Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 1519

Some Scientific Names
in the Burroughs Books
Edited by
George T. McWhorter
A Souvenir of the 2003 Dum-Dum ~ Louisville, Kentucky

Burroughs was a prolific reader and researcher, and his own works reflect his reading interests. They contain hundreds of references to historic, literary and scientific figures, mixed in with his own imaginary names and situations. This is how he shared his enthusiasms with his readers and became one of the most popular writers in America. I have culled a few scientific allusions from his books to create this 2003 Dum-Dum souvenir.
. . . George T. McWhorter
Curator, Burroughs Memorial Collection
Editor, The Burroughs Bulletin

AMUNDSEN, ROALD (1872-1928): Norwegian polar explorer who discovered the South Pole and fixed the position of the North Magnetic Pole. His journals are referred to by Jason Gridley in his search for a polar entrance to Pellucidar. (Tarzan at the Earth's Core)

ANDREWS, ROY CHAPMAN (1884-1960): American naturalist and explorer, born in Beloit, Wisconsin; director of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City from 1935-1942. He explored Asia, Alaska and the Malay seas, discovering many fossil beds and plants and animals previously unknown to science. ERB writes: "I believe that it was Roy Chapman Andrews who said that adventures were the result of incompetence and inefficiency, or words to that effect." (The Wizard of Venus)

APOLLONIUS (247-204 B.C.): Greatest of the Greek mathematicians who introduced the standard terms used in the study of celestial mechanics such as "ellipse" and "parabola." He did researches in Lunar theory and one of the volcanic craters of the moon is named for him. He is mentioned by Julian 5th in his attempt to identify the volcanoes of the moon. (The Moon Maid)

ASTRONOMY: ERB writes "Just bear in mind that man inhabited the earth for countless ages before it occurred to anyone that the earth was a globe; and that within recent historic times men were subjected to the Inquisition, broken upon the rack, drawn and quartered, burned at the stake for holding to any such iniquitous theory (heliocentric)." For background reading, see Andrew Dickson White's A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (NY, Appleton, 1896)

BEEBE, CHARLES WILLIAM (1877-1962): American ornithologist and explorer writer of Galapagos (1923), Beneath Tropic Seas (1928), and many other books. He was born in Brooklyn and became Director of Tropical Research at the New York Zoological Society, while exploring Central and South America, the West Indies and the Orient. Penelope Leigh tells her husband that they wouldn't be in their present awful predicament if he hadn't read Beebe's Arcturus Adventure (Tarzan and the Castaways)

BORDA, JEAN CHARLES (1733-1799): French mathematician and astronomer mentioned by Julian 5th as contributing to the nomenclature of lunar volcanoes. He was noted for his study of fluid mechanics and the development of instruments for navigation and geodesy. (The Moon Maid)

CELSUS, AULUS CORNELIUS (ca. 1 B.C.): Great Roman-physician who is sent by the Emperor Tiberius to attend Caligula in A.D. 23. He was a Latin encyclopedist who wrote De Re Medcina in 30 A.D. which consisted of eight books on medicine. (I Am a Barbarian)

COOK, CAPTAIN JAMES (1728-1799): Famous English explorer and a favorite of Burroughs who causes him to discover Thandar's Island in 1773. He charted the coasts of New Zealand, Australia and New Guinea, as well as the Pacific coast of North America as far as the Bering Strait. He was killed in Hawaii by natives in a scuffle over a stolen boat. (Cave Girl, Land of Terror)

COPERNICUS, NOCOLAUS (1473-1543): Father of modern astronomy born in Torun (then in Prussian Poland). His masterpiece De Revolutionibus showed that the planets of our solar system revolve around the sun, a heretical view in his time. His young pupil, Rhetticus, saw the book through the press in 1543 and gave Copernicus a copy while the great astronomer lay on his deathbed. ERB mentions that a crater of the moon is named for Copernicus. (Pirates of Venus)

CURTIS, GLENN HAMMOND (1878-1930): American inventor and aviation pioneer who established the first flying school in New York in 1909. He invented ailerons and built many planes for the allied nations in World War I. ERB makes him the aviation teacher of Bowen J. Tyler, Jr. (The Land That Time Forgot)

