- Galton , Sir Francis
- (1822–1911) British anthropologist and explorerEven though Galton's exceptional intelligence was apparent at an early age, his higher education was unremarkable. Born in the English Midlands city of Birmingham, he studied mathematics at Cambridge University and studied medicine in London but abandoned his studies on inheriting his father's fortune, which enabled him to indulge his passion for travel. Following consultations with the Royal Geographical Society, Galton set out to cover various uncharted regions of Africa, and became known as an intrepid explorer. He collected much valuable information and was elected first a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and three years later, in 1856, a fellow of the Royal Society.Galton made important contributions to the science of meteorology, identifying and naming anticyclones and developing the present techniques of weather mapping. This work was published as Meteorographica (1863; Weather Mapping). He was also instrumental in establishing the Meteorological Office and the National Physical Laboratory, but he is remembered chiefly for his researches on human heredity, which were stimulated by the publication of The Origin of Species by his cousin, Charles Darwin. This led Galton to speculate that the human race could be improved by controlled breeding and he later gave the name eugenics to the study of means by which this might be achieved.Galton studied the histories of notable families to determine whether intelligence is inherited, and concluded that it is. This aroused much controversy amongst those who believed environment is all important. Galton was the first to use identical twins to try to assess environmental influences. His work was characterized by its quantitative approach and he was also the first to stress the importance to biology of statistical analysis, introducing regression and correlation into statistics.At a time when most scientists believed in blending inheritance, Galton deviated from contemporary thought and, in a letter to Darwin, outlined a theory of particulate inheritance, which anticipated Gregor Mendel's work, then still undiscovered. Galton also discussed a concept similar to the phenotypes and genotypes of Wilhelm Johannsen, under the terms patent and latent characteristics.Galton was knighted in 1909. In his will he left a large sum of money to endow a chair of eugenics at University College, London, which was first held by Karl Pearson, an energetic advocate of Galton's ideas on eugenics.
Scientists. Academic. 2011.