Yearly Archives: 2013

Boccaccio and his Decameron

Boccaccio and his Decameron

Giovanni Boccaccio and Florentines who have fled from the plague On December 21, 1375, Italian author, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and important Renaissance humanist Giovanni Boccaccio passed away. He is best known for his masterpiece ‘The Decameron’ told as a frame story encompassing 100 tales. You haven’t heart about the ‘Decameron’? You definitely should, simply because it is the masterpiece of European Renaissance literature. It its 100 stories it provides…
The World’s First Nuclear Power Plant

The World’s First Nuclear Power Plant

The first four light bulbs lit with electricity generated from the EBR-1 reactor On December 20, 1951, Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR-I) became the world’s first electricity-generating nuclear power plant when it produced sufficient electricity to illuminate four 200-watt light bulbs. The reactor is located in the the state of Idaho between the Idaho Falls and Arco. The construction was designed by Walter Zinn and Enrico Fermi at the Argonne…
Carl Wilhelm Scheele and the Discovery of Oxygen

Carl Wilhelm Scheele and the Discovery of Oxygen

Plate from Carl Wilhelm Scheele’s “Chemical Observations and Experiments on Air and Fire“ On December 19, 1742 (Gregorian Calendar), Swedish Pomeranian pharmaceutical chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele was born. Scheele is best known for his discovery of oxygen and other chemical elements. Carl Wilhelm Scheele was born in Stralsund, which was back then under the control of Sweden, but belongs to Germany on this day. During his childhood, friends of the…
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…
A great man whose only fault was being a woman – Émilie du Châtelet

A great man whose only fault was being a woman – Émilie du Châtelet

Émilie du Châtelet (1706-1749) On December 17, 1706, French mathematician, physicist, and author Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet was born. Her major achievement is considered to be her translation and commentary on Isaac Newton’s work Principia Mathematica, which still is the standard French translation of Newton’s work today. Philosopher and author Voltaire, one of her lovers, once declared in a letter to his friend King Frederick…
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick

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

Philip K. Dick (1928-1982)© Pete Welsch (wikipedia) 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…
Amundsen’s South Pole Expedition

Amundsen’s South Pole Expedition

Roald Amundsen and his crew looking at the Norwegian flag at the South Pole, 1911 On December 14, 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his expedition were the first to reach the geographic south pole, only five weeks ahead of a British party led by Robert Falcon Scott. Already during his childhood, Roald Amundsen was interested in the stories of discoverer and explorers. Especially travels to the polar regions fascinated…
Werner von Siemens – Inventor and International Entrepreneur

Werner von Siemens – Inventor and International Entrepreneur

Werner von Siemens (1816-1892) On December 13, 1816, German inventor and industrialist Werner von Siemens was born. He was the pioneer of the electro industry and brought about a great technological advancement with many of his important discoveries.Moreover, he was co-inventor of an electroplating process and alone developed an electric dynamo. He laid the first telegraph line and built the first electric railway in Germany and, with his brother Sir…
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…
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