List of multiple discoveries

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Main article: Multiple discovery

Historians and sociologists have remarked on the occurrence, in science, of "multiple independent discovery". Robert K. Merton defined such "multiples" as instances in which similar discoveries are made by scientists working independently of each other.[1] "Sometimes the discoveries are simultaneous or almost so; sometimes a scientist will make a new discovery which, unknown to him, somebody else has made years before."[2]

Commonly cited examples of multiple independent discovery are the Renaissance inventions and discoveries by Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo Galilei and Gerolamo Cardano, Enlightenment independent formulation of calculus by Isaac Newton, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and others, described by A. Rupert Hall;[3] the 18th-century discovery of oxygen by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Joseph Priestley, Antoine Lavoisier and others; and the theory of the evolution of species, independently advanced in the 19th century by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.

Multiple independent discovery, however, is not limited to only a few historic instances involving giants of scientific research. Merton believed that it is multiple discoveries, rather than unique ones, that represent the common pattern in science.[4]

Merton contrasted a "multiple" with a "singleton"—a discovery that has been made uniquely by a single scientist or group of scientists working together.[5]

Merton's hypothesis is also discussed extensively in Harriet Zuckerman's Scientific Elite.[6]

11th century[edit]

Intromission of the theory of light – Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham succeeded by Pierre Gassendi

13th century[edit]

14th century[edit]

15th century[edit]

16th century[edit]

17th century[edit]

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

James Joule were some of the first.

20th century[edit]

21st century[edit]


