Isaac Newton

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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A great man whose only fault was being a woman – Émilie du Châtelet

A great man whose only fault was being a woman – Émilie du Châtelet

On December 17, 1706, French mathematician, physicist, and author Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet was born. Her major achievement is considered to be her translation and commentary on Isaac Newton‘s work Principia Mathematica, which still is the standard French translation of Newton‘s work today. Philosopher and author Voltaire, one of her lovers, once declared in a letter to his friend King Frederick II of Prussia that du Châtelet…
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The Encyclopædia Britannica and the Spirit of Enlightenment

The Encyclopædia Britannica and the Spirit of Enlightenment

On December 6, 1768, the first volume of the first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was published in London as , ‘A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, compiled upon a New Plan‘. The Britannica is the oldest English-language encyclopaedia still being produced today. The history of its 15 editions alone would be subject of an entire book. But although it might be the most popular encyclopaedia ever printed, it was not the…
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Leibniz and the Integral Calculus

Leibniz and 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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A Wire to Connect the World – Stephen Gray’s Discovery

A Wire to Connect the World – Stephen Gray’s Discovery

Today for us it’s pretty normal that electricity can be transmitted on a wire, because it’s part of our daily life. But, in the early 18th century, when the English nature-scientist Stephen Gray was able to show that electricity really can be transmitted on a string of copper, it was an unheard-of revelation. Stephen Gray Background Stephen Gray was born in Canterbury, Kent, the son of the dyer Mathias Gray, baptized on…
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Augustus de Morgan and Formal Logic

Augustus de Morgan and Formal Logic

On June 27, 1806, British mathematician and logician Augustus De Morgan was born. He formulated De Morgan‘s laws and introduced the term mathematical induction, a method of mathematical proof typically used to establish a given statement for all natural numbers. As a computer scientist, I am of course familiar with De Morgan‘s laws, which are fundamental for Boolean logic. De Morgan‘s laws are merely transformation rules for two of the basic operators…
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John Flamsteed – Astronomer Royal

John Flamsteed – Astronomer Royal

On March 4, 1675, the English King Charles II appoints John Flamsteed to “The King’s Astronomical Observator” – the first English Astronomer Royal, with an allowance of £100 a year. In the same year, the Royal Greenwich Observatory was founded and Flamsteed laid the foundation stone. Youth and Education John Flamsteed was born the only son of the merchant Stephen Flamsteed and his first wife Mary Spadman from Denby in the county…
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Jeremiah Horrocks and the Transit of Venus

Jeremiah Horrocks and the Transit of Venus

On January 3, 1641, English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks passed away. He was the first scientist to demonstrate that the Moon moved around the Earth in an elliptical orbit and was the only person to predict the transit of Venus of 1639. Jeremiah Horrocks – Early Life Jeremiah Horrocks grew up in a well educated family and was introduced to astronomy in early years. He was occupied with many astronomical tasks as a young boy…
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Urbain Le Verrier and the hypothetical Planet Vulcan

Urbain Le Verrier and the hypothetical Planet Vulcan

On 2 January 1860, French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier announced the discovery of Vulcan, a hypothetical planet inside the Mercury orbit, to a meeting of the Académie des Sciences in Paris. Despite the lack of any reliable observation, Le Verrier really was convinced until his death that he had discovered a new planet. It was Einstein’s special theory of relativity and a completely new understanding of the laws of gravity that modified the predicted…
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Edmond Halley and his famous Comet

Edmond Halley and his famous Comet

On November 8, 1656, Sir Edmond Halley was born. The astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist, was best known for computing the orbit of the eponymous Halley’s Comet.[9] Background Edmond Halley was born in England to the family of a wealthy soap maker. Halley was able to receive a proper education. He is believed to have been interested in mathematics from early age. Halley first studied at St Paul’s School where he…
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