History of Croatian Science© by Darko Zubrinic, Zagreb (1995)
Croatian Science in 15th-19th centuries
In this section we should again mention the names of Mark Antun Dominis and Rugjer Boskovic (1711-1787), whose work was veritably encyclopaedistic.
The first known manual about book-keeping was Della mercatura e del mercante perfetto, (On merchantry and the perfect merchant) written in 1458 by Benko Kotruljic or Benedikt Kotruljevic (Benedictus de Cotrullis, 1416-1469). It is also the oldest known manuscript on double-entry.
His another important manuscript is Benedictus de Cotrullis: "De Navigatione", 1464, written also in Italian. It is the first known manual on navigation in the history of Europe.
Frederik Grisogono (1472-1538), a mathematician, physicist, astronomer and physician, was educated in Padova, where later he became a university professor. His most important contribution was the theory of tides, based on the attraction of the Moon.
Juraj Dragisic (Georgius Benignus), Franciscan born in the famous Bosnian town Srebrenica, suggested a reform of the Julian calendar to Pope Leon X in 1514.
Giulio Camillo Delminio (1479-1544), a famous but forgotton Renaissance thinker, "one of those people whome their contemporaries regard with awe as having vast potentialities". He is most famous for his Theatre of Memory (or Memory Theatre)
Vinko Paletin (1508-1575), born in the noble family on the island of Korcula, arrived to Mexico as a young missionary. For several years Paletin was employed on diplomatic missions for the Spanish King Philip II.
The first technical discoveries are related to the name of Faust Vrancic (lat. Faustus Verantius, italianized name Fausto Veranzio, hungarized name Faustus Verancsics, 1551-1617). He is best known for his book of inventions in Machinae Novae, published also in Venice in 1595. Among his numerous inventions the most famous is the parachute, which he tested in Venice. Vrancic also constructed a mill driven by tides, ropeway, gave a new construction of metal bridges (suspended by iron chains, i.e. suspension bridges).
Nikola Sorgoevic, a sea captain from Dubrovnik, 16th centur, wrote several books on navigation, shipbuilding, and tides.
Franjo Petris (Franciscus Patricius, 1529-1597), a philosopher, mathematician and astronomer, was lecturing at the University of Ferrara and in Sapienza in Rome.
Dominis, Mark Antun, (1560-1624)
Marin Getaldic - Ghetaldus (1568-1622), was the most outstanding Croatian scientist of his time. His best results are mainly in physics, especially optics, and mathematics. Getaldic is the constructor of the parabolic mirror (diameter 2/3 m), kept today in the National Maritime Museum in London.
One of the most outstanding Dubrovnik mathematicians, physicists and astronomers of the 17th century was Stjepan Gradic (1613-1683), who was a Director of the Vatican Library.
Ivo Puljizic, born in Pucisce on the island of Brac, made irrigation plans for the Vatican in the 17th century.
Ferdinand Konscak, or Fernardo Consag (1703-1757), was a Jesuit and a Croatian missionary in North America. In 1752 he discovered that Baja California was not an island, as it had been believed until then, but a peninsula.
Ignacije Szentmartony (1718-1793) was a Croatian Jesuit. In 1753 he sailed off from Portugal to the mouth of Amazon river for geographic research there. He wrote the first Croatian kajkavian grammar for Germans.
Rugjer Boskovic (1711-1787), the greatest Croatian scientist in history
The first balloonist in Croatia was Karlo Mrazovic, who performed two balloon flights in Zagreb with his own balloons in 1789 and 1790. He was born in Boka kotorska.
Simun Stratik (Simone Stratico, 1733-1829), outstanding specialist in nautical theory, lectured mathematics and nautical theory in Padova and Pavia. He prepared a new edition of Vitruvius' famous Architecture (1825) in four books.
Ludwig (Ljudevit) Mitterpacher von Mitterburg (Mitterburg = Pazin in Istria, 1734 - 1814), was born in Bellye (Bilje in eastern Croatia, near Danube river) wrote the three-volume Elementa rei Rusticae, a comprehensive study of agricultural science and practice.
Filip Vezdin or Wesdin (Paulinus a Sancto Bartolomaeo, 1748-1806), pioneer of European indology, born in a Croatian village of Cimov (Hof am Leithagebirge) in Lower Austria in Burgenland (Gradisce). He is the author of the first printed Sanskrit grammar in Europe, published in 1790 in Rome.
