Monthly Archives: March 2018

Vannevar Bush and his Vision of the Memex Memory Extender

Vannevar Bush and his Vision of the Memex Memory Extender

On March 11, 1890, American engineer, inventor and science administrator Vannevar Bush was born. He is best known as as head of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) during World War II, through which almost all wartime military research and development was carried out, including initiation of the Manhattan Project. In computer science we know Vannevar Bush as the father of the Memex, an adjustable microfilm viewer with a…
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Augustin-Jean Fresnel and the Wave Theory of Light

Augustin-Jean Fresnel and the Wave Theory of Light

On March 10, 1788, French civil engineer and physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel was born. Augustin-Jean Fresnel‘s research in optics led to the almost unanimous acceptance of the wave theory of light, excluding any remnant of Newton‘s corpuscular theory, from the late 1830s until the end of the 19th century. “It’s not observation but theory that led me to this result that experience has confirmed afterwards.” – Augustin-Jean Fresnel, explaining how he was led to…
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Hans Christian Ørsted connecting Electricity and Magnetism

Hans Christian Ørsted connecting Electricity and Magnetism

On March 9, 1851, Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted passed away. Hans Christian Ørsted discovered that electric currents create magnetic fields, which was the first connection found between electricity and magnetism. He is still known today for Oersted‘s Law and the oersted (Oe), the cgs unit of magnetic H-field strength, is named after him. “The agreement of this law with nature will be better seen by the repetition of experiments than by…
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Otto Hahn – the Father of Nuclear Chemistry

Otto Hahn – the Father of Nuclear Chemistry

On March 8, 1879, German chemist and pioneer in the fields of radioactivity and radiochemistry Otto Hahn was born. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1944 for the discovery and the radiochemical proof of nuclear fission at the exclusion of his colleague Lise Meitner. He is referred to as the father of nuclear chemistry. “Usually, a discovery is not made in the easiest but on a complicated way; the simple cases…
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Maurice Ravel and Musical Impressionism

Maurice Ravel and Musical Impressionism

On March 7, 1875, French composer, pianist and conductor Maurice Ravel was born. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France‘s greatest living composer. He liked to experiment with musical form, as in his best-known work, Boléro (1928), in which repetition takes the place of development. “Then M. Ravel discussed another idea. That was that in these days of cacophony it might be quite an original idea for the orchestra…
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Joseph von Fraunhofer and the Solar Spectrum

Joseph von Fraunhofer and the Solar Spectrum

On March 6, 1787, German optician and physicist Joseph Fraunhofer – later enobled Ritter von Fraunhofer – was born. He is known for the discovery of the dark absorption lines known as Fraunhofer lines in the Sun‘s spectrum, and for making excellent optical glass and achromatic telescope objectives. Moreover, he is the name giver for the German Fraunhofer Society for the advancement of applied research. “In all my experiments I could, owing to…
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George Frideric Handel – A Prolific Musical Genius

George Frideric Handel – A Prolific Musical Genius

On March 5, 1685, German-born British Baroque composer George Frideric Handel was born, who is famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Interestingly, Händel is born in the very same year as Johann Sebastian Bach [4] or Domenico Scarlatti. Nevertheless, Handel is regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time with works like the Water Music or The Messiah that remain popular until today. “You have taken far too much trouble…
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Henry the Navigator and the Age of Discoveries

Henry the Navigator and the Age of Discoveries

On March 4, 1394, Infante Henry, Duke of Viseu, better known as Henry the Navigator, was born. He was an important figure in the early days of the Portuguese Empire and the Age of Discoveries in total. He was responsible for the early development of European exploration and maritime trade with other continents. Legend or Historical Fact Henry has become a legendary figure, and it is somewhat difficult to disentangle the historical…
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Georg Cantor and the Beauty of Infinity

Georg Cantor and the Beauty of Infinity

On March 3, 1845, German mathematician Georg Cantor, creator of the set theory was born. Set Theory is considered the fundamental theory of mathematics. He also proved that the real numbers are “more numerous” than the natural numbers, which was quite shocking for his contemporaries that there should be different numbers of infinity. “In mathematics the art of asking questions is more valuable than solving problems.” – Georg Cantor, Doctoral thesis (1867) Youth…
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Thomas Bodley and the Bodleian Library

Thomas Bodley and the Bodleian Library

On March 2, 1544, English diplomat and scholar Sir Thomas Bodley was born. His greatest achievement was the re-founding of the library at Oxford that was named in his honor. Moreover, he established new ideas and practices library of which also modern libraries still benefit today. The Roots of the Bodleian Library The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford and it is one of the oldest…
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