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Leif Eriksson.

Leif Eriksson. I INTRODUCTION Leif Eriksson (975-1020), Icelandic explorer thought to have been one of the first Europeans to set foot on North American soil. His name is also spelled Erikson, Ericsson, or Eiriksson. He was the second son of Erik the Red, who in about 985 established the first European settlement on Greenland after he...

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Vasco da Gama.

Vasco da Gama. I INTRODUCTION Vasco da Gama (1469?-1524), Portuguese explorer and navigator, who was the first person to reach India from Europe by a sea route. Da Gama was born in Sines, in southwestern Portugal. He joined the Portuguese navy at a young age and participated in the wars against the Spanish kingdom of Castile....

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Geographic Exploration.

Geographic Exploration. I INTRODUCTION Geographic Exploration, process of conscious discovery by human beings of the world around them. The human species is highly mobile, migrating and traveling to every corner of the globe. In this, we are not unique. What sets human beings apart from other living creatures is our ability to discover. Many other creatures...

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Sir Edmund Hillary.

Sir Edmund Hillary. I INTRODUCTION Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008), mountain climber and Antarctic explorer. He was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest (8,850 m/29,035 ft), the world's highest peak, with Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Edmund Percival Hillary served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force during World War...

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Henry Hudson.

Henry Hudson. Henry Hudson (?-1611?), English navigator, famous for four great voyages of discovery; a river and a bay in North America are named for him. Nothing is known of Hudson's life before 1607, the year in which he undertook his first expedition for the English Muscovy Company. Commanding a single ship, the Hopewell, Hudson touched the shores...

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Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Lewis and Clark Expedition. I INTRODUCTION Lewis and Clark Expedition, first United States overland exploration of the American West and Pacific Northwest, beginning in May 1804 and ending in September 1806. The expedition was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and led by army officers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The exploration covered a total of about

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David Livingstone.

David Livingstone. I INTRODUCTION David Livingstone (1813-1873), Scottish missionary and physician, who spent half his life exploring southern and central Africa. In addition to adding greatly to Europe's knowledge of the continent's geography, he heightened Western awareness of Africa and stimulated Christian missionary activity there. His activities helped bring about the Scramble for Africa, in which...

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Ferdinand Magellan.

Ferdinand Magellan. I INTRODUCTION Ferdinand Magellan (1480?-1521), Portuguese-born Spanish explorer and navigator, leader of the first expedition to circumnavigate, or sail completely around, the world. He was born in northern Portugal. Magellan set out to reach the East Indies by sailing westward from Europe, which no one was sure could be done. He intended to return...

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Francisco Pizarro.

Francisco Pizarro. Francisco Pizarro (1476?-1541), Spanish conqueror and governor of Peru (1532-1541). He was born in Trujillo, Spain. Pizarro was raised in poverty and never learned to read and write. He left Spain for the West Indies in 1502 and lived on the island of Hispaniola. In 1509 he joined Alonso de Ojeda's expedition to Colombia. Serving under...

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Marco Polo.

Marco Polo. Marco Polo (1254-1324), Venetian traveler and author, whose account of his travels and experiences in China offered Europeans a firsthand view of Asian lands and stimulated interest in Asian trade. Marco Polo was born in Venice, one of the most prominent centers of trade in medieval Europe, into a merchant family. Venetian merchants of the day...

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Juan Ponce de León.

Juan Ponce de León. Juan Ponce de León (1460-1521), Spanish explorer, born in San Servos, León. In 1493 he accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to America. Later Ponce de León conquered Borinquén (Puerto Rico) for Spain and was governor of the island from 1510 to 1512. From the Native Americans he heard tales of an island

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Ernest Shackleton.

Ernest Shackleton. I INTRODUCTION Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), British explorer of Antarctica. Shackleton led three expeditions to the Antarctic, on one of them coming within 179 km (111 mi) of reaching the South Pole--the closest anyone had come at that time. Shackleton is most remembered for leading the fabled Endurance expedition, in which his men survived for...

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Henry Morton Stanley.