Franjo Domin (1754-1819) was among the first who cured various diseases by electrotherapy using static electricity.
The first torpedo was constructed by Ivan Lupis Vukic in the 19th century in Rijeka, where its production had started in 1866 in the Whitehead factory.
The first ship-screw (propeller) has been constructed by Yosip Ressel in 1827 (the first steamers were constructed with paddles).
In 1888 Josip Belusic constructed the first electric speedometer.
David Schwarz, a Zagreb Jew (1852-1897), invented steerable metal airship that is today unjustly bearing the name of the German count Zeppelin.
It is not widely known that one of the earliest hydroelectric power plants in the world has been built up in Croatia, on the beautiful Krka waterfalls. It brought light to the city of Sibenik in 1895.
Modern Slavic studies were founded by Vatroslav Jagic (born in Varazdin, 1838-1923), professor of philology at the Universities of Zagreb, Berlin, Vienna, Sankt Petersburg, Odessa.
Some important discoveries in the field of Croatian archeology were accomplished by don Frano Bulic (1846-1936).
One of the pioneers of telegraphy is Ferdinand Kovacevic (1838-1913). He invented the possibility of telegraphic connection along a single wire (the duplex connection), whereas before four wires had been used.
A zoologist of international reputation Spiridion Brusina (1845-1908), analyzed and classified 600 fossil species.
Vinko Dvorak (1848-1922), Czech who came from Prague to Zagreb in 1875 and was lecturing physics at the University of Zagreb, was the student of Ernst Mach.
Croatian Science in 20th-21st centuries
Antun Lucic (americanized name is Anthony F. Lucas; born in Split 1855, died in Washington 1921) discovered the first major gusher in Texas, The Lucas gusher, flowing at the rate of 80,000 to 100,000 barrels per day. It blew in January 1901.
Dragutin Gorjanovic Kramberger (1856-1936) was a professor of geology and paleontology at the University of Zagreb. He discovered the richest collection of remains of Diluvial Neanderthal people in the world on a site not far from Zagreb (Krapina).
Josip (Juan) Vucetic (1858-1925), a pioneer of the scientific dactyloscopy (identification by fingerprints). Vucetic was also the one who introduced the notion of dactyloscopy in 1920, now in current use worldwide.
The scientific activity of Vladimir Varicak (1865-1942), professor of mathematics at the University of Zagreb, was mainly in non-Euclidean geometry and its applications to Einstein's theory of relativity.
Eduard (Slavoljub) Penkala (1871-1922) invented the mechanical pen in 1906 and fountain pen in 1907. The name of "penkala" is derived from his family name.
Ivan Saric, was a constructor of planes, who had been flying in Subotica in 1913.
Stanko Hondl (1873-1971), professor of physics at the University of Zagreb, has a great merit for popularizing Einstein's theory of relativity in Croatia.
Jaroslav Havlicek (1879 - 1950) invented a steam boiler fed by coal powder represented a revolution in building large power supplies. A reputed journal Applied Mechanic's Review included him among 10 most important personalities in the history of energetics (besides Volta, Fermi, Edison, Tesla).
Franjo Hanaman (1878-1941), chemist and metallurgist, invented together with Aleksandar Just the first economical electric bulb with wolfram filament.
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) is equally known by his contribution to the high frequency technology and wireless communications. The unit for magnetic induction Tesla, was named after him (Conference general des poids et mesures, Paris, 1960). He refused to receive the Nobel prize which he had to share with T.A. Edison.
Among scientists studying seismology the famous Moho-layer (or Moho-discontinuity) of the Earth is well known. It was named after the great Croatian geophysicist Andrija Mohorovicic (1857-1936), professor at the University of Zagreb. His discovery was essential for understanding the inner structure of the Earth and the behavior of seismic waves.
Stjepan Mohorovicic (1880-1980), professor of physics at a grammar school in Zagreb, made a very important theoretical discovery of the positronium (rotational pair of electron and positron) as early as in 1934, published in "Astronomishe Nachrichten", a prestigeous German scientific journal.
As an explorer, Dragutin Lerman (1863-1918) was a member of Stanley's expedition to Congo (Zaire), and a commissary (Commissaire General) of the Belgian government in Congo. By the end of his career the Belgian king Leopold conferred the knighthood of Lion's order on him. And the famous Stanley wrote: "The Croat is energetic, cautious, in high spirits..."