"When the time is ripe for certain things, these things appear in different places in the manner of violets coming to light in early spring."
—  Farkas Bolyai to his son János in urging him to claim the invention of non-Euclidean geometry without delay,
quoted in Li & Vitanyi, An introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and Its Applications, 1st ed., p. 83.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robert K. Merton, "Resistance to the Systematic Study of Multiple Discoveries in Science", European Journal of Sociology, 4:237–82, 1963. Reprinted in Robert K. Merton, The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations, Chicago, University of Chicago Press,1973, pp. 371–82. [1]
  2. ^ Robert K. Merton, The Sociology of Science, 1973.
  3. ^ A. Rupert Hall, Philosophers at War, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1980.
  4. ^ Robert K. Merton, "Singletons and Multiples in Scientific Discovery: a Chapter in the Sociology of Science", Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 105: 470–86, 1961. Reprinted in Robert K. Merton, The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1973, pp. 343–70.
  5. ^ Robert K. Merton, On Social Structure and Science, p. 307.
  6. ^ Harriet Zuckerman, Scientific Elite: Nobel Laureates in the United States, Free Press, 1979.
  7. ^ "Copernicus seems to have drawn up some notes [on the displacement of good coin from circulation by debased coin] while he was at Olsztyn in 1519. He made them the basis of a report on the matter, written in German, which he presented to the Prussian Diet held in 1522 at Grudziądz... He later drew up a revised and enlarged version of his little treatise, this time in Latin, and setting forth a general theory of money, for presentation to the Diet of 1528." Angus Armitage, The World of Copernicus, 1951, p. 91.
  8. ^ Roger Penrose, The Road to Reality, Vintage Books, 2005, p. 103.
  9. ^ Alan Ellis, "Black Holes – Part 1 – History", Astronomical Society of Edinburgh, Journal 39, 1999. A description of Michell's theory of black holes.
  10. ^ a b Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, Bantam, 1996, pp. 43-45.
  11. ^ Gauss, Carl Friedrich, "Nachlass: Theoria interpolationis methodo nova tractata", Werke, Band 3, Göttingen, Königliche Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, 1866, pp. 265–327.
  12. ^ Heideman, M. T., D. H. Johnson, and C. S. Burrus, "Gauss and the history of the fast Fourier transform", Archive for History of Exact Sciences, vol. 34, no. 3 (1985), pp. 265–277.
  13. ^ Roger Penrose, The Road to Reality, Vintage Books, 2005, p. 81.
  14. ^ Halliday et al., Physics, vol. 2, 2002, p. 775.
  15. ^ "Aug. 18, 1868: Helium Discovered During Total Solar Eclipse",
  16. ^ Isaac Asimov, Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, p. 933.
  17. ^ "Had Becquerel... not [in 1896] presented his discovery to the Académie des Sciences the day after he made it, credit for the discovery of radioactivity, and even a Nobel Prize, would have gone to Silvanus Thompson." Robert William Reid, Marie Curie, New York, New American Library, 1974, ISBN 0002115395, pp. 64-65.
  18. ^ "Marie Curie was... beaten in the race to tell of her discovery that thorium gives off rays in the same way as uranium. Unknown to her, a German, Gerhard Carl Schmidt, had published his finding in Berlin two months earlier." Robert William Reid, Marie Curie, New York, New American Library, 1974, ISBN 0002115395, p. 65.
  19. ^ N.E. Collinge, The Laws of Indo-European, pp. 149-52.
  20. ^ Barbara Goldsmith, Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie, New York, W.W. Norton, 2005, ISBN 0-393-05137-4, p. 166.
  21. ^ "Photochemical equivalence law". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  22. ^ Stephen Hawking, The Brief History of Time,Bantam press(1996), pg:88.
  23. ^ M.J. O'Dowd, E.E. Philipp, The History of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, London, Parthenon Publishing Group, 1994, p. 547.
  24. ^ Eggleton, Philip; Eggleton, Grace Palmer (1927). "The inorganic phosphate and a labile form of organic phosphate in the gastrocnemius of the frog". Biochemical Journal 21 (1): 190–195. PMC 1251888. PMID 16743804. 
  25. ^ Fiske, Cyrus H.; Subbarow, Yellapragada (1927). "The nature of the 'inorganic phosphate' in voluntary muscle". Science 65 (1686): 401–403. doi:10.1126/science.65.1686.401. PMID 17807679. 
  26. ^ See the "bibliographic notes" at the end of chapter 7 in Hopcroft & Ullman, Introduction to Automata, Languages, and Computation, Addison-Wesley, 1979.
  27. ^ Ralston, Anthony; Meek, Christopher, eds. (1976), Encyclopedia of Computer Science (second ed.), pp. 488–489, ISBN 0-88405-321-0 
  28. ^ Campbell-Kelly, Martin; Aspray, William (1996), Computer: A History of the Information Machine, New York: Basic Books, p. 84, ISBN 0-465-02989-2 .
  29. ^ Jane Smiley, The Man Who Invented the Computer: The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer, 2010.
  30. ^ Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1986, ISBN 0671441337, p. 27.
  31. ^ Irwin Abrams website,[2]
  32. ^ Troyer, James (2001). "In the beginning: the multiple discovery of the first hormone herbicides". Weed Science 49 (2): 290–297. doi:10.1614/0043-1745(2001)049[0290:ITBTMD]2.0.CO;2. 
  33. ^ "Twists and Turns in the Development of the Transistor". Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. 
  34. ^ "1948 - The European Transistor Invention". Computer History Museum. 
  35. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1956". 
  36. ^ The Chip that Jack Built, ca. 2008, HTML, Texas Instruments, retrieved 29 May 2008.
  37. ^ Christophe Lécuyer, Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970, MIT Press, 2006, ISBN 0262122812, p. 129.
  38. ^ Nobel Web AB, 10 October 2000 The Nobel Prize in Physics 2000, retrieved 29 May 2008.
  39. ^ See Chapter 1.6 in the first edition of Li & Vitanyi, An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and Its Applications, who cite Chaitin (1975): "this definition [of Kolmogorov complexity] was independently proposed about 1965 by A.N. Kolmogorov and me ... Both Kolmogorov and I were then unaware of related proposals made in 1960 by Ray Solomonoff."
  40. ^ Navarro, Gonzalo (2001). "A guided tour to approximate string matching" (PDF). ACM Computing Surveys 33 (1): 31–88. doi:10.1145/375360.375365. 
  41. ^ See Garey & Johnson, Computers and intractability, p. 119.
    Cf. also the survey article by Trakhtenbrot (see "External Links").
    Levin emigrated to the U.S. in 1978.
  42. ^ Endo, Akira; Kuroda, M.; Tsujita, Y. (1976). "ML-236A, ML-236B, and ML-236C, new inhibitors of cholesterogenesis produced by Penicillium citrinium". Journal of Antibiotics (Tokyo), '". 1976' 29 (12): 1346–8. doi:10.7164/antibiotics.29.1346. PMID 1010803. 
  43. ^ Brown, Alian G.; Smale, Terry C.; King, Trevor J.; Hasenkamp, Rainer; Thompson, Ronald H. (1976). "Crystal and Molecular Structure of Compactin, a New Antifungal Metabolite from Penicillium brevicompactum". J. Chem. Soc., Perkin Trans 1: 1165–1170. doi:10.1039/P19760001165. 
  44. ^ D. J. Gross, F. Wilczek, Ultraviolet behavior of non-abeilan gauge theoreies, Phys. Rev. Letters 30 (1973) 1343-1346; H. D. Politzer, Reliable perturbative results for strong interactions, Phys. Rev. Letters 30 (1973) 1346-1349
  45. ^ See EATCS on the Gödel Prize 1995.
  46. ^ Paál, G.; Horváth, I.; Lukács, B. (1992). Astrophysics and Space Science 191: 107. Bibcode:1992Ap&SS.191..107P. doi:10.1007/BF00644200.  Missing or empty |title= (help)


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