Nicolaus Steno

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Steno, Nicolaus

(nĭkəlā`əs stē`nō), Latinized form of

Niels Stensen

(nēls stān`sən), 1638–86, Danish anatomist, geologist, and Roman Catholic prelate. He lived principally in Copenhagen, Paris, and Florence. He investigated the heart, brain, muscles, and glands and discovered (1661) the excretory duct (duct of Steno) of the parotid gland (one of the pairs of salivary glands). He pointed out the true origin of geological strata and of fossils and recorded his studies of crystallization. He was converted from Lutheranism to Roman Catholicism in 1667, became a priest in 1675, and vicar apostolic in N Europe in 1677. In his devotion to missionary work he virtually abandoned science. His Earliest Geological Treatise (1667) was translated and edited by Axel Garboe (1960).


See study by A. Cutler (2003).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Steno, Nicolaus


Born Jan. 10, 1638, in Copenhagen; died Nov. 25,1686, in Schwerin. Danish naturalist.

Steno studied at the University of Copenhagen (he did not graduate) and in Amsterdam. He worked in Holland and Italy (Florence). In his study of human anatomy, Steno discovered the duct of the parotid gland (1660). He described the structure of muscles as consisting of longitudinal fibers and made an attempt to explain the mechanical process of muscular contraction (1664). In 1667, Steno established the similarity between the mammalian ovary and the ovary of oviparous animals.

Steno also made contributions to the sciences of crystallography and geology. He established the law of the invariance of crystal angles (Steno’s law) and described the crystals of diamond, quartz, and marcasite. Steno’s name is also associated with the law of the sequence of rock deposition: he showed that the inclined position of the strata of sedimentary rocks is a consequence of tectonic destruction, and he recognized the significance of unconformities.


Belousov, V. V. “Nikolaus Steno—osnovopolozhnik geotektoniki.” Priroda, 1938, issue 5.
Shafranovskii, I. I. Nikolai Stenonkristallograf, geolog, paleonto-log, anatom. Leningrad, 1972.
Eyles, V. A. “Nicolaus Steno, Seventeenth-century Anatomist, Geologist and Ecclesiastic.” Nature, 1954, vol. 174, issue 4418.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Steno Arcade is being developed on top of the Godot open source game engine, and the source will be released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license upon completion.
Steno, his wife Mira, and their two children Antonio and Emma, 43, totally control a company with sales of well over $1.6bn and 6,500 employees.
Pan-resistant Steno infections are extremely hard to treat but are rarer than similarly difficult MRSA and Clostridium difficile infections that are frequently hospital-acquired.
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Doctors studying the genetic code of Steno areworried about its ability to shrug off all but a couple of antibiotics.
STENOTROPHOMONAS maltophilia, or simply Steno thrives in moist environments such as on taps and shower heads.
Although Steno infections are still relatively uncommon, they are on the increase, say experts.
Steno can stick to a catheter or ventilator tube and grow into a "biofilm" coating which is difficult to remove by normal cleaning.
The remaining selections include a 1677 conversation between Leibniz and Nicolaus Steno concerning topics related to the Confessio, and several shorter pieces, some of which may have been written for Steno.
The pope had a tantrum, ergo, he got his steno, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith--the Cardinal aptly named Ratzinger--to draft a 37-page paper called "On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World." Or in the Latin, "Bee-otchium Slapium."
She moved to California in 1953 and was hired by Paramount Pictures in the steno pool.
The seashell on the mountaintop; how Nicolaus Steno solved an ancient mystery and created a science of the earth.