologist of Egyptian antiquities
Pierre-Joseph van Beneden (1809–1894) – Belgian zoologist and paleontologist who established one of the world’s first marine laboratories and aquariums
John Desmond Bernal (1901–1971) – British pioneer in X-ray crystallography in molecular biology
Claude Bernard (1813–1878) – physiologist who helped to apply scientific methodology to medicine
Jacques Philippe Marie Binet (1786–1856) – mathematician known for Binet’s formula and his contributions to number theory
Jean-Baptiste Biot (1774–1862) – physicist who established the reality of meteorites and studied polarization of light
Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville (1777–1850) – zoologist and anatomist who coined the term paleontology and described several new species of reptiles
Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (1608–1679) – often referred to as the father of modern biomechanics
Raoul Bott (1923–2005) – mathematician known for numerous basic contributions to geometry in its broad sense
Marcella Boveri (1863–1950) – Biologist and first woman to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Theodor Boveri (1862–1915) – The first to hypothesize the celluar processes that cause cancer
Louis Braille (1809–1852) – inventor of the Braille reading and writing system
Edouard Branly (1844–1940) – inventor and physicist known for his involvement in wireless telegraphy and his invention of the Branly coherer
James Britten (1846–1924) – botanist, member of the Catholic Truth Society and Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great
Hermann Brück (1905–2000) – Astronomer Royal for Scotland from 1957–1975; honored by Pope John Paul II
Albert Brudzewski (c. 1445–c.1497) – first to state that the Moon moves in an ellipse
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–1788) – one of the pioneers of natural history, especially through his monumental Histoire Naturelle
Nicola Cabibbo (1935–2010): Italian physicist, discoverer of the universality of weak interactions (Cabibbo angle), President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences from 1993 until his death
Alexis Carrel (1873–1944) – awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for pioneering vascular suturing techniques
John Casey (mathematician) (1820–1891) – Irish geometer known for Casey’s theorem
Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625–1712) – first to observe four of Saturn’s moons and the co-discoverer of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter
Augustin-Louis Cauchy (1789–1857) – mathematician who was an early pioneer in analysis
Andrea Cesalpino (c.1525–1603) – botanist who also theorized on the circulation of blood
Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832) – published the first translation of the Rosetta Stone
Michel Chasles (1793–1880) – mathematician who elaborated on the theory of modern projective geometry and was awarded the Copley Medal
Guy de Chauliac (c.1300–1368) – the most eminent surgeon of the Middle Ages
Albert Claude (1899–1983) – awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his contributions to cytology
Mateo Realdo Colombo (1516–1559) – discovered the pulmonary circuit, which paved the way for Harvey’s discovery of circulation
Arthur W. Conway (1876–1950) – remembered for his application of biquaternion algebra to the special theory of relativity
E. J. Conway (1894–1968) – Irish biochemist known for works pertaining to electrolyte physiology and analytical chemistry
Carl Ferdinand Cori (1896–1984) – shared the 1947 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his wife for their discovery of the Cori cycle
Gerty Cori (1896–1957) – biochemist who was the first American woman win a Nobel Prize in science (1947)
Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis (1792–1843) – formulated laws regarding rotating systems, which later became known as the Corialis effect
Domenico Cotugno (1736–1822) – Italian anatomist who discovered the nasopalatine nerve, demonstrated the existence of the labyrinthine fluid, and formulated a theory of resonance and hearing, among other important contributions
Maurice Couette (1858–1943) – best known for his contributions to rheology and the theory of fluid flow; appointed a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope Pius XI in 1925
Charles-Augustin de Coulomb (1736–1806) – physicist known for developing Coulomb’s law
Clyde Cowan (1919–1974) – Co-discoverer of the neutrino
Jean Cruveilhier (1791–1874) – Made important contributions to the study of the nervous system and was the first to describe the lesions associated with multiple sclerosis; originally planned to enter the priesthood
Endre Czeizel (1935-2015) – Discovered that folic acid prevents or reduces the formation of more serious developmental disorders, such as neural tube defects like spina bifida
Gabriel Auguste Daubrée (1814–1896) – pioneer in the application of experimental methods to the study of diverse geologic phenomena
René Descartes (1596–1650) – father of modern philosophy and analytic geometry
César-Mansuète Despretz (1791–1863) – chemist and physicist who investigated latent heat, the elasticity of vapors, the compressibility of liquids, and the density of gases[25]
Johann Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet (1805–1859) – mathematician who contributed to number theory and was one of the first to give the modern formal definition of a function
Ignacy Domeyko (1802–1889) – Polish scientist who made major contributions to the study of Chile’s geography, geology, and mineralogy
Christian Doppler (1803–1853) – Austrian physicist and mathematician who enunciated the Doppler effect
Pierre Duhem (1861–1916) – historian of science who made important contributions to hydrodynamics, elasticity, and thermodynamics
Félix Dujardin (1801–1860) – biologist remembered for his research on protozoans and other invertebrates; became a devout Catholic later in life and was known to read The Imitation of Christ
Jean-Baptiste Dumas (1800–1884) – chemist who established new values for the atomic mass of thirty elements
André Dumont (1809–1857) – Belgian geologist who prepared the first geological map of Belgium and named many of the subdivisions of the Cretaceous and Tertiary
Charles Dupin (1784–1873) – mathematician who discovered the Dupin cyclide and the Dupin indicatrix
John Eccles (1903–1997) – Awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on the synapse
Stephan Endlicher (1804–1849) – botanist who formulated a major system of plant classification
Gerhard Ertl (1936–present) – German physicist who won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces[30]
Bartolomeo Eustachi (c.1500–1574) – one of the founders of human anatomy
Hieronymus Fabricius (1537–1619) – father of embryology
Gabriele Falloppio (1523–1562) – pioneering Italian anatomist who studied the human ear and reproductive organs
Mary Celine Fasenmyer (1906–1996) – Religious sister and mathematician, founder of Sister Celine’s polynomials
Hervé Faye (1814–1902) – astronomer whose discovery of the periodic comet 4P/Faye won him the 1844 Lalande Prize and membership in the French Academy of Sciences
Pierre de Fermat (1601–1665) – number theorist who contributed to the early development of calculus
Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) – awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his work in induced radioactivity
Jean Fernel (1497–1558) – physician who introduced the term physiology
Fibonacci (c.1170–c.1250) – popularized Hindu-Arabic numerals in Europe and discovered the Fibonacci sequence
Hippolyte Fizeau (1819–1896) – first person to determine experimentally the velocity of light
Léon Foucault (1819–1868) – invented the Foucault pendulum to measure the effect of the earth’s rotation
Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787–1826) – discovered Fraunhofer lines in the sun’s spectrum
Augustin-Jean Fresnel (1788–1827) – made significant contributions to the theory of wave optics
Johann Nepomuk von Fuchs (1774–1856) – confirmed the stoichiometric laws and observed isomorphism and the cation exchange of zeolites
Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) – father of modern science
Luigi Galvani (1737–1798) – formulated the theory of animal electricity
William Gascoigne (1610–1644) – developed the first micrometer
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778–1850) – chemist known for two laws related to gases
Riccardo Giacconi (1931–present) – Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist who laid the foundations of X-ray astronomy
Paula González (1932–present) – Religious sister and professor of biology
Peter Grünberg (1939–present) – German physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics laureate
Johannes Gutenberg (c.1398–1468) – inventor of the printing press
Samuel Stehman Haldeman (1812–1880) – American naturalist and convert to Catholicism who researched fresh-water mollusks, the human voice, Amerindian dialects, and the organs of sound of insects
Jean Baptiste Julien d’Omalius d’Halloy (1783–1875) – one of the pioneers of modern geology
Eduard Heis (1806–1877) – astronomer who contributed the first true delineation of the Milky Way
Jan Baptist van Helmont (1579–1644) – founder of pneumatic chemistry
George de Hevesy (1885–1966) – Hungarian radiochemist and Nobel laureate
Charles Hermite (1822–1901) – mathematician who did research on number theory, quadratic forms, elliptic functions, and algebra
John Philip Holland (1840–1914) – developed the first submarine to be formally commissioned by the US Navy
Antoine Laurent de Jussieu (1748–1836) – first to propose a natural classification of flowering plants
Mary Kenneth Keller (c.1914–1985) – Sister of Charity and first American woman to earn a PhD in computer science, helped develop BASIC
Brian Kobilka (1955–present) – American Nobel Prize winning professor who teaches at Stanford University School of Medicine
René Laennec (1781–1826) – physician who invented the stethoscope
Joseph Louis Lagrange (1736–1813) – mathematician and astronomer known for Lagrangian points and Lagrangian mechanics
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829) – French naturalist, biologist and academic whose theories on evolution preceded those of Darwin
Johann von Lamont (1805–1879) – astronomer and physicist who studied the magnetism of the Earth and was the first to calculate the mass of Uranus
Karl Landsteiner (1868–1943) – Nobel Prize winner who identified and classified the human blood types
Pierre André Latreille (1762–1833) – pioneer in entomology
Antoine Lavoisier (1743–1794) – father of modern chemistry
Jérôme Lejeune (1926–1994) – pediatrician and geneticist, best known for his discovery of the link of diseases to chromosome abnormalities
Jonathan Lunine (1959–present) – planetary scientist at the forefront of research into planet formation, evolution, and habitability; serves as vice-president of the Society of Catholic Scientists
Marcello Malpighi (1628–1694) – father of comparative physiology
Étienne-Louis Malus (1775–1812) – discovered the polarization of light
Anna Morandi Manzolini (1714–1774) – anatomist and anatomical wax artist who lectured at the University of Bologna
Giovanni Manzolini (1700–1755) – anatomical wax artist and Professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna
Guglielmo Marconi (1874–1937) – father of wireless technology and radio transmission
Pierre Louis Maupertuis (1698–1759) – known for the Maupertuis principle and for being the first president of the Berlin Academy of Science
Michele Mercati (1541–1593) – one of the first to recognize prehistoric stone tools as man-made
Charles W. Misner (1932–present) – American cosmologist dedicated to the study of general relativity
Kenneth R. Miller (1948–present) – American cell biologist and molecular biologist who teaches at Brown University
Mario J. Molina (1943–present) – Mexican chemist, one of the precursors to the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole (1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
Peter Joseph Moloney (1891–1989) – Canadian immunologist and pioneering vaccine researcher, who worked out the first large-scale purification of insulin in 1922; International Gairdner Award, 1967)[43]
Gaspard Monge (1746–1818) – father of descriptive geometry
John J. Montgomery (1858–1911) – American physicist and inventor of gliders and aerodynamics
Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682–1771) – father of modern anatomical pathology
Johannes Peter Müller (1801–1858) – founder of modern physiology
Joseph Murray (1919–2012) – Nobel Prize in Medicine laureate
John von Neumann (1903–1957) – Hungarian-born American mathematician and polymath who converted to Catholicism
Martin Nowak (1965–present) – evolutionary theorist and Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University; serves on the board of the Society of Catholic Scientists
Karin Öberg (1982–present) – her Öberg Astrochemistry Group discovered the first complex organic molecule in a protoplanetary disk; serves on the board of the Society of Catholic Scientists
Abraham Ortelius (1527–1598) – created the first modern atlas and theorized on continental drift
Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) – French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher
Louis Pasteur (1822–1895) – father of bacteriology
Pierre Joseph Pelletier (1788–1842) – co-discovered strychnine, caffeine, quinine, cinchonine, among many other discoveries in chemistry
Georg von Peuerbach (1423–1461) – called the father of mathematical and observational astronomy in the West
Michael Polanyi (1891–1976) – Hungarian polymath, made contributions to physical chemistry, economics, and philosophy
Vladimir Prelog (1906–1998) – Croatian-Swiss organic chemist, winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize for chemistry
Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934) – awarded the Nobel Prize for his contributions to neuroscience
René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (1683–1757) – scientific polymath known especially for his study of insects
Francesco Redi (1626–1697) – his experiments with maggots were a major step in overturning the idea of spontaneous generation
Henri Victor Regnault (1810–1878) – chemist with two laws governing the specific heat of gases named after him
Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro (1853–1925) – one of the founders of tensor calculus
Gilles de Roberval (1602–1675) – mathematician who studied the geometry of infinitesimals and was one of the founders of kinematic geometry
Frederick Rossini (1899–1990) – Priestley Medal and Laetare Medal-winning chemist
Paul Sabatier (chemist) (1854–1941) – awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work improving the hydrogenation of organic species in the presence of metals
Adhémar Jean Claude Barré de Saint-Venant (1797–1886) – Remembered for Saint-Venant’s principle, Saint-Venant’s theorem, and Saint-Venant’s compatibility condition; given the title Count by Pope Pius IX in 1869
Theodor Schwann (1810–1882) – founder of the theory of the cellular structure of animal organisms
Ignaz Semmelweis (1818–1865) – early pioneer of antiseptic procedures, discoverer of the cause of puerperal fever
Louis Jacques Thénard (1777–1857) – discovered hydrogen peroxide and contributed to the discovery of boron
Evangelista Torricelli (1608–1647) – inventor of the barometer
Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli (1397–1482) – Italian mathematician, astronomer and cosmographer
Richard Towneley (1629–1707) – mathematician and astronomer whose work contributed to the formulation of Boyle’s Law
Louis René Tulasne (1815–1885) – biologist with several genera and species of fungi named after him
Louis Nicolas Vauquelin (1763–1829) – discovered the chemical element beryllium
Urbain Le Verrier (1811–1877) – mathematician who predicted the discovery of Neptune
Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564) – father of modern human anatomy
François Viète (1540–1603) – father of modern algebra
Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) – Renaissance anatomist, scientist, mathematician, and painter
Vincenzo Viviani (1622–1703) – mathematician known for Viviani’s theorem, Viviani’s curve and his work in determining the speed of sound
Alessandro Volta (1745–1827) – physicist known for the invention of the battery
Wilhelm Heinrich Waagen (1841–1900) – geologist and paleontologist who provided the first example of evolution described from the geologic record, after studying Jurassic ammonites
Karl Weierstrass (1815–1897) – often called the father of modern analysis
E. T. Whittaker (1873–1956) – English mathematician who made contributions to applied mathematics and mathematical physics
Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) – one of the founders of scientific archaeology
Bertram Windle (1858–1929) – anthropologist, physician, and former president of University College Cork
Jacob B. Winslow (1669–1760) – convert to Catholicism who was regarded as the greatest European anatomist of his day
Antonino Zichichi (1929–present) – Italian nuclear physicist, former President of the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare

