France

Pierre Louis Maupertuis – The Man who flattened the Earth

Pierre Louis Maupertuis – The Man who flattened the Earth

On September 28, 1698, French mathematician, philosopher and man of letters Pierre Louis Maupertuis was born. Maupertuis made an expedition to Lapland to determine the shape of the Earth. He is also credited with having invented the principle of least action, an integral equation that determines the path followed by a physical system. “Nature always uses the simplest means to accomplish its effects.” – Formulation of the principle of least action, as…
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Guillaume Rondelet and the Aquatic Life

Guillaume Rondelet and the Aquatic Life

On September 27, 1507, French anatomist and naturalist Guillaume Rondelet was born, who had a particular interest in botany and zoology. His major work was a lengthy treatise on marine animals, which took two years to write and became a standard reference work for about a century afterwards, but his lasting impact lay in his education of a roster of star pupils who became leading figures in the world of late-16th century…
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From this place, and from this day forth begins a new era in the history of the world – The Battle of Valmy

From this place, and from this day forth begins a new era in the history of the world – The Battle of Valmy

On September 20, 1792, the Battle of Valmy was fought. It was the first major victory by the army of France during the Revolutionary Wars that followed the French Revolution. Although being a small and localized victory, Valmy became a huge psychological victory for the Revolution at large. Overall, it permitted the development of the French Revolution and all its resultant ripple effects, and for that it is regarded as one of…
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Irène Joliot-Curie and Artificial Radioactivity

Irène Joliot-Curie and Artificial Radioactivity

On September 12, 1897, French Physicist and Nobel Laureate Irène Joliot-Curie was born. She was the daughter of Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie and the wife of Frédéric Joliot-Curie, with whom she jointly was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for their discovery of artificial radioactivity. In the Footsteps of Giants Irène Curie was the elder daughter of Nobel Prize winners Marie and Pierre Curie.[3] When she was eight years…
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Comte de Buffon and his Histoire Naturelle

Comte de Buffon and his Histoire Naturelle

On September 7, 1707, French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was born. Buffon formulated a crude theory of evolution and was the first to suggest that the earth might be older than suggested by the Bible. His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck [2] and Georges Cuvier.[6] “Truly, Buffon was the father of all thought in natural history in the second half of…
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Jacques-Louis David’s History Paintings

Jacques-Louis David’s History Paintings

On August 30, 1748, influential French painter in the Neoclassical style Jacques-Louis David was born. He is considered to be the preeminent painter of the era. In the 1780s his cerebral brand of history painting marked a change in taste away from Rococo frivolity toward a classical austerity and severity. “I want my works to bear the character of antiquity, so much so that, if it were possible for an Athenian to…
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Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de L’Isle and the Beauty of Crystals

Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de L’Isle and the Beauty of Crystals

On August 26, 1736, French physicist and mineralogist Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de L’Isle was born. He is considered as one of the creators of modern crystallography. Driven by Carl Linnaeus‘ classification of living things [1], Romé de L’Isle tried to transfer this to inanimate nature and thus created the first systematics of crystals. Romé de L’Isle – Youth and Travels Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de L’Isle was born in in Gray, Haute-Saône, in eastern…
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Denis Papin and the Pressure Cooker

Denis Papin and the Pressure Cooker

On August 22, 1647, French physicist, mathematician and inventor Denis Papin was baptized [2]. He is best known for his pioneering invention of the steam digester, the forerunner of the steam engine, and of the pressure cooker. He never built an effective working engine of his own, but his idea was improved by others and led to the development of the steam engine, a major contribution to the Industrial Revolution. “Turning a small…
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Making Measurements accurate – Pierre Vernier and the Vernier Scale

Making Measurements accurate – Pierre Vernier and the Vernier Scale

On August 19, 1580, French mathematician and instrument inventor Pierre Vernier was born. He is best known for having invented the eponymous vernier scale, which enabled instruments to make more accurate linear or angular measurements. Pierre Vernier – Early Years Vernier was born in Ornans, Franche-Comté, in 1580. Being born in Franche-Comté (Free Country) meant that Vernier (and his father) were involved, not with the government of France but with that of…
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Gabriel Lippmann and the Invention of Colour Photography

Gabriel Lippmann and the Invention of Colour Photography

On August 16, 1845, Franco-Luxembourgish physicist and Nobel Laureate Gabriel Lippmann was born. He is best known for for his method of reproducing colors photographically based on the phenomenon of interference. Gabriel Lippmann, Early Years Gabriel Lippmann was the son of a Luxembourg Jewish family. His father, Isaïe managed the family glove-making business at the former convent in Bonnevoie. In 1848, the family moved to Paris where Lippmann was initially tutored by his mother, Miriam Rose (Lévy), before attending…
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