Monthly Archives: June 2015

Heron of Alexandria and his Experiments

Heron of Alexandria and his Experiments

Heron of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician and engineer who was active in his native city of Alexandria, Roman Egypt in the first century AD. He is considered the greatest experimenter of antiquity. Among his most famous inventions was a windwheel, constituting the earliest instance of wind harnessing on land, as well as the well recognized description of a steam-powered device called an aeolipile. A major difficulty regarding Heron was…
Leo Frobenius and German Ethnography

Leo Frobenius and German Ethnography

On June 29, 1873, German ethnologist and archaeologist Leo Viktor Frobenius was born. He proposed a theory that culture evolves through stages of youth, maturity, and age. He helped to spread knowledge of West African art and culture throughout Europe. He made a series of twelve major expeditions throughout Africa, gathering knowledge of art and culture, travelling across the deserts, savannahs and rain forests of Africa and South Africa, the River…
Henri Léon Lebesgue and the Theory of Integration

Henri Léon Lebesgue and the Theory of Integration

On June 28, 1875, French mathematician Henri Léon Lebesgue was born. He is best known for his theory of integration, which was a generalization of the 17th century concept of integration, i.e. summing the area between an axis and the curve of a function defined for that axis. By extending the work of Camille Jordan and Émile Borel on the Riemann integral, Lebesgue provided a generalization that solved many of…
Joshua Slocum and his first single-handed sail around the World

Joshua Slocum and his first single-handed sail around the World

On June 27, 1898, the first solo circumnavigation of the globe is completed by Joshua Slocum from Brier Island, Nova Scotia. After more than three years, Slocum returned in his gaff rigged sloop oyster boat named Spray having circumnavigated the world, a distance of more than 74,000 km. The event was almost unnoticed because the Spanish–American War, which had begun two months earlier, dominated all the headlines. Joshua Slocum grew up…
Roy J. Plunkett and the Discovery of Teflon

Roy J. Plunkett and the Discovery of Teflon

On June 26, 1910, American chemist Roy J. Plunkett was born. He is best knwon for his 1938 accidentally discovery of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), better known under the DuPont Co. trademark Teflon. PTFE is used as a non-stick coating for pans and other cookware as well as PTFE has one of the lowest coefficients of friction against any solid. Roy Plunkett was born in New Carlisle, as a poor Ohio farm boy…
Walther Nernst and the third Law of Thermodynamics

Walther Nernst and the third Law of Thermodynamics

On June 25, 1864, German physicist Walther Hermann Nernst was born. One of the founders of modern physical chemistry he is best known for his theories behind the calculation of chemical affinity as embodied in the third law of thermodynamics, for which he won the 1920 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Nernst contributed to electrochemistry, thermodynamics and solid state physics. He is also known for developing the Nernst equation. Walter Nernst…
William Penney and the British Atomic Bomb

William Penney and the British Atomic Bomb

On June 24, 1909, English mathematician William George Penney, Baron Penney , was born. He is acknowledged as having had a leading role in the development of Britain’s nuclear programme, a clandestine programme started in 1942 during World War II which produced the first British atomic bomb in 1952. William Penney was raised in Sheerness, Kent, and attended the local technical school in Colchester where he completed his technical studies. From early…
Giambattista Vico and the Scienza Nuova

Giambattista Vico and the Scienza Nuova

On June 23, 1668, Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist Giambattista Vico was born. An apologist of classical antiquity, Vico is best known for his magnum opus, the Scienza Nuova of 1725, often published in English as The New Science, in which he attempted to bring about the convergence of history, from the one side, and the more systematic social sciences, from the other, so that their interpenetration could form…
Hermann Minkowski and the four-dimensional Space-Time

Hermann Minkowski and the four-dimensional Space-Time

On June 22, 1864, German mathematician Hermann Minkowski was born. Minkowski developed the geometry of numbers and used geometrical methods to solve problems in number theory, mathematical physics, and the theory of relativity. But he is perhaps best known for his work in relativity, in which he showed in 1907 that his former student Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity can be understood geometrically as a theory of four-dimensional space–time, since known as…
Siméon Denis Poisson’s Contributions to Mathematics

Siméon Denis Poisson’s Contributions to Mathematics

On June 21, 1781, French mathematician, geometer, and physicist Siméon Denis Poisson was born. He is known known for his work on definite integrals, advances in Fourier series, electromagnetic theory, and probability, esp. the eponymous Poisson series, the Poisson integral and the Poisson equation from potential theory. His works also included applications to electricity and magnetism, and astronomy. Poisson was born in Pithiviers, Loiret, the son of soldier Siméon Poisson, who…
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