Pope to scientists: faith does not hurt science, it leads to greater truth

Pope Francis receives a stethoscope from the President of the European Society of Cardiology, Fausto Pinto, as he attends the World Congress of the European Society of Cardiology Aug. 31 in Rome.

August 31, 2016

“VATICAN CITY – Because scientists can never be neutral in their research, they must not be tempted to suppress the truth and ignore the divine, Pope Francis told health care professionals.

“Openness to God’s grace, which comes through faith, does not weaken human reason, but rather leads it toward knowledge of a truth which is wider and of greater benefit to humanity,” he said Aug. 31 in an address to experts taking part in a world congress on cardiovascular research.

More than 32,000 professionals, including cardiologists, from 120 countries attended the weeklong gathering in Rome. Organized by the European Society of Cardiology, the annual congress seeks to exchange the latest and best practices in research and patient care.

Pope Francis, who traveled to the congress venue on the outskirts of the city, insisted that no one be denied proper medical attention and care.

By recognizing the full dignity of the human person, one can see that the poor, those in need and the marginalized should benefit from the care and assistance offered by public and private health sectors, he said.

“We must make great efforts to ensure that they are not ‘discarded’ in this culture, which promotes a ‘throwaway’ mentality,” he said.

Church teachings have always supported and underlined the importance of scientific research for human health and life, he said. “The church understands that efforts directed to the authentic good of the person are actions always inspired by God,” he said, and caring for the weak and infirm is part of God’s plan.

However, “we know that the scientist, in his or her research, is never neutral, inasmuch as each one has his or her own history, way of being and of thinking.

“Every scientist requires, in a sense, a purification; through this process, the toxins which poison the mind’s pursuit of truth and certainty are removed” in order to gain a greater understanding of reality, the pope said.

By being involved in healing physical illness, health care professionals have the opportunity to see “there are laws engraved within human nature that no one can tamper with, but rather must be ‘discovered, respected and cooperated with’ so that life may correspond ever more to the designs of the creator.”

That is why people of science should not let themselves succumb to “the temptation to suppress the truth.”

The pope told his audience that he appreciated their work, adding that “I, too, have been in the hands of some of you.”

At the end of his speech, the pope was presented with a stethoscope and a cross made from laminated marble heart-shapes.”

Job 38

Love & truth, praise Him! All you creatures of the Earth, praise Him! You stars of the sky, you heavenly bodies, praise Him, Who made you!!

Nov 15 – St Albert the Great, O.P., (1206-1280), Doctor of the Church, Patron of Scientists & Engineers


Kelly, Mara, and I have found our new parish home in St Albert the Great, O.P. of Sun Prairie, WI,; sister parish of Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Parish also in Sun Prairie.  We have hopes Mara may attend Sacred Hearts School.  The fact I am a professional applied scientist and a former Dominican novice is not lost on me in this serendipitous coincidence.  The Midwestern Province of the Order of Preachers is dedicated to St Albert the Great, O.P.  We are happy and St Albert’s is a happy place of fellow pilgrims.

He was known as the “teacher of everything there is to know,” was a scientist long before the age of science, became the teacher and mentor of that other remarkable mind of his time, St. Thomas Aquinas.  St. Albert the Great was born in Lauingen on the Danube, near Ulm, Germany; his father was a military lord in the army of Emperor Frederick II. As a young man Albert studied at the University of Padua and there fell under the spell of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican who made the rounds of the universities of Europe drawing the best young men of the universities into the Dominicans.

