Yearly Archives: 2018

Montesquieu and the Separation of Powers

Montesquieu and the Separation of Powers

On January 18, 1698, French philosopher and political thinker Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, generally only referred to as Montesquieu, was baptized. He is best known for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, which is taken for granted in modern discussions of government and implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. “If I knew of something that could serve my nation but would ruin…
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Johannes Diodato opens Vienna’s first Coffeehouse

Johannes Diodato opens Vienna’s first Coffeehouse

On January 17, 1685, Armenian merchant Johannes Diodato (Johannes Theodat) was granted the privilege to serve coffee in the city of Vienna, the former capital of the Holy Roman empire. Thereby, Johannes Diodato opened the very first coffeehouse in Vienna and the habit of coffee drinking soon spread over Europe. Science and Coffee Of course we all know coffee. But, not all of us really do love coffee. Before starting my work in…
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J’Accuse – Émile Zola and the Dreyfus Affaire

J’Accuse – Émile Zola and the Dreyfus Affaire

On January 13, 1898, French novelist Émile Zola published an open letter in the newspaper L’Aurore entitled “J’accuse” (“I accuse”, or, in context, “I accuse you”). In the letter, Zola addressed the President of France Félix Faure, and accused the government of anti-Semitism and the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army General Staff officer sentenced to penal servitude for life for espionage. The Suspicious Bordereau Alfred Dreyfus was born in 1859 in the…
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Pierre de Fermat and his Last Problem

Pierre de Fermat and his Last Problem

On January 12, 1665, French lawyer and amateur mathematician Pierre de Fermat, famous for his research in number theory, analytical geometry and probability theory, passed away. He is best known for Fermat’s Last Theorem, which he described in a note at the margin of a copy of Diophantus’ Arithmetica.[4] Pierre de Fermat – Early Years Born on August 17, 1601, into a wealthy French family, Pierre de Fermat grew up in Beaumont…
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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 – Early Years Caroline Lucretia Herschel was born in the German town of Hanover on 16 March 1750. She was the eighth child and fourth daughter of Isaac Herschel,…
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Joseph Weizenbaum and his famous Eliza

Joseph Weizenbaum and his famous Eliza

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 – Early Years Joseph Weizenbaum was born in Berlin the son of master furrier Jechiel Weizenbaum…
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The Discovery of the Four Galilean Moons

The Discovery of the Four Galilean Moons

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, Ganimede, Callisto, Io, and Europa although he is not able to distinguish the last two until the following day.[1,2] The Telescope Based only on uncertain descriptions of the first practical telescope which the Dutch lens maker Hans Lippershey [3] tried to patent in the Netherlands…
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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. “In the whole of geophysics there is probably hardly another law of such clarity and reliability as this—that there are two preferential levels for the world’s surface which occur in alternation side by side and are represented by…
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Leon Foucault demonstrating the Effect of the Earth’s Rotation

Leon Foucault demonstrating the Effect of the Earth’s Rotation

On January 3, 1851, French physicist Leon Foucault started to experiment with his eponymous pendulum, by which he was able to prove 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. The Pendulum Ok, how does Foucault’s pendulum work? The apparatus consists of a…
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Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics

Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics

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. The Three Laws of Robotics 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 given to it by human…
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