Friday, September 16, 2011

American Scientists (Forever) Stamp Collection

The postal system has issued a set of 4 stamps honoring scientists.  They have all made significant contributions to science but many have never heard of them.

Melvin Calvin was an American scientist who spent most of his 5 decade career at the University of California in Berkley.  His won the Nobel Peace prize in 1961 for his ground breaking work on photosynthesis.He and two other scientists traced the path of carbon-14 through a plant mapping the path of carbon through photosynthesis.  He was able to prove that sunlight acts on chlorophyll in a plant to aid in the manufacturing of organic compounds and not carbon dioxide, as previously believed in the organic chemistry world. 

Asa Gray was Charles Darwin’s closest friend.  He traveled twice to the American west to collect botanical samples.  He climbed Gray’s Peak in Colorado, which is named after him.   He authored many books.  His donation of his book collection and plant collection was donated to Harvard, where he was a professor.  This donation created a botany department at Harvard, where he is still held in high honors.

Maria Goeppert Mayer is a German-born American theoretical physicist who in 1963 won the Nobel laureate for proposing the nuclear shell model for the atom nucleon.   She should be considered one of the greatest minds of all time.  Her work is as important as Einstein’s.  She was escorted into the Nobel Ceremony by King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden. 

Severo Ochoa was a Spanish-American doctor and biochemist who won the Nobel Prize for his work in physiology.  His work was ground breaking in protein synthesis and replicating RNA viruses.  He was a world traveler. 

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