DARWIN, CHARLES ROBERT (1809-1892): Great English naturalist and author of The Origin of the Species. He is cited as a heavy influence on the researches of "God" in Tarzan and the Lion Man.  ERB was a great Darwinist, and mentions him often in his books. Tarzan watches a drunken revelry at the king's palace in Athne: "He felt disgust and shame . . . shame, because he belonged to the same species as these creatures. Since infancy he had been fellow of the beasts of the forest and the plain, the lower orders; yet he had never seen them sink to the level of man. Most of them had courage and dignity of a sort; seldom did they stoop to buffoonery, with the possible exception of the lesser monkeys, who were most closely allied to man. Had he been impelled to theorize he would doubtless have reversed Darwin's theory of evolution." (Tarzan and the City of Gold)

DOBLE, ABNER (1890-1961): Founder of the Doble Steam Motors Corporation in Emeryville, California (1924-1932). He produced the finest steam car anywhere in the world. It had a condenser which gave a range of 1,500 miles on 24 gallons of water. It sold for $8,000 and carried a three-year warranty. 11,000 orders were received in 1917, but the war priorities stopped the project. Doble was a perfectionist who could never mass produce his cars which had parts that were all custom-made, so not more than 40 cars were ever assembled. He tried to interest the aviation industry in steam locomotion, but was thwarted at every turn. He had proved that steam cars were more efficient than gasoline operated cars, but gas was "in" and steam was "out." (Resurrection of Jimber-Jaw)

EDISON, THOMAS ALVA (1847-1931): Great American inventor of the automatic telegraph, phonograph and light bulb who held over 1300 American and foreign patents for his inventions. ERB suggests that the nameless creature who first created fire by artificial means was greater than Edison. (Land of Terror)

EINSTEIN, ALBERT (1879-1955): Great theoretical physicist and enunciator of the special theory of relativity. He was born in Ulm, Germany, became a Swiss citizen at age fifteen; a German citizen in Berlin in 1914. He was deprived of his citizenship and his property confiscated by Hitler in 1934. He then became a naturalized citizen and won the Nobel Prize in Physics (1921-22). ERB writes: "She saw the Lural Az curving upward, like Professor Einstein's time and space, until it was simply lost in the distance." (Savage Pellucidar)

ELLSWORTH, LINCOLN (1880-1951): American polar explorer from Chicago who accompanied Amundsen in the 1926 polar expedition from Spitzbergen aboard the airship "Norge." He is referred to by Jason Gridley during his search for a polar opening to Pellucidar. (Tarzan at the Earth's Core)

EUCLID (ca. 300 B.C.): Greek mathematician who taught at Alexandria. His Elements (13 books on geometry) are his most enduring works; his greatest contribution was the use of deductive reasoning in mathematics. One of his famous postulations was corrected independently in the 19th century by Lobatchevsky and Bolyai and Riemann, giving the rise to the field of study known as non-Euclidian Geometry. (The Rate Book Department of the University of Louisville owns rare and valuable first editions of Euclid, Bolyai, Lobatchevsky, Riemann, Copernicus, Newton and Einstein.) Briannicus observes: ". . . but that which gave me the greatest pleasure of all was a study of the amazing works of Euclid, the great Greek geometrician." (I Am a Barbarian)

FLAMMARION, NICOLAS CAMILLE (1842-1925): French astronomer and founder of the French Astronomical Society in 1887. He made a special study of the moon, Mars and double-star systems. John Carter observes: "Long ago, I believed with Flammarion that Mars was habitable and inhabited; then a newer and more reputable school of scientists convinced me that it was neither." (Swords of Mars)

GALILEO, GALILEI (1564-1642): Italian astronomer and physicist recognized as the inventor of the telescope. En route to Jupiter, John Carter remarks: "There were those scientists, for instance, who clung to the Ptolemaic System of the universe, and who, after Galileo had discovered four of the moons of Jupiter in 1610, argued that such pretended discoveries were absurd, their argument being that since we have seven openings in the head -- two ears, two eyes, two nostrils, and a mouth -- there could be in the heavens but seven planets. Having dismissed Galileo's absurd pretentions in this scientific manner, they caused him to be thrown in jail." (Swords of Mars)

GAMA, VASCO DA (1469-1524): Portuguese explorer commissioned by King Emanuel I to sail by sea to India. He made the first recorded voyage from Western Europe around Africa to the east, and established colonies at Mozambique and Sofula. ERB makes him the brother of Cristoforo da Gama, king of Alemtejo. (Tarzan the Magnificent)

