Switzerland

Paracelsus – a Typical Renaissance Scientist

Paracelsus – a Typical Renaissance Scientist

On November 11, 1493, Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, aka Paracelsus, the famous Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist was born. “All is interrelated. Heaven and earth, air and water. All are but one thing; not four, not two and not three, but one. Where they are not together, there is only an incomplete piece.” – Paracelsus – Collected Writings Vol. I (1926) edited by Bernhard Aschner, p. 110…
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The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

On October 6, 1887, Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, and writer Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, was born. Le Corbusier was one of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture. Dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities, Le Corbusier also was influential in urban planning. “Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light.” — Le Corbusier, Vers une…
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How High/Low Can You Go? – The Explorer Auguste Piccard

How High/Low Can You Go? – The Explorer Auguste Piccard

Scientists and explorers we are, to boldly go where no man has gone before. If there is one scientist, who might serve as the prototype of an bold explorer, then we have to consider Auguste Piccard, a Swiss professor of physics, who tried to explore the deepest depths of the sea as well as the extreme stratosphere of the earth. And he did this not only in theory, but by experiment (always…
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How to Calculate Fortune – Jakob Bernoulli

How to Calculate Fortune – Jakob Bernoulli

The Swiss Bernoulli family is well known for their many offsprings who gained prominent merits in mathematics and physics in the 18th century. Jakob Bernoulli, born in 1654 (or 1655 according to the new Gregorian calendar), is best known for his work Ars Conjectandi (The Art of Conjecture). In this work, published 8 years after his death in 1713 by his nephew Nicholas, Jakob Bernoulli described the known results in probability theory and in…
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Conrad Gessner’s Truly Renaissance Knowledge

Conrad Gessner’s Truly Renaissance Knowledge

On March 26, 1516, Swiss naturalist and bibliographer Conrad Gessner was born. His five-volume Historiae animalium (1551–1558) is considered the beginning of modern zoology, and the flowering plant genus Gesneria is named after him. He is considered as one of the most important natural scientists of Switzerland and was sometimes referred to as the ‘German Pliny‘. Conrad Gessner was born and educated in Zürich, Switzerland as the son of Ursus Gessner, a…
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Nikolaus Wirth and PASCAL

Nikolaus Wirth and PASCAL

On February 15, 1934, Swiss computer scientist Niklaus Emil Wirth was born. He is best known for designing several programming languages, including Pascal, and for pioneering several classic topics in software engineering. If there is (or better ‘was’) one programming language that I really loved in the same way I hated it, then it was Pascal. On the one hand it was a rather easy to understand beginners programming language, but when…
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Mileva Marić – The Theory of Relativity and Missed Opportunities

Mileva Marić – The Theory of Relativity and Missed Opportunities

On December 19, 1875, Serbian physicist Mileva Marić, sometimes called Mileva Marić-Einstein, was born. Marić was the second woman to finish a full program of study of mathematics and physics at ETH Zurich, where she met her future husband Albert Einstein. When Einstein received the Nobel Prize in 1921 after their divorce, he transferred the prize money to Marić. The question whether (and if so, to what extent) Marić contributed to Einstein‘s…
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Paul Bernays and the Unified Theory of Mathematics

Paul Bernays and the Unified Theory of Mathematics

On October 17, 1888, Swiss mathematician and logician Paul Isaac Bernays was born. Bernays made significant contributions to mathematical logic, axiomatic set theory, and the philosophy of mathematics. He was an assistant and close collaborator of David Hilbert.[6] Bernays is known for his attempts to develop a unified theory of mathematics. “Enlightened humanity has sought in rational definiteness its liberating refuge from the dominating influence of the merely authoritative. At the present time,…
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Jacques Necker and the Finances of France

Jacques Necker and the Finances of France

On September 30, 1732, Swiss banker, French statesman and finance minister for Louis XVI Jacques Necker was born. Necker helped make decisions that were critical in creating political and social conditions that contributed to the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. In 1780, Necker published the Compte rendu au roi, in which he summarized governmental income and expenditures to provide the first record of royal finances ever made public. Necker’s father Karl…
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Augustine Pyramus de Candolle and the Biological Clock

Augustine Pyramus de Candolle and the Biological Clock

On September 9, 1841, Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle passed away. Candolle originated the idea of “Nature’s war”, which influenced Charles Darwin and the principle of natural selection.[3,4] Furthermore, he recognized that multiple species may develop similar characteristics that did not appear in a common evolutionary ancestor; this was later termed analogy. During his work with plants, de Candolle noticed that plant leaf movements follow a near-24-hour cycle in constant light, suggesting that…
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