Monthly Archives: July 2014

Stephanie Kwolek and the Bullet-proof Vests

Stephanie Kwolek and the Bullet-proof Vests

Stephanie Kwolek (1923 – 2014) Image: Chemical Heritage Foundation On July 31, 1923, American polymer chemist Stephanie Louise Kwolek was born. She is best known for her invention of poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide – better known as Kevlar. Stephanie Kwolek inherited her love for fabrics and sewing from her mother. Before thinking about chemistry, Kwolek thought, she might become a fashion designer, but her mother warned her she would probably starve in that…
Marius and the Battle of the Raudine Plain

Marius and the Battle of the Raudine Plain

On July 30, 101 BC, the Battle of the Raudine Plain took place, which resulted in the Roman victory of Consul Gaius Marius over the invading Germanic tribe of the Cimbri near the settlement of Vercellae in Cisalpine Gaul. The entire tribe of the Cimbri was virtually wiped out and the plans of the Germanic tribes of an invasion of Rome was put to an end. Well, then raise your hands if…
Dorothy Hodgkin and the Structure of Penicilin

Dorothy Hodgkin and the Structure of Penicilin

Dorothy Hodgkin (1910 – 1994) On July 29, 1994, British chemist and Nobel Laureate Dorothy Mary Hodgkin passed away. She advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography, a method used to determine the three-dimensional structures of biomolecules. Among her most influential discoveries are the confirmation of the structure of penicillin. Dorothy Crowfoot’s (late Hodgkin’s) interest in chemistry started around the age of only 10. Her parents were involved in education projects in Egypt…
Karl Popper and the Philosophy of Science

Karl Popper and the Philosophy of Science

Karl Raimund Popper (1902–1994) On July 28, 1902, Austrian-British philosopher Sir Karl Raimund Popper was born. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century. Popper is known for his rejection of the classical inductivist views on the scientific method, in favour of empirical falsification: A theory in the empirical sciences can never be proven, but it can be falsified, meaning that it can…
Rosalind Franklin and the Beauty of the DNA Structure

Rosalind Franklin and the Beauty of the DNA Structure

Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958) On July 25, 1920, British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Elsie Franklin was born. She made the first clear X-ray images of DNA’s structure. Her work was described as the most beautiful X-ray photographs ever taken. Franklin’s ‘Photo 51’ informed Crick and Watson of DNA’s double helix structure for which they were awarded a Nobel Prize. Rosalind Franklin was born in Notting Hill, London, as the second of five…
The Plays of George Bernard Shaw

The Plays of George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) On July 26, 1856, Irish playwright and co-founder of the London School of Economics George Bernard Shaw was born. As a writer, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938). George Bernard Shaw was born in Synge Street, Dublin, to George Carr Shaw,…
Thomas Say and his Love for Beetles

Thomas Say and his Love for Beetles

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in: American entomology : A Description of the Insects of North America by Thomas Say On July 27, 1787, American self-taught naturalist, entomologist, malacologist, herpetologist and carcinologist Thomas Say was born. A taxonomist, he is widely considered the father of descriptive entomology in the United States. Thomas Say attended Westtown Boarding School near Philadelphia and his father discouraged him from the pursuit of natural history, trying to interest him instead…
Joseph Nicollet and the Upper Mississippi River

Joseph Nicollet and the Upper Mississippi River

On July 24, 1786, French geographer, astronomer, and mathematician Joseph Nicolas Nicollet was born. He is best known for mapping the Upper Mississippi River basin during the 1830s. Nicollet’s maps were among the most accurate of the time and they provided the basis for all subsequent maps of the American interior Jean-Nicolas Nicollet was born in Cluses, Savoy, France. He was very bright, showing aptitude in mathematics and astronomy that earned him a…
Isaac Singer and the Sewing Machine

Isaac Singer and the Sewing Machine

Woman working with singer machine (ca. 1914) Image Source: Library of Congress On July 23, 1875, American inventor, actor, and entrepreneur Isaac Merrit Singer passed away. He made important improvements in the design of the sewing machine and was the founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Isaac Merritt Singer was born in 1811 in Pittstown, New York and worked as a mechanist, starting from the age of 12. He joined…
Friedrich Bessel and the Distances of Stars

Friedrich Bessel and the Distances of Stars

Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846) [1] On July 22, 1784, German mathematician and astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel was born. He is probably best known for his works in mathematics, where he discovered the eponymous Bessel-functions, which are critical for the solution of certain differential equations. Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel was born in Minden, Westphalia (today Germany), as second son of a civil servant. Bessel attended the Gymnasium in Minden for four years but…
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