France

Pierre Beaumarchais and Figaro’s Wedding

Pierre Beaumarchais and Figaro’s Wedding

On May 18, 1799, French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais passed away. Bonmarchais, who also was a watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, horticulturalist, arms dealer, satirist, financier, and revolutionary (both French and American), is best known for his theatrical works, most notably the three Figaro plays. “Drinking when not thirsty and making love all the time, madam, is all that distinguishes us from other animals.” — Pierre Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro…
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Gaspard Monge and his System of Descriptive Geometry

Gaspard Monge and his System of Descriptive Geometry

On May 10, 1746, French mathematician Gaspard Monge, Comte de Péluse was born. He is best known for being the inventor of descriptive geometry as the mathematical basis of technical drawing, and being the father of differential geometry. During the French Revolution Monge served as the Minister of the Marine, and was involved in the reform of the French educational system, helping to found the École Polytechnique. “Descriptive geometry has two objects: the first is…
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Henri Poincaré – the Last Universalist of Mathematics

Henri Poincaré – the Last Universalist of Mathematics

On April 29, 1854, French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and a philosopher of science Henri Poincaré was born. He is often described as a polymath, and in mathematics as The Last Universalist since he excelled in all fields of the discipline as it existed during his lifetime. “A scientist worthy of the name, above all a mathematician, experiences in his work the same impression as an artist; his pleasure is as great…
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Marc Seguin and the Wire-Cable Suspension Bridge

Marc Seguin and the Wire-Cable Suspension Bridge

On April 20, 1786, French engineer Marc Seguin was born. He is best known as being the inventor of the wire-cable suspension bridge and the multi-tubular steam-engine boiler. Marc Seguin – Early Years Marc Seguin was born in Annonay, a French commune in the north of the Ardèche department in the Rhône-Alpes region of southern France, to Marc François Seguin and Thérèse-Augustine de Montgolfier, a niece of Étienne and Joseph Montgolfier, the pioneer…
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Robert Cavelier de La Salle and his Mississippi Expedition

Robert Cavelier de La Salle and his Mississippi Expedition

On April 7, 1682, French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle reached the mouth of the Mississippi river at the end of his great expedition, claiming the region watered by the Mississippi and its tributaries for France, and naming it Louisiana after King Louis XIV. His last expedition was to invade and conquer part of the Spanish province of Mexico, which failed and cost La Salle his life. Robert Cavelier de…
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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 initiated astronomical photography. “To contribute usefully to the advance of science, one must sometimes not disdain from undertaking simple verifications.” – Léon Foucault (in The Life and Science of Léon Foucault : The Man Who Proved the Earth Rotates, 2003Fou by William Tobin) Before Astronomical Photography From…
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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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