SciHi Blog

Karl Jaspers and his Philosophy of Existentialism

Karl Jaspers and his Philosophy of Existentialism

On February 23, 1883, German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers was born. Jaspers had a strong influence on modern theology, psychiatry, and philosophy. He was often viewed as a major exponent of existentialism in Germany. “Man, if he is to remain man, must advance by way of consciousness. There is no road leading backward. … We can no longer veil reality from ourselves by renouncing self-consciousness without simultaneously excluding ourselves from the historical…
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La Voisin and the Scandalous Affair of the Poisons

La Voisin and the Scandalous Affair of the Poisons

On February 22, 1680, Catherine Deshayes Monvoisin, aka La Voisin, was sentenced to death for witchcraft and poisoning, and burned at the stake. This Affair of the Poisons (L’affaire des poisons) was a major murder scandal in France which took place in 1677–1682, during the reign of King Louis XIV. During it, a number of prominent members of the aristocracy were implicated and sentenced on charges of poisoning and witchcraft. The scandal…
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Girard Desargues and Projective Geometry

Girard Desargues and Projective Geometry

On February 21, 1591, French mathematician and engineer Girard Desargues was born. Desargues is considered one of the founders of projective geometry. Desargues‘ theorem, the Desargues graph, and the crater Desargues on the Moon are named in his honour. In his later years, he designed an elaborate spiral staircase, and an ingenious new form of pump, but the most important of Desargues‘ interests was Geometry. He invented a new, non-Greek way of…
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Ludwig Boltzmann and Statistical Mechanics

Ludwig Boltzmann and Statistical Mechanics

On February 20, 1844, Austrian physicist and philosopher Ludwig Boltzmann was born. His greatest achievement was in the development of statistical mechanics, which explains and predicts how the properties of atoms determine the physical properties of matter. “Who sees the future? Let us have free scope for all directions of research; away with dogmatism, either atomistic or anti-atomistic!” — Ludwig Boltzmann, “Lectures on Gas Theory”, translated by Stephen George Brush (1971), p.…
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Nikolaus Copernicus and the Heliocentric Model

Nikolaus Copernicus and the Heliocentric Model

On February 19, 1473, Renaissance mathematician and astronomer Nikolaus Copernicus was born, who established the heliocentric model, which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center of the universe. With the publication of his research he started the so-called Copernican Recolution, which started a paradigm shift away from the former Ptolemaic model of the heavens, which postulated the Earth at the center of the universe, towards the heliocentric model with the…
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Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

On February 18, 1943, Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the University of Munich, calling for passive resistance against the Nazis, and were arrested. Four days later, Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans and their friend Christoph Probst were found guilty of treason and condemned to death. “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They…
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The Sinking of the H.L. Hunley

The Sinking of the H.L. Hunley

On the night of February 17, 1864, the submarine H.L.Hunley of the American Confederate Army sank the steamship USS Housatonic with a torpedo and became the very first submarine to attack and sink an enemy vessel. The Hunley was lost at some point following her successful attack and all crewmen were lost. Although the Hunley only played a small part in the American Civil War, it was a large role in the…
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Sir Francis Galton – Polymath

Sir Francis Galton – Polymath

On February 16, 1822, the cousin of Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton was born. Galton the polymath, was known for his fundamental contributions to anthropology, geographics, genetics, psychology, statistics, and eugenics. He also was the first to apply statistical methods to the study of human differences and inheritance of intelligence, and introduced the use of questionnaires and surveys for collecting data on human communities, which he needed for genealogical and biographical works and for…
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The Great Paris Academic Dispute of 1830

The Great Paris Academic Dispute of 1830

On February 15, 1830, the famous Paris Academy Dispute between the naturalists Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and George Cuvier [5] about the possibility of biological evolution began with a speech of Saint-Hillaire comparing vertebrates with mollusces. Within eight public debates the scientists argued about the possibility that nature not necessarily has to be static but might be subject to constant change. It was the most prominent scientific debate in the 19th century that heavily influenced science…
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The Exploration of Asteroid Eros

The Exploration of Asteroid Eros

On February 14, 2000, NASA space probe NEAR Shoemaker entered orbit of the asteroid Eros to study the near-Earth asteroid from close orbit over a period of a year. The mission succeeded in closing in with the asteroid and orbited it several times, finally terminating by touching down on the asteroid on 12 February 2001. Discovery Eros was throughout history often object of scientific research, due to its larger size. The asteroid…
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