Renaissance

Jan Baptist van Helmont – The Founder of Pneumatic Chemistry

Jan Baptist van Helmont – The Founder of Pneumatic Chemistry

On January 12, 1580, Flemish chemist, physiologist, and physician Jan Baptist van Helmont was born. Can Helmont worked during the years just after Paracelsus and is sometimes considered to be “the founder of pneumatic chemistry“. Van Helmont is remembered today largely for his ideas on spontaneous generation and his introduction of the word “gas” (from the Greek word chaos) into the vocabulary of scientists. “I praise my bountiful God, who hath called…
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Ambroise Paré – Renaissance Pioneer in Surgical Techniques

Ambroise Paré – Renaissance Pioneer in Surgical Techniques

On December 20, 1590, French barber surgeon Ambroise Paré passed away. He is considered one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology and a pioneer in surgical techniques and battlefield medicine, especially in the treatment of wounds. He was also an anatomist and invented several surgical instruments. Ambroise Paré – Early Years Paré was born in 1510 in Bourg-Hersent in north-western France. As a child he watched, and was first…
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The Most Accurate Instruments of Gemma Frisius

The Most Accurate Instruments of Gemma Frisius

On December 9, 1508, physician, mathematician, cartographer, philosopher, and instrument maker Gemma Frisius was born. He created important globes, improved the mathematical instruments of his day and applied mathematics in new ways to surveying and navigation. Gemma Frisius – Youth and Education Gemma Frisius was born Jemma Reinierzoon in Dokkum, Friesland, a coastal province in northern Netherlands, of poor parents who died when he was young. His nom de plume Gemma Frisius is a…
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Gerardus Mercator – The Man who Mapped the Planet

Gerardus Mercator – The Man who Mapped the Planet

On December 2, 1594, German cartographer, philosopher and mathematician Gerardus Mercator passed away. He is best known for his work in cartography, particular the world map of 1569 based on a new projection which represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines. He was the first to use the term Atlas for a collection of maps. “Since my youth geography has been for me the primary object of study. When I…
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Andrea Palladio and the Rules of Harmony

Andrea Palladio and the Rules of Harmony

On November 30, 1508, Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio was born. Influenced by Roman and Greek architecture, primarily Vitruvius, Palladio is widely considered to be one of the most influential individuals in the history of architecture. “Beauty will result from the form and correspondence of the whole, with respect to the several parts, of the parts with regard to each other, and of these again to the whole; that the structure may appear…
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The Planetary Tables of Erasmus Reinhold

The Planetary Tables of Erasmus Reinhold

On October 22, 1511, German astronomer and mathematician Erasmus Reinhold was born. He is considered to be the most influential astronomical pedagogue of his generation. Furthermore, he is best known for his carefully calculated first set of planetary tables applying Copernican theory, published in 1551. Erasmus Reinhold Background Erasmus Reinhold was born and died in Saalfeld, Thuringia, Germany. His father Johannes Reinhold was a tax collector. In 1530 went to Wittenberg to study at…
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Nicholas Culpeper and the Complete Herbs of England

Nicholas Culpeper and the Complete Herbs of England

On October 18, 1616, English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer Nicholas Culpeper was born. Culpeper spent the greater part of his life in the English outdoors cataloging hundreds of medicinal herbs. Thus, he is best known for his publication of Complete Herbal (1653), a comprehensive listing of English medicinal herbs and their uses, which still is in print today. “I cannot build my faith upon Author’s words, nor believe a thing because they…
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Evangelista Torricelli and the Barometer

Evangelista Torricelli and the Barometer

On October 15, 1608, Italian physicist and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli was born, best known for his invention of the barometer, but is also known for his advances in Optics. Evangelista Torricelli Background Evangelista Torricelli was born in Rome, the firstborn child of Gaspare Ruberti, a poor textile worker, and Giacoma Torricelli. His family was from Faenza in the Province of Ravenna, then part of the Papal States. His parents sent Evangelista to…
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Piero della Francesca and the Use of Geometric Forms and Perspective

Piero della Francesca and the Use of Geometric Forms and Perspective

On October 12, 1492, Early Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca passed away. His painting is characterized by its serene humanism, its use of geometric forms and perspective. Piero della Franchesca – Early Years Piero della Franchesca probably spent his education and youth in Florence, where in the 1430s a bright, pastel coloration was cultivated, which was also propagated by Leon Battista Alberti in his painting treatise (trattato della pittura) in 1435. Above…
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Balboa and the Discovery of the Southern Ocean

Balboa and the Discovery of the Southern Ocean

Balboa taking possession of the South Sea On September 25, 1513, Spanish conquistador and explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa discovered the legendary Southern Ocean, having crossed the Isthmus of Panama facing the Pacific Ocean. Inspired by Christopher Columbus, Balboa embarked on a trip to the Americas as part of Rodrigo de Bastidas’ expedition. The young explorer started settling at Hispaniola in 1505 but was bankrupt shortly after. Balboa hid in a barrel…
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