(an incomplete list)
Here are some noted musicians/composers who also have a significant
scientific background. The list is clearly far from complete and
additional suggestions are welcomed.
Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) was a Russian Romanitc composer, and
also a doctor and a chemist.
Manuel P. R. Garcia (1805-1906) was a Spanish baritone and music instructor.
His interest in the mechanics associated with singing led him to
invent a device which is considered the first laryngoscope -- a
medical device to visualize the larynx (vocal folds, glottis, etc).
He has a small number of musical compositions and should not be
confused with his father, also Manuel Garcia (1775-1832) a tenor and
William Hershel (1738-1822) was a British musician and composer and
an avid amateur astronomer. While he has many compositions to his credit,
including many symphonies, he is probably best known for discovering
that Uranus is a planet and he is credited with discovering infrared
Brian May (1947 - ) is most well known for his role as the lead guitarist
and composer/song writer for the rock band Queen.
His compositions include "We Will Rock You," among many others. Though
he started the research much earlier, he returned to his
work, finished his PhD requirements
and was awarded a PhD in Astrophysics by the Imperial College, London, in 2008. He has since co-authored several books about astrophysics.
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was an avid amateur astronomer who
wished he had studied science and math better in school.
He became active in his local astronomy society and he regularly contributed at
their meetings and to their newsletter. Some of his ideas, such as the
assertion that there must be planets about other stars,
were spot on. Other ideas were, well, pretty
far off even by the standards of the day. Perhaps his biggest contribution
to astronomy was through his fame as a composer. His involvement and
enthusiasm with the society, and astronomy in general,
attracted attention to astronomical issues.
Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) is known as a principle
inventor of the telegraph. Those who have made sensitive scientific
measurements may have also heard of the "Wheatstone bridge" method for comparing
two resistance values. (As a side note, Wheatstone did not invent the,
circuit but popularized it as a method to compare resistors. The circuit was
invented by Samuel H. Christie. For some reason, Wheatstone's name
became attached to it.) Wheatstone's early scientific work
dealt largely with the propagation of sound. That line of thinking
later led him to study the propagation of electrical signals.
Along with William F. Cooke, this led to many patents for
the telegraph. From his youth until old age Wheatstone was also
heavily involved in his family business - a music store. Hence
the initial interest in sound propagation. One of Wheatstone's surviving
inventions is the English concertina, a small accordion.
Wheatstone was very shy in front of large crowds and often had others present
his results for him. One regular presenter was Michael Faraday.
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