Monthly Archives: October 2014

Hans Grade – The forgotten German Aviation Pioneer

Hans Grade – The forgotten German Aviation Pioneer

On October 30, 1909, German aviation pioneer Hans Grade won the 40.000 Reichsmark “Lanz-Preis der Lüfte“, flying a new monoplane design, the ‘Libelle’ (Dragon Fly), the first really airworthy motor plane of Germany. Most probably, you have never heard of Hans Grade, who is also scarcely known in his home country. Nevertheless, he is one of the early pioneers of aviation and today, we will tell his story. Early Life and first Aviation…
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William Higinbotham and Tennis for Two

William Higinbotham and Tennis for Two

Tennis for Two played on an Oscilloscope On October 25, 1910, US-american physicist William “Willy” A. Higinbotham was born. A member of the Manhattan Project, he later became a leader in the nonproliferation movement of nuclear weapons. Moreover, he is also known for his development of ‘Tennis for Two‘, the first interactive analog computer game and one of the first electronic games to use a graphical display. William Alfred Higinbotham was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut,…
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Felix Bloch and the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Method

Felix Bloch and the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Method

Felix Bloch (1905 – 1983) Image: Stanford University / Courtesy Stanford News Service On October 23, 1905, Swiss-born American physicist Felix Bloch was born. He is best known for his investigations into nuclear induction and nuclear magnetic resonance, which are the underlying principles of MRI. He was awarded the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physics for developing the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) method of measuring the magnetic field of atomic nuclei. Felix Bloch was educated…
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Vannoccio Biringuccio and the Art of Metalworking

Vannoccio Biringuccio and the Art of Metalworking

De la Pirotechnia (1540) by Vannoccio Biringuccio Probably on October 20, 1480, Italian matallurgist Vannoccio Biringuccio was born. He is best known for his manual on metalworking, De la pirotechnia, published posthumously in 1540. Biringuccio is considered by some as the father of the foundry industry. Biringuccio was born in Siena to Paolo Biringuccio, thought to have been an architect and public servant, and his mother was Lucrezia di Bartolommeo Biringuccio. He…
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Eudoxus and the Method of Exhaustion

Eudoxus and the Method of Exhaustion

Eudoxus, Lunar Crater As for many people from antiquity, we also have no birthdate for Eudoxus of Cnidus, who was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar and student of Plato. All of his works are lost or have survived as fragments in the texts of other classical writers. He is best known for having developed the method of exhaustion, a precursor to the integral calculus. Eudoxus of Cnidus was born around 408 BC…
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Ascanio Sobrero and the Power of Nitroglycerine

Ascanio Sobrero and the Power of Nitroglycerine

Ascanio Sobrero (1812–1888) On October 12, 1812, Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero was born. During his experimental research he discovered the explosive compound nitroglycerine. Sobrero was horrified by the destructive potential of his discovery, and made no effort to develop that power himself. Possibly, the only name that pops up in your mind when you think of the explosive nitroglycerine is Alfred Nobel, the guy who also funded the eponymous prices for advancement in…
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Karl Schwarzschild and the Event Horizon

Karl Schwarzschild and the Event Horizon

On October 9, 1873, German physicist and astronomer Karl Schwarzschild was born. He provided the first exact solution to the Einstein field equations of general relativity, for the limited case of a single spherical non-rotating mass, which he accomplished in 1915, the same year that Albert Einstein first introduced general relativity. The Schwarzschild solution leads to a derivation of the Schwarzschild radius, which is the size of the event horizon of a…
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Richard Dedekind and the Real Numbers

Richard Dedekind and the Real Numbers

On October 6, 1831, German mathematician Julius Wilhelm Richard Dedekind was born. He is known for making important contributions to abstract algebra (particularly ring theory), algebraic number theory and the foundations of the real numbers. “Numbers are the free creation of the human mind.” Richard Dedekind Richard Dedekind was the son of an administrator at Collegium Carolinum in Braunschweig. His family was known as pretty influential and the young Richard enrolled in 1848 at…
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Willy Ley – Founder of the German Rocket Society

Willy Ley – Founder of the German Rocket Society

Willy Ley (right), with Wernher von Braun (center), and Dr. Heinz Haber (left) On October 2, 1906, German-American engineer, science writer, spaceflight advocate, and historian of science Willy Ley was born. Ley is known for being the founder of the German Rocket Society, one of the first group of men to experiment with rockets. Fiercely anti-Nazi, unlike Wernher von Braun, in 1934, he emigrated to the U.S. rather than pursuing military applications of rocketry. In…
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