Monthly Archives: April 2018

Claude Shannon – the Father of Information Theory

Claude Shannon – the Father of Information Theory

On April 30, 1916, American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer Claude Elwood Shannon was born, the “father of information theory“, whose groundbreaking work ushered in the Digital Revolution. Of course Shannon is famous for having founded information theory with one landmark paper published in 1948. But he is also credited with founding both digital computer and digital circuit design theory in 1937, when, as a 21-year-old master’s student at MIT, he wrote a thesis…
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Karl Drais and the Mechanical Horse

Karl Drais and the Mechanical Horse

On April 29, 1785, German inventor Karl Drais was born, who invented the Laufmaschine (“running machine”), also later called the velocipede or draisine, also nicknamed the dandy horse. Karl Drais became a teacher in a small town near Heidelberg, Germany in 1805 and only six years later, he was released of his duty to focus on his ideas and inventions he already had in mind. To his many inventions belonged a recording machine…
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Kurt Gödel Shaking the Very Foundations of Mathematics

Kurt Gödel Shaking the Very Foundations of Mathematics

On April 28, 1906, Kurt Gödel was born. He was one of the most significant logicians of all time. Gödel made an immense impact upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century, a time when many, such as Bertrand Russell, A. N. Whitehead and David Hilbert, were pioneering the use of logic and set theory to understand the foundations of mathematics. “Either mathematics is too big for the human mind, or the human…
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Edward Gibbon and the Science of History

Edward Gibbon and the Science of History

On April 27, 1737, English historian and Member of Parliament Edward Gibbon was born. His most famous work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788 and is known for the quality and irony of its prose as well as for its scientific historic accuracy, which made it a model for later historians. History is little more than the register…
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Brush Up Your Shakespeare

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

On April 26, 1564, English poet and playwright William Shakespeare was baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world‘s pre-eminent dramatist. Shakespeare‘s works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, two epitaphs, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other…
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Kolmogorov and the Foundations of Probability Theory

Kolmogorov and the Foundations of Probability Theory

On April 25, 1903, Soviet mathematician Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogorov was born. He was one of the most important mathematicians of the 20th century, who advanced various scientific fields, among them probability theory, topology, intuitionistic logic, turbulence, classical mechanics, algorithmic information theory and computational complexity. “The epistemological value of probability theory is based on the fact that chance phenomena, considered collectively and on a grand scale, create non-random regularity.” Andrey Kolmogorov, Limit Distributions for…
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The Successful Salvage of the Unfortunate Vasa

The Successful Salvage of the Unfortunate Vasa

On the morning of 24 April, 1961, the Swedish warship Vasa was salvaged with a largely intact hull after it had sunk after sailing less than a nautical mile (ca 2 km) into its maiden voyage on 10 August 1628 at Stockholm harbour. While Sweden counted rather as a poor and small country before the 17th century, the government established one of the most militarized states in the history of Europe through…
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Max Planck and the Quantum Theory

Max Planck and the Quantum Theory

On April 23, 1858, German theoretical physicist Max Planck was born, who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was born in Kiel, but remained most of his school years in Munich. There he was introduced to the world of physics. After his graduation at the age of 16, he did not easily decide to study physics. His main interest belonged to…
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How Mosaic has Changed the World

How Mosaic has Changed the World

On April 22, 1993, version 1.0 of NCSA Mosaic, or simply Mosaic, was released, the web browser credited with popularizing the World Wide Web. It was the first Web browser as we know today with a graphical user interface enabling an interactive easy to use browsing experience. In the early days of the World Wide Web, there was a text-based browser called Lynx. I’m quite sure that only a few of you…
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Max Weber – one of the Founders of Sociology

Max Weber – one of the Founders of Sociology

On April 21, 1864, German sociologist, philosopher, jurist, and political economist Max Weber was born. Max Weber‘s ideas profoundly influenced social theory and social research. Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founders of sociology. Max Weber was born in Erfurt. He joined the University of Heidelberg to study law and later moved to the University of Berlin. Next to studying, Weber was also occupied as…
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