Monthly Archives: May 2016

Theodore von Kármán and his Advances in Aerodynamics

Theodore von Kármán and his Advances in Aerodynamics

On May 11, 1881, Hungarian-American mathematician, aerospace engineer and physicist Theodore von Kármán was born. Kármán was active primarily in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. He is responsible for many key advances in aerodynamics, notably his work on supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization. “I came to realize that exaggerated concern about what others are doing can be foolish. It can paralyze effort, and stifle a good idea. One finds that in the history…
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Betamax and the Legendary Video Format Wars

Betamax and the Legendary Video Format Wars

On May 10, 1975, Sony released a consumer-level analog videocassette magnetic tape recording format called Betamax. Today, the format is obsolete, having lost the videotape format war to VHS with Betamax recorders ceased production in 2002. A Brief History of Video Recording The first efforts at video recording, using recorders similar to audio recorders with fixed heads, were unsuccessful. The problem was that a video signal has a much wider bandwidth than…
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J. M. Barrie and the Boy who wouldn’t grow up

J. M. Barrie and the Boy who wouldn’t grow up

On May 9, 1860, Scotish author and playwright Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet was born. Barrie is best remembered for being the creator of Peter Pan in his novel “Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up“, a “fairy play” about an ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland. “All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they…
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Jules Dumont d’Urville and his South-Pacific Voyages

Jules Dumont d’Urville and his South-Pacific Voyages

On May 8, 1842, French explorer, naval officer and rear admiral Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville passed away. D’Urville commanded voyages of exploration to the South Pacific (1826–29) and the Antarctic (1837–40), resulting in extensive revisions of existing charts and discovery or redesignation of island groups. As a botanist and cartographer he left his mark, giving his name to several seaweeds, plants and shrubs, and places such as D’Urville Island. Jules Dumont d’Urville…
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Gustave le Bon and the Behaviour of the Crowd

Gustave le Bon and the Behaviour of the Crowd

On May 7, 1841, French social psychologist, sociologist, anthropologist, inventor, and amateur physicist Gustave le Bon was born. Le Bon is best known for his study of the psychological characteristics of crowds, The Crowd, Study of Popular Mind. His writings incorporate theories of national traits, racial and male superiority, herd behavior and crowd psychology. “Logical minds, accustomed to being convinced by a chain of somewhat close reasoning, cannot avoid having recourse to this mode of…
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Johann Joachim Becher and the Phlogiston Theory of Combustion

Johann Joachim Becher and the Phlogiston Theory of Combustion

On May 6, 1636, German physician, alchemist, precursor of chemistry, scholar and adventurer Johann Joachim Becher was born. He is best known for his development of the phlogiston theory of combustion, in which all flammable objects were supposed to contain a substance which was released when the object burned, and his advancement of Austrian cameralism. “The chemists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their…
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Andrew Meikle and the Threshing Machine

Andrew Meikle and the Threshing Machine

On May 5, 1719, Scottish mechanical engineer Andrew Meikle was born. Meikle is best known for inventing the threshing machine, a device used to remove the outer husks from grains of wheat. The mechanization of this process took much of the drudgery out of farm labour. A Brief History of the Threshing Machine Threshing refers to the mechanical process of separating the grains during the harvest of threshed crops. The straw (long…
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Fritz von Opel and the Rocket Car

Fritz von Opel and the Rocket Car

On May 4, 1899, German automotive industrialist Fritz von Opel was born. Von Opel was the grandson of Adam Opel, founder of the Opel company. He was a pioneer in experiments with rocket propulsion for automobiles and aircraft. On 11 Apr 1928, at Berlin, together with Max Valier and Friedrich Wilhelm Sander, he tested the first manned rocket automobile, the Opel-RAK1. The Heir of an Automobile Company Fritz von Opel was the grandson of…
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The Murder of August von Kotzebue and the Supression of the Liberal Press

The Murder of August von Kotzebue and the Supression of the Liberal Press

On May 3, 1761, German dramatist and writer August von Kotzebue was born. In 1817, one of Kotzebue‘s books was burned during the Wartburg festival. He was murdered in 1819 by Karl Ludwig Sand, a militant member of the Burschenschaften, which gave Metternich the pretext to issue the Carlsbad Decrees, which dissolved the Burschenschaften, cracked down on the liberal press, and seriously restricted academic freedom in the states of the German Confederation.…
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Leonardo Da Vinci – the Prototype of a Renaissance Man

Leonardo Da Vinci – the Prototype of a Renaissance Man

On May 2, 1519, Italian Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci passed away. Leonardo’s areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of paleontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. “Painting is poetry which is seen and not heard, and poetry is a painting…
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