Monthly Archives: September 2016

Theodor Fontane and German Realism

Theodor Fontane and German Realism

On September 20, 1898, German novelist and poet Theodor Fontane passed away. Fontane is regarded by many as the most important 19th-century German-language realist writer. Theodor Fontane was born in Neuruppin, a town 30 miles northwest of Berlin, into a Huguenot family as son of the pharmacist Louis Henri Fontane. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to an apothecary. His further education was in Leipzig where he came…
Chester Carlson and Xerography

Chester Carlson and Xerography

On September 19, 1968, American physicist, inventor, and patent attorney Chester F. Carlson passed away. He is best known for having invented the process of electrophotography, which produced a dry copy rather than a wet copy, as was produced by the mimeograph process. Carlson’s process was subsequently renamed xerography, a term that literally means “dry writing.” It is believed that when Chester Carlson was about ten years old, he created…
Edwin McMillan and Neptunium

Edwin McMillan and Neptunium

On September 18, 1907, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Edwin Mattison McMillan was born. McMillan is credited with being the first ever to produce a transuranium element, neptunium. For this, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Glenn Seaborg in 1951. Edwin McMillan entered the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1924. There, McMillan took part in a research project with Linus Pauling as an undergraduate, in 1929, McMillan…
Stephen Hales and the Blood Pressure

Stephen Hales and the Blood Pressure

On September 17, 1677, English clergyman Stephen Hales was born. Hales made major contributions to a range of scientific fields including botany, pneumatic chemistry and physiology. He was the first person to measure blood pressure. He also invented several devices, including a ventilator, a pneumatic trough and a surgical forceps for the removal of bladder stones. In addition to these achievements was a philanthropist and wrote a popular tract on alcoholic intemperance.…
Anamorphic Lenses and the Birth of Widescreen Cinema

Anamorphic Lenses and the Birth of Widescreen Cinema

On September 16, 1953, American Biblical epic film The Robe premiered, the very first film released in the widescreen process CinemaScope. Like other early CinemaScope films, The Robe was shot with Henri Chrétien’s original Hypergonar anamorphic lenses. The film marked the beginning of the modern anamorphic format in both principal photography and movie projection. The basis for CinemaScope was probably formed by the French inventor Henri Chrétien who developed and…
John Hanning Speke and the Source of the Nile

John Hanning Speke and the Source of the Nile

On September 15, 1864, British explorer and army officer John Hanning Speke died by accident with a shot gun. Speke is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile and was in fact the first European that reached Lake Victoria and as such is the “discoverer of the source of the Nile“. Speke was born on 4 May 1827 at Orleigh Court, Buckland Brewer near Bideford, North Devon,…
The first Observation of Gravitational Waves

The first Observation of Gravitational Waves

On September 14, 2015, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration observed gravitational waves from a 410 megaparsec (1.3 billion light years) distant merger of two black holes. Previously, gravitational waves had only been inferred only indirectly, via their effect on the timing of pulsars in binary star systems. It was also the first observation of a binary black hole merger, demonstrating both the existence of binary stellar-mass black hole systens, and the…
Oliver Evans – Pioneer of Automation

Oliver Evans – Pioneer of Automation

On September 13, 1755, American inventor, engineer and businessman Oliver Evans was born. A pioneer in the fields of automation, materials handling and steam power, Evans was one of the most prolific and influential inventors in the early years of the United States. He is known for designing and building the first fully automated industrial process; America’s first high-pressure steam engine; and the first (albeit crude) amphibious vehicle and American automobile. Oliver…
Haskell Brooks Curry and Computational Logic

Haskell Brooks Curry and Computational Logic

On September 12, 1900, American mathematician and logician Haskell Brooks Curry was born. Curry’s research in the foundations of mathematics led him to the development of combinatory logic. Later, this seminal work found significant application in computer science, especially in the design of programming languages. Curry is also known for Curry’s paradox and the Curry–Howard correspondence. There are three programming languages named after him, Haskell, Brook and Curry, as well as the…
From the French Blue to the Hope Diamond

From the French Blue to the Hope Diamond

On September 11, 1792, while Louis XVI and his family were imprisoned in the Temple in the early stages of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, a group of thieves broke into the Royal Storehouse, the Hôtel du Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, and stole most of the Crown Jewels during a five-day looting spree. Among those was also the Blue Diamond of the Crown of France, later English-speaking historians have…
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