Brothers Mirko (1871-1913) and Stevo Seljan (1876-1936) spent several years in Ethiopia carrying out geomorphological, climatological and ethnographic investigations. They occupied an important position at the court of Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II. Later they went to South America, where they founded the society La Mission Cientifica Croata Mirko y Stevo Seljan and organized some expeditions, especially in Peru, Chile and Brazil (in the region of the Amazon).
Henry Suzzallo (originally Zucalo, of Croatian origin, 1875-1933) was president of the University of Washington from 1915 to 1926. The central library of the University of Washington is called Suzzallo Library.
One of the most outstanding representatives of photochemistry was Ivan Plotnikov (1878-1955), a Russian emigrant to Croatia (1918).
Milan Sufflay (1879-1931), was a brilliant Croatian historian and polyglot of international reputation, known by his numerous scientific contributions, especially in the field of albanology.
Peruvian Croat Juan (Jean) Bielovucic (1889-1949) was one of the first aviators in history. In 1913 he traversed for the first time the Alps by monoplane (20km in 26 minutes), reaching the height of 3200 m. He was one of the founders of Peruvian aviation.
Ivan Jagsic (1886-1956), Burgenland Croat from Austria, was a professor of University of Cordoba, Argentina, where he lectured meteorology and astronomy.
Rudolf Fizir (1891-1960) built 18 airplanes. He was awarded the Paul Tissandier Diploma by the F.A.I. (Fédération Aeronautique Internationale), for his achievements in developing world aviation. With his two-wing aircraft Fizir, constructed in 1925, he won the first prize at the Petite Entente contest in 1927.
Stefan Gelineo (1898-1971) is internationally known by his contributions to the study of hypothermia, i.e. the study of vital functions under low temperatures.
Stjepan Mlakic (1844-?), Bosnian Croat, was a missionary in Africa among the tribes of Shiluks and Nuers in Sudan. Besides his native Croatian he spoke German, Italian, English and Arabian, to which he added the language of Nilot tribe of Nuers.
Bernardo Kohnen (1876-1937), German by birth, devoted about 30 years of his life to the evangelization and study of life of Shiluks (southern Sudan), at that time one of the most isolated tribes in Africa, and other Nilot tribes (Denka, Nuer, etc).
Fran Bosnjakovic (1902-1993), born in Zagreb, was one of world's leading experts in technical thermodynamics in the 20th century.
Danilo Blanusa (1903-1987), Croatian mathematician, professor at the University of Zagreb He discovered a mistake in relations for absolute heat Q and temperature T in relativistic phenomenological thermodynamics, published by Max Planck in Annalen der Physik in 1908. His work about imbeddings of hyperbolic spaces into Euclidean spaces has been cited in 1956 by John Nash.
William Feller (Vilim, Willy, Willi, 1906-1970) is a well known name among mathematicians dealing with probability theory. Many important mathematical notions bear his name: Feller's process, Feller's transition function, Feller's semigroup, Feller's property. He is best known for his monograph "An Introduction to Probability Theory and its Applications", Volumes I and II, on 1153 pp., translated into Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Hungarian and Polish.
Vladimir Jurko Glaser (1924-1984), theoretical physicist in the field of quantum fields theory, published one of the first monographs on Quantum Electrodynamics in the world (Kovarijantna kvantna elektrodinamika, Zagreb 1955, written in Croatian), at the age of 31.
One of our best theoretical physicists was Gaja Alaga (1924-1988). In 1955, in cooperation with K. Alder from Switzerland, A. Bohr from Denmark and B. Mottelson from the USA, he discovered the so called K-selection rules and intensity rules for beta and gamma transitions in deformed nuclei.
Nikola Cindro (1931-2001) outstanding Croatian physicist, occupied the position of vice president of European Physical Society.
Zvonimir Janko (1932), professor of mathematics at the University of Heidelberg, is well known among experts in the theory of finite groups. His discovery of finite group J1 in 1964, more than a century after the discovery of the first sporadic group, launched the modern theory of sporadic groups.
Eduard Prugovecki (1937-2003), outstanding Croatian theoretical physicist, studied quantum field theory, quantum geometry, and the problem of unification of quantum theory and general relativity.
