Monthly Archives: August 2013

Nikolaus of Cusa and the Learned Ignorance

Nikolaus of Cusa and the Learned Ignorance

Nikolaus of Cusa (1401-1464) On August 11, 1464, German philosopher, theologian, jurist, and astronomer Nikolaus of Cusa (in latin: Nicolaus Cusanus) passed away. He is considered as one of the first German proponents of Renaissance humanism. His best known work is entiteled ‘De Docta Ignorantia‘ (Of the Learned Ignorance), where also most of his mathematical ideas were developed, as e.g. the trial of squaring the circle or calculating the circumference…
Ferdinand Magellan and the first Trip around the World

Ferdinand Magellan and the first Trip around the World

Ferdinand Magellan(1480 – 1521) On 10 August 1519, five ships under Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s command left Seville and descended the Guadalquivir River to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, at the mouth of the river. After further preparation 5 weeks later the ships set sail for the very first circumnavigation of the earth. Ferdinand Magellan gained his first experiences on board a Portugese ship in 1505. He took part in several battles…
Jean Piaget and Genetic Epistemology

Jean Piaget and Genetic Epistemology

Jean Piaget (1896-1980)photo: University of Michigan On August 9, 1896, Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher Jean Piaget was born. He is best known for his epistemological studies with children. In 1934, he declared that “only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual.” Piaget created the International Center for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva in 1955 and directed it until his death in 1980. The…
Paul Dirac and the Quantum Mechanics

Paul Dirac and the Quantum Mechanics

On August 8, 1902, English theoretical physicist Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was born. Dirac is best known for his fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. Paul Dirac attended a technical college, which was attached to the University of Bristol. He studied electrical engineering and later on mathematics at Bristol where he graduated with first class honors. Dirac then lived at Cambridge while following…
Road Trippin’ with Alice Ramsey

Road Trippin’ with Alice Ramsey

Alice Ramsey(1886 – 1983)Image: Library of Congress On August 7, 1909, Alice Ramsey together with her companions reached San Francisco, successfully finishing the first crossing of the USA with an automobile by a woman. She arrived at San Francisco 60 days after her start in New York. The journey began on June 9, 1909 in New York City. The four women got ready for a last photo shoot and kissed…
Jon Postel – Editor in Chief of the Internet

Jon Postel – Editor in Chief of the Internet

Jon Postel (1943-1998)Photo by Irene Fertik, USC News Service. Copyright 1994, USC. On August 6, 1943, American Computer Scientist and Internet pioneer Jonathan Postel was born. He is known principally for being the Editor of the Request for Comment (RFC) document series, and for administering the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) until his death in 1998. If you are familiar with the internet, sooner or later you will have to…
Johann Friedrich Struensee – A Royal Affair

Johann Friedrich Struensee – A Royal Affair

Johann Friedrich Struensee(1735 – 1772) On August 5, 1735, German physician Johann Friedrich Struensee was born. He became royal physician to the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark and a minister in the Danish government, where he tried to carry out widespread reforms. His affair with Queen Caroline Matilda caused his downfall and dramatic death. Johann Friedrich Struensee was born in Halle, Prussia and started his career as a…
William Hamilton and the Quaterions

William Hamilton and the Quaterions

On August 4, 1805, Irish physicist, astronomer, and mathematician William Rowan Hamilton was born. He made important contributions to classical mechanics, optics, and algebra, but is perhaps best known as the inventor of quaternions, a number system that extends the complex numbers. ‘This young man, I do not say will be, but is, the first mathematician of his age.’ (Astronomer Bishop Dr. John Brinkley about 18-year-old Hamilton) William Hamilton was…
Joseph Paxton – from Gardens to Architecture

Joseph Paxton – from Gardens to Architecture

Sir Joseph Paxton(1803 – 1865) On August 3, 1803, English gardener, architect and Member of Parliament Sir Joseph Paxton was born. He is best known for designing The Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition in 1851. When Paxton was a teenager, he became a garden boy at Bettlesden Park for Sir Gregory Osborne Page-Turner. Later on, he switched to Horticultural Society’s Chiswick Gardens, which were located near the gardens of…
Timing is Everything – Elisha Gray and the Telephone Patent

Timing is Everything – Elisha Gray and the Telephone Patent

Elisha Gray (1835-1901) On August 2, 1835, American electrical engineer Elisha Gray was born. Gray is best known for his development of a telephone prototype in 1876 and is considered by some to be the true inventor of the variable resistance telephone, despite losing out to Alexander Graham Bell for the telephone patent. But besides the telephone, Gray was a successful and prolific inventor. He is also considered to be…
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