Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Poetry of Walt Whitman

The Poetry of Walt Whitman

On May 31, 1819, American poet, essayist and journalist Walt Whitman was born. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. “It is a beautiful truth that all men contain something of the artist in them. And perhaps it is the case that…
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Johann Heinrich von Mädler and the First Accurate Map of the Moon

Johann Heinrich von Mädler and the First Accurate Map of the Moon

On May 29, 1794, German astronomer Johann Heinrich von Mädler was born. He is best known for producing one of the first exact map of the Moon, the Mappa Selenographica. Even though Mädler’s talents were discovered very early into his childhood. Unfortunately, his parents passed away very early and he had to care care of his younger siblings, even though he had always wished to study mathematics and astronomy. He financed his family though…
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Niccoló Paganini – the Devil’s Violinist

Niccoló Paganini – the Devil’s Violinist

On May 27, 1840, Italian violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini passed away. He was the most celebrated violin virtuoso of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. Niccolò Paganini was born in Genoa, then capital of the Republic of Genoa, the third of the six children of Antonio and Teresa (née Bocciardo) Paganini. Already Paganini’s father made his living from music. He used to play the mandolin…
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The First US Space Station Skylab

The First US Space Station Skylab

On May 25, 1973, the first crew of astronauts reached the US space station Skylab. Skylab was the very first US space station and orbited Earth from 1973 to 1979. Already in the 1950s it was expected by space scientists, that a space station would be a necessary step in space exploration. Wernher von Braun envisioned a very large space station with room for about 80 people including astronomers, meteorologists and soldiers to guard…
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The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde

The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde

On May 23, 1934, the American robbers Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed by police and killed in Black Lake, Louisiana. Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow became American pop folklore as outlaws and robbers when traveling the central United States with their gang during the Great Depression. Bonnie Elizabeth Parker got married to Roy Thornton shortly after they had dropped out of high school. The marriage was not considered as happy and they…
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Hergé and the Fabulous Adventures of Tintin

Hergé and the Fabulous Adventures of Tintin

On May 22, 1907, Belgian cartonist Georges Prosper Remi, better known under his pen name Hergé, was born. His best known and most substantial work is the 23 completed comic books in The Adventures of Tintin series. Georges Prosper Remi grew up in the suburbs of Brussels, Belgium, which he considered as extremely boring. However, he developed a great interest in movies, especially the ones of Charlie Chaplin and Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur.…
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Abraham Ortelius and the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Abraham Ortelius and the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

On May 20, 1570, Belgian cartographer and geographer Abraham Ortelius published the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, in Antwerp. It consisted of a collection of uniform map sheets and sustaining text bound to form a book for which copper printing plates were specifically engraved. Abraham Ortelius was born in Antwerp, but grew up with his uncle after his father passed away at young age. In 1575, he was appointed geographer…
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Pierre Beaumarchais and Figaro’s Wedding

Pierre Beaumarchais and Figaro’s Wedding

On May 18, 1799, French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais passed away. Bonmarchais, who also was a watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, horticulturalist, arms dealer, satirist, financier, and revolutionary (both French and American), is best known for his theatrical works, most notably the three Figaro plays. “Drinking when not thirsty and making love all the time, madam, is all that distinguishes us from other animals.” — Pierre Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro…
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The Antikythera Mechanism – an Ancient Analog Computer

The Antikythera Mechanism – an Ancient Analog Computer

On May 17, 1902, Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovers the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer, designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses. The famous mechanism was discovered in a shipwreck near the Greekisland of Antikythera. In October 1900, a group of sponge divers discovered the wreck and retrieved a great number of artifacts dating back to the end of the second century BC, which included bronze and marble statues, pottery,…
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The Secrets of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript

The Secrets of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript

In 1912, Polish-born antiquarian and bibliophile Wilfrid Voynich bought a mysterious illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system that may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The eponymous Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, but no one has yet succeeded in deciphering the text. Therefore, it has become a famous case in the history of cryptography. The manuscript counts about 240 pages in…
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