Monthly Archives: October 2015

Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastos of Eresos, who studied in Plato’s philosopher’s school, is most famous for his groundbreaking work on plants. Thus, he is often referred to as the ‘father of botany’. His two surviving botanical works, Enquiry into Plants (Historia Plantarum) and On the Causes of Plants, were an important influence on Renaissance science. Theophrastus of Eresos was a native of Eresos in Lesbos and his given name was Tyrtamus. It is believed that…
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The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House

On October 20, 1973, the Sydney Opera House was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II. It is identified as one of the 20th century’s most distinctive buildings. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon in a modern expressionist design, it features a series of large precast concrete roof “shells”, each composed of sections of a sphere of 75.2 metres radius. Planning for the opera house started in the 1940s when the director of…
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The Battle of Zama and Hannibal’s Defeat

The Battle of Zama and Hannibal’s Defeat

Around October 19, 202 BC, the Battle of Zama was fought between a Roman army led by Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (Scipio), who defeated a Carthaginian force led by the commander Hannibal. Despite Hannibal possessing numerical superiority, Scipio conceived a strategy to confuse and defeat his war elephants. The defeat on the Carthaginians‘ home ground marked an end to the 17-year 2nd Punic war. The second Punic war between Carthage and the Roman…
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Christian Friedrich Schönbein and the Ozone

Christian Friedrich Schönbein and the Ozone

On October 18, 1799, German-Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein was born. Schönbein is best known for inventing the fuel cell (1838) and his discoveries of guncotton (nitrocellulose) and ozone. Christian Friedrich Schönbein was apprenticed at a pharmaceutical factory in Böblingen and was adviced to begin studying at the university. Schönbein enrolled at the University of Erlangen in 1820 were he got to know Justus Liebig Friedrich Schelling, who later helped Schönbein to finance…
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Réaumur and the Réaumur Temperature Scale

Réaumur and the Réaumur Temperature Scale

On October 17, 1757, French entomologist and physicist René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur passed away. Réaumur contributed to many different fields, especially the study of insects. But, he is best known for having introduced the Réaumur temperature scale in 1730. Of course everybody has heard of Fahrenheit and Celsius. But, there exists a variety of different temperature scales, most prominent of them the perhaps absolute temperature scale of Lord Kelvin. But, although the other’s prevailed, Réaumur’s scale still…
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Samuel Cody and the First Flight in England

Samuel Cody and the First Flight in England

On October 16, 1908, Wild West showman and early pioneer of manned flight Samuel Cody succeeded with the first officially recorded powered flight in England with a length of 420 metres. Samuel Cody was born Samuel Franklin Cowdery in 1867 in Davenport, Iowa and attended school until he was probably 12. Not much is known about the early life of Cody, but he later told that he lived the life of a…
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Asaph Hall’s Achievements in Astronomy

Asaph Hall’s Achievements in Astronomy

On October 15, 1829, American astronomer Asaph Hall III was born, who is most famous for having discovered the moons of Mars, Deimos and Phobos, in 1877. He determined the orbits of satellites of other planets and of double stars, the rotation of Saturn, and the mass of Mars. Asaph Hall was born in Goshen, Connecticut and due to the early death of his father, Hall had to leave school at the…
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Sir Edward Sabine and the Earth’s Magnetic Field

Sir Edward Sabine and the Earth’s Magnetic Field

On October 14, 1788, Irish astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist,explorer, soldier and the 30th President of the Royal Society Sir Edward Sabine was born. His aim was to study the shape of the Earth and its magnetic field. He led the effort to establish a system of magnetic observatories in various parts of British territory all over the globe, and much of his life was devoted to their direction, and to analyzing their observations.…
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The Greenwich Prime Meridian

The Greenwich Prime Meridian

On October 13, 1884, Greenwich was adopted as the universal meridian, dividing the Earth into the Eastern and the Western hemisphere. At the International Meridian Conference held in Washington, D.C., 22 countries voted to adopt the Greenwich meridian as the prime meridian of the world. The French argued for a neutral line, mentioning the Azores and the Bering Strait but eventually abstained and continued to use the Paris meridian until 1911. Before a common meridian…
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Elmer Sperry and the Gyrocompass

Elmer Sperry and the Gyrocompass

On October 12, 1860, American inventor and entrepreneur Elmer Ambrose Sperry was born. Sperry is best known for his significant role in the development of the gyrocompass, a type of non-magnetic compass which is based on a fast-spinning disc and rotation of the Earth to automatically find geographical direction. Elmer Sperry attended Cornell University starting from 1878 and became interested in dynamos during his time there. Sperry then moved to Chicago, Illinois and founded the…
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