After several teaching assignments in his order, he came in 1241 to the University of Paris, where he lectured in theology. While teaching in Paris, he was assigned by his order in 1248 to set up a house of studies for the order in Cologne. In Paris, he had gathered around him a small band of budding theologians, the chief of whom was Thomas Aquinas, who accompanied him to Cologne and became his greatest pupil.

In 1260, he was appointed bishop of Regensberg; when he resigned after three years, he was called to be an adviser to the pope and was sent on several diplomatic missions. In his latter years, he resided in Cologne, took part in the Council of Lyons in 1274, and in his old age traveled to Paris to defend the teaching of his student Thomas Aquinas.

It was in Cologne that his reputation as a scientist grew. He carried on experiments in chemistry and physics in his makeshift laboratory and built up a collection of plants, insects, and chemical compounds that gave substance to his reputation. When Cologne decided to build a new cathedral, he was consulted about the design. He was friend and adviser to popes, bishops, kings, and statesmen and made his own unique contribution to the learning of his age.

He died a very old man in Cologne on November 15,1280, and is buried in St. Andrea’s Church in that city. He was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. His writings are remarkable for their exact scientific knowledge, and for that reason he has been made the patron saint of scientists.

St. Albert the Great, O.P., was convinced that all creation spoke of God and that the tiniest piece of scientific knowledge told us something about Him. Besides the Bible, God has given us the book of creation revealing His wisdom and power. In creation, Albert saw directly and undeniably the hand of God and His love of mankind.



-Roman sarcophagus containing the relics of Albertus Magnus in the crypt of St. Andreas church in Cologne, Germany

“It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for “God is Charity” (1 John 4:8)
-Saint Albert the Great

“Do this in remembrance of me.” Two things should be noted here. The first is the command that we should use this sacrament, which is indicated when Jesus says, “Do this.” The second is that this sacrament commemorates the Lord’s going to death for our sake.

This sacrament is profitable because it grants remission of sins; it is most useful because it bestows the fullness of grace on us in this life. “The Father of spirits instructs us in what is useful for our sanctification.” And his sanctification is in Christ’s sacrifice, that is, when He offers Himself in this sacrament to the Father for our redemption to us for our use.

Christ could not have commanded anything more beneficial, for this sacrament is the Fruit of the Tree of Life. Anyone who receives this sacrament with the devotion of sincere faith will never taste death. “It is a Tree of Life for those who grasp it, and blessed is he who holds it fast. The man who feeds on Me shall live on account of Me.”

Nor could He have commanded anything more lovable, for this sacrament produces love and union. It is characteristic of the greatest love to give itself as food. “Had not the men of my text exclaimed: Who will feed us with his flesh to satisfy our hunger? as if to say: I have loved them and they have loved Me so much that I desire to be within them, and they wish to receive Me so that they may become My members. There is no more intimate or more natural means for them to be united to Me, and I to them.Nor could He have commanded anything which is more like eternal life. Eternal life flows from this sacrament because God with all sweetness pours Himself out upon the blessed.” – from a commentary by Saint Albert the Great on the Gospel of Luke.

“He who enters into the secret place of his own soul passes beyond himself, and does in very truth ascend to God. Banish, therefore, from thy heart the distractions of earth and turn thine eyes to spiritual joys, that thou mayest learn at last to repose in the light of the contemplation of God.”
–St. Albert the Great


Prayer to St Albert the Great, O.P.

Dear scientist and Doctor of the Church, natural science and sacred science were for you the same Truth.  For you, and for all Catholic scientists, these are never in opposition, but always in harmony – one beckoning deeper understanding of the other, drawing humankind more deeply into the infinitely knowable mystery of the Creator and His Word.

Though you had an encyclopedic knowledge, it never made you proud, for you regarded it as a gift of God. Inspire scientists, theoretical and applied, to use their gifts well in studying the wonders of creation, thus bettering the lot of the human race and rendering greater glory to God. Amen.


Jan 6 – Rev. Gregor Mendel, OSA, (1822-1884), “Father of Modern Genetics”, Man of Science, Man of God


As a professional applied scientist and a man of faith, I often hear, even from fellow Catholics, “How can that be?”  I respond, “How can what be?”  “Faith & Science together…in the same person?…in the same mind?…How can that be?”  If they are a little educated, I will also get, “What about Galileo?”

There is no contradiction.  In all my professional training, almost all in public schools except for one master’s degree, and even then you could hardly tell that school was Catholic, as is the schizophrenia of “Catholic identity” in our (Catholic) higher ed, I have never encountered any scientific topic which contradicted my Catholic faith.  None.  In conjunction, in all my amateur study of the Catholic faith, I have never encountered any article of faith or doctrine which contradicted my scientific training.  None. Never. Ever.  Amen.

In fact, modern physics takes even the scientist’s breath away with awe.  Romans 11:33.

Dr. Stephen Hawking who recently appeared in the documentary Curiosity on the Discover Channel concluding, “God does not exist!”  It is embarrassing for all scientists, irregardless of specialty, with even the slightest training in the scientific method, when such a famous one of us reach’s a very public conclusion not based on science, but on bias and prejudice.  Not very scientific, doctor.  No, not very scientific, indeed.  I have since offered my services to the Discover Channel as an expert, especially if that is the level of science they care to offer.

Dr. Hawking’s conclusion was that God did not exist since nothing, including God, existed before the Big Bang, as first proposed by Msgr Georges LeMaitre.  The basis of Dr. Hawking’s conclusion is that nothing existed.  No matter or energy existed.  That fallaciously assumes God is matter or energy.  ?  Dr. Hawking, even a budding high school science student would not presume to assume the Almighty was relegated to the domain of matter or energy.  Convenient for a desired conclusion, but intellectually and scientifically bankrupt.

The Church has an expression for it:  Fides et Ratio = Faith and Reason.  There is no contradiction.  If one carefully studies the Galileo affair, one will quickly find both sides were answering a different question, how so many misunderstandings commence, and no one will defend Messr. Galileo’s tact.  Not even his daughter, Virginia, or by her religious name, Suor Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun of the San Mateo Convent, Arcetri, and some say his closest confidant and advisor, even scientifically.  She had his brains, no?  Messr. Galileo is especially untactful when he mocks in word and illustration as a simpleton and a fool the then pope, who up until the publishing of Galileo’s book had been his friend, benefactor, and supporter.  Not very politic, Messr. Galileo.  Not very politic.



“Pea hybrids form germinal and pollen cells that in their composition correspond in equal numbers to all the constant forms resulting from the combination of traits united through fertilization.”

Gregor Johann Mendel was born on July 22, 1822 to peasant parents in a small agrarian town in Czechoslovakia. During his childhood he worked as a gardener, and as a young man attended the Olmutz Philosophical Institute.  From 1840 to 1843, he studied practical and theoretical philosophy as well as physics at the University of Olomouc Faculty of Philosophy.  In 1843 he entered an Augustinian monastery in Brunn, Czechoslovakia. Soon afterward, his natural interest in science and specifically hereditary science led him to start experiments with the pea plant.  Mendel’s attraction for scientific research was based on his love of nature in general. He was not only interested in plants, but also in meteorology and theories of evolution. However, it is his work with the pea plant that changed the world of science forever.

His beautifully designed experiments with pea plants were the first to focus on the numerical relationships among traits appearing in the progeny of hybrids.  His interpretation for this phenomenon was that material and unchanging hereditary “elements” undergo segregation and independent assortment.  These elements are then passed on unchanged (except in arrangement) to offspring thus yielding a very large, but finite number of possible variations.

Mendel often wondered how plants obtained atypical characteristics. On one of his frequent walks around the monastery, he found an atypical variety of an ornamental plant. He took it and planted it next to the typical variety. He grew their progeny side by side to see if there would be any approximation of the traits passed on to the next generation. This experiment was “designed to support or to illustrate Lamarck’s views concerning the influence of environment upon plants.”  He found that the plants’ respective offspring retained the essential traits of the parents, and therefore were not influenced by the environment. This simple test gave birth to the idea of heredity.

Overshadowing the creative brilliance of Mendel’s work is the fact that it was virtually ignored for 34 years. Only after the dramatic rediscovery of Mendel’s work in 1900 (16 years after Mendel’s death) was he rightfully recognized as the founder of genetics.

Why Peas?

Pisum sativum

Mendel was well aware that there were certain preconditions that had to be carefully established before commencing investigations into the inheritance of characteristics. The parental plants must be known to possess constant and differentiating characteristics.  To establish this condition, Mendel took an entire year to test “true breeding” (non-hybrid) family lines, each having constant characteristics.   The experimental plants also needed to produce flowers that would be easy to protect against foreign pollen.  The special shape of the flower of the Leguminosae family, with their enclosed styles, drew his attention.  On trying several from this family, he finally selected the garden pea plant (Pisum sativum) as being most ideal for his needs.  Mendel also picked the common garden pea plant because it can be grown in large numbers and its reproduction can be manipulated.  As with many other flowering plants, pea plants have both male and female reproductive organs.  As a result, they can either self-pollinate themselves or cross-pollinate with other plants. In his experiments, Mendel was able to selectively cross-pollinate purebred plants with particular traits and observe the outcome over many generations.  This was the basis for his conclusions about the nature of genetic inheritance.

