France

Jean de La Bruyère and the Characters

Jean de La Bruyère and the Characters

On August 16, 1645, French philosopher and moralist Jean de La Bruyère was born. La Bruyère is best known for one work, Les Caractères de Théophraste traduits du grec avec Les Caractères ou les moeurs de ce siècle (1688; The Characters, or the Manners of the Age, with The Characters of Theophrastus), which is considered to be one of the masterpieces of French literature. Jean de La Bruyère studied law…
Nicolas Malebranche’s Dualism of Religion and Science

Nicolas Malebranche’s Dualism of Religion and Science

On August 6, 1638, French priest and rationalist philosopher Nicolas Malebranche was born. Malebranche sought to synthesize the thought of St. Augustine and Descartes, in order to demonstrate the active role of God in every aspect of the world. Malebranche is best known for his doctrines of Vision in God, Occasionalism and Ontologism. Nicolas Malebranche joined the Collège de la Marche at the age of 16 to study philosophy and later studied…
Georges Charpak and the Multiwire Proportional Chamber

Georges Charpak and the Multiwire Proportional Chamber

On August 1, 1924, French physicist and Nobel Laureate Georges Charpak was born. Charpak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1992 for his invention and development of subatomic particle detectors, in particular the multiwire proportional chamber, a breakthrough in the technique for exploring the innermost parts of matter. “If there’s one thing to do, it’s to engage in education.” George Charpak Georges Charpak was born Jerzy Charpak to…
The Citroën 2CV

The Citroën 2CV

On July 27, 1990, the very last Citroën 2CV rolled off the Portuguese production line in Mangualde. From 1948 to 1990 more than 3.8 million of the air-cooled front-engine, front-wheel-drive economy car were produced. During the 1930s, Michelin took over the Citroën company and the new management ordered a new market survey. It was found that France had a large rural population not able to afford cars. Therefore, a design for…
Gaspard de Prony and the Prony Brake

Gaspard de Prony and the Prony Brake

On July 22, 1755, French mathematician and hydraulic engineer Gaspard Clair François Marie Riche de Prony was born. De Prony is best known for his efforts in the mechanization of calculations as well as for his invention of the eponymous “brake” to measure the performance of machines and engines. Gaspard de Prony’s family name was Riche, the de Prony title having been bought by his parents. De Prony was educated…
Gaston Maspero and the Sea Peoples

Gaston Maspero and the Sea Peoples

On June 23, 1846, French egyptologist Gaston Camille Charles Maspero was born. Maspero is best known for popularizing the term “Sea Peoples“. He was director general of excavations and antiquities for the Egyptian government, who was responsible for locating a collective royal tomb of prime historic importance. Gaston Maspero studied at the École normale and met Egyptologist Auguste Mariette in 1867, back then the commissioner for the Egyptian section of the…
Gustave Courbet and French Realism

Gustave Courbet and French Realism

On June 10, 1819, French painter Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet was born, who led the Realism movement in 19th-century French painting. Committed to painting only what he could see, he rejected academic convention and the Romanticism of the previous generation of visual artists. Gustave Courbet was born in in Ornans, a village in the Franche-Comté in eastern France, to Régis and Sylvie Oudot Courbet, a prosperous farming family with anti-monarchical…
The Writings of Victor Hugo

The Writings of Victor Hugo

On May 22, 1854, French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement Victor Hugo passed away. Hugo is considered one of the greatest and best-known French writers. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, 1831. In France, Hugo is known primarily for his poetry collections. Victor Hugo was born in 1802 in Besançon in the eastern region of Franche-Comté, the…
Alexis Clairaut and the Figure of the Earth

Alexis Clairaut and the Figure of the Earth

On May 13, 1713, French mathematician, astronomer, and geophysicist Alexis Claude Clairaut was born. Clairaut was one of the key figures in the expedition to Lapland that helped to confirm Newton’s theory for the figure of the Earth. In that context, Clairaut worked out a mathematical result now known as “Clairaut’s theorem”. He also tackled the gravitational three-body problem, being the first to obtain a satisfactory result for the apsidal…
The Instruments of Jean-Charles de Borda

The Instruments of Jean-Charles de Borda

On May 4, 1733, French mathematician, physicist, political scientist, and sailor Jean-Charles de Borda was born. De Borda noted for his studies of fluid mechanics and his development of instruments for navigation and geodesy, the study of the size and shape of the Earth. He is one of 72 scientists commemorated by plaques on the Eiffel tower. Jean-Charles de Borda grew up in Dax, France as part of a noble family.…
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