Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cogito Ergo Sum – René Descartes

Cogito Ergo Sum – René Descartes

René Descartes (1596-1650) On March 31, 1596, French philosopher, mathematician, and writer René Descartes was born. The Cartesian coordinate system is named after him, allowing reference to a point in space as a set of numbers, and allowing algebraic equations to be expressed as geometric shapes in a two-dimensional coordinate system. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery…
Francisco Goya, Herald of Modernity

Francisco Goya, Herald of Modernity

Francisco Goya: The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters , 1797 On March 30, 1746, Spanish romantic painter and printmaker Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was born. He is regarded both as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. Goya was a court painter to the Spanish Crown, and through his works was both a commentator on and chronicler of his era. The subversive imaginative…
Colonel Drake and the Petroleum

Colonel Drake and the Petroleum

Edwin Drake (1819-1880) On March 29, 1819, Petroleum entrepreneur Edwin Laurentine Drake, also known as Colonel Drake, was born. He is popularly credited with being the first to drill for oil in the United States. His success launched an Oil Rush and brought the world a new energy source. Edwin Drake was born in Greenville, Greene County, New York, as son of Lyman and Laura Drake. He grew up on family…
Pierre Simon de Laplace and his true love for Astronomy and Mathematics

Pierre Simon de Laplace and his true love for Astronomy and Mathematics

Pierre Simon marquis de Laplace (1749-1827) On March 28, 1749, French mathematician and astronomer Pierre Simon marquis de Laplace was born, whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics. One of his major achievements was the conclusion of the five-volume Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) which translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. Pierre Simon…
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen – The Father of Diagnostic Radiology

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen – The Father of Diagnostic Radiology

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen(1845 – 1923) On March 27, 1845, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born. The German physicist is best known for producing and detecting electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range, better known as X-rays or Röntgen rays. Röntgen received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his achievement in 1901. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born in Germany, but grew up in the Netherlands before enrolling at Utrecht’s technical school. After being…
Conrad Gessner’s Truly Renaissance Knowledge

Conrad Gessner’s Truly Renaissance Knowledge

The Pachyderm, from Conrad Gesner ‘Historiae animalium‘ (1551-58) On March 26, 1516, Swiss naturalist and bibliographer Conrad Gessner was born. His five-volume Historiae animalium (1551–1558) is considered the beginning of modern zoology, and the flowering plant genus Gesneria is named after him. He is considered as one of the most important natural scientists of Switzerland and was sometimes referred to as the ‘German Pliny’. Conrad Gessner was born and educated…
Christiaan Huygens and the Discovery of Saturn Moon Titan

Christiaan Huygens and the Discovery of Saturn Moon Titan

Saturn Moon Titan (lower left) in comparison to the Earth and it’s Moon Image by NASA On March 25, 1655, Saturn’s largest moon Titan was discovered by astronomer and physicist Christiaan Huygens. Titan is considered as the most Earth-like moon discovered so far and the second largest in the solar system. Christiaan Huygens was born into an influential family and provided with a decent education all his life, leaning several…
Frederick the Great and the Potato

Frederick the Great and the Potato

Frederick the Great of Prussia examines the potato harvest (1886) On 24, March, 1756, Prussian king Frederick the Great passed the circular order that should ensure the cultivation and deployment of potatoes in his country. Actually, citizens received this only rather refusing, because this subterranean vegetable seemed rather suspicious to them. But there is the saying that the king used a clever trick to convince his subjects… Originally, wild potato…
Emmy Noether and the Love for Mathematics

Emmy Noether and the Love for Mathematics

Emmy Noether (1882 – 1935) On April 23, 1882, German mathematician and physicist Emmy Noether was born, who is best known for her groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. Albert Einstein called her the most important woman in the history of mathematics, as she revolutionized the theories of rings, fields, and algebras. In 1900, Emmy Noether decided to enroll at the University of Erlangen, but as one of…
Nathan Rosen on Wormholes and a Thought Experiment

Nathan Rosen on Wormholes and a Thought Experiment

Artist impression of a Schwarzschild wormhole On March 22, 1909, US-American physicist Nathan Rosen was born. He is best known for his cooperation together with Albert Einstein and Boris Podolsky on the quantum-mechanical description of physical reality leading the the so-called Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradoxon, as well as his postulation of worm holes connecting distant areas in space. Although purely theoretic, his work also had an important impact on science fiction literature. Nathan Rosen…
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