Monthly Archives: February 2018

Ernst Mach and the eponymous Mach Number

Ernst Mach and the eponymous Mach Number

On February 18, 1838, Austrian physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach was born. Mach is noted for his contributions to physics such as study of shock waves. The ratio of one’s speed to that of sound is named the Mach number in his honor. As a philosopher of science, he was a major influence on logical positivism and American pragmatism. “There is no problem in all mathematics that cannot be solved by direct…
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Giordano Bruno and the Wonders of the Universe

Giordano Bruno and the Wonders of the Universe

On February 17, 1600, Dominican friar and philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned on the stake after the Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model in proposing that the Sun was essentially a star, and moreover, that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings. Becoming a Dominican Friar Giordano Bruno was born as Filippo Bruno in Nola,  in the Kingdom of…
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The Astronomical Machines of Johannes Stöffler

The Astronomical Machines of Johannes Stöffler

On February 16, 1531, German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, priest, and maker of astronomical instruments Johannes Stöffler passed away. Stöffler was the first professor of astronomy at the University of Tübingen. At the end of the 1490s, Stöffler calculated a continuation of Regiomontan’s ephemeris [1] and constructed an equator for Johannes Reuchlin – an analog calculating machine for the direct location of a planet‘s position at a given point in time. Early Years Johannes Stöffler…
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Nikolaus Wirth and PASCAL – Programming Language for the Masses

Nikolaus Wirth and PASCAL – Programming Language for the Masses

On February 15, 1934, Swiss computer scientist Niklaus Emil Wirth was born. He is best known for designing several programming languages, including Pascal, and for pioneering several classic topics in software engineering. If there is (or better ‘was’) one programming language that I really loved in the same way I hated it, then it was Pascal. On the one hand it was a rather easy to understand beginners programming language, but when…
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Christopher Latham Sholes invented the QWERTY Typewriter

Christopher Latham Sholes invented the QWERTY Typewriter

On February 14, 1819,  American inventor Christopher Latham Sholes was born, who invented the first practical typewriter and is responsible for the  QWERTY keyboard layout still in use today. Printer, Editor, and Politician Born on a farm in Montour County, Pennsylvania, USA, Christopher Latham Sholes worked in Madison, Wisconsin, as a printer and later as editor of Bender’s Newspaper. In this city he was one of the co-founders of the Republican Party of…
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ENIAC – The First Computer Introduced Into Public

ENIAC – The First Computer Introduced Into Public

On February 13, 1946, J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly introduced Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, or ENIAC, the first general purpose, electronic computer. ENIAC was a giant step forward in computing technology. “Where a calculator like the ENIAC today is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh only 1½ tons.” – Andrew Hamilton, “Brains that Click”,…
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Eugène Atget’s Old Paris

Eugène Atget’s Old Paris

On February 12, 1857, French photographer Eugène Atget was born. A pioneer of documentary photography, Atget is noted for his determination to document all of the architecture and street scenes of Paris before their disappearance to modernization. An inspiration for the surrealists and other artists, his genius was only recognized by a handful of young artists in the last two years of his life, and he did not live to see the…
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The Pencil of Nature – Photographic Pioneer Henry Fox Talbot

The Pencil of Nature – Photographic Pioneer Henry Fox Talbot

On February 11, 1800, Henry Fox Talbot, British inventor and photography pioneer was born, who invented the calotype process, a precursor to photographic processes of the 19th and 20th centuries. Like other pioneers of early photography, Talbot not only was occupied with the processing technology, but also is known as an photographic artist. Moreover, Talbot‘s talents also extended to mathematics, astronomy, and archaeology. Actually, he even participated in the translation of the…
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Victoria and Albert – A Royal Wedding

Victoria and Albert – A Royal Wedding

Victoria Alexandrina was born as the fifth in the line of succession and her childhood was rather unspectacular, as her mother kept her from contact with other children and granted her an excellent home schooled education, wherefore she was able to speak many languages. In 1836, Leopold, King of the Beligians, and uncle to Victoria suggested that his nephew Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha should marry his niece Victoria. After a first…
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Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment

On February 9, 1881, famous Russian novelist, short story writer, and essayist Fyodor Dostoyevsky passed away in St. Petersburg, Russia. Dostoyevsky‘s literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russia and is considered to be one of the greatest and most prominent psychologists in world literature. The Grand Inquisitor The very first piece of literature I read from Dostoyevsky was the short parable ‘The Grand…
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