Denmark

Knud Rasmussen – the Father of Eskimonology

Knud Rasmussen – the Father of Eskimonology

On June 7, 1879, Danish polar explorer and anthropologist Knud Johan Victor Rasmussen was born. He has been called the “father of Eskimology” and was the first European to cross the Northwest Passage by dog sled. He remains well known in Greenland, Denmark and among Canadian Inuit. Knud Rasmussen – Early Life Rasmussen was born in Ilulissat, Greenland, as one of three children of a Danish missionary, the vicar Christian Rasmussen, who had been…
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John Dreyer and the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters

John Dreyer and the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters

On February 13, 1852, Danish-Irish astronomer John Louis Emil Dreyer was born. Dreyer’s major contribution was the monumental New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars (based on William Herschels Catalogue of Nebulae)[5], the catalogue numbers of which are still in use today. Education and Assistant to Lord Rosse John Louis Emil Dreyer was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of Lieutenant General John Christopher Dreyer, back then the Danish Minister for…
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Niels Finsen – From Sun-Worship to Phototherapy

Niels Finsen – From Sun-Worship to Phototherapy

On December 15, 1860, Faroese-Danish physician and Nobel Laureate of Icelandic descent Niels Ryberg Finsen was born. Finsen is best known for his theory of phototherapy, in which certain wavelengths of light can have beneficial medical effects. Up to now, we have only mentioned Iceland in this blog when we reported on Nordic expeditions or Eskimology [1,2]. But, Iceland also has a famous Nobel Laureate in medical science, who will be subject…
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Hans Christian Gram and the Gram Stain

Hans Christian Gram and the Gram Stain

On September 13, 1853, Danish bacteriologist Hans Christian Gram was born. Gram is best known for his development of the Gram stain, which differentiates bacteria by the chemical and physical properties of their cell walls by detecting peptidoglycan, which is present in a thick layer in gram-positive bacteria. Hans Christian Gram – Youth and Education Hans Christian Gram was the son of Frederik Terkel Julius Gram, a professor of jurisprudence, and Louise Christiane Roulund. In 1871,…
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Johann Friedrich Struensee – A Royal Affair

Johann Friedrich Struensee – A Royal Affair

On August 5, 1735, German physician Johann Friedrich Struensee was born. He became royal physician to the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark and a minister in the Danish government, where he tried to carry out widespread reforms. His affair with Queen Caroline Matilda caused his downfall and dramatic death. Johann Friedrich Struensee – Early Years Johann Friedrich Struensee was born in Halle as the second of six children of the pietist…
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Christian Jürgensen Thomsen and the Three-Age System

Christian Jürgensen Thomsen and the Three-Age System

On December 29, 1788, Danish antiquarian Christian Jürgensen Thomsen was born. He is best known for the development of early archaeological techniques and methods. He also introduced the Three-age system, i.e. the periodization of human prehistory into three consecutive time periods, named for their respective tool-making technologies, the Stone Ages, Iron Ages and Bronze Ages. “…nothing is more important than to point out that hitherto we have not paid enough attention to what was…
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Vitus Bering and his Arctic Expeditions

Vitus Bering and his Arctic Expeditions

On December 19, 1741, (or December 8 according to the pre-Gregorian calendar), Danish explorer and officer in the Russian Navy Vitus Jonassen Bering passed away. He is known for his two explorations of the north-eastern coast of the Asian continent and from there the western coast on the North American continent. The Bering Strait, the Bering Sea, Bering Island, the Bering Glacier and the Bering Land Bridge have since all been (posthumously) named…
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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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Johan Christian Fabricius and his Classification System for Insects

Johan Christian Fabricius and his Classification System for Insects

On January 7, 1745, Danish zoologist Johan Christian Fabricius was born. He was a student of Carl Linnaeus [1], and is considered one of the most important entomologists of the 18th century, having named nearly 10,000 species of animal, and established the basis for modern insect classification. Johan Christian Fabricius – Early Years Johan Christian Fabricius was born in Tønder in the Duchy of Schleswig, where his father was a doctor. Already while still…
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Agner Erlang and the Mathematics of Telecommunication Traffic

Agner Erlang and the Mathematics of Telecommunication Traffic

On January 1, 1878, Danish mathematician, statistician and engineer Agner Krarup Erlang was born, who invented the fields of traffic engineering and queueing theory. He developed mathematical theories applying the theory of probability, while working for the Copenhagen Telephone Company. He provided significant insights for planning the operation of automatic telephone exchanges that proved so useful that his formulas were used by telephone companies in other countries. Agner Erlang – Youth and Education…
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