Yearly Archives: 2015

James Rumsey’s Steam Boat

James Rumsey’s Steam Boat

On December 21, 1792, American mechanical engineer James Rumsey passed away. He is chiefly known for exhibiting a boat propelled by machinery in 1787 on the Potomac River at Shepherdstown in present-day West Virginia before a crowd of local notables. James Rumsey was born in Calvert County Maryland in 1743. His family moved to Berkeley Virginia (now West Virginia) when he was a teenager. Rumsey became a millwright, a builder of water mills.…
Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

On December 20, 1812, the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm publish the first Edition of “Kinder- und Hausmärchen” (Children’s and House’s Tales), today better known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Besides their political engagement in the uprise of the Göttingen Seven and their work on the definitive German dictionary, it’s the fairy tales what they are known for today. Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm was born on 4 January 1785 and his…
Anne Anastasi and Psychological Testing

Anne Anastasi and Psychological Testing

On December 19, 1908, American psychologist Anne Anastasi was born. She is best known for her pioneering development of psychometrics. Her seminal work, Psychological Testing, remains a classic text in which she drew attention to the individual being tested and therefore to the responsibilities of the testers. She called for them to go beyond test scores, to search the assessed individuals’ history to help them to better understand their own…
The Forgery of the Piltdown Man

The Forgery of the Piltdown Man

On December 18, 1912, the discovery of the skull known as Piltdown man, the first important fossil human skull ever to be unearthed in England was announced at a meeting of the Geological Society of Great Britain. The specimen, known as Piltdown man, occupied an honored place in the catalogues of fossil hominids for the next 40 years. But in 1953, thanks to some rigorous scholarly detective work, Piltdown man…
Lord Kelvin and the Analysis of Thermodynamics

Lord Kelvin and the Analysis of Thermodynamics

On December 17, 1907, Irish physicist William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin of Largs, passed away. Thomson did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and formulation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Absolute temperatures are stated in units of kelvin in his honour. He was ennobled in 1892 in recognition of his achievements in thermodynamics. Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides; Go measure earth, weigh air,…
Alexander Ross Clarke and the true Shape of the Earth

Alexander Ross Clarke and the true Shape of the Earth

On December 16, 1828, British geodesist Alexander Ross Clarke was born. He is best known for his calculation of the Principal Triangulation of Britain (1858), the calculation of the Figure of the Earth (1858, 1860, 1866, 1880) and one of the most important text books of Geodesy (1880). The figures from his second determination became a standard reference for U.S. geodesy for most of the twentieth century until satellites could…
Niels Ryberg Finsen and the Phototherapy

Niels Ryberg Finsen and the Phototherapy

  On December 15, 1860, Faroese-Danish physician and Nobel Laureate of Icelandic descent Niels Ryberg Finsen was born. Finsen is best known for his theory of phototherapy, in which certain wavelengths of light can have beneficial medical effects. Up to now, we have only mentioned Iceland in this blog when we reported on Nordic expeditions or Eskimology [1,2]. But, Iceland also has a famous Nobel Laureate in medical science, who…
Nikolay Basov and the Development of the Maser and Laser

Nikolay Basov and the Development of the Maser and Laser

On December 14, 1922, Soviet physicist and Nobel Laureate Nikolay Basov was born. For his fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics that led to the development of laser and maser, Basov shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics with Alexander Prokhorov and Charles Hard Townes. The maser is a device that produces coherent electromagnetic waves through amplification by stimulated emission, a principle originally proposed by Albert Einstein in 1917.…
Sir William Hamilton and the Volcanoes

Sir William Hamilton and the Volcanoes

On December 13, 1730, Scottish diplomat, antiquarian, archaeologist and vulcanologist Sir William Hamilton was born. Hamilton served as British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples from 1764 to 1800, where he studied the volcanoes Vesuvius and also Etna on Sicily. Hamilton was born in either London or at Park Place, Berkshire, the fourth son of Lord Archibald Hamilton, governor of Jamaica, and Lady Jane Hamilton. His mother was a favourite,…
Milutin Milanković and the Cause of the Ice Ages

Milutin Milanković and the Cause of the Ice Ages

On December 12, 1958, Serbian mathematician, astronomer, climatologist, geophysicist, civil engineer, doctor of technology, university professor and popularizer of science Milutin Milanković passed away. Milankovic revolutionized the understanding of climate dynamics. He put the astronomical theory of climate on a firm mathematical basis and founded cosmic climatology by calculating the temperature conditions on planets of the inner and outer solar system. Moreover, he calculated the impact of Earth’s secular orbital…
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