Monthly Archives: December 2015

Averroes – The Commentator and Polymath

Averroes – The Commentator and Polymath

On December 10, 1198, medieval Andalusian polymath Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rušd, better known as Averroes, passed away. Averroes wrote on logic, Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy, theology, the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, psychology, political and Andalusian classical music theory, geography, mathematics, and the mediæval sciences of medicine, astronomy, physics, and celestial mechanics. Averroes had a greater impact on Christian Europe: he has been described as the “founding father of…
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Grace Hopper and the Programming Languages

Grace Hopper and the Programming Languages

On December 9, 1908, American computer scientist Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was born. Besides being credited for having invented the term “debugging”, Hopper was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer in 1944. She invented the first compiler for a computer programming language and was one of those who popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first high-level…
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Jacques Hadamard and the Description of Mathematical Thought

Jacques Hadamard and the Description of Mathematical Thought

  On December 8, 1865, French mathematician Jacques Salomon Hadamard was born. Hadamard made major contributions in number theory, complex function theory, differential geometry and partial differential equations. Moreover, he is also known for his description of the mathematical though process in his book Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field. “It is important for him who wants to discover not to confine himself to one chapter of science, but to keep…
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Modern Planetary Science with Gerard Kuiper

Modern Planetary Science with Gerard Kuiper

On December 7, 1905, Dutch-American astronomer Gerard Peter Kuiper was born. Considered by many to be the father of modern planetary science, Kuiper is the eponymous namesake of the Kuiper belt, a region of the Solar System beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. Kuiper also discovered Miranda, a moon of Uranus, and Nereid, a moon of Neptune. “The Kuiper Belt…
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Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and his Work on Gases

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and his Work on Gases

On December 6, 1778, French chemist and physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was born. He is known mostly for two laws related to gases, and for his work on alcohol-water mixtures, which led to the degrees Gay-Lussac used to measure alcoholic beverages in many countries. “I have not chosen a career that will lead me to a great fortune, but not my principal ambition. In fact, later in life he enjoyed comfortable income…
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Arnold Sommerfeld – Quantum Theory and Famous Students

Arnold Sommerfeld – Quantum Theory and Famous Students

  On December 5, 1868, German theoretical physicist Arnold Sommerfeld was born. Sommerfeld pioneered developments in atomic and quantum physics, and also educated and mentored a large number of students for the new era of theoretical physics. He served as PhD supervisor for more Nobel prize winners in physics than any other supervisor to date. He introduced the 2nd quantum number (azimuthal quantum number) and the 4th quantum number (spin quantum number).…
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Omar Khayyam – Mathematics and Poetry

Omar Khayyam – Mathematics and Poetry

On December 4, 1131, Persian mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and poet, Omar Khayyam; born Ghiyāth ad-Dīn Abu’l-Fatḥ ʿUmar ibn Ibrāhīm al-Khayyām Nīshāpūrī, passed away. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential scientists of the middle ages. He wrote numerous treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy and astronomy. Early Years Omar Khayyám was born in Nishapur, in Iran, then a Seljuq capital in Khorasan, which rivaled Cairo or Baghdad in cultural…
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Max von Pettenkofer – the Apostle of Good Water

Max von Pettenkofer – the Apostle of Good Water

On December 3, 1818, Bavarian chemist and hygienist Max Joseph von Pettenkofer was born. In his early career worked on industrial chemical processes and analysis of urine and bile acids, but today he is remembered in connection with his work in practical hygiene, as an apostle of good water, fresh air and proper sewage disposal. He also developed standards for adequate ventilation in schools and hospitals. “From time to time we send our underwear to…
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Austerlitz – The Battle of the Three Emperors

Austerlitz – The Battle of the Three Emperors

On December 2, 1805, the Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, took place. It was one of the most important and decisive engagements of the Napoleonic Wars. Widely regarded as the greatest victory achieved by Napoleon, the Grande Armée of France annihilated a larger Russian and Austrian army led by Tsar Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II. The battle occurred near the village of…
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Abraham a Sancta Clara – “Very Eccentric but Popular”

Abraham a Sancta Clara – “Very Eccentric but Popular”

On December 1, 1709, Abraham a Sancta Clara, Austrian divine, court preacher and author passed away. Born as Johann Ulrich Megerle, he has been described “a very eccentric but popular Augustinian monk” and had earned great reputation for pulpit eloquence, the force and homeliness of his language, the grotesqueness of his humor, and the impartial severity with which he lashed the follies of all classes of society and of the court in particular.…
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