Monthly Archives: April 2015

John Lubbock – Banker, Liberal Politician, and Scientist

John Lubbock – Banker, Liberal Politician, and Scientist

On April 30, 1834, banker, Liberal politician, philanthropist, scientist and polymath John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury was born. He was a banker and worked with his family’s company, but also made significant contributions in archaeology, ethnography, and several branches of biology. He helped establish archaeology as a scientific discipline, and was also influential in nineteenth-century debates concerning evolutionary theory. John Lubbock also coined the terms Neolithic and Paleolithic. John Lubbock was born in…
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John Arbuthnot and the Laws of Chance

John Arbuthnot and the Laws of Chance

On April 29, 1667, Scottish physician, satirist and polymath John Arbuthnot was baptized. He is best remembered for his contributions to mathematics, his membership in the Scriblerus Club (where he inspired both Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels as well as Alexander Pope), and for inventing the figure of John Bull. He published Of the Laws of Chance (1692), the first work on probability published in English, being his translation of a work by…
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Jan Hendrik Oort and the Secrets of the Oort Cloud

Jan Hendrik Oort and the Secrets of the Oort Cloud

On April 28, 1900, Dutch physicist and astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort was born. One of the greatest astronomers of the 20th century, Oort made significant contributions to the understanding of the Milky Way and who was a pioneer in the field of radio astronomy. Oort determined that the Milky Way rotates and overturned the idea that the sun is at its center; he discovered mysterious invisible ‘dark matter‘ in 1932, as well…
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Wallace Hume Carothers and the Invention of Nylon

Wallace Hume Carothers and the Invention of Nylon

On April 27, 1896, American chemist and inventor Wallace Hume Carothers was born. He is credited with the invention of nylon, the first synthetic polymer fibre to be spun from a melt. Carothers produced this polyamide, by condensation of adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine working for the DuPont chemical company as head of organic chemistry research. Wallace Carothers was born in Burlington, Iowa, to Ira and Mary Evalina Carothers, as the oldest of…
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Christian Leopold von Buch and the Jurassic System

Christian Leopold von Buch and the Jurassic System

On April 26, 1774, German geologist and paleontologist Christian Leopold von Buch was born. He is best known as one of the most important contributors to geology in the first half of the 19th century. His scientific interest was devoted to a broad spectrum of geological topics: volcanism, fossils, stratigraphy and more. His most remembered accomplishment is the scientific definition of the jurassic system. Leopold von Buch was the son of an ambassador…
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Wolfgang Pauli and the Pauli Principle

Wolfgang Pauli and the Pauli Principle

On April 25, 1900, Austrian-born Swiss theoretical physicist Wolfgang Ernst Pauli was born. Pauli is one of the pioneers of quantum theory. In 1945, Pauli received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his “decisive contribution through his discovery of a new law of Nature, the exclusion principle or Pauli principle.” The discovery involved spin theory, which is the basis of a theory of the structure of matter. “At the dawn of religion,…
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Sigmund Freud’s Structural Model of the Human Psyche

Sigmund Freud’s Structural Model of the Human Psyche

On April 24, 1923, Sigmund Freud‘s seminal paper “The Ego and the Id” was published, in which he first introduced his structural model of the human psyche. In this paper, he outlined his theories of the psychodynamics of the id, ego and super-ego, which is of fundamental importance in the development of psychoanalysis. According to this model of the psyche, the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends; the super-ego plays…
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Alphonse Bertillon’s Anthropometric Identification System

Alphonse Bertillon’s Anthropometric Identification System

On April 23,1853, French police officer and biometrics researcher Alphonse Bertillon was born. Bertillon was the first who applied the anthropological technique of anthropometry to law enforcement creating an identification system based on physical measurements. Anthropometry was the first scientific system used by police to identify criminals. Before that time, criminals could only be identified by name or photograph. The method was eventually supplanted by fingerprinting. Alphonse Bertillon was born into a…
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The Council of Constance puts an end to the Three-Pope-Controversy

The Council of Constance puts an end to the Three-Pope-Controversy

On April 22, 1418, the Council of Constance ended, which should put an end to the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V. The Council also condemned as a heretic and facilitated the execution by the civil authority of Czech priest, philosopher, and early Christian reformer Jan Hus. The main purpose of the Council of Constance was to end the Papal…
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John Muir and the U.S. National Park System

John Muir and the U.S. National Park System

On April 21, 1838, Scottish-American naturalist and author John Muir was born. He was an early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. Muir’s family emigrated to the United States in…
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