Mendel observed seven pea plant traits that are easily recognized in one of two forms:

1.        Flower color: purple or white

2.        Flower position: axial or terminal

3.        Stem length: long or short

4.        Seed shape: round or wrinkled

5.        Seen color: yellow or green

6.        Pod shape: inflated or constricted

7.        Pod color: yellow or green

Mendel’s Law of Segregation

Mendel’s hypothesis essentially has four parts. The first part or “law” states that, “Alternative versions of genes account for variations in inherited characters.” In a nutshell, this is the concept of alleles. Alleles are different versions of genes that impart the same characteristic.  For example, each pea plant has two genes that control pea texture.  There are also two possible textures (smooth and wrinkled) and thus two different genes for texture.

The second law states that, “For each character trait (ie: height, color, texture etc.) an organism inherits two genes, one from each parent.”  This statement alludes to the fact that when somatic cells are produced from two gametes, one allele comes from the mother, one from the father. These alleles may be the same (true-breeding organisms), or different (hybrids).

The third law, in relation to the second, declares that, “If the two alleles differ, then one, the dominant allele, is fully expressed in the organism’s appearance; the other, the recessive allele, has no noticeable effect on the organism’s appearance.”

The fourth law states that, “The two genes for each character segregate during gamete production.”   This is the last part of Mendel’s generalization. This references meiosis when the chromosome count is changed from the diploid number to the haploid number. The genes are sorted into separate gametes, ensuring variation.  This sorting process depends on genetic “recombination.”  During this time, genes mix and match in a random and yet very specific way.  Genes for each trait only trade with genes of the same trait on the opposing strand of DNA so that all the traits are covered in the resulting offspring.  For example, color genes do not trade off with genes for texture.  Color genes only trade off with color genes from the opposing allelic sight as do texture genes and all other genes.  The result is that each gamete that is produced by the parent is uniquely different as far as the traits that it codes for from every other gamete that is produced.  For many creatures, this available statistical variation is so huge that in all probability, no two identical offspring will ever be produced even given trillions of years of time.

So, since a pea plant carries two genes, it can have both of its genes be the same.  Both genes could be “smooth” genes or they could both be “wrinkled” genes.  If both genes are the same, the resulting pea will of course be consistent.  However, what if the genes are different or “hybrid”?  One gene will then have “dominance” over the other “recessive” gene.  The dominant trait will then be expressed.  For example, if the smooth gene (A) is the dominant gene and the wrinkle gene (a) is the recessive gene, a plant with the “Aa” genotype will produce smooth peas.  Only an “aa” plant will produce wrinkled peas.  For instance, the pea flowers are either purple or white.  Intermediate colors do not appear in the offspring of these cross-pollinated plants.

The observation that there are inheritable traits that do not show up in intermediate forms was critically important because the leading theory in biology at the time was that inherited traits blend from generation to generation (Charles Darwin and most other cutting-edge scientists in the 19th century accepted this “blending theory.”).  Of course there are exceptions to this general rule.  Some genes are now known to be “incompletely dominant.”  In this situation, the “dominant gene has incomplete expression in the resulting phenotype causing a “mixed” phenotype.  For example, some plants have “incomplete dominant” color genes such as white and red flower genes.  A hybrid of this type of plant will produce pink flowers.  Other genes are known to be “co-dominant” where both alleles are equally expressed in the phenotype.  An example of co-dominant alleles is human blood typing.  If a person has both “A” and “B” genes, they will have an “AB” blood type.  Some traits are inherited through the combination of many genes acting together to produce a certain effect.  This type of inheritance is called “polygenetic.”  Examples of polygenetic inheritance are human height, skin color, and body form.  In all of these cases however, the genes (alleles) themselves remain unchanged.  They are transmitted from parent to offspring through a process of random genetic recombination that can be calculated statistically.  For example, the odds of a dominant trait being expressed over a recessive trait in a two-gene allelic system where both parents are hybrids are 3:1.  If only one parent is a hybrid and the other parent has both dominant alleles, then 100% of the offspring will express the dominant trait.  If one parent has both recessive alleles and the other parent is a hybrid, then the offspring will have a phenotypic ratio of 1:1.

Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment

The most important principle of Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment is that the emergence of one trait will not affect the emergence of another. For example, a pea plant’s inheritance of the ability to produce purple flowers instead of white ones does not make it more likely that it would also inherit the ability to produce yellow peas in contrast to green ones.  Mendel’s findings allowed other scientists to simplify the emergence of traits to mathematical probability (While mixing one trait always resulted in a 3:1 ratio between dominant and recessive phenotypes, his experiments with two traits showed 9:3:3:1 ratios).

Mendel was so successful largely thanks to his careful and nonpassionate use of the scientific method. Also, his choice of peas as a subject for his experiments was quite fortunate.  Peas have a relatively simple genetic structure and Mendel could always be in control of the plants’ breeding. When Mendel wanted to cross-pollinate a pea plant he needed only to remove the immature stamens of the plant. In this way he was always sure of each plants’ parents. Mendel made certain to start his experiments only with true breeding plants. He also only measured absolute characteristics such as color, shape, and texture of the offspring. His data was expressed numerically and subjected to statistical analysis. This method of data reporting and the large sampling size he used gave credibility to his data. He also had the foresight to look through several successive generations of his pea plants and record their variations. Without his careful attention to procedure and detail, Mendel’s work could not have had the same impact that it has made on the world of genetics.

Some of the “greatest minds”? of our generation comment on the importance of science education for our youth.
Hey, how ‘bout that Internet thing?  Not bad, huh?  🙂

Scientifically yours,  Happy New Year!

Jun 20 – Msgr Georges LeMaitre, (1894-1966), Priest, Physicist, Father of the “Big Bang” Theory

Not a saint, yet, but a personal and professional hero of mine.


Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître (July 17, 1894 – June 20, 1966) was a Belgian Roman Catholic priest, honorary prelate, professor of physics and astronomer at the Catholic University of Leuven.

Lemaître proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe, which he called his ‘hypothesis of the primeval atom’.

Lemaitre was a pioneer in applying Einstein’s theory of general relativity to cosmology. He introduced the theoretical Hubble’s law in 1927 as a generic phenomena in relativistic cosmology. In 1931, he published his primeval atom theory in Nature. At the time, Einstein had expressed skepticism about Lemaître’s 1927 paper.

But it is Lemaître’s theory that changed the course of science.  Lemaître worked with astronomers and designed his theory to explain the observed redshift of galaxies, have testable implications, the linear relation beween distances and velocities, and to be in accord with observations of the time.

Lemaître proposed his theory at an opportune time, since Edwin Hubble would soon publish his velocity-distance relation that strongly supported an expanding universe and, consequently, the Big Bang theory. In fact, Lemaître’s 1927 paper derived what became known as Hubble’s Law, two years before Hubble did so, and provided an estimate of the numerical value of the constant. However, the data used by Lemaitre do not allow him to prove that there was an actual linear relation, a result achieved by Hubble.

Because Lemaître spent his entire career in Europe, his contributions are not as well known in the United States (USA) as those of Hubble or Einstein, men well known in the USA by virtue of residing there.

Lemaître recognized expanding solutions within relativistic cosmologies. Lemaître is the first one to propose that the expansion is the explanation for the redshift of galaxies. He further concluded that an initial “creation-like” event must have occurred.

Einstein at first dismissed, privately, Lemaître out of hand, saying that not all mathematics leads to correct theories. After Hubble’s discovery was published, Einstein quickly and publicly endorsed Lemaître’s theory, helping both the theory and its proposer get fast recognition.


In 1933, Lemaître found an important inhomogeneous solution of Einstein’s field equations describing a spherical dust cloud, the Lemaitre-Tolman metric.

At the end of his life, he was devoted more and more to numerical calculation. He was in fact a remarkable algebraicist and arithmetical calculator. Since 1930, he used the most powerful calculating machines of the time like the Mercedes. In 1958, he introduced at the University a Burroughs E 101, the University’s first electronic computer. Lemaître kept a strong interest in the development of computers and, even more, in the problems of language and programming. This interest grew with age until it absorbed him almost completely.

In 1951 Pope Pius XII took the position that the scientific theory of the Big Bang confirmed the biblical creation story. This apparently caused great embarrassment, even to horror, for Lemaitre, who met with the Pope very soon after to caution the Holy Father on drawing parallels between a scientific theory and the book of Genesis.  The Pope appointed LeMaitre to the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences.  John XXIII made him its president.

Georges LeMaitre, after having received numerous scientific awards in the latter part of his career for his work, died on June 20, 1966, shortly after having learned of the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, which provided further evidence for his intuitions about the birth of the Universe.

