Monthly Archives: January 2018

Amelia Earhart – Record-breaking Aviation Pioneer

Amelia Earhart – Record-breaking Aviation Pioneer

On January 11, 1935, American aviatrix Amelia Earhart became the first person to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California accross the Pacific ocean. The first contact Earhart made with aviation was when she was 10-years old and visiting a plane state fair, but she was not quite impressed. A few years later, she visited a stunt-flying exhibition and after pilot Frank Hawks gave her a short ride on his plane…
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Donald Knuth and the Art of Programming

Donald Knuth and the Art of Programming

Donald E. Knuth, photo: October 25, 2005 by Jacob Appelbaum On January 10, 1938, computer scientist Donald Knuth, developer of the seminal computer science textbooks ‘The Art of Computer Programming‘, was born. He is also widely known for his development of the TeX typesetting framework and the METAFONT font definition language. Actually, Donald Knuth is one of my personal heroes in computer science. The very day I started to study this subject, his…
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Caroline Herschel – The Comet Sweeper

Caroline Herschel – The Comet Sweeper

On January 9, 1848, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, German-British astronomer and sister of astronomer Sir William Herschel, passed away at age 98. She is best know for the discovery of several comets, in particular the periodic comet 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, which bears her name. Caroline Herschel grew up in the German town Hannover where she worked at her parent‘s home as a housekeeper and received a musical education followed by a starting career as a concert…
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Joseph Weizenbaum and his famous Eliza

Joseph Weizenbaum and his famous Eliza

Joseph Weizenbaum (1923-2008) photo: Ulrich Hansen On January 8, 1923, computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum, a pioneer in natural language processing and artificial intelligence, who later became one of artificial intelligence’s leading critics, was born. In 1966 he published a simple program named Eliza, which involved its users in a conversation that bore a striking resemblance to one with a psychologist. Joseph Weizenbaum was born in Berlin the son of master furrier Jechiel Weizenbaum…
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Jupiter and the Galilean Moons

Jupiter and the Galilean Moons

Montage of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, in a composite image from top to bottom: Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto ©NASA On January 7, 1610, physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei turned his new telescope to the nocturnal sky to watch the planet Jupiter and discovered the eponymous four moons of Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganimede, and Callisto.[1,2] Based only on uncertain descriptions of the first practical telescope which the Dutch lens maker Hans Lippershey [3] tried to…
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Alfred Wegener and the Continental Drift

Alfred Wegener and the Continental Drift

On January 06, 1912, German geologist Alfred Wegener presented his theory of continental drift for the first time in public at a meeting of the Geological Society (‘Geologische Vereinigung’) at Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. Alfred Wegener was born in Berlin, Germany, as the youngest of five children to his father, Richard Wegener, a theologian and teacher of classical languages at the Berlinisches Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster. In 1886 his family purchased a former…
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James Watt and the Steam Age Revolution

James Watt and the Steam Age Revolution

James Watt (1736 – 1819) Painting by Carl Frederik von Breda On January 5, 1769,  Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist James Watt finally received the patent for his steam engine: patent 913 A method of lessening the consumption of steam in steam engines-the separate condenser. Before James Watt was able to revolutionize Europe’s industries, folks had to find different ways to generate power. While the Romans during the first century BC used…
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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – Sir Isaac Newton

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), Portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller (1689) On January 4, 1643 [N.S.] (25 December 1642 [O.S.]), Sir Isaac Newton, famous physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian, was born. With his Principia Newton laid the foundation of modern classical mechanics. Besides he constructed the very first reflecting telescope and independent of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed differential and integral calculus [10]. “We are to admit no more causes of natural…
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Foucault’s Pendulum

Foucault’s Pendulum

Foucault’s Pendulum at the Panthéon, Paris, © Javi Masa On January 3, 1851, French physicist Leon Foucault started to experiment with his eponymous pendulum, by which he was able to proof the earth‘s rotation. Actually, how can you prove that the earth is a rotating orb in an easy-to-see experiment and – of course – without spaceflight? By today, Foucault’s simple device is part of numerous natural science museums around the world. Ok, how does…
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Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics

Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics

Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992) © U.S Library of Congress On January 2, 1920, the Russian-born author and professor of biochemistry Isaac Asimov was born. He was best known for his science fiction works in which he coined the term ‘robotics‘ and his popular science books. 1.A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey the orders…
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