SciHi Blog

Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus of Eresos, who studied in Plato‘s philosopher’s school, is most famous for his groundbreaking work on plants. Thus, he is often referred to as the ‘father of botany‘. His two surviving botanical works, Enquiry into Plants (Historia Plantarum) and On the Causes of Plants, were an important influence on Renaissance science. “Surely, then, if the life in animals does not need explanation or is to be explained only in this way,…
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Vannoccio Biringuccio and the Art of Metalworking

Vannoccio Biringuccio and the Art of Metalworking

Probably on October 20, 1480, Italian matallurgist Vannoccio Biringuccio was born. He is best known for his manual on metalworking, De la pirotechnia, published posthumously in 1540. Biringuccio is considered by some as the father of the foundry industry. Vannoccio Biringuccio – Early Years Biringuccio was born in Siena to Paolo Biringuccio, thought to have been an architect and public servant, and his mother was Lucrezia di Bartolommeo Biringuccio. He was baptised…
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Eudoxus and the Method of Exhaustion

Eudoxus and the Method of Exhaustion

Eudoxus of Cnidus was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar and student of Plato. All of his works are lost or have survived as fragments in the texts of other classical writers. He is best known for having developed the method of exhaustion, a precursor to the integral calculus. The Life of Eudoxus of Cnidus Eudoxus of Cnidus was born around 408 BC as the son of Aischines of Cnidus. His name Eudoxus means…
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Salomon August Andrée and his Failed Polar Balloon Expedition

Salomon August Andrée and his Failed Polar Balloon Expedition

On October 18, 1854, Swedish engineer, physicist, aeronaut and polar explorer Salomon August Andrée was born. Andrée died while leading an attempt to reach the Geographic North Pole by hydrogen balloon. The balloon expedition was unsuccessful in reaching the Pole and resulted in the deaths of all three of its participants. Introducing Auguste Andrèe Salomon Auguste Andrée attended the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1874. Two…
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Réaumur – the Entomologist and the Temperature Scale

Réaumur – the Entomologist and the Temperature Scale

On October 17, 1757, French entomologist and physicist René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur passed away. Réaumur contributed to many different fields, especially the study of insects. But, he is best known for having introduced the Réaumur temperature scale in 1730. Of course everybody has heard of Fahrenheit and Celsius. But, there exists a variety of different temperature scales, most prominent of them the perhaps absolute temperature scale of Lord Kelvin. But, although the other’s prevailed, Réaumur’s scale still…
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Arnold Böcklin – Swiss Symbolism and Décadence

Arnold Böcklin – Swiss Symbolism and Décadence

On October 16, 1827, Swiss symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin was born. He is considered one of the most important visual artists of the 19th century in Europe. Böcklin was one of the main representatives of German Symbolism, which broke with the dominant academic painting and the prevailing naturalism of the second half of the 19th century. “Portraiture is the most miserable genre of painting, because in it the artist is most bound.” –…
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Asaph Hall and the Discovery of Phobos and Deimos

Asaph Hall and the Discovery of Phobos and Deimos

On October 15, 1829, American astronomer Asaph Hall III was born, who is most famous for having discovered the moons of Mars, Deimos and Phobos, in 1877. He determined the orbits of satellites of other planets and of double stars, the rotation of Saturn, and the mass of Mars. “The deepest truths require still deeper truths to explain them.” – Asaph Hall Asaph Hall – Early Years Asaph Hall was born in…
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Sir Edward Sabine and the Earth’s Magnetic Field

Sir Edward Sabine and the Earth’s Magnetic Field

On October 14, 1788, Irish astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist, explorer, soldier and the 30th President of the Royal Society Sir Edward Sabine was born. His aim was to study the shape of the Earth and its magnetic field. He led the effort to establish a system of magnetic observatories in various parts of British territory all over the globe, and much of his life was devoted to their direction, and to analyzing their…
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The Origins of the Greenwich Prime Meridian

The Origins of the Greenwich Prime Meridian

On October 13, 1884, Greenwich was adopted as the universal meridian, dividing the Earth into the Eastern and the Western hemisphere. At the International Meridian Conference held in Washington, D.C., 22 countries voted to adopt the Greenwich meridian as the prime meridian of the world. The French argued for a neutral line, mentioning the Azores and the Bering Strait but eventually abstained and continued to use the Paris meridian until 1911. The British Meridian Before…
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Ascanio Sobrero and the Power of Nitroglycerine

Ascanio Sobrero and the Power of Nitroglycerine

On October 12, 1812, Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero was born. During his experimental research he discovered the explosive compound nitroglycerine. Sobrero was horrified by the destructive potential of his discovery, and made no effort to develop that power himself. Possibly, the only name that pops up in your mind when you think of the explosive nitroglycerine is Alfred Nobel, the guy who also funded the eponymous prices for advancement in science as well…
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