“We can compare space-time to an open, conic cup…The bottom of the cup is the origin of atomic disintegration; it is the first instant at the bottom of space-time, the now which has no yesterday because, yesterday, there was no space.”
-Msgr Georges LeMaitre, The Primeval Atom


Technically yours, 🙂

Roman Catholic cleric-scientists/engineers

-Nicolaus Copernicus

José de Acosta (1539–1600) – Jesuit missionary and naturalist who wrote one of the first detailed and realistic descriptions of the new world
François d’Aguilon (1567–1617) – Belgian Jesuit mathematician, architect, and physicist, who worked on optics
Lorenzo Albacete (1941–2014) – priest, physicist, and theologian
Albert of Castile (c. 1460-1522) – Dominican priest and historian.
Albert of Saxony (philosopher) (c. 1320–1390) – German bishop known for his contributions to logic and physics; with Buridan he helped develop the theory that was a precursor to the modern theory of inertia
Albertus Magnus (c. 1206–1280) – Dominican friar and Bishop of Regensburg who has been described as “one of the most famous precursors of modern science in the High Middle Ages.”Patron saint of natural sciences; Works in physics, logic, metaphysics, biology, and psychology.
Giulio Alenio (1582–1649) – Jesuit theologian, astronomer and mathematician; was sent to the Far East as a missionary and adopted a Chinese name and customs; wrote 25 books, including a cosmography and a Life of Jesus in Chinese.
José María Algué (1856–1930) – priest and meteorologist who invented the barocyclonometer
José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1737–1799) – priest, scientist, historian, cartographer, and meteorologist who wrote more than thirty treatises on a variety of scientific subjects
Francesco Castracane degli Antelminelli (1817–1899) – priest and botanist who was one of the first to introduce microphotography into the study of biology
Giovanni Antonelli (1818–1872) – priest and astronomer who served as director of the Ximenian Observatory of Florence
Luís Archer (1926-2011) – Portuguese molecular biologist and editor of the journal Brotéria from 1962 to 2002
Nicolò Arrighetti (1709–1767) – Jesuit who wrote treatises on light, heat, and electricity
Mariano Artigas (1938–2006) – Spanish physicist, philosopher and theologian
Giuseppe Asclepi (1706–1776) – Jesuit astronomer and physician who served as director of the Collegio Romano observatory; the lunar crater Asclepi is named after him
Roger Bacon (c. 1214–1294) – Franciscan friar who made significant contributions to mathematics and optics and has been described as a forerunner of modern scientific method
Bernardino Baldi (1533–1617) – abbot, mathematician, and writer
Eugenio Barsanti (1821–1864) – Piarist, possible inventor of the internal combustion engine
Bartholomeus Amicus (1562–1649) – Jesuit, wrote on philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and the concept of vacuum and its relationship with God
Daniello Bartoli (1608–1685) – Bartoli and fellow Jesuit astronomer Niccolò Zucchi are credited as probably having been the first to see the equatorial belts on the planet Jupiter
Joseph Bayma (1816–1892) – Jesuit known for work in stereochemistry and mathematics
Giacopo Belgrado (1704–1789) – Jesuit professor of mathematics and physics and court mathematician who did experimental work in electricity
Michel Benoist (1715–1774) – missionary to China and scientist
Mario Bettinus (1582–1657) – Jesuit philosopher, mathematician and astronomer; lunar crater Bettinus named after him
Giuseppe Biancani (1566–1624) – Jesuit astronomer, mathematician, and selenographer, after whom the crater Blancanus on the Moon is named
Jacques de Billy (1602–1679) – Jesuit who has produced a number of results in number theory which have been named after him; published several astronomical tables; the crater Billy on the Moon is named after him
Paolo Boccone (1633–1704) – Cistercian botanist who contributed to the fields of medicine and toxicology
Bernard Bolzano (1781–1848) – priest, mathematician, and logician whose other interests included metaphysics, ideas, sensation, and truth
Anselmus de Boodt (1550–1632) – Canon who was one of the founders of mineralogy
Theodoric Borgognoni (1205–1298) – Dominican friar, Bishop of Cervia, and medieval Surgeon who made important contributions to antiseptic practice and anaesthetics
Christopher Borrus (1583–1632) – Jesuit mathematician and astronomy who made observations on the magnetic variation of the compass
Roger Joseph Boscovich (1711–1787) – Jesuit polymath known for his contributions to modern atomic theory and astronomy and for devising perhaps the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position
Joachim Bouvet (1656–1730) – Jesuit sinologist and cartographer who did his work in China
Michał Boym (c. 1612–1659) – Jesuit who was one of the first westerners to travel within the Chinese mainland, and the author of numerous works on Asian fauna, flora and geography
Thomas Bradwardine (c. 1290–1349) – Archbishop of Canterbury and mathematician who helped develop the mean speed theorem; one of the Oxford Calculators
Martin Stanislaus Brennan (1845–1927) – priest and astronomer who wrote several books about science
Henri Breuil (1877–1961) – priest, archaeologist, anthropologist, ethnologist and geologist
Jan Brożek (1585–1652) – Polish canon, polymath, mathematician, astronomer, and physician; the most prominent Polish mathematician of the 17th century
Louis-Ovide Brunet (1826–1876) – priest, one of the founding fathers of Canadian botany
Ismaël Bullialdus (1605–1694) – priest, astronomer, and member of the Royal Society; the Bullialdus crater is named in his honor
Jean Buridan (c. 1300 – after 1358) – priest who formulated early ideas of momentum and inertial motion and sowed the seeds of the Copernican revolution in Europe
Roberto Busa (1913–2011) – Jesuit, wrote a lemmatization of the complete works of St. Thomas Aquinas (Index Thomisticus) which was later digitalized by IBM

Niccolò Cabeo (1586–1650) – Jesuit mathematician; the crater Cabeus is named in his honor
Nicholas Callan (1799–1846) – priest and Irish scientist best known for his work on the induction coil
John Cantius (1390–1473) – priest and Buridanist mathematical physicist who further developed the theory of impetus
Jean Baptiste Carnoy (1836–1899) – priest, has been called the founder of the science of cytology[16]
Giovanni di Casali (died c. 1375) – Franciscan friar who provided a graphical analysis of the motion of accelerated bodies
Paolo Casati (1617–1707) – Jesuit mathematician who wrote on astronomy, meteorology, and vacuums; the crater Casatus on the Moon is named after him; published Terra machinis mota (1658), a dialogue between Galileo, Paul Guldin and father Marin Mersenne on cosmology, geography, astronomy and geodesy, giving a positive image of Galileo 25 years after his conviction.
Laurent Cassegrain (1629–1693) – priest who was the probable namesake of the Cassegrain telescope; the crater Cassegrain on the Moon is named after him
Louis Bertrand Castel (1688-1757) – French Jesuit physicist who worked on gravity and optics in a Cartesian context
Benedetto Castelli (1578–1643) – Benedictine mathematician; long-time friend and supporter of Galileo Galilei, who was his teacher; wrote an important work on fluids in motion
Bonaventura Cavalieri (1598–1647) – Jesuate (not to be confused with Jesuit) known for his work on the problems of optics and motion, work on the precursors of infinitesimal calculus, and the introduction of logarithms to Italy; his principle in geometry partially anticipated integral calculus; the lunar crater Cavalerius is named in his honor
Antonio José Cavanilles (1745–1804) – priest and leading Spanish taxonomic botanist of the 18th century
Francesco Cetti (1726–1778) – Jesuit zoologist and mathematician
Tommaso Ceva (1648–1737) – Jesuit mathematician, poet, and professor who wrote treatises on geometry, gravity, and arithmetic
Christopher Clavius (1538–1612) – German mathematician and astronomer, most noted in connection with the Gregorian calendar, his arithmetic books were used by many mathematicians including Leibniz and Descartes
Guy Consolmagno (1952–) – Jesuit astronomer and planetary scientist, serving as Director of the Vatican Observatory
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) – Renaissance astronomer and canon famous for his heliocentric cosmology that set in motion the Copernican Revolution
Vincenzo Coronelli (1650–1718) – Franciscan cosmographer, cartographer, encyclopedist, and globe-maker
Bonaventura Corti (1729-1813) – Italian biologist and physicist who made microscopic observations on Tremels, Rotifers and seaweeds
George Coyne (1933–) – Jesuit astronomer and former director of the Vatican Observatory whose research interests have been in polarimetric studies of various subjects, including Seyfert galaxies
James Cullen (mathematician) (1867–1933) – Jesuit mathematician who published what is now known as Cullen numbers in number theory
James Curley (astronomer) (1796–1889) – Jesuit, first director of Georgetown Observatory and determined the latitude and longitude of Washington, D.C.
Albert Curtz (1600–1671) – Jesuit astronomer who expanded on the works of Tycho Brahe and contributed to early understanding of the moon; the crater Curtius on the Moon is named after him
Johann Baptist Cysat (1587–1657) – Jesuit mathematician and astronomer, after whom the lunar crater Cysatus is named; published the first printed European book concerning Japan; one of the first to make use of the newly developed telescope; did important research on comets and the Orion nebula
Jean-Baptiste Chappe d’Auteroche (1722–1769) – priest and astronomer best known for his observations of the transits of Venus
Ignazio Danti (1536–1586) – Dominican mathematician, astronomer, cosmographer, and cartographer
Armand David (1826–1900) – Lazarist priest, zoologist, and botanist who did important work in these fields in China
Francesco Denza (1834–1894) – Barnabite meteorologist, astronomer, and director of Vatican Observatory
Václav Prokop Diviš (1698–1765) – Czech priest who studied electrical phenomenons and constructed, among other inventions, the first electrified musical instrument in history
Alberto Dou Mas de Xaxàs (1915–2009) – Spanish Jesuit priest who was president of the Royal Society of Mathematics, member of the Royal Academy of Natural, Physical, and Exact Sciences, and one of the foremost mathematicians of his country
Johann Dzierzon (1811–1906) – priest and pioneering apiarist who discovered the phenomenon of parthenogenesis among bees, and designed the first successful movable-frame beehive; has been described as the “father of modern apiculture”
Francesco Faà di Bruno (c. 1825–1888) – priest and mathematician beatified by Pope John Paul II
Honoré Fabri (1607–1688) – Jesuit mathematician and physicist
Jean-Charles de la Faille (1597–1652) – Jesuit mathematician who determined the center of gravity of the sector of a circle for the first time
Gabriele Falloppio (1523–1562) – Canon and one of the most important anatomists and physicians of the sixteenth century; the Fallopian tubes, which extend from the uterus to the ovaries, are named for him
Gyula Fényi (1845–1927) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Haynald Observatory; noted for his observations of the sun; the crater Fényi on the Moon is named after him
Louis Feuillée (1660–1732) – Minim explorer, astronomer, geographer, and botanist
Kevin T. FitzGerald (1955-) – American molecular biologist and holds the Dr. David Lauler chair in Catholic Health Care Ethics at Georgetown University
Placidus Fixlmillner (1721–1791) – Benedictine priest and one of the first astronomers to compute the orbit of Uranus
Paolo Frisi (1728–1784) – priest, mathematician, and astronomer who did significant work in hydraulics
José Gabriel Funes (1963– ) – Jesuit astronomer and former director of the Vatican Observatory
Lorenzo Fazzini (1787–1837) – priest and physicist born in Vieste and worked in Naples, Italy

