BLACKS AND SCIENCE VOL 3 - African American Contributions to Science and Technology By Robin Walker
Did YOU know that a camera invented by a Black astrophysicist was used during the Apollo 16 space mission to collect ultraviolet images photographed from the moon? In fact did you know any of the following facts? • An early eighteenth century Virginia slave developed effective treatments against skin and venereal disease. In fact: ‘His work was so outstanding that in 1729 the Virginia Legislature bought him from his owner, thus freeing him from slavery, to practice medicine exclusively’ • Astronomical works by a late eighteenth century Black mathematician and astronomer were widely read and ‘became a household staple in early America along with the Bible’ • A nineteenth century African American blacksmith patented an invention described as ‘the most important single invention in the whole history of whaling’ • A nineteenth century inventor of Black South American heritage created such a revolution in the shoe industry, that it was said of him: ‘What Edison is to artificial lighting, [he] is to footwear’ • By 1913, African Americans held around 1,000 patents for various inventions in household goods, industrial machinery, transportation, electricity and chemical compounds • A Black physicist extended the Quantum Theory in the 1920s • Henry Ford described a Black botanist in the 1930s as ‘the greatest living scientist’ • Another Black chemist invented synthetic cortisone, an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis that broke the monopoly that European chemists had on the production of sterols • Twelve Black scientists and mathematicians worked on the Manhattan Project, i.e. the American nuclear bomb project, during World War II • A Black surgeon headed the blood bank system of the US and the UK during World War II • The research of a Black physicist and inventor of the 1960s may hold a key to addressing the main concerns of our times – dwindling sources of useable energy, rising energy costs, and increasing demand for energy For too many people, it may be the first time that they had ever encountered such information. This is unfortunate. I believe that African and African Diasporan science history is a subject that has had too little attention paid to it. Some important writers have ventured into the field; Professor Ivan Van Sertima and his team, Mr J. A. Rogers, Mr Samuel Kennedy Yeboah, Dr Louis Haber, and Mr Hunter Havelin Adams III. My work synthesises and updates their findings. I also present the data in an easy to digest, bite-size way. This book is a general introduction to the role played by the African Americans in the evolution of the Space Sciences, Invention, Mathematics & Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Botany & Zoology, and Medicine & Surgery.