GRIMALDI: Bowen Tyler's description of a prehistoric humanoid race encountered in Caspak: ". . . on a plane of evolution between that of the Neanderthal man and what is known as the Grimaldi race." This is the Italian homo sapiens, "Grimaldi" being the name applied by prehistorians to a culture of the upper Paleolithic Period, after the Grottes de Grimaldi, a group of caves near Menton, France, but on the Italian side of the frontier. The Grimaldi culture extends down to the heel of Italy where it occurs at Romanelli, near Otranto. (The Land That Time Forgot)

HATCHER AND HOLLAND: Tom Billings refers to the diplococus of Caspak as "infinitely different . . . from the crude restorations of Hatcher and Holland." John Bell Hatcher (1861-1904) was the author of Diplodocus which was published at the Carnegie Institute in 1901. William Jacob Holland (1848-1932) published his Osteology of Diplodocus Marsh (1906) with special reference to the restoration of the skeleton at Carnegie institute. These two archaeologists were responsible for all available knowledge relating to diplodocus. (The Land That Time Forgot)

JEANS, SIR JAMES HOPWOOD (1887-1946): English mathematician, physicist and astronomer who developed the tidal hypothesis of the origin of the earth. He was one of the most outstanding popularizers of science. He wrote: "The evidence, for what it is worth, goes to suggest that Venus, the only planet in the solar system outside Mars and the Earth on which life could possibly exist, possesses no vegetation and no oxygen for higher forms of life to breathe." ERB writes: "Even if the suggestion of Sir James Jeans is born out by fact, each of Venus's days and nights is several times as long as ours on earth. . ." (Pirates of Venus)

LAMARCK, JEAN BAPTISTE PIERRE ANTOINE de MONET (1744-1829): French naturalist noted for his theories on evolution, which provided the basic premise for Darwin's study. He is mentioned by "God" as an early influence of his career at Oxford University. (Tarzan and the Lion Man)

LOVEJOY AND COLTON: Authorities on hog breeding in America. Shannon Burk tells Custer Pennington: "I've spent hours in the office reading Lovejoy and Colton." Andrew James Lovejoy was born in 1845 and, in 1914, published his Forty Years' Experience of a Practical Hog Man, teaming up with Foster Dwight Coburn (not "Colton," as ERB apparently mistyped) to produce the Sal-Vet Swine Book  (1912), undoubtedly the manual to which ERB refers. He raised Berkshire hogs at his Tarzana Ranch for several years. (The Girl from Hollywood)

MAGELLAN, FERDINAND (1480-1521): Portuguese navigator who discovered and explored the Philippines, Spice Islands, and the Strait of Magellan. ONe of his ships completed the first circumnavigation of the globe. He was killed on the island of Mactan in the Philippines. (Land of Terror)

MARE SERENITATIS: Although Galileo was the first to apply general topographical features to the moon (such as "mare" and "terrae"), Giovanni Riccioli and his pupil Grancesco Grimaldi officially named the "Mare Serenitatis" of the moon in their 1651 moon map. (Pirates of Venus)

MARE TRANQUILITATIS: A sea of Mars named by Giovanni Riccioli (1564-1642) and Francesco Maria Grimaldi (1618-1663) in 1651. In describing the lunar landscape viewed by Carson Napier, ERB writes: "Tycho, Plato, and Copernicus stood out in bold relief upon the brazen disc of the satellite, deepening by contrast the shadows of Mare Serenitatis and Mare Tranquilitatis." (Pirates of Venus)

MENDEL, GREGOR JOHANN (1822-1884): Famous Austrian monk noted for his work on heredity. ERB introduces him as an Austrian naturalist from Brunn who, in 1856-1857, meets and exchanges ideas with the creature later known as "God" in his African retreat in the Valley of Diamonds. Through cross-pollination experiments, Mendel was the first to formulate a scientifically accurate study of hybrids. (Tarzan and the Lion Man)

MOLYNEUX, WILLIAM (1656-1698): French philosopher and writer on optics who sent John Locke his theories concerning visual perceptions. He felt that perception was innate, and the only way to test it would be to deprive an individual from birth of all visual sensory  experience; when restored, the individual would be tested again. His theories were not taken seriously until the 20th century. His 1692 treatise Dioptrica Nova was translated as "vision, touch, and the philosophy of perception." He published his own version of Decartes' Meditations. His son, Samuel Molyneux (1689-1728) continued the work in his study of reflecting telescopes. ERB writes: "Hilda was now a beautiful young woman, from whose pulchritude the art of Molyneux had certainly detracted nothing." (The Lad and the Lion)