Joseph Galien (1699 – c. 1762) – Dominican professor who wrote on aeronautics, hailstorms, and airships
Jean Gallois (1632–1707) – French scholar, abbot, and member of Académie des Sciences
Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655) – French priest, astronomer, and mathematician who published the first data on the transit of Mercury; best known intellectual project attempted to reconcile Epicurean atomism with Christianity
Antoine Gaubil (1689-1759) – French astronomer who was the director general of the College of Interpreters at the court of China between 1741 and 1759 and centralized information provided by the Jesuit observatories throughout the world
Agostino Gemelli (1878–1959) – Franciscan physician and psychologist; founded Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan
Johannes von Gmunden (c. 1380–1442) – Canon, mathematician, and astronomer who compiled astronomical tables; Asteroid 15955 Johannesgmunden named in his honor
Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora (1645–1700) – priest, polymath, mathematician, astronomer, and cartographer; drew the first map of all of New Spain
Andrew Gordon (1712–1751) – Benedictine monk, physicist, and inventor who made the first electric motor
Christoph Grienberger (1561–1636) – Jesuit astronomer after whom the crater Gruemberger on the Moon is named; verified Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s moons.
Francesco Maria Grimaldi (1618–1663) – Jesuit who discovered the diffraction of light (indeed coined the term “diffraction”), investigated the free fall of objects, and built and used instruments to measure geological features on the moon
Robert Grosseteste (c. 1175 – 1253) – bishop who was one of the most knowledgeable men of the Middle Ages; has been called “the first man ever to write down a complete set of steps for performing a scientific experiment”[17]
Paul Guldin (1577–1643) – Jesuit mathematician and astronomer who discovered the Guldinus theorem to determine the surface and the volume of a solid of revolution
Bartolomeu de Gusmão (1685–1724) – Jesuit known for his early work on lighter-than-air airship design
Johann Georg Hagen (1847–1930) – Jesuit director of the Georgetown and Vatican Observatories; the crater Hagen on the Moon is named after him
Frank Haig (1928-) – American physics professor
Nicholas Halma (1755–1828) – French abbot, mathematician, and translator
Jean-Baptiste du Hamel (1624–1706) – French priest, natural philosopher, and secretary of the Academie Royale des Sciences
René Just Haüy (1743–1822) – priest known as the father of crystallography
Maximilian Hell (1720–1792) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Vienna Observatory who wrote astronomy tables and observed the Transit of Venus; the crater Hell on the Moon is named after him
Michał Heller (1936– ) – Polish priest, Templeton Prize winner, and prolific writer on numerous scientific topics
Lorenz Hengler (1806–1858) – priest often credited as the inventor of the horizontal pendulum
Hermann of Reichenau (1013–1054) – Benedictine historian, music theorist, astronomer, and mathematician
Pierre Marie Heude (1836–1902) – Jesuit missionary and zoologist who studied the natural history of Eastern Asia
Franz von Paula Hladnik (1773–1844) – priest and botanist who discovered several new kinds of plants, and certain genera have been named after him
Giovanni Battista Hodierna (1597–1660) – priest and astronomer who catalogued nebulous objects and developed an early microscope
Johann Baptiste Horvath (1732-1799) – Hungarian physicist who taught physics and philosophy at the University of Tyrnau, later of Buda, and wrote many Newtonian textbooks
Victor-Alphonse Huard (1853–1929) – priest, naturalist, educator, writer, and promoter of the natural sciences
Maximus von Imhof (1758–1817) – German Augustinian physicist and director of the Munich Academy of Sciences
Giovanni Inghirami (1779–1851) – Italian Piarist astronomer who has a valley on the moon named after him as well as a crater
François Jacquier (1711–1788) – Franciscan mathematician and physicist; at his death he was connected with nearly all the great scientific and literary societies of Europe
Stanley Jaki (1924–2009) – Benedictine priest and prolific writer who wrote on the relationship between science and theology
Ányos Jedlik (1800–1895) – Benedictine engineer, physicist, and inventor; considered by Hungarians and Slovaks to be the unsung father of the dynamo and electric motor

Georg Joseph Kamel (1661–1706) – Jesuit missionary and botanist who established the first pharmacy in the Philippines; the genus Camellia is named for him
Karl Kehrle (1898–1996) – Benedictine Monk of Buckfast Abbey, England; beekeeper; world authority on bee breeding, developer of the Buckfast bee
Eusebio Kino (1645–1711) – Jesuit missionary, mathematician, astronomer and cartographer; drew maps based on his explorations first showing that California was not an island, as then believed; published an astronomical treatise in Mexico City of his observations of the Kirsch comet
Otto Kippes (1905–1994) – priest acknowledged for his work in asteroid orbit calculations; the main belt asteroid 1780 Kippes was named in his honour
Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680) – Jesuit who has been called the father of Egyptology and “Master of a hundred arts”; wrote an encyclopedia of China; one of the first people to observe microbes through a microscope; in his Scrutinium Pestis of 1658 he noted the presence of “little worms” or “animalcules” in the blood, and concluded that the disease was caused by micro-organisms; this is antecedent to germ theory
Wenceslas Pantaleon Kirwitzer (1588–1626) – Jesuit astronomer and missionary to China who published observations of comets
Jan Krzysztof Kluk (1739–1796) – priest, naturalist agronomist, and entomologist who wrote a multi-volume work on Polish animal life
Marian Wolfgang Koller (1792–1866) – Benedictine professor who wrote on astronomy, physics, and meteorology
Franz Xaver Kugler (1862–1929) – Jesuit chemist, mathematician, and Assyriologist who is most noted for his studies of cuneiform tablets and Babylonian astronomy
Ramon Llull (ca. 1232 – ca. 1315) – Majorcan writer and philosopher, logician and a Franciscan tertiary considered a pioneer of computation theory
Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713–1762) – French deacon and astronomer noted for cataloguing stars, nebulous objects, and constellations
Eugene Lafont (1837–1908) – Jesuit physicist, astronomer, and founder of the first Scientific Society in India
Antoine de Laloubère (1600–1664) – Jesuit and first mathematician to study the properties of the helix
Bernard Lamy (1640–1715) – Oratorian philosopher and mathematician who wrote on the parallelogram of forces
Roberto Landell de Moura (1861–1928) – priest and inventor who was the first to accomplish the transmission of the human voice by a wireless machine
Pierre André Latreille (1762–1833) – priest and entomologist whose works describing insects assigned many of the insect taxa still in use today
Georges Lemaître (1894–1966) – Belgian priest and father of the Big Bang theory
Émile Licent (1876–1952) – French Jesuit trained as a natural historian; spent more than 25 years researching in Tianjin, China
Joseph Xaver Liesganig (1719-1799) – Austrian astronomer and geodesist who managed the Jesuit observatory in Vienna between 1756 and 1773
Thomas Linacre (c. 1460–1524) – English priest, humanist, translator, and physician
Francis Line (1595–1675) – Jesuit magnetic clock and sundial maker who disagreed with some of the findings of Newton and Boyle
Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz (1606–1682) – Cistercian who wrote on a variety of scientific subjects, including probability theory
João de Loureiro (1717–1791) – Portuguese mathematician and botanist active in Cochinchina

