Monthly Archives: April 2016

Ockham’s Razor

Ockham’s Razor

Probably on April 10, 1347, English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher and theologian William of Ockham passed away. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of the fourteenth century. He is commonly known for Occam’s razor, the methodological principle that bears his name, and also produced significant works on logic, physics, and…
Gregory Pincus and the Contraceptive Pill

Gregory Pincus and the Contraceptive Pill

On April 9, 1903, American biologist and endocrinologist Gregory Goodwin Pincus was born. Pincus’ work on the antifertility properties of steroids led to the development of the first effective oral contraceptive: the birth-control pill. Gregory Pincus was born in Woodbine, New Jersey and received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Cornell University. He became an instructor in zoology at Harvard University while also working toward his master’s and doctorate degrees.…
Georg von Peuerbach and the Ptolemaic Astronomy

Georg von Peuerbach and the Ptolemaic Astronomy

On April 8, 1461, Austrian astronomer, mathematician and instrument maker Georg von Peuerbach passed away. He is best known for his streamlined presentation of Ptolemaic Astronomy in the Theoricae Novae Planetarum, a task being finally completed by famous astronomer Johannes Müller von Königsberg, better known as Regiomontanus. Georg Peurbach’s father was Ulrich Aunpekh. The name Peurbach is just derived from the town in which they lived, about 40 km west of Linz,…
The IBM System/360 and the Use of Microcode

The IBM System/360 and the Use of Microcode

On April 7, 1964, IBM introduced the IBM System/360, a rather successful family of mainframe computer systems, originally produced between 1965 and 1978 using microcode to implement the instruction set. It was the first family of computers designed to cover the complete range of applications, from small to large, both commercial and scientific. The design made a clear distinction between architecture and implementation. Also if you are not a computer scientist,…
The Botanical Collections of José Celestino Mutis

The Botanical Collections of José Celestino Mutis

On April 6, 1732, Spanish priest, botanist and mathematician José Celestino Mutis was born. Between 1783 and 1808, Mutis tirelessly led an extraordinary endeavor to collect and illustrate the plants of Colombia, assembling one of the richest botanical collections in the world of his time. José Celestino Mutis began studying medicine at the College of Surgery in Cádiz. There, Mutis also studied physics, chemistry, and botany. He graduated from the…
William Brouncker’s approximation of Pi

William Brouncker’s approximation of Pi

On April 5, 1684, English mathematician William Brouncker, 2nd Viscount Brouncker passed away. Brouncker introduced Brouncker‘s formula, a development of 4/π in a generalized continued fraction, and was the first President of the Royal Society. Brouncker was born in Castlelyons, County Cork, the elder son of William Brouncker, 1st Viscount Brouncker and Winifred, daughter of Sir William Leigh of Newnham. His father was created a Viscount in the Peerage of…
Bettina von Arnim and the Romantic Era’s Zeitgeist

Bettina von Arnim and the Romantic Era’s Zeitgeist

On April 4, 1785, German romantic author Elisabeth Catharina Ludovica Magdalena Brentano, better known as Bettina von Arnim was born. Moreover, she was a writer, publisher, composer, singer, visual artist, an illustrator, patron of young talent, and a social activist. She was the archetype of the Romantic era’s zeitgeist and the crux of many creative relationships of canonical artistic figures. Best known for the company she kept, she numbered among her…
V150 – the ‘flying’ Train

V150 – the ‘flying’ Train

On April 3, 2007, the French V150, a specially configured TGV high-speed train, broke the world land speed record for conventional railed trains and reached a speed of 574.8 kilometres per hour (357.2 mph) on an unopened section of the LGV Est between Strasbourg and Paris, in France. The 150 refers to a target speed in metres per second. It was a series of high speed trials carried out on…
Diophantos of Alexandria – the father of Algebra

Diophantos of Alexandria – the father of Algebra

Probably sometime between AD 201 and 215, Alexandrian Greek mathematician Diophantos of Alexandria was born. He is often referred to as the father of algebra. He is the author of a series of books called Arithmetica, many of which are now lost, which deal with solving algebraic equations. Diophantus was the first Greek mathematician who recognized fractions as numbers; thus he allowed positive rational numbers for the coefficients and solutions.…
William Harvey and the Blood circulation

William Harvey and the Blood circulation

On April 1, 1578, English physician William Harvey was born. Harvey made seminal contributions in anatomy and physiology. He was the first known to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the brain and body by the heart. William Harvey first studied at Folkestone, then King’s School, Canterbury. Later he joined Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge. William Harney graduated as a…
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