Monthly Archives: February 2015

A life is like a garden – Leonard Nimoy

A life is like a garden – Leonard Nimoy

This is not one of our usual daily history in science posts. Today, we want to pay tribute to an actor who played an extraordinary character that has become an icon: Leonard Nimoy and his alter ego Spock, the scientific officer aboard the starship USS Enterprise. I was shocked yesterday evening by the news of Leonard Nimoy’s passing. As Spock, he was one of my childhood’s heroes. And not only one of them,…
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Nikolai Lobachevsky – The Copernicus of Geometry

Nikolai Lobachevsky – The Copernicus of Geometry

On February 24, 1856, Russian mathematician and geometer Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky passed away. He is known primarily for his work on hyperbolic geometry. Lobachevsky’s main achievement is the development (independently from János Bolyai) of a non-Euclidean geometry, also referred to as Lobachevskian geometry. Nikolai Lobachevsky – Early Years Nikolai Lobachevsky was born as one of three children either in or near the city of Nizhny Novgorod in Russia in 1792 to parents…
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Andrea Cesalpino and the Classification of Plants

Andrea Cesalpino and the Classification of Plants

On February 23, 1603, Italian physician, philosopher and botanist Andrea Cesalpino passed away. He classified plants according to their fruits and seeds, rather than alphabetically or by medicinal properties. He helped establish botany as an independent science and also made contributions to medical science and physiology. Andrea Cesalpino – Early Years Andrea Cesalpino was probably born on June 5, 1525. However, some sources suggest also 1519 as his actual year of birth.…
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Charles Clermont-Ganneau’s Crusade against Archeological Forgeries

Charles Clermont-Ganneau’s Crusade against Archeological Forgeries

On February 19, 1846, French orientalist and archeologist Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau was born. Besides his archeological research and field work, he is best known for his exposition of several archaeological frauds with the British Museum, the Imperial Museum, Berlin, or the Louvre in Paris. Charles Clermont-Ganneau – Early Years Charles Clermont-Ganneau was born in February, 1846. It is believed that he was the son of a sculptor. He pursued literary studies and…
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Octave Chanute – One of the Fathers of Aviation

Octave Chanute – One of the Fathers of Aviation

On February 18, 1832, French-born American railway engineer and aviation pioneer Octave A. Chanute was born. He provided many budding enthusiasts, including the Wright brothers with help and advice, and helped to publicize their flying experiments. At his death he was hailed as the father of aviation and the heavier-than-air flying machine. “Let us hope that the advent of a successful flying machine, now only dimly foreseen and nevertheless thought to be…
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Georg Joachim Rheticus’ Achievements for Astronomy

Georg Joachim Rheticus’ Achievements for Astronomy

On February 16, 1514, mathematician, cartographer, navigational-instrument maker, medical practitioner, and teacher Georg Joachim Rheticus was born. He is perhaps best known for his trigonometric tables and as Nicolaus Copernicus’s [4] sole pupil, who facilitated the publication of his master’s famous work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres). Georg Joachim Rheticus was the son of a doctor and government official. He was taught by his father in his early life,…
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Henry Steinway and the Grand Pianos

Henry Steinway and the Grand Pianos

On February 15, 1797, German-born American inventor and entrepreneur Henry Steinway was born. He invented the overstrung iron-frame grand piano (1859) and is founder of the piano company Steinway & Sons. Henry Steinway – Early Life Steinway was born Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg in Wolfshagen im Harz, Duchy of Brunswick in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (modern Germany). His childhood was marked by many tragedies and twists of fate. He…
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Fossil Hunter Barnum Brown and the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Fossil Hunter Barnum Brown and the Tyrannosaurus Rex

On February 12, 1873, paleontologist Barnum Brown was born. He is best known for his discovery of the first documented remains of Tyrannosaurus rex during a career that made him one of the most famous fossil hunters working from the late Victorian era into the early 20th century. Fossil Hunter Barnum Brown Brown was named after the circus entrepreneur P. T. Barnum. He began studying at the University of Kansas in 1890, but…
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Henri Giffard and the Giffard Dirigible

Henri Giffard and the Giffard Dirigible

On February 8, 1825, French engineer and aviation pioneer Baptiste Henri Jacques Giffard was born. He is best known for being the first who succeeded to build a steam powered and steerable aircraft, the Giffard dirigible. Henri Giffard – From Locomotives to Ballons Henri Giffard was born in Paris. The tinkerer was enthusiastic about steam engines. After studying at the Collège royal de Bourbon, he began working as a technical draftsman for the…
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Joseph Priestley and the Discovery of Oxygen

Joseph Priestley and the Discovery of Oxygen

On February 6, 1804, English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and Liberal political theorist Joseph Priestley passed away. Being a rather prolific author with more than 150 works published, he is usually credited with the discovery of oxygen, having isolated it in its gaseous state, although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Antoine Lavoisier also have a claim to the discovery.[4,6] “It is known to all persons who are conversant in experimental…
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