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Nicholas Steno
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Religious Figure
    (January 1, 1635-November 25, 1686)
    Born in Copenhagen, Netherlands
    Real name Niels Stensen
    Catholic priest, bishop, medical doctor, and noted scientist, who is known as the father of modern geology
    Made major contributions to; paleontology, anatomy, geology, and crystallography
    Namesake of the Stensen duct, Stensen gland, Stensen's vein, and the Stensen foramina and the mineral, stenonite
    Explored heart and muscle structure (discovered the heart was a muscle), brain anatomy, and embryology and discovered the source of tear production
    First to correctly and fully explain fossils, sedimentary rock, and geological strata
    Medical degree from the University of Copenhagen
    Beatified by Pope John Paull II in 1988
    Said, 'Fair is what we see, Fairer what we have perceived, Fairest is what is still in veil'
    Wrote: Nicolai Stenonis Observationes anatomica quibus varia oris, occulom, et narium vasa describuntur, novus salviae lacrynarum et fontes deteguntur, et novum nobilisismi Bilsil de lymphae notu et usu comunertu examinatur et rejicatur, (1662) De musculis et glandulis observationem specimen, cum epistolis duabus anatiomicis, (1664) Discorus de M Stensen sur l'anatomie du ceuram, (1669) and Nicolai Stenonis solido intra solidum naturalite contento dissertationis prodromus also in 1669
    He never made it clear why he left the Lutheran Church to join the Catholic Church or why he decided to become a priest.
    He was ordained a priest after only four moths of study versus the years required of most would-be priests and became a bishop only two years later.
    His cause of death at the early age of 48 is unknown although his living on bread and beer for four days a week probably didn't help.
    Several others before him, most notably Robert Hooke and John Ray had theorized that fossils were the remains of once living creatures.
    His Prodromus was meant to cover several volumes but was never completed.
    He banned the writings of Baruch Spinoza.
    After becoming a priest and later a bishop; his scientific work dropped off.
    My God that nose!
    He was supremely dedicated to serving the poor, selling his bishop's ring and crucifix and giving the money to the poor and driving himself everywhere in an open carriage regardless of the weather.
    He traveled extensively and had a huge circle of friends that included most of the scientific and many of the royal lights of his time.
    He's the namesake of many landmarks in his native Denmark including schools and museums and has a prestigious Danish award for geology named after him.
    The scope of his discoveries were incredible and ranged from discovering muscles change shape but not volume when they contract to what is known as Stensen's Law or the First Law of Crystallography which states, 'The angles between corresponding faces on crystals are the same for all specimens of the same mineral.'
    Simply by noticing that the teeth of a dead shark he was examining resembled some stones he had come across he was able to extrapolate that fossils were the remains of dead animals.
    His scientific accomplishments are all the more incredible when you consider that he accomplished all that he did without the use of modern scientific instruments.

Credit: tom_jeffords

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