Yearly Archives: 2013

Frederick II – The “Wonder of the World”

Frederick II – The “Wonder of the World”

Frederick II (1194 – 1250) On December 26, 1194, Frederick II, one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen was born. Speaking six languages (Latin, Sicilian, German, French, Greek and Arabic), Frederick was an avid patron of science and the art, called by a contemporary chronicler stupor mundi (the wonder of the world). In 1196, the only two year old Frederick…
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The World’s Fastest Aircraft – Lockheed SR-71

The World’s Fastest Aircraft – Lockheed SR-71

On December 22, 1964, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft started for her maidenflight. Since 1976, it holds the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft. Predecessors The SR-71’s predecessor was the reconnaissance aircraft Lockheed U-2. But it was known to be very slow and was mostly used by CIA. Shortly after the introduction of the U-2, the CIA began to have serious doubts about its ability to fly over…
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Antonio Stradivari and his famous Strings

Antonio Stradivari and his famous Strings

Illustration of Antonio Stradivari On December 18, 1737, famous Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari passed away. Besides violins Stradivari also crafted cellos, guitars, violas, and harps. He is generally considered the most significant and greatest artisan in this field. There is only little known of Stradivari’s early life, but his oldest surviving violin was presumably from 1666. It is assumed that he began apprenticeship with Nicolo Amati at the age of about 12 years. Amati…
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Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick

On December 16, 1928, American novelist Philip K. Dick was born. He explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states. Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck…does that ring a bell? Although maybe you don’t know Philip K. Dick, for sure you have seen one of the movies based on his short stories or novels. Philip K. Dick has influenced our…
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My Hovercraft is full of Eels’

My Hovercraft is full of Eels’

Royal Marine LCAC(LR) Hovercraft Image: UK Ministry of Defence On December 12, 1955, English engineer Christopher Cockerell filed the patent for his new invention, the hovercraft, a craft capable of traveling over land, water, mud or ice and other surfaces both at speed and when stationary. “My hovercraft is full of eels”…”Ahh matches!”. Many of you may know these famous sentences by Monty Python’s Flying Circus in ‘the Hungarian Phrase Book’. However,…
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The Clifton Suspension Bridge – Iconic Landmark of the Industrial Age

The Clifton Suspension Bridge – Iconic Landmark of the Industrial Age

On December 8, 1864, the Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the Avon Gorge and the River Avon, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel,[3] was openend for the public. Although Brunel was not able to see the bridge in operation anymore during his lifetime, the Clifton Suspension bridge was the first major commision of the famous engineer of the Great Western Railroad and the then largest steamships in the world. Bridges Across the Avon In…
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From Ambition to Obsession – Jane Franklin and the Lost Franklin Expedition

From Ambition to Obsession – Jane Franklin and the Lost Franklin Expedition

On December 4, 1791, Lady Jane Franklin, Tasmanian pioneer, traveler and second wife of the explorer Sir John Franklin, was born. She was the first woman to climb Mount Wellington and to travel overland from Melbourne to Sydney. Above all Lady Franklin is remembered for the search she organized from 1850 to 1857 for Sir John Franklin’s lost Arctic expedition. Early Years Jane Franklin was born as Jane Griffin, the second daughter…
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Merry Christmas or How the SMS was born

Merry Christmas or How the SMS was born

On December 3, 1992, the world‘s first SMS (Short Messaging Service) message was sent from Neil Papworth of Sema Group over the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom. The text of the very first SMS message was simply “Merry Christmas.” For more than 20 years now we are using this messaging service. Annoyed by the tiny keyboard and by the fact that you have to keep your messages short, because you…
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Gerardus Mercator – The Man who Mapped the Planet

Gerardus Mercator – The Man who Mapped the Planet

Mercator’s Map of Europe On December 2, 1594, German cartographer, philosopher and mathematician Gerardus Mercator passed away. He is best known for his work in cartography, particular the world map of 1569 based on a new projection which represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines. He was the first to use the term Atlas for a collection of maps. Gerardus Mercator (1512 – 1594) The son of a shoemaker, Gerard…
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Otto von Guericke and the Horror of Vacuum

Otto von Guericke and the Horror of Vacuum

On November 30, 1602, German scientist, inventor, and politician Otto von Guericke was born. One of his major scientific achievements was the establishment of the physics of vacuums, which he gave proof of in a famous public experiment. He also was an envoy at the Peace of Westphalia after the Thirty Year’s War.[4] “For God cannot be contained in any location, nor in any vacuum, nor in any space, for He Himself is, of…
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