France

Joseph Fourier and the Greenhouse Effect

Joseph Fourier and the Greenhouse Effect

On March 21, 1768, French mathematician and physicist Jean Baptiste Joseph du Fourier was born. He is probably best known for his work in thermodynamics, where he introduced the concept of the Fourier Analysis, named in honor after him. There, he claimed that every mathematical function of a variable can be expanded to a sum of sines of multiples of that variable. What people most likely don’t know is that Fourier also was the…
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The Life and Work of Philippe de La Hire

The Life and Work of Philippe de La Hire

On March 18, 1640, French mathematician, astronomer, architect, and key figure in the Académie royale des sciences Philippe de La Hire was born. Educated as an Artist Philippe de La Hire was educated as an artist and became skilled in drawing and painting early. It is believed that de La Hire received no formal education in an official school even though his father was probably teaching him at home. At the age of…
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The Misfortune of Virtue – Marquis de Sade and his Writings

The Misfortune of Virtue – Marquis de Sade and his Writings

On March 6, 1801, French novelist Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, better known as the Marquis de Sade, was arrested for being the author of the anonymously published book ‘Justine or the Misfortune of Virtue‘ by order of Napoleon Bonaparte. “…there is a sum of evil equal to the sum of good, the continuing equilibrium of the world requires that there be as many good people as wicked people…” – Marquis de…
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Michel de Montaigne and the Art of Writing an Essay

Michel de Montaigne and the Art of Writing an Essay

On February 28, 1533, French philosopher Michel de Montaigne was born. Montaigne was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with intellectual insight. His massive volume Essais contains some of the most influential essays ever written. “We are, I know not how, double in ourselves, so that what…
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Camille Flammarion and his Balancing Act between Popular Science and Science Fiction

Camille Flammarion and his Balancing Act between Popular Science and Science Fiction

On February 26, 1848, French astronomer and author Nicolas Camille Flammarion was born. He maintained a private observatory, where he studied double and multiple stars, the moon and Mars. He is best known as a prolific author of more than fifty titles, including popular science works about astronomy, several notable early science fiction novels, and works on psychical research and related topics. “May we attribute to the color of the herbage and…
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Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots

On February 18, (or February 8 according to the old Julian calendar), 1587,  Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed after having found guilty of plotting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. In the Western world, we all might have heard about the rivalry of Queen Elizabeth I [5] and Mary, Queen of Scots. I have learned about the story back at high school in my German lessons, when we were reading Friedrich Schillers ‘Maria…
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Isaac Casaubon – The Most Learned Man in Europe

Isaac Casaubon – The Most Learned Man in Europe

On February 15, 1559, French classical scholar and philologist Isaac Casaubon was born. Casaubon is known among philologists and historians of philosophy today above all for his proof in De rebus sacris et ecclesiasticis exercitationes XVI (1614, London) that the so-called Corpus Hermeticum could not have been created earlier than the first century AD. He was regarded by many of his time as the most learned man in Europe. Isaac Causaubon –…
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Honoré Daumier and the Art of Caricature

Honoré Daumier and the Art of Caricature

On February 10, 1879, French printmaker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor Honoré Daumier passed away. A rather prolific draftsman, Daumier produced over 500 paintings, 4000 lithographs, 1000 wood engravings, 1000 drawings and 100 sculptures. He was perhaps best known for his caricatures of political figures and satires on the behavior of his countrymen, although posthumously the value of his painting has also been recognized. Honoré Daumier Background Honoré Daumier was born in 1808 in…
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The Vegetal Designs of Victor Horta, Pioneer of Art Nouveau

The Vegetal Designs of Victor Horta, Pioneer of Art Nouveau

On January 6, 1861, Belgian architect and designer Victor Horta was born. Horta is one of the founders of the Art Nouveau movement. The curving stylized vegetal forms that Horta used influenced many others, including architect Hector Guimard, who used it in the first house he designed in Paris and in the entrances he designed for the Paris Metro. He is also considered a precursor of modern architecture for his open floor…
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Francois Villon –  Rogue, Vagrant and Poet

Francois Villon – Rogue, Vagrant and Poet

On January 5, 1463, the Death sentence to Francois Villon, best known French poet of the late Middle Ages, was remitted by a pardon from King Charles VII into 10 years of banishment. Villon is best known as a ne’er-do-well who was involved in criminal behavior and got into numerous scrapes with authorities. Nevertheless, Villon wrote about some of these experiences in his poems and became famous. Through wind, hail or frost…
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