Rev John Michell FRS

Died aged c. 69

John Michell (/ˈmɪtʃəl/; 25 December 1724 – 21 April 1793) was an English natural philosopher and clergyman who provided pioneering insights into a wide range of scientific fields including astronomy, geology, optics, and gravitation. Considered "one of the greatest unsung scientists of all time", he is the first person known to have proposed the existence of black holes, and the first to have suggested that earthquakes travelled in (seismic) waves. Recognizing that double stars were a product of mutual gravitation, he was the first to apply statistics to the study of the cosmos. He invented an apparatus to measure the mass of the Earth, and explained how to manufacture an artificial magnet. He has been called the father both of seismology and of magnetometry. According to one science journalist, "a few specifics of Michell's work really do sound like they are ripped from the pages of a twentieth century astronomy textbook." The American Physical Society (APS) described Michell as being "so far ahead of his scientific contemporaries that his ideas languished in obscurity, until they were re-invented more than a century later". The Society stated that while "he was one of the most brilliant and original scientists of his time, Michell remains virtually unknown today, in part because he did little to develop and promote his own path-breaking ideas".

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Commemorated on 1 plaque

Revd John Michell BD. FRS 1724-1793 geologist and astronomer. Rector of Thornhill 1767 - 1793. He experimented on magnetism and astronomy, also making a Torsion balance to weigh the world. His visitors here included Henry Cavendish, William Herschel, Joseph Priestley and John Smeaton.

Thornhill Parish Church, Church Ln, Thornhill, Dewsbury, United Kingdom where they was