You can also see the names of three Croatian Nobel prize winners:
Lavoslav Ruzicka (1887-1976), obtained the Nobel Prize for discoveries in organic chemistry in 1939 as professor at the Technische Hochschule in Zurich, Switzerland 1939.
Vladimir Prelog, (1906-1998), obtained the Nobel Prize for discoveries in organic chemistry in 1975, working at the Technische Hochschule in Zurich, 1975. The third Croatian Nobel Prize winner is Ivo Andric, for literature.
Mario Puretic (1917, his true name was Mario Puratic), revolutionarized the technology of pulling out fishing nets from the sea by his construction of what is now known as the Puretic Power Block in 1950s. He was elected among hundred greatest USA inventors of the 20th century.
Anthony Maglica, holder of hundreds of patents and trademarks, founded Mag Instrument, Inc, in Los Angeles in 1955, and designed Mag-Lite flashlight, which is now an American product icon, among 100 top products that "America makes best".
Agabekov SA is world's famous company seated in Geneva, Switzerland, dealing with exterior lighting design. It founder is Mr Youri Agabekov, who has Croatian roots
Ralph Tony Sarich (born in 1938) developed the Orbital Engine in 1972. He is a recipent of several prestigeous ingeneering awards like Australian Inventor of the Year 1972, Sir Lawrence Hartnett Inventors Award 1972, etc.
Miroslav Radman élu à l'Académie des Sciences, France, 2002 (Biologie cellulaire et moléculaire).
Emilio Marin, associé étranger de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 2003 (archéologie et histoire).
Daniel D. Gajski, was a principal contributor to the areas of Silicon Compilation, High-Level Synthesis, and System-Level Design.
Marin Soljacic is the author of the new Wireless Power Transfer, conceived in 1996.
Croatian MedicineValent Cibel (born around 1490), wrote one of the first anti alcoholic publications in history.
Gjuro Baglivi (1668-1707) was a professor of anatomy and theoretical medicine in Rome (Sapienza) already at the age of 28, and the Pope's physician.
Mihajlo Soretic (1741-1786), professor at the Universities of Trnava and Budapest, conjectured the law of the specific energies of senses. Niko Ostoic (born on the island of Hvar, 1810-1848) wrote one of the pioneering works on modern heliotherapy.
Ferdinand Hadvig was a surgeon in Zagreb who already in 1792 was vaccinating children in Zagreb against smallpox.
Franz Leopold Jelacic (1808- 1888) founded The University Clinic in Kazan in Russia in 1845.
Count Edgar Bourée de Corberon (1807-1861), descendant of an old French noble family, urged Croatian Ban Josip Jelacic to reestablish the University of Zagreb to full extent (in 1850 the Faculty of Philosophy was cancelled), offering his help as a potential lecturer.
Karl Heitzmann (1836-1896) was a histologist and pathologist and worked in Vienna and New York. He was the first who described hematoblasts. Emanuel Klein (1844-1925), a Croatian Jew, worked as a bacteriologist and histologist in London. He proved the streptococal etiology of scarlatina.
Ante Grosic (1849-1926) was the first to introduce iodic tincture in preoperative disinfection of patient's skin.
Stjepan Poljak (1889-1955), a neuroanatomist, professor in Berkeley and Chicago, was successful in some fundamental discoveries concerning the delicate structure of retina.
Milislav Demerec (1895-1966) worked in the field of genetics in the USA. He had many important discoveries in the genetics of bacteria. Demerec was president of the American Genetics Society and editor in chief of Advances in Genetics.
Croatian reader may be surprised to learn that in Argentina there are rivers like Korana, Kupa, Cetina, Una (confluents of river Chany), then Bosna, Lika, Mura, Sava, Drava, Drina (confluents of river Relem). There are also waterfalls Budak and Mime (Rosandic). This is due to Croatian scientist Ivica Frkovic, who led topographic investigations in the south of Argentina in the province of Neuquen near Chilean border. The founder of the first faculty of forestry in Argentina is dr Josip Balen, together with his Croatian colleagues (Santiago del Estero in the south of Argentina).
Eduard Miloslavic (1884-1952) was elected as a member of the prestigious "Medico-Legal Society" in London in 1940. He was also member of the 1943 medical team which investigated the slaughter of 12,000 Polish officers perpetrated by Soviets in the Katyn wood in 1940. Upon his initiative in 1941 the Faculty of Medicine in Sarajevo was founded in 1944.
