Monthly Archives: February 2018

Crick and Watson decipher the DNA

Crick and Watson decipher the DNA

On February 28, 1953,  American molecular biologist James D. Watson and English biophysicist Francis Crick announced to friends that they succeeded to determine the chemical structure of DNA. Already in the 19th century biochemists were able to isolate DNA and RNA from the cell nuclei mixed together. They later found out that DNA and RNA had to be distinct from each other. The nuclein was identified by Friedrich Miescher in 1869 and he…
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James Chadwick and the Discovery of the Neutron

James Chadwick and the Discovery of the Neutron

On February 27, 1932, English physicist and Nobel Laureate Sir James Chadwick published an article in the scientific journal ‘Nature‘ about the discovery of the neutron, a previously unknown particle in the atomic nucleus. James Chadwick was born and raised in Bollington, England and later studied at Manchester and Cambridge University. Just before the start of World War I, Chadwick moved to Berlin, studying at the city’s Technical University under Ernest Rutherford and Hans…
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Thomas Newcomen and the Steam Engine

Thomas Newcomen and the Steam Engine

On February 26 (or maybe also 24), 1664, English inventor Thomas Newcomen was born, who created the first practical steam engine for pumping water, the Newcomen steam engine. As we know from a previous article on James Watt and the Steam Age Revolution [5], Watt was the one improving Newcomen‘s engine in the 18th and 19th century. Since the knowledge about the power of working with steam had been around for a while…
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Friedrich Spee and the Cautio Criminalis

Friedrich Spee and the Cautio Criminalis

On February 25, 1591, German Jesuit and poet Friedrich Spee was born, who is best known for his book Cautio Criminalis, in which he argued publicly against the trials for witchcraft and against torture in general. He was one of the noblest and most attractive figures of the awful era of the Thirty Years’ War. Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld was born to a noble family at Kaiserswerth near Düsseldorf on the Rhine…
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Jacques de Vaucanson and his Miraculous Automata

Jacques de Vaucanson and his Miraculous Automata

On February 24, 1709, French inventor and artist Jacques Vaucanson was born, who is best known for the creation of impressive and innovative automata and machines such as the first completely automated loom. “Without the voice of le Maure and Vaucanson’s duck, you would have nothing to remind you of the glory of France.” – Voltaire Jacques de Vaucanson was born in Grenoble, France. He grew up in a poor family, his…
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The Amazing Diary of Samuel Pepys, Esq.

The Amazing Diary of Samuel Pepys, Esq.

On February 23, 1633, English naval administrator and Member of Parliament Samuel Pepys was born, who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man. The detailed private diary Pepys kept from 1660 until 1669 was first published in the 19th century, and is one of the most important primary sources for the English Restoration period. Personally, I really enjoyed reading Samuel Pepys’…
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The World according to Arthur Schopenhauer

The World according to Arthur Schopenhauer

On February 22, 1788, famous and most influential German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was born. He is best known for his book, The World as Will and Representation, in which he claimed that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction. Arthur Schopenhauer was born in Danzig (now Gdansk) on the 22nd of February 1788, as son of the merchant Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer, and Johanna Troisner. At age 17,…
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Edwin Land – Father of the Polaroid Instant Camera

Edwin Land – Father of the Polaroid Instant Camera

On February 21, 1947, American scientist and inventor Edwin Land introduced the very first instant camera together with an associated film. Land‘s new camera would allow people to produce a black and white photograph in about sixty seconds. The new film already contained the necessary chemicals to develop and fix the image directly on the photographic paper. Edwin Land studied chemistry at Harvard University but dropped out in his freshman year, leaving…
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Ansel Adams and the Beauty of Black and White Photography

Ansel Adams and the Beauty of Black and White Photography

On February 20, 1902, American photographer and environmentalist Ansel Easton Adams was born. He is best known for his black-and-white landscape photographs of the American West, especially Yosemite National Park. Together with Fred Archer, Adams developed the Zone System as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. Ansel Adams was born into a wealthy family in San Francisco. Despite the fact that the Panic of…
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Karl Weierstrass – the Father of Modern Analysis

Karl Weierstrass – the Father of Modern Analysis

On February 19, 1897, German mathematician Karl Theodor Wilhelm Weierstrass passed away. Weierstrass often is cited as the “father of modern analysis“. He formalized the definition of the continuity of a function, proved the intermediate value theorem and the Bolzano–Weierstrass theorem, and used the latter to study the properties of continuous functions on closed bounded intervals. “… it is true that a mathematician who is not somewhat of a poet, will never be a…
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