Monthly Archives: May 2016

Julius Richard Petri and the Petri Dish

Julius Richard Petri and the Petri Dish

On May 31, 1852, German microbiologist Julius Richard Petri was born. Petri is generally credited with inventing the device known as the Petri dish after him, while working as assistant to bacteriologist Robert Koch. Julius Richard Petri studied medicine at the Kaiser Wilhelm Academy for Military Physicians. He graduated in 1876 and continued his studies at the Charité Hospital in Berlin. Further, Petri had active duty as a military physician until 1882, continuing…
Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

On May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc aka the Maid of Orleans was burnt at the stake. Joan of Arc is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years’ War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. Joan of Arc was probably born around 1412. She did not lean to read and write, but her mother sparked the young girl’s interest…
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on Top of Mount Everest

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on Top of Mount Everest

On May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth, located in the Mahalangur mountain range in Nepal and Tibet, using the southeast ridge route. Tenzing had reached 8,595 m the previous year as a member of the 1952 Swiss expedition. Edmund Hillary grew up near Auckland, New Zealand. During a high school trip to Mount Ruapehu, Hillary’s interest…
Joseph-Ignace Guillotin’s Opposition to the Death Penalty

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin’s Opposition to the Death Penalty

On May 28, 1738, French physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was born. Guillotin is best known for his proposition of the use of a device to carry out death penalties in France, as a less painful method of execution. While he did not invent the guillotine, and in fact opposed the death penalty, his name became an eponym for it. The actual inventor of the prototype was Antoine Louis. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin received…
The Flying Serpent of Henham

The Flying Serpent of Henham

On May 27 and 28, a mystical dragon creature was allegedly seen in the village of Henham in Uttlesford, Essex. The dragon was described as some sort of a a winged snake, that attacked several people and then hid in the nearby woods. The first sighting is probably published in ‘The Flying Serpent or Strange News Out of Essex’ in 1669. The article described the following: “The place of his…
Abraham de Moivre and the Doctrine of Chances

Abraham de Moivre and the Doctrine of Chances

On May 26, 1667, French mathematician Abraham de Moivre was born. De Moivre is best known for de Moivre‘s formula, one of those that link complex numbers and trigonometry, and for his work on the normal distribution and probability theory. He was a friend of Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley, and James Stirling. De Moivre wrote a book on probability theory, The Doctrine of Chances, said to have been prized by…
Daniel Barringer and the Barringer Crater

Daniel Barringer and the Barringer Crater

On May 25, 1860, American geologist Daniel Moreau Barringer was born. Barringer is best known as the first person to prove the existence of an impact crater on the Earth, the Meteor Crater in Arizona. The site has been renamed the Barringer Crater in his honor, although this name is mainly used in the scientific community. Daniel Barringer attended Princeton University where he graduated in 1879. In 1882 he graduated…
Learning and Motivation according to Clark Leonard Hull

Learning and Motivation according to Clark Leonard Hull

On May 24, 1884, American psychiatrist Clark Leonard Hull was born. Hull sought to explain learning and motivation by scientific laws of behavior and is also known for his work in drive theory. He was able to establish his analysis of animal learning and conditioning as the dominant learning theory of its time. He is perhaps best known for the “goal gradient” effect or hypothesis, wherein organisms spend disproportionate amounts of…
Edward Lorenz and the Chaos Theory

Edward Lorenz and the Chaos Theory

On May 23, 1917, American mathematician, meteorologist, and a pioneer of chaos theory Edward Norton Lorenz was born. He is best known for pointing out the “butterfly effect” whereby chaos theory predicts that “slightly differing initial states can evolve into considerably different states.” In his 1963 paper in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, he cited the flapping of a seagull‘s wings as changing the state of the atmosphere in even…
Thomas Gold and the Steady-State Theory

Thomas Gold and the Steady-State Theory

On May 22, 1920, Austrian-born American astrophysicist Thomas Gold was born. Gold was one of three young Cambridge scientists who in the 1950s proposed the now mostly abandoned ‘steady state’ hypothesis of the universe. His work crossed academic and scientific boundaries, into biophysics, astronomy, aerospace engineering, and geophysics. Thomas Gold and his family traveled through Europe alot during his childhood, mostly because of the political situation. He was educated in…
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