July 1: Darwin published, Leibniz and Blériot born, L. Bragg dies, Jenner proves smallpox vaccination

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection

On 1 July 1858 the Wallace-Darwin theory of evolution was first published.

Charles darwin
Credit: Henry Maull and John Fox (Public Domain)

In June Charles Darwin had received a letter from Alfred Wallace, who was collecting specimens in the East Indies. Wallace had independently developed a theory of natural selection – which was almost identical to Darwin’s. The letter asked Darwin to evaluate the theory, and if worthy of publication, to forward the manuscript to Charles Lyell. Darwin did so, knowingly giving up his clear priority for he had not yet published his masterwork On the Origin of Species.

Neither Darwin nor Wallace were present for the oral presentation at the Linnaean Society, where geologist Charles Lyell and botanist Joseph Hooker presented both Wallace’s paper and excerpts from Darwin’s unpublished 1844 essay.


Gottfried Leibniz born

Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz, born 1 July 1646 in Leipzig, Saxony, then part of the Holy Roman Empire, was a German scientist, mathematician, and rationalist philosopher.

Gottfried wilhelm von leibniz
Credit: Christoph Bernhard Francke (Public Domain)

Leibniz is one of the most important figures in the history of science and his contributions to the modern world are too great to list here.

Among the work for which he is best known are such things as: arguing that knowledge of reality can be achieved by reasoning from first principles; independently inventing differential and integral calculus; and refining the binary number system to produce the calculating foundation that underlies almost all modern digital computers.


Louis Blériot born

Born 1 July 1872, Louis Blériot was a French aviator and inventor who, on 25 Jul 1909, flew across the English Channel from Calais to Dover in Blériot XI, a monoplane with a 28-hp engine.

Louis blériot
Unknown author (Public domain)

In doing so Blériot made the world’s first over-water flight in a heavier-than-air aircraft.


Sir Lawrence Bragg dies

William Lawrence Bragg was an Australian-English physicist and X-ray crystallographer and the youngest ever Nobel laureate in physics, sharing the 1915 Nobel Prize for Physics (with his father, Sir William Bragg) at the age of 25.

Lawrence bragg
Credit: Nobel foundation (Public Domain)

He came up with Bragg’s Law of X-ray diffraction and was a key figure in the history of the Royal Institution of Australia (our Bragg fellowships are named for him). He died 1 July 1971, aged 81.


Edward Jenner injects James Phipps with smallpox

On 1 July 1796, the first experiment with smallpox inoculation was made by English physician Dr Edward Jenner.

Jenner phipps smallpox vaccine
Credit: Ernest Board (Public Domain)

Jenner injected scabs of smallpox material into eight-year-old test subject James Phipps, whom Jenner had previously vaccinated with cowpox. Protected by that vaccination, Phipps did not develop smallpox and suffered no ill effects.

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