Monthly Archives: November 2014

Selma Lagerlöf and the wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson

Selma Lagerlöf and the wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson

On November 20, 1858, Swedish author and Nobel Laureate Selma Lagerlöf was born. She is best known for her children’s book ‘The Wonderful Adventures of Nils‘. Moreover, she was the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in literature. “If you have learned anything at all from us, Tummetott, you no longer think that the humans should have the whole earth to themselves.” – Selma Lagerlöf, The Further Adventures of Nils (1907) Selma Lagerlöf…
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Ferdinand de Lesseps and the Suez Canal

Ferdinand de Lesseps and the Suez Canal

On November 19, 1805, French diplomat and later developer of the Suez Canal Ferdinand Marie, Vicomte de Lesseps was born. The Suez Canal that was constructed under de Lessep’s supervision in 1869 joined the Mediterranean and Red Seas, substantially reducing sailing distances and times between the West and the East. “Since 1849 I have studied incessantly, under all its aspects, a question which was already in my mind [since 1832. I confess that my scheme is still…
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Walt Disney’s ‘Steamboat Willie’ and the Rise of Mickey Mouse

Walt Disney’s ‘Steamboat Willie’ and the Rise of Mickey Mouse

On November 18, 1928, Walt Disney’s animated movie ‘Steamboat Willie‘ was released that presented his most famous character ‘Mickey Mouse‘ for the very first time in New York City. The film is also notable for being the first cartoon with synchronized sound. The movie was produced in black-and-white and debuts Mickey Mouse as well as his girlfriend Minnie. Even though it was the third of Mickey’s films to be produced, it was the first to be distributed.…
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Eugene Wigner and the Structure of the Atomic Nucleus

Eugene Wigner and the Structure of the Atomic Nucleus

On November 17, 1902, Hungarian American theoretical physicist and mathematician Eugene Paul Wigner was born. He is best known for for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles for which he shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics with Maria Goeppert. [4] “A possible explanation of the physicist’s use of mathematics to formulate his laws of nature…
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Eugenio Beltrami and Non-Euclidian Geometry

Eugenio Beltrami and Non-Euclidian Geometry

Eugenio Beltrami (1835–1900) On November 16, 1835, Italian mathematician Eugenio Beltrami was born. He is most notable for his work concerning differential geometry and mathematical physics. His work was noted especially for clarity of exposition. He was the first to prove consistency of non-Euclidean geometry by modeling it on a surface of constant curvature, the pseudosphere. Eugenio Beltrami was born in Cremona in Lombardy, then a part of the Austrian Empire, and now part of Italy. The son…
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Bernard Mandeville and the Fable of the Bees

Bernard Mandeville and the Fable of the Bees

Bernard Mandeville’s – The Fable of Bees On November 15, 1670, Dutch philosopher, political economist and satirist Bernard Mandeville was born. He became famous for The Fable of the Bees, a satire that suggests many key principles of economic thought, including division of labor and the “invisible hand“, seventy years before these concepts were more thoroughly elucidated by Adam Smith. Not very much is known about the life of Bernard Mandeville. He probably grew…
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Leo Baekeland and the Beginning of the Plastic Age

Leo Baekeland and the Beginning of the Plastic Age

Bakelite Billiard Balls Image: Chemical Heritage Foundation at Flickr On November 14, 1863, Belgian-born American chemist Leo Henricus Arthur Baekeland was born. His invention of Bakelite, an inexpensive, nonflammable, versatile, and popular plastic, marked the beginning of the modern plastics industry. Leo Baekeland completed his doctorate at the University of Ghent and taught for a few years. He continued his studies of chemistry in New York City, England, Scotland, and Germany. He was then…
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Dorothea Erxleben – Germany’s First Female Medical Doctor

Dorothea Erxleben – Germany’s First Female Medical Doctor

Dorothea Christiane Erxleben (1715 – 1762) On November 13, 1715, Dorothea Christiane Erxleben, first female medical doctor in Germany was born. It was very hard for her to overcome the prejudices of the University professors and to finish her studies with a proper examination. What is even worse is that it should take until 1901 that the second woman in Germany was able to make her exams as a doctor. Already Erxleben’s father was a doctor in…
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Sir James Young Simpson and the Chloroform

Sir James Young Simpson and the Chloroform

Sir James Young Simpson, 1st Baronet (1811–1870) On November 12, 1847, Scottish obstetrician and important figure in the history of medicine Sir James Young Simpson published his self trial experiments with the new anesthetic chloroform. “All pain is per se and especially in excess, destructive and ultimately fatal in its nature and effects.” (James Young Simpson) Simpson was born in Bathgate near Edinburg, West Lothian, Scotland, as the seventh son and eighth child of an impecunious baker. Simpson attended the University of Edinburgh…
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Louis Antoine de Bougainville and his Voyage Around the World

Louis Antoine de Bougainville and his Voyage Around the World

Probably on November 11, 1729, French admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville was born. A contemporary of James Cook, he gained fame for his expeditions, the first recorded settlement on the Falkland Islands and his voyages into the Pacific Ocean. The largest of the Solomon Islands is named after him, as is the colorful tropical climbing plant bougainvillaea. Louis Antoine de Bougainville was born in Paris and began to study law, which he abandoned shortly after. Bougainville joined the…
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