France

More than just hot air – the Montgolfier-Balloons

More than just hot air – the Montgolfier-Balloons

The two brothers and business partners, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier changed history on June 4, 1783, when they presented their hot air balloon for the first time to the public of Annonay, France. The Montgolfiers and the Invention of Aviation Joseph, Ètienne, and their 14 siblings were the children of paper manufacturer Pierre Montgolfier. After the death of the oldest brother Raymond in 1772, it was Ètienne’s turn to run the family…
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Étienne-Jules Marey and the Chronophotographic Gun

Étienne-Jules Marey and the Chronophotographic Gun

On May 15, 1904, French scientist, physiologist and chronophotographer Étienne-Jules Marey passed away. Marey’s work was significant in the development of cardiology, physical instrumentation, aviation, cinematography and the science of laboratory photography. He is widely considered to be a pioneer of photography and an influential pioneer of the history of cinema. Étienne-Jules Marey – Early Years Étienne-Jules Marey was born on March 5, 1830 in Beaune, Côte-d’Or, France. In 1838 he visited the…
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The Decadence of Joris-Karl Huysmans

The Decadence of Joris-Karl Huysmans

On May 12, 1907, French writer and art critic Joris-Karl Huysmans passed away. Hysmans is most famous for the novel “À rebours”, by which he broke from Naturalism and became the ultimate example of “decadent” literature. Huysmans’ work is considered remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, large vocabulary, descriptions, satirical wit and far-ranging erudition. “Immersed in solitude, he would dream or read far into the night. By protracted contemplation…
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The Famous Prophecies of Nostradamus

The Famous Prophecies of Nostradamus

On May 4, 1555, The first edition of Michel de Nostredame‘s (usually Latinised as Nostradamus) ‘Les Propheties‘, a famous collection of long-term predictions that have since become famous worldwide, was published. “Perfect knowledge of such things cannot be acquired without divine inspiration, given that all prophetic inspiration derives its initial origin from God Almighty, then from chance and nature.” — Michel de Nostredame, Les Propheties (1555) Very little is known about Michel de…
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Jacques Cartier and the Discovery of Canada

Jacques Cartier and the Discovery of Canada

On April 20, 1534, French explorer of Breton origin Jacques Cartier set sail under a commission from the king, hoping to discover a western passage to the wealthy markets of Asia to discover Canada and Labrador. Actually, Jacques Cartier was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, which he named “The Country of Canadas”, after the Iroquois names for…
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Joseph-Louis Lagrange and the Celestial Mechanics

Joseph-Louis Lagrange and the Celestial Mechanics

On April 10, 1813, Italian mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange passed away. Lagrange made significant contributions to the fields of analysis, number theory, and both classical and celestial mechanics. “I cannot say whether I will still be doing geometry ten years from now. It also seems to me that the mine has maybe already become too deep and unless one finds new veins it might have to be abandoned. Physics and chemistry…
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Nadar and How Photography became an Art

Nadar and How Photography became an Art

On April 5, 1820, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon better known under his pseudonym Nadar, was born. He is considered to be one of the first grand masters of photography, besides being a caricaturist, a journalist, a novelist, and also a renown balloonist. Early Years Tall, red-haired, with frightened eyes, whimsical to the vagrant youth, Felix Nadar defined himself as “a real daredevil, a jack-of-all-trades, ill-mannered to the point of calling things by their name, and…
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Cogito Ergo Sum – The Philosophy of René Descartes

Cogito Ergo Sum – The Philosophy of René Descartes

On March 31, 1596, French philosopher, mathematician, and writer René Descartes was born. The Cartesian coordinate system is named after him, allowing reference to a point in space as a set of numbers, and allowing algebraic equations to be expressed as geometric shapes in a two-dimensional coordinate system. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis.…
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Pierre Simon de Laplace and his true love for Astronomy and Mathematics

Pierre Simon de Laplace and his true love for Astronomy and Mathematics

On March 28, 1749, French mathematician and astronomer Pierre Simon marquis de Laplace was born, whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics. One of his major achievements was the conclusion of the five-volume Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) which translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. “One sees, from this Essay, that the theory of probabilities…
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Augustin-Jean Fresnel and the Wave Theory of Light

Augustin-Jean Fresnel and the Wave Theory of Light

On March 10, 1788, French civil engineer and physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel was born. Augustin-Jean Fresnel‘s research in optics led to the almost unanimous acceptance of the wave theory of light, excluding any remnant of Newton‘s corpuscular theory, from the late 1830s until the end of the 19th century. “It’s not observation but theory that led me to this result that experience has confirmed afterwards.” – Augustin-Jean Fresnel, explaining how he was led to…
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