Monthly Archives: June 2016

Pierre Duhem and the Role of Theory in Science

Pierre Duhem and the Role of Theory in Science

On June 10, 1861, French physicist, mathematician, historian and philosopher of science Pierre Duhem was born. He is best known for his work on chemical thermodynamics, for his philosophical writings on the indeterminacy of experimental criteria, and for his historical research into the science of the European Middle Ages. As a scientist, Duhem also contributed to hydrodynamics and to the theory of elasticity. “A physical theory … is a system…
Patrick Steptoe and the Test Tube Baby

Patrick Steptoe and the Test Tube Baby

On June 9, 1913, British obstetrician, gynaecologist, and Nobel Laureate Patrick Steptoe was born. A pioneer of fertility treatment, Steptoe was responsible with biologist and physiologist Robert Edwards for developing in vitro fertilization. Louise Joy Brown, the first test-tube baby, was born on 25 July 1978. Patrick Steptoe attended King’s College London and graduated from St George’s Hospital Medical School, London in 1939. He studied obstetrics after World War II…
The Romantic Music of Robert Schumann

The Romantic Music of Robert Schumann

On June 8, 1810, German composer and influential music critic Robert Schumann was born. Schumann is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist, but a hand injury ended this dream of becoming one of Europe‘s finest pianists. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing. The musical education of Robert…
Amelia Edwards’ travels in Egypt

Amelia Edwards’ travels in Egypt

On June 7, 1831, English novelist, journalist, traveller and Egyptologist Amelia B. Edwards was born. Her account of her travels in Egypt, A Thousand Miles Up the Nile (1877), was an immediate success. During the last two decades of her life, she became concerned by threats to Egyptian monuments and antiquities, raised funds for archaeological excavations and increased public awareness by lecturing at home and abroad. Amelia Edwards was born…
Govaert Wendelen – the Ptolemy of Renaissance

Govaert Wendelen – the Ptolemy of Renaissance

On June 6, 1580, Flemish astronomer Govaert Wendelin (Godefroy Wendelen), Latinized Godefridus Wendelinus was born. Wendelen also was known as the Ptolemy of his time. Despite going against the tenets of his Church, he was an audacious proponent of the Copernican theory that the planets orbit around the Sun. He made more accurate measurements of the distance to the sun as previously made by Aristachus (2,000 years earlier). Godefroy Wendelin…
Jean-Antoine Chaptal and the Industrial Chemistry

Jean-Antoine Chaptal and the Industrial Chemistry

On June 5, 1756, French chemist, physician, agronomist, industrialist, statesman, educator and philanthropist Jean-Antoine Chaptal, comte de Chanteloup was born. Chaptal authored the first book on industrial chemistry and also coined the name “nitrogen. He was the first to produce sulphuric acid commercially in France at his factory at Montpellier and helped to organize the introduction of the metric system. Jean-Antoine Chaptal studied medicine at the medical school at the…
The Ariane 5 Flight 501

The Ariane 5 Flight 501

On June 4, 1996, European heavy lift launch vehicle Ariane 5’s first test flight failed with the rocket self-destructing 37 seconds after launch because of a malfunction in the control software. A data conversion from 64-bit floating point value to 16-bit signed integer value to be stored in a variable representing horizontal bias caused a processor trap (operand error) because the floating point value was too large to be represented…
Archaeologist Flinders Petrie

Archaeologist Flinders Petrie

On June 3, 1853, English egyptologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie was born. Petrie was a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and preservation of artefacts. He held the first chair of Egyptology in the United Kingdom, and excavated many of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt in conjunction with his wife, Hilda Petrie. Moreover, Petrie also developed the system of dating layers based on pottery and ceramic findings.…
The Micrography of Matthias Buchinger

The Micrography of Matthias Buchinger

On June 2, 1674, German artist, magician, calligrapher, and performer Matthias Buchinger, sometimes called Matthew Buckinger in English, was born. Buchinger was born without hands or feet and was only 74 cm (29 inches) tall. He was especially noted for his micrography, in which illustrations consist of infinitesimal text, which was presented in an exhibition early 2016 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Matthias Buchinger was born in Ansbach, Germany.…
Henry Faulds and the Fingerprints

Henry Faulds and the Fingerprints

On June 1, 1843, Scottish physician and missionary Henry Faulds was born. Faulds became a missionary in Japan, where he worked as a surgeon superintendent at a Tokyo hospital, taught at the local univeristy, and founded the Tokyo Institute for the Blind. He is probably best known for his study of fingerprints, where he became convinced that each individual had a unique pattern. It is believed that fingerprints were already…
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