Roger Bacon, 1214? - 1292

Roger Bacon was an English scholastic philosopher who stressed the importance of mathematics and experimentation and promoted significant educational reform.  Although an alchemist, he held the unorthodox opinion that a study of the natural world using observation and exact measurement was the surest foundation for true knowledge of the world and its creator.  One of the earliest advocates of modern science, Bacon envisioned the possibility of gunpowder, flying machines, telescopes, and mechanically driven carriages.  For advancing such ideas, he was imprisoned for a time (probably between 1277 and 1279) by order of the minister-general of the Franciscans.  Very important to Bacon and implicit in his system was an intimate interrelationship between alchemy, morality, the prolongation of life, and salvation.