Monthly Archives: March 2013

Joseph Fourier and the Greenhouse Effect

Joseph Fourier and the Greenhouse Effect

Jean Baptiste Joseph Baron du Fourier(1768-1830) On March 21, 1768, French mathematician and physicist Jean Baptiste Joseph Baron de Fourier was born. He is probably best known for his work in thermodynamics, where he introduced the concept of the Fourier Analysis, named in honor after him. There, he claimed that every mathematical function of a variable can be expanded to a sum of sines of multiples of that variable. What…
Alessandro Volta and the Electricity

Alessandro Volta and the Electricity

Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) On March 20, 1800, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta informed the British Royal Society in London about his newly invented electric power source, the Voltaic pile, the first energy source technology capable of producing a steady, continuous flow of electricity. Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta was born on February 18, 1745, in in Como, Italy, into a noble family. He resisted pressure from his family to enter the…
The Adventures of Sir Richard Francis Burton

The Adventures of Sir Richard Francis Burton

Sir Richard Francis Burton(1821 – 1890) On March 19, 1821, Sir Richard Francis Burton, British geographer, explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer and diplomat, was born. He was known for his travels and explorations within Asia, Africa and the Americas, as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures, among them also his journey together with John Hanning Speke as the first Europeans to…
Rudolf Diesel and his famous Engine

Rudolf Diesel and his famous Engine

Rudolf Diesel (1858 – 1913) On March 18, 1858, German inventor and mechanical engineer Rudolf Diesel was born, who invented the eponymous Diesel engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel. Rudolf Diesel was born and grew up in Paris, known as an excellent student and awarded with a medal for his achievements at the age of only 12. Unfortunately, the Franco-Prussian War started…
Carsten Niebuhr and the Decipherment of Cuneiform

Carsten Niebuhr and the Decipherment of Cuneiform

Carsten Niebuhr (1733 – 1815) On March 17, 1733, German mathematician, cartographer, and explorer in the service of Denmark, Carsten Niebuhr was born. He is best known for his role in the decipherment of ancient cuneiform inscriptions, which up to Niebuhr’s publications was considered to be merely decorations and embellishment. Nobody really expected that Carsten Niebuhr would travel to the Red Sea, to Yemen and Persepolis, making the findings of…
Egon Friedell’s Cutural Histories

Egon Friedell’s Cutural Histories

Egon Friedell (1878-1938) On 16 March 1938, at about 22:00, two SA men arrived at the house of prominent Austrian philosopher, historian, journalist and critic Egon Friedell to arrest him. While they were still arguing with his housekeeper, Friedell committed suicide by jumping out of the window. Before leaping, he warned pedestrians walking on the sideway where he hit by shouting “Watch out! Get out of the way!“. This was…
H.P. Lovecraft and the Inconceivable Terror

H.P. Lovecraft and the Inconceivable Terror

On March 15, 1937, Howard Philips Lovecraft – better known as H.P. Lovecraft – author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction, passed away. He is reknown as the originator of the Cthulhu Mythos story cycle and the Necronomicon, a fictional magical textbook of rites and forbidden lore. My first acquaintance with the weird literary fiction of H.P. Lovecraft dates back to my schooldays,…
Albert Einstein revolutionized Physics

Albert Einstein revolutionized Physics

Albert Einstein during a lecture in 1921 On March 14, 1879, German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein was born, who has become an iconic figure for physics as well as science of the 20th century. He is best known for his theories on special and general relativity, as well as for the discovery of the photoelectric effect – for which he received the Nobel Prize – and he developed what has been named…
Karl Friedrich Schinkel and the Prussian City Scapes

Karl Friedrich Schinkel and the Prussian City Scapes

On March 13, 1781, Prussian architect, city planner, and painter Karl Friedrich Schinkel was born, who was one of the most prominent architects of Germany of the neoclassical and neogothic epoch. He shaped the city scapes of Berlin and Potsdam with his neoclassical buildings and palaces. Karl Friedrich Schinkel grew up in Berlin, showing early interests in drawing and music. Berlin’s most significant architect of these days was Friedrich Gilly,…
William Buckland and the Dinosaurs

William Buckland and the Dinosaurs

William Buckland (1784 – 1856) On March 12, 1784, English theologian, geologist and eccentric palaeontologist William Buckland was born, who wrote the first full account of a fossil dinosaur, which he named Megalosaurus. Buckland grew up in Axminster, Devon and spent a lot his his childhood days together with his father, a rector, hiking and collecting ammonites and several other shells they found along the way. Buckland received most of…
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