Yearly Archives: 2020

Annie Jump Cannon and the Catalogue of Stars

Annie Jump Cannon and the Catalogue of Stars

On December 11, 1863, American astronomer Annie Jump Cannon was born. Her cataloging work was instrumental in the development of contemporary stellar classification. With Edward C. Pickering, she is credited with the creation of the Harvard Classification Scheme, which was the first serious attempt to organize and classify stars based on their temperatures. “A life spent in the routine of science need not destroy the attractive human element of a woman’s nature.” —…
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Carl Jacobi and the Elliptic Functions

On December 10, 1804, German mathematician Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi was born. He made fundamental contributions to elliptic functions, dynamics, differential equations, and number theory. “Any progress in the theory of partial differential equations must also bring about a progress in Mechanics.” – Carl Jacobi, Vorlesungen über Dynamik [Lectures on Dynamics] (1842/3) Carl Jacobi – A Child Prodigy Carl Jacobi was the son of a banker and grew up in a rather…
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The Most Accurate Instruments of Gemma Frisius

The Most Accurate Instruments of Gemma Frisius

On December 9, 1508, physician, mathematician, cartographer, philosopher, and instrument maker Gemma Frisius was born. He created important globes, improved the mathematical instruments of his day and applied mathematics in new ways to surveying and navigation. Gemma Frisius – Youth and Education Gemma Frisius was born Jemma Reinierzoon in Dokkum, Friesland, a coastal province in northern Netherlands, of poor parents who died when he was young. His nom de plume Gemma Frisius is a…
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The Clifton Suspension Bridge – Iconic Landmark of the Industrial Age

The Clifton Suspension Bridge – Iconic Landmark of the Industrial Age

On December 8, 1864, the Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the Avon Gorge and the River Avon, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel,[3] was opened for the public. Although Brunel was not able to see the bridge in operation anymore during his lifetime, the Clifton Suspension bridge was the first major commision of the famous engineer of the Great Western Railroad and the then largest steamships in the world. Bridges Across the Avon In…
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God made the integers, all the rest is the work of man – Leopold Kronecker

God made the integers, all the rest is the work of man – Leopold Kronecker

On December 7, 1823, German mathematician Leopold Kronecker was born, who worked on number theory and algebra. He criticized Cantor’s work on set theory, and his most cited quote says, “Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk” (traditionally rendered: “God made natural numbers; all else is the work of man“.) Leopold Kronecker – Early Life Leopold Kronecker was born in Liegnitz, Prussia (now Legnica, Poland) in a wealthy Jewish…
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Nicolas Leblanc and the Leblanc Process

Nicolas Leblanc and the Leblanc Process

On December 6, 1742, French chemist and surgeon Nicolas Leblanc was born, who discovered how to manufacture soda from common salt. The eponymous Leblanc process became one of the most important industrial processes of the 19th century. Nicolas Leblanc – Early Life Nicolas Leblanc was born in Ivoy le Pré, Cher, France. Due to his early death of his father, a minor official at an iron works, Nicolas Leblanc was sent to the…
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Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz – Educator and Naturalist

Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz – Educator and Naturalist

On December 5, 1822, American educator and naturalist Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz was born. A researcher of natural history, she was a contributing author to many scientific published works with her husband, Louis Agassiz.[4] Youth and Education Elizabeth Cabot Aggasiz was born Elizabeth Cabot Cary into a Boston Brahmin family of New England ancestry. Her parents were Mary Ann Cushing Perkins Cary and Thomas Graves Cary, who was a graduate of Harvard University in 1811.…
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Modernism and Poetic Tradition – the Works of Rainer Maria Rilke

Modernism and Poetic Tradition – the Works of Rainer Maria Rilke

On December 4, 1875, Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke was born. With his dingly poetry, completed in the New Poems and influenced by the visual arts, he is considered one of the most important poets of literary modernism. From Rilke’s work there are several stories, a novel and essays on art and culture as well as numerous translations of literature and poetry. His extensive correspondence is considered an important part…
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Merry Christmas or How the SMS was born

Merry Christmas or How the SMS was born

On December 3, 1992, the world‘s first SMS (Short Messaging Service) message was sent from Neil Papworth of Sema Group over the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom. The text of the very first SMS message was simply “Merry Christmas.” For almost 30 years now we are using this messaging service. Annoyed by the tiny keyboard and by the fact that you have to keep your messages short, because you only…
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Gerardus Mercator – The Man who Mapped the Planet

Gerardus Mercator – The Man who Mapped the Planet

On December 2, 1594, German cartographer, philosopher and mathematician Gerardus Mercator passed away. He is best known for his work in cartography, particular the world map of 1569 based on a new projection which represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines. He was the first to use the term Atlas for a collection of maps. “Since my youth geography has been for me the primary object of study. When I…
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