Monthly Archives: April 2019

F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby

On April 10, 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s famous socially critical novel ‘The Great Gatsby‘ was published. The story takes place in 1922, during the Roaring Twenties, a time of prosperity in the United States after World War I. The book received critical acclaim and is generally considered Fitzgerald‘s best work. It is also widely regarded as a “Great American Novel” and a literary classic, although it didn’t sell very well during Fitzgerald‘s…
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Charles Baudelaire and the Flowers of Evil

Charles Baudelaire and the Flowers of Evil

On April 9, 1821, French poet Charles Baudelaire was born. He produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. Baudelaire is most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century. Baudelaire is considered one of the major innovators in French literature. His themes of sex, death, lesbianism, metamorphosis, depression,…
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Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and Superconductivity

Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and Superconductivity

On April 8, 1911, Dutch physicist and Nobel Laureate Heike Kamerlingh Onnes found that at a temperature of only 4.2 K (-269° C) the resistance in a solid mercury wire immersed in liquid helium suddenly vanished. Kamerlingh Onnes discovered superconductivity. „Door meten tot weten“ – “Through measurement to knowledge” – Motto of Kamerlingh Onnes’ Laboratory Early Years Born in Groningen, Netherlands, Kamerlingh Onnes also attended the city’s university and studied under the famous…
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William Wordsworth and the Romantic Age of English Literature

William Wordsworth and the Romantic Age of English Literature

On April 7, 1770, major English Romantic poet William Wordsworth was born. Together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Wordsworth helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads.[6] The eye — it cannot choose but see; we cannot bid the ear be still; our bodies feel, where’er they be, against or with our will. – William Wordsworth, Expostulation and Reply, st. 5 (1798). Early Years – French…
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John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Company

John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Company

On April 6, 1808, Johann Jacob Astor founded the American Fur Company in New York. The company grew to monopolize the fur trade in the United States by 1830, and became one of the largest businesses in the country and John Jacob Astor became the first multi-millionaire in the United States. “The first hundred thousand—that was hard to get; but afterwards it was easy to make more.” – James Jacob Astor, quoted…
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Jacob Roggeveen and the Easter Island

Jacob Roggeveen and the Easter Island

On April 5, 1722, Dutch seafarer Jacob Roggeveen is the first European to discover the Polynesian island Rapa Nui, which he named Easter Island. Arent Roggeveen Arent Roggeveen was an accomplished scholar and teacher in mathematics, astronomy, and navigational theory. He managed to obtain a charter from the States-General of the United Netherlands in order to head towards the South Sea in 1675. However, he found no shareholders among the conservative Dutch merchants,…
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The Last German Lawsuit on Witchcraft

The Last German Lawsuit on Witchcraft

On April 4, 1775, Anna Schwegelin was the last woman to be tried for witchcraft in a German court. Although she was sentenced to death by decapitation, the judgement was never executed. The Witch Hunts The classical period of witch hunts in Europe and North America falls into the Early Modern period or about 1480 to 1750, spanning the upheavals of the Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War, resulting in an estimated 40,000…
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The Chronometers of John Harrison and the Problem of Longitude

The Chronometers of John Harrison and the Problem of Longitude

On April 3, 1693, self-educated English carpenter and clockmaker John Harrison was born. Harrison invented the marine chronometer, a long-sought-after device for solving the problem of calculating longitude while at sea. However, it was not until toward the end of his life that he finally received recognition and a reward from the British Parliament. Early Life Little is known about John Harrison’s early years. He was the oldest of five children, born…
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Embedded in the Collective Consciousness of the West – The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen

Embedded in the Collective Consciousness of the West – The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen

On April 2, 1805, Danish author Hans Christian Andersen was born. Anderson was a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems. However, he is probably best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen’s popularity is not limited to children: his stories express themes that transcend age and nationality. “Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very…
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TIROS-1 and the First TV pictures of the Earth from Space

TIROS-1 and the First TV pictures of the Earth from Space

On April 1, 1960, U.S. weather satellite TIROS-1 sends the very first TV picture of the Earth from space. Today, we are used to satellite pictures from the earth in the daily weather report. But, there was a time some 50 years ago, when pictures of the earth from space were still something exciting. TIROS I (or TIROS-1, short for Television and InfraRed Observation Satellite) was the first successful low-Earth orbital weather…
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