Jean Mabillon (1632–1707) – Benedictine monk and scholar, considered the founder of palaeography and diplomatics
James B. Macelwane (1883–1956) – Jesuit seismologist who contributed a volume to the first textbook on seismology in America
John MacEnery (1797–1841) – archaeologist who investigated the Palaeolithic remains at Kents Cavern
Manuel Magri (1851–1907) – Jesuit ethnographer, archaeologist and writer; one of Malta’s pioneers in archaeology
Emmanuel Maignan (1601–1676) – Minim physicist and professor of medicine who published works on gnomonics and perspective
Pal Mako (1724-1793) – Hungarian mathematician and physicist who taught mathematics, experimental physics and mechanics at the Vienna Theresianum and had a part in the preparation of the Ratio educationis (1777), which reformed the imperial teaching system in the spirit of Enlightenment
Charles Malapert (1581–1630) – Jesuit writer, astronomer, and proponent of Aristotelian cosmology; also known for observations of sunpots, the lunar surface, and the southern sky; the crater Malapert on the Moon is named after him
Nicolas Malebranche (1638–1715) – Oratorian philosopher who studied physics, optics, and the laws of motion and disseminated the ideas of Descartes and Leibniz
Marcin of Urzędów (c. 1500–1573) – priest, physician, pharmacist, and botanist
Joseph Maréchal (1878–1944) – Jesuit philosopher and psychologist
Marie-Victorin (1885–1944) – Christian Brother and botanist best known as the father of the Jardin botanique de Montréal
Edme Mariotte (c. 1620–1684) – priest and physicist who recognized Boyle’s Law and wrote about the nature of color
Francesco Maurolico (1494–1575) – Benedictine who made contributions to the fields of geometry, optics, conics, mechanics, music, and astronomy, and gave the first known proof by mathematical induction
Christian Mayer (astronomer) (1719–1783) – Jesuit astronomer most noted for pioneering the study of binary stars
James Robert McConnell (1915–1999) – Irish theoretical physicist, pontifical academician, Monsignor
Michael C. McFarland (1948-) – American computer scientist and president of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts
Paul McNally (1890–1955) – Jesuit astronomer and director of Georgetown Observatory; the crater McNally on the Moon is named after him
Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) – Augustinian monk and father of genetics
Pietro Mengoli (1626–1686) – priest and mathematician who first posed the famous Basel Problem
Giuseppe Mercalli (1850–1914) – priest, volcanologist, and director of the Vesuvius Observatory who is best remembered today for his Mercalli scale for measuring earthquakes which is still in use
Marin Mersenne (1588–1648) – Minim philosopher, mathematician, and music theorist, so-called “father of acoustics”
Paul of Middelburg (1446–1534) – Bishop who wrote on the reform of the calendar
Maciej Miechowita (1457–1523) – Canon who wrote the first accurate geographical and ethnographical description of Eastern Europe, as well as two medical treatises
François-Napoléon-Marie Moigno (1804–1884) – Jesuit physicist and mathematician; was an expositor of science and translator rather than an original investigator
Juan Ignacio Molina (1740–1829) – Jesuit naturalist, historian, botanist, ornithologist and geographer
Louis Moréri (1643–1680) – 17th-century priest and encyclopaedist
Theodorus Moretus (1602–1667) – Jesuit mathematician and author of the first mathematical dissertations ever defended in Prague; the lunar crater Moretus is named after him
Gabriel Mouton (1618–1694) – abbot, mathematician, astronomer, and early proponent of the metric system
Jozef Murgaš (1864–1929) – priest who contributed to wireless telegraphy and helped develop mobile communications and wireless transmission of information and human voice
José Celestino Mutis (1732–1808) – Canon, botanist, and mathematician who led the Royal Botanical Expedition of the New World
Bienvenido Nebres (1940-) – Filipino mathematician, president of Ateneo de Manila University, and an honoree of the National Scientist of the Philippines award
Jean François Niceron (1613–1646) – Minim mathematician who studied geometrical optics
Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464) – Cardinal, philosopher, jurist, mathematician, astronomer, and one of the great geniuses and polymaths of the 15th century
Julius Nieuwland (1878–1936) – Holy Cross priest, known for his contributions to acetylene research and its use as the basis for one type of synthetic rubber, which eventually led to the invention of neoprene by DuPont
Jean-Antoine Nollet (1700–1770) – abbot and physicist who discovered the phenomenon of osmosis in natural membranes

Hugo Obermaier (1877–1946) – priest, prehistorian, and anthropologist who is known for his work on the diffusion of mankind in Europe during the Ice Age, as well as his work with north Spanish cave art
William of Ockham (c. 1288 – c. 1348) – Franciscan Scholastic who wrote significant works on logic, physics, and theology; known for Occam’s razor-principle
Nicole Oresme (c. 1323–1382) – one of the most famous and influential philosophers of the later Middle Ages; economist, mathematician, physicist, astronomer, philosopher, theologian and Bishop of Lisieux, and competent translator; one of the most original thinkers of the 14th century
Barnaba Oriani (1752–1832) – Barnabite geodesist, astronomer and scientist whose greatest achievement was his detailed research of the planet Uranus; also known for Oriani’s theorem
Tadeusz Pacholczyk (1965–) – priest, neuroscientist and writer
Luca Pacioli (c. 1446–1517) – Franciscan friar who published several works on mathematics; often regarded as the “father of accounting”
Ignace-Gaston Pardies (1636–1673) – Jesuit physicist known for his correspondence with Newton and Descartes
Franciscus Patricius (1529–1597) – priest, cosmic theorist, philosopher, and Renaissance scholar
John Peckham (1230–1292) – Archbishop of Canterbury and early practitioner of experimental science
Nicolas Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580–1637) – abbot and astromer who discovered the Orion Nebula; lunar crater Peirescius named in his honor
Stephen Joseph Perry (1833–1889) – Jesuit astronomer and Fellow of the Royal Society; made frequent observations of Jupiter’s satellites, of stellar occultations, of comets, of meteorites, of sun spots, and faculae
Giambattista Pianciani (1784–1862) – Jesuit mathematician and physicist who established the electric nature of aurora borealis
Giuseppe Piazzi (1746–1826) – Theatine mathematician and astronomer who discovered Ceres, today known as the largest member of the asteroid belt; also did important work cataloguing stars
Jean Picard (1620–1682) – priest and first person to measure the size of the Earth to a reasonable degree of accuracy; also developed what became the standard method for measuring the right ascension of a celestial object; the PICARD mission, an orbiting solar observatory, is named in his honor
Edward Pigot (1858–1929) – Jesuit seismologist and astronomer
Alexandre Guy Pingré (1711–1796) – French priest astronomer and naval geographer; the crater Pingré on the Moon is named after him, as is the asteroid 12719 Pingré
Andrew Pinsent (1966–) – priest whose current research includes the application of insights from autism and social cognition to ‘second-person’ accounts of moral perception and character formation; his previous scientific research contributed to the DELPHI experiment at CERN
Jean Baptiste François Pitra (1812–1889) – Benedictine cardinal, archaeologist and theologian who noteworthy for his great archaeological discoveries
Charles Plumier (1646–1704) – Minim friar who is considered one of the most important botanical explorers of his time
Marcin Odlanicki Poczobutt (1728–1810) – Jesuit astronomer and mathematician; granted the title of the King’s Astronomer; the crater Poczobutt on the Moon is named after him; taught astronomy at Vilna University (1764-1808), managed its observatory and was the rector of Vilna University between 1777 and 1808
Léon Abel Provancher (1820–1892) – priest and naturalist devoted to the study and description of the fauna and flora of Canada; his pioneer work won for him the appellation of the “father of natural history in Canada”

Astronomer Georges Lemaitre (right) speaks with Albert Einstein after a talk in Pasadena, Calif., in 1932. Lemaitre first published a paper on the expansion of the universe in 1927, but it ran in a minor French scientific journal. The study was republished in 1931, but with key sections missing; a recently found letter indicates it was Lemaitre himself who made the edits.