PILTDOWN MAN: Human fossil remains found in Sussex, England in 1908, originally believed to be one million years old. X-rays taken in 1950 proved that the jaw and canine tooth were a hoax, while fluorine tests taken at the same time showed that the Piltdown man was only 50,000 ears old. (The Land That Time Forgot)

SECCHI, ANGELO (1818-1878): Italian astronomer mentioned by ERB as a pioneer in identifying the volcanoes of the moon. (The Moon Maid)

SIKORSKY, IGOR IVAN (1889-1972): American aeronatical engineer born in Kiev, Russia. He emigrated to the USA in 1919 and was naturalized in 1928. He built and flew the first multimotored plane in 1913 and established the world's endurance record for sustained flight in a helicopter of his own design in 1941. He was awarded the National Medal of Science for his work on the development of the helicopter. (Pirate Blood)

ST. JOHN, CHARLES EDWARD (1857-1935): American astronomer born in Allen, Michigan and died in Pasadena, California. He worked at the Yerkes Observatory and Mount Wilson Observatory mainly in solar physics. He revised the monumental Rowland's Table of Solar Spectrum Wave-Lengths (1928) and was President of the Solar Physics Commission. He made spectroscopic observations of Mars and Venus, mainly to find oxygen and water vapor in their atmospheres. ERB writes: "St. John had estimated that the amount of oxygen above the cloud envelope that surrounds Venus is less than one tenth of one percent of the terrestrial amount." (Pirates of Venus)

STANLEY, SIR HENRY MORTON (1841-1904): His original name was Henry Rowlands and he was born in Denbigh, Wales. He achieved fame as the explorer who found David Livingston in 1871. His best known books are Through the Dark Continent (1878) and In Darkest Africa (1890), both of which ERB studied with fascination. In Tarzan and the Golden Lion, ERB creates an interesting character called "The old man" who is supposed to have come with Stanley to Africa from Wales (as a stowaway). He befriends Tarzan and La and is made king of the Valley of Diamonds after the Bolgani rulers are deposed. (Tarzan the Magnificent, Tarzan and the Golden Lion)

TIMKIN AND FISHER: ERB refers to H. H. Timkin, Chairman of the Timkin Roller Bearing Company of Canton, Ohio. From 1912-1944 they produced a series of 28 handbooks, journals and annual reports to which ERB subscribed. "Fisher" refers to Charles T. Fisher, Vice-President of General Motors Corporation in Detroit. In a whimsical mood, ERB describes "La Diablesa" as a human engine worthy of respect with "body by Fisher, bearings by Timkin." (Pirate Blood)

WRIGHT BROTHERS: ORVILLE (1871-1948) and WILBUR (1867-1912) were the celebrated American aviation pioneers whose historic flight at Kittyhawk in 1903 initiated the era of aviation. (Tarzan's Quest)

ZEPPELIN, COUNT FERDINAND von (1838-1917): Noted manufacturer of German airships. He had fought in the American Civil War. ERB describes the "Zeppelin" which was built at Friedrichshafen and propelled by Helium gas, used by Gridley and his party to find the polar opening to Pellucidar. (Tarzan at the Earth's Core)

Related References in 
ERB's Personal Library
Illustrated Bibliography
Illustrated Bibliography
Roald Amundsen
Roy Chapman Andrews
Charles Darwin
Edison and Tesla at Expo '93
Lincoln Ellsworth
Camille Flammarion
James Jeans
Henry Stanley
Cave Girl
The Girl from Hollywood
I Am a Barbarian
The Lad and the Lion
Land of Terror
The Land That Time Forgot
The Moon Maid
Pirate Blood
Pirates of Venus
Resurrection of Jimber-Jaw
Savage Pellucidar
Swords of Mars
Tarzan and the Castaways
Tarzan and the City of Gold
Tarzan and the Golden Lion
Tarzan at the Earth's Core
Tarzan and the Lion Man
Tarzan the Magnificent
Tarzan's Quest
The Wizard of Venus

George T. McWhorter Profile
McWhorter Burroughs Collection at the University of Louisville
McWhorter Index for the Burroughs Bulletins
Burroughs Bibliophiles
History of the Burroughs Bibliophiles and Bulletin
2003 Dum-Dum
The Dum-Dum Dossier

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2006/2017/2023 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners