France

Nicolas Sadi Carnot and the Science of Thermodynamics

Nicolas Sadi Carnot and the Science of Thermodynamics

On June 1, 1796, French military engineer and physicist Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot was born. He is often described as the “father of thermodynamics“. In particular, Carnot gave the first successful theory of the maximum efficiency of heat engines. Carnot’s work attracted little attention during his lifetime, but it was later used by Rudolf Clausius and Lord Kelvin to formalize the second law of thermodynamics and define the concept of entropy. Sadi Carnot was…
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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. Jules Henri Poincaré was born in Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, to Léon Poincaré, professor of medicine at the University of Nancy, and his mother Eugénie Launois. He excelled in every…
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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 initiate astronomical photography. From a previous blog post you may remember Léon Foucault’s Pendulum.[4] The instrument was used to proof Earth’s rotation in the 1850s and counts to one of Foucault’s biggest scientific achievements. But let’s start a little bit earlier. Leon Foucault was born on September…
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Joseph Sauveur and the Science of Acoustics

Joseph Sauveur and the Science of Acoustics

On March 24, 1653, French mathematician and physicist Joseph Sauveur was born. Sauveur is known principally for his detailed studies on acoustics, a term he also has coined for the first time. Joseph Sauveur was the son of a provincial notary in La Fléche, France. Despite a hearing and speech impairment that kept him totally mute until he was seven, Joseph benefited from a fine education at the Jesuit College of La…
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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. The Sades were an old, albeit no longer rich noble family of Provence, which originally had the count’s title (French comte). Grandfather Gaspard-François de Sade was the first family member to use the…
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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 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 Stuart‘,…
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Ètienne Lenoir and the Internal Combustion Engine

Ètienne Lenoir and the Internal Combustion Engine

On January 24, 1860, Belgian engineer Étienne Lenoir was granted a patent on his newly developed internal combustion engine. Lenoir’s engine design was the first commercially successful internal combustion engine. It is said, that Étienne Lenoir grew up in a very small town near Virton, France. Apparently, he decided to become an engineer in very early years, but left the city due to the fact that his family could afford not the education…
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The Convention of Tauroggen and the European Liberation Wars

The Convention of Tauroggen and the European Liberation Wars

On December 30, 1812, Prussian General Johann David Ludwig Count of Yorck von Wartenburg on his own initiative without permission of the Prussian King decleared a local ceasefire with the Russian General Hans Karl von Diebitsch-Sabalkanski at Tauroggen. The eponymous Convention of Tauroggen marks the starting point of Europe’s Liberation Wars against Napoleon Bonaparte. The City of Tauroggen Today, Tauroggen, or Taurogé, is a small industrial city in Lithuania not far from the…
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