Thomas Harriot (1560-1621) was an English scientist who made terrific advances in various branches of mathematics such as astronomy and navigation. He studied at Cambridge and is reputed to be the first person to look at an astronomical body through a telescope in 1609. Harriot was close to Sir Walter Raleigh and together they traveled to the New World where they made advances in navigation, cartography, and anthropology. Harriot and Raleigh were also friends with Christopher Marlowe, who was reputed to share their interest in the “alien” and the “exotic,” and were believed to comprise part of “The School of Night,” a group of intellectuals who debated occult topics. Harriot achieved many remarkable feats including writing the first book in English about visiting America and discovering Snell’s law of refraction before Snell himself did (see Galileo Project).

Harriot, Thomas