Yearly Archives: 2020

The World according to Sebastian Münster

The World according to Sebastian Münster

On January 20, 1488, German cartographer, cosmographer, and a Christian Hebraist scholar Sebastian Münster was born. His work, the Cosmographia from 1544, was the earliest German description of the world. In (Western) Germany, he is best known for his portrait on the former German 100 DM banknote – of course only to people who are old enough to remember the old Deutsche Mark banknotes (valid from 1962-1991). Sebastian Münster – Youth and Education…
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Sir Henry Bessemer and the Secret of Steel

Sir Henry Bessemer and the Secret of Steel

On January 19, 1813, English engineer, inventor, and businessman Sir Henry Bessemer was born. Bessemer’s name is chiefly known in connection with the Bessemer process, the first process for manufacturing steel inexpensively (1856), leading to the development of the Bessemer converter. Henry Bessemer’s Background Henry Bessemer was born on January 19, 1813 in Charlton, Hertfordshire, England. He was the son of an engineer and typefounder and he showed a great interest in making…
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Statistical Mechanics with Paul Ehrenfest

Statistical Mechanics with Paul Ehrenfest

On January 18, 1881, Austrian and Dutch theoretical physicist Paul Ehrenfest was born. Ehrenfest made major contributions to the field of statistical mechanics and its relations with quantum mechanics, including the theory of phase transition and the Ehrenfest theorem. “Einstein, my upset stomach hates your theory — it almost hates you yourself ! How am I to provide for my students ? What am I to answer to the philosophers ?” –…
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Calderón de la Barca – one of the finest Playwrights of World Literature

Calderón de la Barca – one of the finest Playwrights of World Literature

On January 17, 1600, Spanish poet and playwright of the Spanish Golden Age Pedro Calderón de la Barca was born. His work being regarded as the culmination of the Spanish Baroque theatre. As such, he is regarded as one of Spain’s foremost dramatists and one of the finest playwrights of world literature. ¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí. ¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión, una sombra, una ficción, y el mayor bien…
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Johannes Schöner and his Famous Globes

Johannes Schöner and his Famous Globes

On January 16, 1477, German polymath Johannes Schöner was born. He was a priest, astronomer, astrologer, geographer, cosmographer, cartographer, mathematician, globe and scientific instrument maker and editor and publisher of scientific tests. He is well known for making and printing geographical globes, notably his 1515 globe which is one of the earliest surviving globes produced following the discovery of new lands by Christopher Columbus. “Himmelan hat er dein Ziel Selbst hinaufgestellt. Sorg…
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Lewis Terman and the Intelligence Quotient

Lewis Terman and the Intelligence Quotient

On January 15, 1877, American psychologist Lewis Madison Terman was born. He is best known for his pioneering work in individual intelligence tests as well as for his revision of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, with which he introduced the IQ (Intelligence Quotient), being a ratio of chronological age to mental age times 100. Lewis Terman Background Lewis Terman was raised on a farm became a school teacher as well as high school…
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Alfred Tarski and the Undefinability of Truth

Alfred Tarski and the Undefinability of Truth

On January 14, 1902, Polish-American mathematician and logician Alfred Tarski was born. A prolific author he is best known for his work on model theory, metamathematics, and algebraic logic, he also contributed to abstract algebra, topology, geometry, measure theory, mathematical logic, set theory, and analytic philosophy. For my Semantic Web Technologies lecture series I always introduce my students to model-theoretic semantics as means to enable a formal representation of meaning for languages. I…
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Friedrich Schiller’s Iconic Sturm and Drang Drama ‘The Robbers’

Friedrich Schiller’s Iconic Sturm and Drang Drama ‘The Robbers’

On January 13, 1782, Friedrich Schiller’s play ‘The Robbers‘ (Die Räuber) was premiered at the national theatre in Mannheim. The work, which was initially conceived not as a stage play but as a reading drama was written during the Enlightenment and can be attributed to the Sturm und Drang movement in German literature. It was first published anonymously in 1781, then premiered in Mannheim on 13 January 1782, where it caused a national…
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Igor Kurchatov – Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb

Igor Kurchatov – Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb

On January 12, 1903, Soviet nuclear physicist and Nobel Laureate Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov was born. Kurchatov is widely known as the director of the Soviet atomic bomb project and therefore often referred to as ‘Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb‘. Igor Kurchatov – Youth and Education Igor Kurchatov was born in Simsky Zavod, Ufa Governorate (now the town of Sim, Chelyabinsk Oblast) in the family of a chartered surveyor and his mother a teacher.…
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Nicolas Steno and the Principles of Modern Geology

Nicolas Steno and the Principles of Modern Geology

In January 11,  1638, Danish Catholic bishop and scientist Nicolas Steno was born. He was both a pioneer in both anatomy and geology, and seriously questioned accepted knowledge of the natural world. Importantly he questioned explanations for tear production, the idea that fossils grew in the ground and explanations of rock formation. By some he is considered the founder of modern stratigraphy and modern geology. “Beautiful is what we see, More Beautiful is what we…
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