When the University of Zagreb was founded in 1874, the Viennese government of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire did not permit to open a medical school. Professor Drago Perovic (1888-1968), a Serb born in Herzegovina in Trebinje, was one of the founders of the medical study at the University of Zagreb in 1918.
Professor Andrija Stampar (1888-1958) was our leading authority in the field of epidemiology and a pioneer in preventive medicine. He was one of the founders of the World Health Organization (WHO) and very active in promoting the health service in Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. He wrote the introductory declaration of the Statute of the WHO and was the first president of this organization.
The most outstanding representative of the Croatian medicine, our specialist of international reputation in the field of othorhinolaryngology, was Ante Sercer (1896-1968). Due to his efforts a faculty of medical science was founded in Sarajevo in 1944.
Vladimir Sertic (1901-1983) was a microbiologist. He discovered and classified several bacteriophages, among others the famous Fi X 174.
Franjo Kogoj (1894-1983), dermatologist, discovered the endemic disease on a beautiful Croatian island of Mljet.
Mirko Drazen Grmek (1924-2000) was professor of history of medicine at the University of Zagreb,and since 1971 full professor at the Sorbonne in Paris. He introduced the concept of pathocenosis in 1969. For his scholarly achievements he was awarded with the order of the Knight of the French Legion of Honour in 1966. In 1996 the international scientific journal Eureka called him physician of the century.
Gabriel Gasic Livanic (1912-1996) was outstanding Chilean biologist, professor at the University of Chile in Santiago, specialist for cancer and leukemia, since 1965 living in the USA
Danko Brncic Juricic (1925-1998), founder of genetics scientific studies in Chile, a member of the Chilean Academy of Sciences, awarded with the National Prize for Science. He was one of the founders of the Genetics Society of Chile (Sociedad genética de Chile and one of the founders of the Latinoamerican Society for Genetics (Asociación latinoamericana de genética) in 1970, and its first president.
The SUVAG center for voice transmission for reeducation of speech disorders and deafness has been founded in Zagreb in 1961 by Academician Petar Guberina (1913-2005). The name of SUVAG is coined from Systeme Universel Verbotonal d'Audition Guberina. His books were translated into many languages, including Arabic and Japanese.
Kresimir Krnjevic, is outstanding Croatian neuroscientist working in Canada.
Mladen Vranic (1930) is distinguished researcher and educator in medical sciences (endocrinology and metabolism) and former chair of physiology at the University of Toronto. He is the only Canadian who got most prestigious awards from American Diabetes association, and 2007 inaugural life achievement award from Canadian Diabetes association.
Pasko Rakic (1933), outstanding neurobiologist, professor at Yale, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of other national institutions, recipient of numerous honours throughout the world, including Croatia.
Asaf Durakovic (1940) is a nuclear scientist and former Chief of the Nuclear Sciences Division at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, USA.
Zagreb has one of the most prestigious ultrasound diagnostic centers in the field of cardiology and gynecology, founded by Professor Asim Kurjak. He founded the Ian Donald Inter-University School of Medical Ultrasound in Dubrovnik, Croatia in 1981.
An amazing anti-war, pacifist sermon was given in 1778 by an anonymous Croatian preacher to Croatian soldiers, immediately before the battle between Austrian and Prussian troops in Bohemia. While the Croatian original of this remarkable sermon is still unknown, that same year eight translations were published in German, Dutch and Swedish, and in Latvian in 1804.
Reference: Borislav Arapovic, Hrvatski mirospis 1778, Matica hrvatska, Mostar, 1999, ISBN 9958-9448-2-0
Dr. Borislav Arapovic is a honorary director of Biblical institute in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1973 he founded The Institute for Translation of The Bible into Languages of (former) Soviet Union. In 1996 the Russian Academy of Sciences conferred him a doctorate honoris causa. In 1999 he was elected foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is the author of
Humanitarian activity of the
International Fund Hungry Child is world-wide known. Its
founder (1969 in Zagreb) and the Secretary General was Vladimir Palecek (1940-1990). Only in the
period from 1969 to 1979 humanitarian aid (medicaments, food, clothing,
ambulances, money) has been sent to 44 countries.
We offer you a very interesting and successful illustration of humanitarian activity in Croatia:
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