Monthly Archives: April 2014

James Parkinson and Parkinson’s Disease

James Parkinson and Parkinson’s Disease

On April 11, 1755, English apothecary surgeon, geologist, paleontologist, and political activist James Parkinson was born. He is most famous for his 1817 work, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, in which he was the first to describe “paralysis agitans“, a condition that would later be renamed Parkinson‘s disease. James Parkinson was born in London. His father was an apothecary and surgeon, practicing in the city and in 1784 Parkinson was approved…
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The Origins of Copyright Law

The Origins of Copyright Law

On April 10, 1710, the Statute of Anne, an act of the Parliament of Great Britain, was introduced. It was the first statute to provide for copyright regulated by the government and courts, rather than by private parties. With the introduction of the printing press to Britain by William Caxton in 1476, printed works became more and more important as an economic asset. As early as 1483, King Richard III recognized the…
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Charles Baudelaire and the Flowers of Evil

Charles Baudelaire and the Flowers of Evil

On April 9, 1821, French poet Charles Baudelaire was born. He produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. Baudelaire is most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century. Baudelaire is considered one of the major innovators in French literature. His themes of sex, death, lesbianism, metamorphosis, depression,…
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Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and Superconductivity

Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and Superconductivity

On April 8, 1911, Dutch physicist and Nobel Laureate Heike Kamerlingh Onnes found that at a temperature of only 4.2 K (-269° C) the resistance in a solid mercury wire immersed in liquid helium suddenly vanished. Kamerlingh Onnes discovered superconductivity. Through measurement to knowledge – “Through measurement to knowledge” Motto of Kamerlingh Onnes’ Laboratory Born in Groningen, Netherlands, Kamerlingh also attended the city’s university and studied under the famous Robert Bunsen [4] and Gustav…
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William Wordsworth and the Romantic Age of English Literature

William Wordsworth and the Romantic Age of English Literature

On April 7, 1770, major English Romantic poet William Wordsworth was born. Together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Wordsworth helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads.[6] The eye — it cannot choose but see; we cannot bid the ear be still; our bodies feel, where’er they be, against or with our will. William Wordsworth, Expostulation and Reply, st. 5 (1798). William Wordsworth was born at…
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John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Company

John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Company

On April 6, 1808, Johann Jacob Astor founded the American Fur Company in New York. The company grew to monopolize the fur trade in the United States by 1830, and became one of the largest businesses in the country and John Jacob Astor became the first multi-millionaire in the United States. John Jacob Astor was born near Heidelberg, Germany and his career began at his father’s business, where he worked as a…
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Jacob Roggeveen and the Easter Island

Jacob Roggeveen and the Easter Island

On April 5, 1722, Dutch seafarer Jacob Roggeveen is the first European to discover the Polynesian island Rapa Nui, which he names Easter Island. Arend Roggeveen was an accomplished scholar and teacher in mathematics, astronomy, and navigational theory. He managed to obtain a charter from the States-General of the United Netherlands in order to head towards the South Sea in 1675. Unfortunately, he failed to find financial aids. However, he did manage…
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The Last German Lawsuit on Witchcraft

The Last German Lawsuit on Witchcraft

Leaflet about the Burning of a Witch, 1533 On April 4, 1775, Anna Schwegelin was the last woman to be tried for witchcraft in a German court. Although she was sentenced to death by decapitation, the judgement was never executed. The classical period of witchhunts in Europe and North America falls into the Early Modern period or about 1480 to 1750, spanning the upheavals of the Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War, resulting…
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The Legend of the Pony Express

The Legend of the Pony Express

On April 3, 1860, the Pony Express started delivering messages, newspapers, mail, even small packages from St. Joseph, Missouri across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento, California by horseback, using a series of relay stations. Although being an economic disaster, the Pony Express has become a U.S. national legend. In January 1848, Gold was discovered in California, but the poor communication between the east and…
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Fizeau, Foucault and Astronomical Photography

Fizeau, Foucault and Astronomical Photography

On April 2, 1845, Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau and Jean Bernard Léon Foucault manage to make the very first photography of the Sun. Thereby, they both initiate astronomical photography. From a previous blog post you may remember Léon Foucault’s Pendulum.[4] The instrument was used to proof Earth’s rotation in the 1850s and counts to one of Foucault’s biggest scientific achievements. But let’s start a little bit earlier. Leon Foucault was born on September…
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