Henry Morton Stanley. I INTRODUCTION Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904), Anglo-American journalist and explorer of Africa, best known for locating Scottish missionary-explorer David Livingstone in East Africa in 1871. Sir Henry Morton Stanley was among the most accomplished and most noted European explorers of Africa. His work played an important part in bringing about the Scramble for...

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Amerigo Vespucci.

Amerigo Vespucci. Amerigo Vespucci (Latin Americus Vespucius) (1454-1512), Italian navigator, for whom the continents of North and South America are named. He was born in Florence. In 1495 he took over the business of a merchant in Seville, Spain, who had furnished supplies to ships voyaging to the West Indies. Vespucci later set out for the New World...

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Alexander Graham Bell.

Alexander Graham Bell. Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), American inventor and teacher of the deaf, most famous for his work on the telephone. Bell was born on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and educated at the universities of Edinburgh and London. He immigrated to Canada in 1870 and to the United States in 1871. In the United States...

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Robert Boyle.

Robert Boyle. I INTRODUCTION Robert Boyle (1627-1691), English natural philosopher and one of the founders of modern chemistry. Boyle is best remembered for Boyle's law, a physical law that explains how the pressure and volume of a gas are related. He was instrumental in the founding of the Royal Society, a British organization dedicated to the

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George Washington Carver.

George Washington Carver. I INTRODUCTION George Washington Carver (1861?-1943), American scientist and educator, noted especially for his research on the peanut. Carver was internationally recognized for his research in agricultural sciences, and he is credited with having revolutionized agriculture in the Southern United States. As a teacher and as the head of agricultural research at Tuskegee...

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Nicolaus Copernicus.

Nicolaus Copernicus. I INTRODUCTION Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), Polish astronomer, best known for his astronomical theory that the sun is at rest near the center of the universe, and that the earth, spinning on its axis once daily, revolves annually around the sun. This is called the heliocentric, or sun-centered, system. See Astronomy; History of Astronomy; Solar

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Francis Crick.

Francis Crick. I INTRODUCTION Francis Crick (1916-2004), British biophysicist and cowinner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Crick shared the prize with American biologist James D. Watson and British biophysicist Maurice Wilkins for their discoveries about the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the molecule that transmits genetic information from generation to generation.

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Marie Curie.

Marie Curie. I INTRODUCTION Marie Curie (1867-1934), Polish-born French chemist and physicist who twice won the Nobel Prize and is best known for her investigations of radioactivity with her husband Pierre Curie. Radioactivity is the spontaneous decay of certain elements into other elements and energy. The Curies shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics with a...

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Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin. I INTRODUCTION Charles Darwin (1809-1882), British scientist, who laid the foundation of modern evolutionary theory with his concept of the development of all forms of life through the slow-working process of natural selection. His work was of major influence on the life and earth sciences and on modern thought in general. Born in Shrewsbury,...

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Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison. I INTRODUCTION Thomas Edison (1847-1931), American inventor, one of the greatest inventors of all time. Edison began to work at an early age and continued to work right up until his death. Throughout his prolific career as an inventor, he was well known for his focus and determination. During his career Edison patented more...

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Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein. I INTRODUCTION Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born American physicist and Nobel laureate, best known as the creator of the special and general theories of relativity and for his bold hypothesis concerning the particle nature of light. He is perhaps the most well-known scientist of the 20th century. Einstein was born in Ulm on March 14,...

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Enrico Fermi.

Enrico Fermi. I INTRODUCTION Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), Italian-born American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, who made important contributions to both theoretical and experimental physics. Fermi's most well-known contribution was the demonstration of the first controlled atomic fission reaction. Atomic fission occurs when an atom splits apart (see Atom). Fermi was the first scientist to split an...

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Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin Franklin. I INTRODUCTION Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American printer, author, diplomat, philosopher, inventor, and scientist. Franklin was one of the most respected and versatile figures in colonial America. An exceptionally well-rounded man, he worked in many fields and succeeded in all of them. He wrote a classic autobiography, made lasting contributions to scientific theory, and devised...

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