Jacob Bronowski 1908 - 1974

born in:
Lodz, Lodzkie, Poland

Bronowski is now best known for the influential 1973 BBC television series 'The Ascent of Man', which he wrote and presented, in response to Kenneth Clark’s famous 'Civilization'. Born in Poland, his family moved to Germany in WW1 and settled in England in 1920. After studying for a degree and PhD at Cambridge he had a significant and highly varied scientific career working in algebraic geometry, topology, statistics, and mathematical biology. He pioneered the field of operational research methods for the British war effort, culminating in a report authored in 1945 on the 'Effects of the Atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki'. He then worked in industrial research for the government, working on smokeless fuel and as a consultant for UNESCO. He also began to work as a BBC commentator, showing particular talent for communicating science. Bronowski simultaneously developed an interest in poetry and philosophy, seeing these as equal to science in expressing the human imagination. 'The Poet’s Defence' in 1939 considered the relationship of truth in science and art, and 'William Blake 1757-1827. A Man without a Mask' in 1944 led to Bronowski’s own poetic work. Bronowski and his wife Rita had four daughters, including the historian of science Lisa Jardine.

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