politics

Scientist and Politician François Arago

Scientist and Politician François Arago

On February 26, 1786, French mathematician, physicist, and astronomer François Arago was born. Arago discovered the chromosphere of the sun, and made accurate estimates of the diameters of the planets. Arago entered politics in 1848 as Minister of War and Marine and was responsible for abolishing slavery in the French colonies. Dominique-françois-jean Arago was born in Estagel, Roussillon. His father was the small town’s mayor and his family was involved…
Herman Kahn and the Consequences of Nuclear War

Herman Kahn and the Consequences of Nuclear War

On February 15, 1922, American physicist, futurist and system theorist Herman Kahn was born. He became known for analyzing the likely consequences of nuclear war and recommending ways to improve survivability, making him one of three historical inspirations for the title character of Stanley Kubrick’s classic black comedy film satire Dr. Strangelove. Herman Kahn was born in Bayonne, New Jersey and was raised in the Bronx, later Los Angeles. Kahn…
Robert Malthus and the Principle of Population

Robert Malthus and the Principle of Population

On February 13, 1766, English cleric and scholar Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus was born. His An Essay on the Principle of Population observed that sooner or later population will be checked by famine and disease, leading to what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe. He thought that the dangers of population growth precluded progress towards a utopian society. Malthus placed the longer-term stability of the economy above short-term expediency. His…
Felix Wankel and the Rotary Engine

Felix Wankel and the Rotary Engine

On August 13, 1902, German mechanical engineer and inventor Felix Wankel was born. He is best known for his invention of the first rotary internal combustion engine. Instead of moving pistons, the Wankel engine uses an orbiting rotor shaped as a curved equilateral triangle. Thus it needs few moving parts, is lightweight and compact. Felix Wankel was born in Baden, the upper Rhine Valley and was educated in Heidelberg where he…
The Degenerate Art Exhibition of 1937

The Degenerate Art Exhibition of 1937

On July 19, 1937, the Degenerate Art Exhibition (German: Die Ausstellung “Entartete Kunst”) was opened in the Institute of Archeology in the Munich Hofgarten. The exhibition presented 650 works of art, confiscated from German museums, and was staged in counterpoint to the concurrent Great German Art Exhibition. The exhibition included works of Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Franz Marc, and Emil Nolde. As Adolf Hitler gained…
Harry Johnston and the “Scramble for Africa”

Harry Johnston and the “Scramble for Africa”

On June 12, 1858, British explorer, botanist, linguist and colonial administrator Sir Harry Johnston was born. His interest in zoological specimens gave him a lucrative part-time income, illustrating books for the new sciences of biology, geography and anthropology. Moreover, he is probably best known for being one of the key players in the “Scramble for Africa” that occurred at the end of the 19th century. Harry Johnston was born in London,…
Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia

On May 19, 1935, archaeologist and British Army officer Thomas Edward Lawrence died fatally injured in a motorcycle accident in Dorset. Renowned especially for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, and the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia. Thomas Edward Lawrence…
The Sugar Act and the American Revolution

The Sugar Act and the American Revolution

On April 5, 1764, the Sugar Act passed by the Parliament of Great Britain. The Sugar Act, also known as the American Revenue Act or the American Duties Act, was a revenue-raising act superseeding the earlier Molasses Act of 1733, which had imposed a tax of six pence per gallon of molasses, had never been effectively collected due to colonial evasion. By reducing the rate by half and increasing measures…
Marcus Tullius Cicero – a Homo Novus

Marcus Tullius Cicero – a Homo Novus

On January 3, 106 BC, Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist Marcus Tullius Cicero was born. Besides his work as politician, he is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. His influence on the Latin language was so immense that the subsequent history of prose in not only Latin but European languages up to the 19th century was said to be either a reaction…
Pjotr Kropotkin and the Theory of Mutual Aid

Pjotr Kropotkin and the Theory of Mutual Aid

On December 21, 1842 (or December 8, according to the Gregorian Calendar), Russian geographer, economist, activist, philologist, zoologist, evolutionary theorist, philosopher, writer and prominent anarchist Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin was born. Besides being a political person, his main scientific contribution is the publication of his theory of mutual aid, voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit as a counter model to the historic concept of an autonomous…
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