Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

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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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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John Wilkins and the Universal Language

John Wilkins and the Universal Language

On February 14, 1614, Anglican clergyman, natural philosopher and author John Wilkins was born. Wilkins was one of the founders of the Royal Society and a polymath, although not one of the most important scientific innovators of the period. He is particularly known for An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (1668) in which, amongst other things, he proposed a universal language and a decimal system of measures which…
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The Marquis de L’Hôpital and the Analysis of the Infinitely Small

The Marquis de L’Hôpital and the Analysis of the Infinitely Small

On February 2, 1704, French mathematician Guillaume François Antoine, Marquis de L’Hospital or L’Hôpital passed away. L’Hôpital wrote the first textbook on calculus Analyse des infiniment petits pour l’intelligence des lignes courbes (Analysis of the infinitely small for the intelligence of curved lines, 1st ed., 1696, 2nd ed. 1715), which consisted of the lectures of his teacher Johann Bernoulli.[2] Guillaume de L’Hôpital – Early Years Hôpital came from a distinguished noble family.…
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Brook Taylor – Forerunner of Differential Calculus

Brook Taylor – Forerunner of Differential Calculus

On August 18, 1685, EnglishmathematicianBrook Taylor was born. He is best known for Taylor’s theorem and the Taylor series, a method for expanding functions into infinite series. “It is generally thought very ridiculous to pretend to write an Heroic Poem, or a fine Discourse upon any Subject, without understanding the Propriety of the Language wrote in; and to me it seems no less ridiculous for one to pretend to make a good Picture without…
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What is a Mathematical Function – according to Johann Bernoulli

What is a Mathematical Function – according to Johann Bernoulli

On August 6, 1667, Swiss mathematician Johann Bernoulli was born. He was one of the many prominent mathematicians in the Bernoulli family. He is known for his contributions to infinitesimal calculus and educating Leonhard Euler in the pupil’s youth.[1] “I recognize the lion by his claw.” – Johann Bernoulli, after reading an anonymous solution to a problem that he realized was Newton’s solution.[10] Johann Bernoulli and the Early Days of Calculus Johann I…
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Immanuel Kant – Philosopher of the Enlightenment

Immanuel Kant – Philosopher of the Enlightenment

On February 12, 1804, the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant passed away. He is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that human concepts and categories structure our view of the world and its laws, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to hold a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. The problem…
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Leibniz and the Invention of the Integral Calculus

Leibniz and the Invention of the Integral Calculus

On November 11, 1675, German mathematician and polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz demonstrates integral calculus for the first time to find the area under the graph of y = ƒ(x). Integral calculus is part of infinitesimal calculus, which in addition also comprises differential calculus. In general, infinitesimal calculus is the part of mathematics concerned with finding tangent lines to curves, areas under curves, minima and maxima, and other geometric and analytic problems. Today, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz…
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Moses Mendelssohn and the Jewish Enlightenment

Moses Mendelssohn and the Jewish Enlightenment

On September 6, 1729, German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn was born, who inspired the Haskalah movement of Jewish Enlightenment in the 18th and 19th century. Haskalah was a movement among European Jews that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history. Moses Mendelssohn’s descendants include also the famous composer and pianist Felix Mendelssohn.[4] “The state gives orders and coerces, religion…
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Joseph Marie Jacquard and the Programmable Loom

Joseph Marie Jacquard and the Programmable Loom

On July 7, 1752, French weaver and merchant Joseph Marie Jacquard was born. He is best known for his invention of the programmable loom, the “Jacquard loom“, which in turn played an important role in the development of the computer. Back in the 18th century, literally nobody – maybe with the exception people like Leibniz [4] or Pascal [5] – thought about a programmable computer. But, it was the time, the industrial revolution should get…
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