SciHi Blog

John James Audubon’s Birds of America

John James Audubon’s Birds of America

On April 26, 1785, French-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter John James Audubon was born. He was notable for his expansive studies to document all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed. OK, who the heck is john James Audubon and why…
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The German Reinheitsgebot and the Secrets of Brewing Beer

The German Reinheitsgebot and the Secrets of Brewing Beer

On April 23, 1516, in the city of Ingolstadt in the duchy of Bavaria, Duke Wilhelm IV. and Duke Ludwig X of Bavaria publish a new law that contains regulations about the price and the ingredients of beer. These Regulations later are called the ‘Reinheitsgebot‘ ( German Beer Purity Law), which states that the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer are water, barley and hops. Brewing regulations…
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The Passionate Life of Charlotte Brontë

The Passionate Life of Charlotte Brontë

On April 21, 1816, English novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters was born, whose novels are English literature standards. Most notably she wrote Jane Eyre under the pen name Currer Bell. Following the usual stereotype, computer scientists are nerds and the only literature they read – if they read any literature at all – are science fiction stories or fantasy novels. Of course I like science fiction stories –…
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Harriet Quimby – the First Woman to Fly Across the English Channel

Harriet Quimby – the First Woman to Fly Across the English Channel

On April 16, 1912, Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. She was the the first woman to gain a pilot’s license in the United States. Although Quimby lived only to the age of thirty-seven, she had a major influence upon the role of women in aviation. Harriet Quimby was born into a farmer’s family in Michigan and moved to San Francisco in order to become an…
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Samuel Johnson and his Famous Dictionary

Samuel Johnson and his Famous Dictionary

On April 15, 1755, after nine years of intensive labor, Samuel Johnson publishes his “Dictionary of the English Language”, sometimes published as Johnson‘s Dictionary. It is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language. Samuel Johnson showed signs of great intelligence quite early and his parents decided to start his educational program, when he was only three years old. At the age of nine, he was already promoted…
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The Kinetoscope and Edison’s Wrong Way to Invent the Cinema

The Kinetoscope and Edison’s Wrong Way to Invent the Cinema

On April 14, 1894, chief engineer William K. L. Dickson in the team of Thomas Alva Edison, presents the newly invented Kinetoscope, an early motion picture exhibition device designed for films to be viewed by one individual at a time through a peephole viewer window at the top of the device. Ok, according to Edison, the cinema would never have become the silver screen you know, but would have remained a cheap fairground…
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The Origins of Copyright Law

The Origins of Copyright Law

On April 10, 1710, the Statute of Anne, an act of the Parliament of Great Britain, was introduced. It was the first statute to provide for copyright regulated by the government and courts, rather than by private parties. With the introduction of the printing press to Britain by William Caxton in 1476, printed works became more and more important as an economic asset. As early as 1483, King Richard III recognized the…
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The Legend of the Pony Express

The Legend of the Pony Express

On April 3, 1860, the Pony Express started delivering messages, newspapers, mail, even small packages from St. Joseph, Missouri across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento, California by horseback, using a series of relay stations. Although being an economic disaster, the Pony Express has become a U.S. national legend. In January 1848, Gold was discovered in California, but the poor communication between the east and…
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Fizeau, Foucault and Astronomical Photography

Fizeau, Foucault and Astronomical Photography

On April 2, 1845, Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau and Jean Bernard Léon Foucault manage to make the very first photography of the Sun. Thereby, they both initiate astronomical photography. From a previous blog post you may remember Léon Foucault’s Pendulum.[4] The instrument was used to proof Earth’s rotation in the 1850s and counts to one of Foucault’s biggest scientific achievements. But let’s start a little bit earlier. Leon Foucault was born on September…
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Crawford Long and the Diethyl Ether Anesthesia

Crawford Long and the Diethyl Ether Anesthesia

On March 30, 1842, American surgeon and pharmacist Crawford Williamson Long for the very first time used inhaled diethyl ether as an anesthetic for surgery. Can you imagine a surgery without anesthetic? Standing the pain while a surgeon is cutting something somewhere in your body? I think better not to. But, anesthetics already have a long tradition, longer than you might think. Already since antiquity, a variety of Solanum species containing potent…
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