Monthly Archives: October 2014

Heinrich Olbers and the Olbers’ Paradox

Heinrich Olbers and the Olbers’ Paradox

Heinrich Olbers (1758-1840) On October 11, 1758, German physician and astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers was born. Besides his discovery of coments and minor planets, Olbers is best known for his new method to calculate the velocity of falling stars. Maybe you have also heard of the famous Olbers’ paradox, which asks “why is the night sky dark if there are so many bright stars all around to light it?” Heinrich Olbers…
Henry Cavendish and the Weight of the Earth

Henry Cavendish and the Weight of the Earth

Drawing of torsion balance device used by Henry Cavendish in the ‘Cavendish Experiment‘ On October 10, 1731, British natural philosopher Henry Cavendish was born. A scientist as well as an important experimental and theoretical chemist and physicist, Cavendish is noted for his discovery of hydrogen or what he called “inflammable air“. Most notably, he determined the mass and density of the Earth. Henry Cavendish was born in Nice and attended a…
Karl Schwarzschild and the Event Horizon

Karl Schwarzschild and the Event Horizon

Karl Schwarzschild (1873 – 1916) 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…
Thales of Miletus – (possibly) the Father of Greek Mathematics

Thales of Miletus – (possibly) the Father of Greek Mathematics

Illustration of (possibly) Thales of Miletus For today’s blog post, there is no birthday of a popular scientist. Moreover, we want to tackle famous people in the history of science, who don’t have a known birthday. This of course holds for many philosophers, mathematicians, or natural scientists of Antiquity or early Middle Ages. Today, we want to start with the father of ancient Greek mathematics, Thales of Miletus. According to Bertrand…
Rudolf Leuckart and the Tapeworm

Rudolf Leuckart and the Tapeworm

Karl Georg Friedrich Rudolf Leuckart (1822-1898) On October 7, 1822, German zoologist Karl Georg Friedrich Rudolf Leuckart was born. He is known to be one of the initiators of modern parasitology. Leuckart described the complicated life histories of various parasites, including tapeworms and the liver fluke, and demonstrated that some human diseases, such as trichinosis, are caused by multicellular animals of the various wormlike phyla. Rudolf Leuckart was born in Helmstedt, Lower Saxony…
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…
Robert Goddard – the Man who ushered in the Space Age

Robert Goddard – the Man who ushered in the Space Age

Robert H. Goddard (1882-1945) On October 5, 1882, American professor, physicist, and inventor Robert Hutchins Goddard was born. He is credited with creating and building the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926. Goddard’s work as both theorist and engineer anticipated many of the developments that were to make spaceflight possible. He has been called the man who ushered in the Space Age. Moreover, I’m pretty…
James Lind and a Cure for Scurvy

James Lind and a Cure for Scurvy

James Lind (1714-1794) On October 4, 1714, Scottish physician James Lind was born. He was a pioneer of naval hygiene in the Royal Navy. By conducting the first ever clinical trial, he developed the theory that citrus fruits cured scurvy. His work advanced the practice of preventive medicine and improved nutrition. James Lind was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Margaret (Smelum) and James Lind, a prosperous merchant whose wife had medical…
Sir Patrick Manson – The Father of Tropical Medicine

Sir Patrick Manson – The Father of Tropical Medicine

Manson teaching at the Albert Dock Seamen‘s Hospital 1901 On October 3, 1844, Scottish physician Sir Patrick Manson was born. He made important discoveries in parasitology, and was the founder of the field of tropical medicine. He was the first to identify an insect for the spread of infection. Patrick Manson began studying medicine at the University of Aberdeen in 1860 and continued his career at a psychiatric institute after…
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…
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