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John Wilkins and the Universal Language

John Wilkins and the Universal Language

On February 14, 1614, Anglican clergyman, natural philosopher and author John Wilkins was born. Wilkins was one of the founders of the Royal Society and a polymath, although not one of the most important scientific innovators of the period. He is particularly known for An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (1668) in which, amongst other things, he proposed a universal language and a decimal system of measures which…
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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 views became…
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Johann Heinrich Füssli and the Rise of Romanticism

Johann Heinrich Füssli and the Rise of Romanticism

On February 7, 1741, Swiss-English painter and publicist Johann Heinrich Füssli – in the UK better known as Henry Fuseli – was born. Many of his works, such as The Nightmare, deal with supernatural subject-matter. He painted works for John Boydell‘s Shakespeare Gallery, and created his own “Milton Gallery”. His style had a considerable influence on many younger British artists, including William Blake. “Life is rapid, art is slow, occasion coy, practice…
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Joseph Priestley and the Discovery of Oxygen

Joseph Priestley and the Discovery of Oxygen

On February 6, 1804, English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and Liberal political theorist Joseph Priestley passed away. Being a rather prolific author with more than 150 works published, he is usually credited with the discovery of oxygen, having isolated it in its gaseous state, although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Antoine Lavoisier also have a claim to the discovery.[4,6] “It is known to all persons who are conversant in experimental…
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Edward Bransfield and the first Sighting of Antarctica

Edward Bransfield and the first Sighting of Antarctica

In January 1820, British Navy officer Edward Bransfield sighted Trinity Peninsula, the northernmost point of the Antarctic mainland. However, the very first confirmed sighting of mainland Antarctica cannot be accurately attributed to one single person. It can, however, be narrowed down to three individuals, who all sighted the ice shelf or the continent within days or months of each other: Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen,[1] a captain in the Russian Imperial Navy; Edward…
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Joseph Jackson Lister – Perfecting the Optical Microscope

Joseph Jackson Lister – Perfecting the Optical Microscope

On January 11, 1786, British amateur opticist and physicist Joseph Jackson Lister was born. In 1826, Lister designed possibly the most important optical microscope ever made. It used an achromatic objective lens corrected for chromatic and spherical aberrations, the resulting image was at the time the clearest produced by any microscope. Joseph Jackson Lister – Family Background Joseph Jackson Lister was the son of a London wine merchant and Quaker. He attended school until 1800 and was then…
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Wilkie Collins and the Birth of the Modern Detective Novel

Wilkie Collins and the Birth of the Modern Detective Novel

On January 8, 1824, British novelist Wilkie Collins was born. Wilkie Collins is best known for his novels The Woman in White (1859) and The Moonstone (1868). The last has been called the first modern English detective novel. “Ask yourself if there is any explanation of the mystery of your own life and death.” – Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Hotel: A Mystery of Modern Venice (1878) Wilkie Collins – Youth and Education William…
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John Wycliffe and the Dawn of the Reformation

John Wycliffe and the Dawn of the Reformation

On December 31, 1384, English scholastic philosopher, theologian, biblical translator, reformer, priest, and Oxford seminary professor John Wycliffe passed away. Wycliffe became an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century and is considered an important predecessor to Protestantism. Wycliffe advocated translation of the Bible into the common vernacular. In 1382 he completed a translation directly from the Vulgate into Middle English – a version now known as Wycliffe’s…
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John Michell and the Effect of Gravity on Light

John Michell and the Effect of Gravity on Light

Probably on December 25, 1724, English natural philosopher and geologist John Michell was born. He is best known as both a theorist and an experimenter, who was the first to propose the effects of gravity on light, later resulting in the physics of general relativity and black holes. John Michell – Background John Michell was born in Eakring, Nottinghamshire, UK, the son of Gilbert Michell, a priest, and Obedience Gerrard. However, his exact…
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Jane Austen, a Keen Observer Always with a Twinkle in the Eye

Jane Austen, a Keen Observer Always with a Twinkle in the Eye

On December 16, 1775, English novelist Jane Austen was born. She is considered to be one of the most widely read writers in English literature. I do really appreciate Jane Austen’s novels, esp. her famous ‘Pride and Prejudice‘ and also ‘Emma‘ or ‘Nothanger Abbey‘ which all of them I can recommend to you if you haven’t read them up to now. I personally like Jane Austen’s style of narration, always with a little twinkle…
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