Claude Rabuel (1669–1729) – Jesuit mathematician who analyzed Descartes’s Géométrie
Louis Receveur (1757–1788) – Franciscan naturalist and astronomer; described as being as close as one could get to being an ecologist in the 18th century
Franz Reinzer (1661–1708) – Jesuit who wrote an in-depth meteorological, astrological, and political compendium covering topics such as comets, meteors, lightning, winds, fossils, metals, bodies of water, and subterranean treasures and secrets of the earth
Louis Rendu (1789–1859) – bishop who wrote an important book on the mechanisms of glacial motion; the Rendu Glacier, Alaska, US and Mount Rendu, Antarctica are named for him
Vincenzo Riccati (1707–1775) – Italian Jesuit mathematician and physicist
Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) – one of the founding fathers of the Jesuit China Mission and co-author of the first European-Chinese dictionary
Giovanni Battista Riccioli (1598–1671) – Jesuit astronomer who authored Almagestum novum, an influential encyclopedia of astronomy; the first person to measure the rate of acceleration of a freely falling body; created a selenograph with Father Grimaldi that now adorns the entrance at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.; first to note that Mizar was a “double star”
Richard of Wallingford (1292–1336) – abbot, renowned clockmaker, and one of the initiators of western trigonometry
Lluis Rodés (1881-1939) – Spanish astronomer and director of Observatorio del Ebro, wrote El Frmamento
Johannes Ruysch (c. 1460–1533) – priest, explorer, cartographer, and astronomer who created the second oldest known printed representation of the New World
Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri (1667–1733) – Jesuit mathematician and geometer who was perhaps the first European to write about Non-Euclidean geometry
Johannes de Sacrobosco (c. 1195 – c. 1256) – Irish monk and astronomer who wrote the authoritative medieval astronomy text Tractatus de Sphaera; his Algorismus was the first text to introduce Hindu-Arabic numerals and procedures into the European university curriculum; the lunar crater Sacrobosco is named after him
Gregoire de Saint-Vincent (1584–1667) – Jesuit mathematician who made important contributions to the study of the hyperbola
Alphonse Antonio de Sarasa (1618–1667) – Jesuit mathematician who contributed to the understanding of logarithms
Christoph Scheiner (c. 1573–1650) – Jesuit physicist, astronomer, and inventor of the pantograph; wrote on a wide range of scientific subjects, including sunspots, leading to a dispute with Galileo Galilei
Wilhelm Schmidt (linguist) (1868–1954) – Austrian priest, linguist, anthropologist, and ethnologist
George Schoener (1864–1941) – priest who became known in the United States as the “Padre of the Roses” for his experiments in rose breeding
Gaspar Schott (1608–1666) – Jesuit physicist, astronomer, and natural philosopher who is most widely known for his works on hydraulic and mechanical instruments
Franz Paula von Schrank (1747–1835) – priest, botanist, entomologist, and prolific writer
Berthold Schwarz (c. 14th century) – Franciscan friar and reputed inventor of gunpowder and firearms
Anton Maria Schyrleus of Rheita (1604–1660) – Capuchin astronomer and optician who built Kepler’s telescope
George Mary Searle (1839–1918) – Paulist astronomer and professor who discovered six galaxies
Angelo Secchi (1818–1878) – Jesuit pioneer in astronomical spectroscopy and one of the first scientists to state authoritatively that the sun is a star; discovered the existence of solar spicules and drew an early map of Mars
Alessandro Serpieri (1823–1885) – priest, astronomer, and seismologist who studied shooting stars, and was the first to introduce the concept of the seismic radiant
Gerolamo Sersale (1584–1654) – Jesuit astronomer and selenographer; his map of the moon can be seen in the Naval Observatory of San Fernando; the lunar crater Sirsalis is named after him
Benedict Sestini (1816–1890) – Jesuit astronomer, mathematician and architect; studied sunspots and eclipses; wrote textbooks on a variety of mathematical subjects
René François Walter de Sluse (1622–1685) – Canon and mathematician with a family of curves named after him
Domingo de Soto (1494–1560) – Spanish Dominican priest and professor at the University of Salamanca; in his commentaries to Aristotle he proposed that free falling bodies undergo constant acceleration
Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729–1799) – priest, biologist, and physiologist who made important contributions to the experimental study of bodily functions, animal reproduction, and essentially discovered echolocation; his research of biogenesis paved the way for the investigations of Louis Pasteur
Valentin Stansel (1621–1705) – Jesuit astronomer in Brazil, who discovered a comet, which, after accurate positions were made via F. de Gottignies in Goa, became known as the Estancel-Gottignies comet
Johan Stein (1871–1951) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory, which he modernized and relocated to Castel Gandolfo; the crater Stein on the far side of the Moon is named after him
Nicolas Steno (1638–1686) – Bishop beatified by Pope John Paul II who is often called the father of geology[18] and stratigraphy,[8] and is known for Steno’s principles
Joseph Stepling (1716-1778) – Bohemian astronomer, physicist and mathematician who managed the Jesuit observatory in Prague between 1751 and 1778
Pope Sylvester II (c. 946–1003) – Prolific scholar who endorsed and promoted Arabic knowledge of arithmetic, mathematics, and astronomy in Europe, reintroducing the abacus and armillary sphere which had been lost to Europe since the end of the Greco-Roman era
Alexius Sylvius Polonus (1593 – c. 1653) – Jesuit astronomer who studied sunspots and published a work on calendariography
Ignacije Szentmartony (1718–1793) – Jesuit cartographer and royal mathematician and astronomer, who became a member of the expedition that worked on the rearrangement of the frontiers among colonies in South America, especially Brazil

André Tacquet (1612–1660) – Jesuit mathematician whose work laid the groundwork for the eventual discovery of calculus
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) – Jesuit paleontologist and geologist who took part in the discovery of Peking Man
Francesco Lana de Terzi (c. 1631–1687) – Jesuit referred to as the Father of Aviation[19] for his pioneering efforts; he also developed a blind writing alphabet prior to Braille.
Theodoric of Freiberg (c. 1250 – c. 1310) – Dominican theologian and physicist who gave the first correct geometrical analysis of the rainbow
Joseph Tiefenthaler (1710–1785) – Jesuit who was one of the earliest European geographers to write about India
Giuseppe Toaldo (1719–1797) – priest and physicist who studied atmospheric electricity and did important work with lightning rods; the asteroid 23685 Toaldo is named for him
José Torrubia (c. 1700–1768) – Franciscan linguist, scientist, collector of fossils and books, and writer on historical, political and religious subjects
Franz de Paula Triesnecker (1745–1817) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Vienna Observatory; published a number of treatises on astronomy and geography; the crater Triesnecker on the Moon is named after him
Luca Valerio (1552–1618) – Jesuit mathematician who developed ways to find volumes and centers of gravity of solid bodies
Pierre Varignon (1654–1722) – priest and mathematician whose principle contributions were to statics and mechanics; created a mechanical explanation of gravitation
Jacques de Vaucanson (1709–1782) – French Minim friar inventor and artist who was responsible for the creation of impressive and innovative automata and machines such as the first completely automated loom
Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746–1822) – priest who discovered the Venturi effect
Fausto Veranzio (c. 1551–1617) – Bishop, polymath, inventor, and lexicographer
Ferdinand Verbiest (1623–1688) – Jesuit astronomer and mathematician; designed what some claim to be the first ever self-propelled vehicle, which many claim this as the world’s first automobile
Francesco de Vico (1805–1848) – Jesuit astronomer who discovered or co-discovered a number of comets; also made observations of Saturn and the gaps in its rings; the lunar crater De Vico and the asteroid 20103 de Vico are named after him
Vincent of Beauvais (c.1190–c.1264) – Dominican who wrote the most influential encyclopedia of the Middle Ages
Benito Vines (1837–1893) – Jesuit meteorologist known as “Father Hurricane” who made the first weather model to predict the trajectory of a hurricane[20][21][dead link][22]
János Vitéz (archbishop) (c.1405–1472) – Cardinal Archbishop of Esztergom, astronomer, and mathematician
Giovanni Serafino Volta (1764-1842) – Priest and paleontologist who wrote the first treatise on fossil ichthyology in Italy
Martin Waldseemüller (c. 1470–1520) – German priest and cartographer who, along with Matthias Ringmann, is credited with the first recorded usage of the word America
Erich Wasmann (1859–1931) – Austrian entomologist known for Wasmannian mimicry
Godefroy Wendelin (1580–1667) – priest and astronomer who recognized that Kepler’s third law applied to the satellites of Jupiter; the lunar crater Vendelinus is named in his honor
Johannes Werner (1468–1522) – priest, mathematician, astronomer, and geographer
Witelo (c. 1230 – after 1280, before 1314) – Friar, physicist, natural philosopher, and mathematician; lunar crater Vitello named in his honor; his Perspectiva powerfully influenced later scientists, in particular Johannes Kepler
Julian Tenison Woods (1832–1889) – Passionist geologist and mineralogist
Theodor Wulf (1868–1946) – Jesuit physicist who was one of the first experimenters to detect excess atmospheric radiation
Franz Xaver von Wulfen (1728–1805) – Jesuit botanist, mineralogist, and alpinist
Leonardo Ximenes (1711-1786) – Italian physicist and astronomer, specialist of hydraulics, creator and director of the Observatory San Giovanino in Florence
John Zahm (1851–1921) – Holy Cross priest and South American explorer
Giuseppe Zamboni (1776–1846) – priest and physicist who invented the Zamboni pile, an early electric battery similar to the Voltaic pile
Francesco Zantedeschi (1797–1873) – priest who was among the first to recognize the marked absorption by the atmosphere of red, yellow, and green light; published papers on the production of electric currents in closed circuits by the approach and withdrawal of a magnet, thereby anticipating Michael Faraday’s classical experiments of 1831[23]
Niccolò Zucchi (1586–1670) – claimed to have tried to build a reflecting telescope in 1616 but abandoned the idea (maybe due to the poor quality of the mirror);[24] may have been the first to see the belts on the planet Jupiter (1630)[25]
Giovanni Battista Zupi (c. 1590–1650) – Jesuit astronomer, mathematician, and first person to discover that the planet Mercury had orbital phases; the crater Zupus on the Moon is named after him