- Huxley , Thomas Henry
- (1825–1895) British biologistHuxley, the seventh child of a school teacher, was born in Ealing and received only two years' schooling. From the age of 10 he educated himself, doing sufficiently well to be admitted to Charing Cross Hospital to study medicine. He graduated in 1845 and the following year was employed as surgeon on HMSRattlesnake, which was due to survey the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua. During the voyage Huxley studied the marine life of tropical waters and wrote an important paper on the medusae (jellyfish) and related species, naming a new phylum, the Coelenterata, into which these were placed. Recognizing the value of this work, the Royal Society elected Huxley a member in 1851. In 1854 he became lecturer in natural history at the Royal School of Mines (later the Royal College of Science) and while there gave a lecture entitled “The Theory of the Vertebrate Skull,” which disproved the idea that the skull originates from the vertebrae.Huxley is best remembered as the main advocate of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, and in 1860 – the year following the publication of The Origin of Species – he took part in the famous debate with the bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, at the Oxford meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. During the discussion Wilberforce asked whether Huxley traced his ancestry to the apes on his mother's or father's side of the family. Huxley answered witheringly that given the choice of a miserable ape and a man who could make such a remark at a serious scientific gathering, he would select the ape. The meeting resulted in a triumph for science, and after it Huxley continued to gain the better of many other distinguished theologians in long academic wrangles. He introduced the termagnosticism to describe his own view that since knowledge rested on scientific evidence and reasoning (and not blind faith) knowledge of the nature and certainty about the very existence of God was impossible.Huxley worked hard to better educational standards for the working classes and spoke out against the traditional method of learning by rote. He opened Josiah Mason College (later Birmingham University), Owens College Medical School (later part of Manchester University), and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Huxley was the grandfather of the author Aldous Huxley, the Nobel Prize winner Andrew Huxley, and the biologist Sir Julian Huxley.
Scientists. Academic. 2011.