Building blocks

Eddystone lighthouse

John Smeaton FRS, A Narrative . . . of the Edystone lighthouse (London, 1791)

Smeaton (1724-1792), an engineer, designed many of the watermills, engines, bridges and canals that paved the way for Britain's industrial revolution. Because he often had to employ a site manager, his engineering drawings were models of clarity and logic. One of his greatest achievements was the Eddystone lighthouse, built on a rock in the open sea fourteen miles south of Plymouth. Smeaton's design, based on his observations of the tapering trunks of trees, became standard for all such lighthouses.

Radium Atom

E. N. da Costa Andrade FRS, The Structure of the Atom (London, 1923)

Andrade (1887-1971) trained as a physicist and studied with Ernest Rutherford FRS. His works helped to explain current developments in physics to a wide audience. Rutherford had proposed the nuclear model of the atom in 1911, in which electrons orbited a tiny, dense nucleus.

Aaron Klug structural modelsPhotos supplied by and © MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge

Sir Aaron Klug FRS, structural models (20th century)

Klug (b. 1926) is a molecular biologist and Nobel prize-winner who has made important contributions to the understanding of virus structures. Initially he used X-rays and electron microscopy to study the structures, and then created three-dimensional models such as these. The models help to explain how viruses replicate.