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Ernest Hanbury Hankin

Ernest Hanbury Hankin (February 4, 1865- March 29, 1939), was a British bacteriologist, aeronautical theorist and naturalist. Working mainly in India, he studied malaria, cholera and other diseases. He was educated at University College London and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School. He was an Associate Fellow of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain.

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 In India, his official title was Chemical Examiner and Bacteriologist to the Government of the United Provinces and of the Central Provinces. In 1896 he published, through the Pasteur Institute, "L'action bactericide des eaux de la Jumna et du Gange sur le vibrion du cholera", a paper in which he described the antibacterial activity of an as then unknown source in the Ganges and Jumna Rivers in India. (Note: This paper was written in French and was published in Annales de l'Institut Pasteur, vol. 10 (1896), p. 511. An English translation can be found, for example, in the website with the address

He suggested it was responsible for limiting the spread of cholera. Hankin did not study this phenomenon further, however. Nevertheless, a generation later his work was recognized as among of the first observations of bacteriophage activity when Félix d'Herelle witnessed it at the Pasteur Institute.[1]

He wrote "On the Epidemiology of Plague" in the Journal of Hygiene in 1905, but by now his interests had drifted towards the subject of flight. In 1914 he published Animal Flight about soaring flight in birds, based on observations he made, particularly of gulls, in Agra.[2] With D. H. Watson he also published a pioneering paper on the flight of Pterodactyls in the Aeronautical Journal (1914).[3]

His research continued back in England. In 1923, Time magazine carried the following short notice on his exploits: "Much interest is taken in England in the problems of air gliding. People on a London Common saw a strange sight—an elderly gentleman playing with a toy aeroplane. He was Dr. E. H. Hankin ... and he was experimenting with a model glider."[4]

He later wrote about Islamic star patterns he had observed in India, published as "The Drawing of Geometric Patterns in Saracenic Art" in Memoirs of the Archaeological Societry of India. (1925) This and later writings have influenced computer scientists in recent years.


  1. ^ Alexander Sulakvelidze et al, "Discovery of Bacteriophages and Early Phage Therapy Research" Journal of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, March 2001
  2. ^ The Auk Vol XXXII, 1915
  3. ^ Octave Levenspeil, "Atmospheric Pressure at the Time of Dinosaurs" Chemical Engineering Department, Oregon State University, n. d.
  4. ^ Time Magazine, March 10, 1923
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ernest_Hanbury_Hankin". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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