Monthly Archives: January 2017

John Couch Adams and the Discovery of Planet Neptune

John Couch Adams and the Discovery of Planet Neptune

On January 21, 1821, English mathematician and astronomer John Couch Adams passed away. Adams most famous achievement was predicting the existence and position of Neptune, using only mathematics. The calculations were made to explain discrepancies with Uranus‘s orbit and the laws of Kepler and Newton. At the same time, but unknown to each other, the same calculations were made by Urbain Le Verrier.[5] Youth and Education John Couch Adams was born at…
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Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois and the Order of the Chemical Elements

Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois and the Order of the Chemical Elements

On January 20, 1820, French geologist and mineralogist  Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois was born. De Chancourtois was the first to arrange the chemical elements in order of atomic weights in 1862. De Chancourtois only published his paper, but did not publish his actual graph with the irregular arrangement. Although his publication was significant, it was ignored by chemists as it was written in terms of geology. It was Dmitri Mendeleev’s table published in 1869…
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Leonid Kantorovich and the Optimal Allocation of Scarce Resources

Leonid Kantorovich and the Optimal Allocation of Scarce Resources

On January 19, 1912, Soviet mathematician and economist Leonid Vitaliyevich Kantorovich was born. Kantorovich shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for Economics with Tjalling Koopmans for their work on the optimal allocation of scarce resources. Youth and Education Kantorovich was born in St. Peterburg, Russia, into a Russian Jewish family. His father Vitaliy Moiseevich Kantorovich, was a popular medical doctor specialising in sexually transmitted diseases, and his mother was Paulina Grigoryevna Zaks. Kantorovich…
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Thomas Sopwith and his legendary aircrafts

Thomas Sopwith and his legendary aircrafts

On January 18, 1888, English aviation pioneer and yachtsman Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith was born. Sopwith’s pioneering firm was famous for British WWI military aircraft, including the legendary Sopwith Camel. Family Background and early Youth Thomas Sopwith was born in Kensington, London, UK, as the eighth child and only son of Thomas Sopwith, a civil engineer and managing director of the Spanish Lead Mines Company, Linares, Jaén, Spain, and his wife Lydia Gertrude née Messiter. When…
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François Lenormant and the Akkadian Language

François Lenormant and the Akkadian Language

On January 17, 1837, French assyriologist and archaeologist François Lenormant was born. Lenormant recognized, from cuneiform inscriptions, a language now known as Akkadian that proved valuable to the understanding of Mesopotamian civilization 3,000 years before the Christian era. Youth and Education Lenormant’s father, Charles Lenormant, distinguished as an archaeologist, numismatist and Egyptologist, was anxious that his son should follow in his steps. He made him begin Greek at the age of six,…
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The Nimrod Expedition and the Magnetic South Pole

The Nimrod Expedition and the Magnetic South Pole

On January 16, 1907, Australian geologists Tannatt William Edgeworth David and Douglas Mawson together with Scottish physician Alistair Mackay, being part of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907–09, otherwise known as the Nimrod Expedition, led by Ernest Shackleton, reached the magnetic southpole. The major goal of the famous Nimrod Expedition was to be the first to reach the South Pole. Even though this goal was not fulfilled completely, the expedition’s southern march reached a…
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Artturi Ilmari Virtanen and the Ingredients of Plant Food

Artturi Ilmari Virtanen and the Ingredients of Plant Food

On January 15, 1895, Finnish chemist and Nobel Laureate Artturi Ilmari Virtanen was born. Virtanen invented AIV silage which improved milk production and a method of preserving butter, the AIV salt, which led to increased Finnish butter exports. Youth and Education Artturi Ilmari Virtanen was born in Helsinki, Finland, the son of Kaarlo Virtanen and Serafiina Isotalo. He received his school education in the Viipuri grammar school (Vyborg), after which he studied chemistry, biology and…
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Arthur Holmes and the Age of the Earth

Arthur Holmes and the Age of the Earth

On January 14, 1890, British geologist Arthur Holmes was born. Holmes pioneered the use of radiometric dating of minerals and was the first earth scientist to grasp the mechanical and thermal implications of mantle convection, which led eventually to the acceptance of plate tectonics. Early Years Arthur Holmes was born in Hepburn, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the son of David Holmes, a cabinet-maker, and his wife, Emily Dickinson. As a child he lived in…
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Abbot Suger and the Birth of the Gothic Style

Abbot Suger and the Birth of the Gothic Style

On January 13, 1151, French abbot, statesman, historian and one of the earliest patrons of Gothic architecture, Suger passed away. The eastern end of the Basilica Church of St. Denis, built by Abbot Suger and completed in 1144, is often cited as the first truly Gothic building, as it draws together many of architectural forms which had evolved from Romanesque and typify the Gothic style. Suger’s Background Suger was born of peasant parents…
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Paul Müller and the Doubtful Qualities of DDT

Paul Müller and the Doubtful Qualities of DDT

On January 12, 1899, Swiss chemist and Nobel Laureate Paul Hermann Müller was born. Müller received the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his 1939 discovery of insecticidal qualities and use of DDT in the control of vector diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. “We have discovered many preventives against tropical diseases, and often against the onslaught of insects of all kinds, from lice to mosquitoes and back again. The excellent…
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