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Charlie Chaplin – Making Motion Pictures the Art form of the 20th Century

Charlie Chaplin – Making Motion Pictures the Art form of the 20th Century

On April 16, 1889, English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer Charlie Chaplin was born. Chaplin rose to fame in the era of silent film. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, “The Tramp“, and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry with a career that spanned more than 75 years. I wanted everything to be a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight,…
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Henry James and Impressionism in Literature

Henry James and Impressionism in Literature

On April 15, 1843, American-British author Henry James was born. James is regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism, and is considered by many to be among the greatest novelists in the English language. He is best known for a number of novels dealing with the social and marital interplay between emigre Americans, English people, and continental Europeans – examples of such novels include The Portrait of…
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John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Company

John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Company

On April 6, 1808, Johann Jacob Astor founded the American Fur Company in New York. The company grew to monopolize the fur trade in the United States by 1830, and became one of the largest businesses in the country and John Jacob Astor became the first multi-millionaire in the United States. “The first hundred thousand—that was hard to get; but afterwards it was easy to make more.” – James Jacob Astor, quoted…
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Percival Lowell and the Search for Pluto

Percival Lowell and the Search for Pluto

On March 19, 1915, American astronomer Percival Lowell began to make photographies of the sky in the Lowell Observatory, which was founded by him, to search for a planet beyond Neptune. 15 years later, the dwarf planet Pluto was discovered on these photographies. “Formulae are the anaesthetics of thought, not its stimulants and to make any one think is far better worth while than cramming him with ill-considered, and therefore indigestible, learning.” –…
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Linus Pauling – From Quantum Chemistry to Molecular Biology

Linus Pauling – From Quantum Chemistry to Molecular Biology

On February 28, 1901, American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, educator Linus Pauling was born. Pauling was one of the founders of the fields of quantum chemistry and molecular biology. His contributions to the theory of the chemical bond include the concept of orbital hybridisation and the first accurate scale of electronegativities of the elements. New Scientist called him one of the 20 greatest scientists of all time, and as of 2000,…
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John Steinbeck and his View of the American Society

John Steinbeck and his View of the American Society

On February 27, 1902, American writer and Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck was born. His works comprise twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories, among them ‘The Grapes of Wrath‘, ‘East of Eden‘, and ‘Of Mice and Men‘. “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion…
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The Sinking of the H.L. Hunley

The Sinking of the H.L. Hunley

On the night of February 17, 1864, the submarine H.L.Hunley of the American Confederate Army sank the steamship USS Housatonic with a torpedo and became the very first submarine to attack and sink an enemy vessel. The Hunley was lost at some point following her successful attack and all crewmen were lost. Although the Hunley only played a small part in the American Civil War, it was a large role in the…
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Plumbing the Nature of American Myth-Making – Hollywood Director John Ford

Plumbing the Nature of American Myth-Making – Hollywood Director John Ford

On February 1, 1894, American film director John Ford was born. John Ford is renowned both for Westerns such as Stagecoach (1939), The Searchers (1956), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), as well as adaptations of classic 20th-century American novels such as John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Until today his four Academy Awards for Best Director remain a record. “I don’t give ’em a lot of film to…
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Who remembers Apple’s Lisa?

Who remembers Apple’s Lisa?

On January 19, 1983, the Apple Lisa was introduced, the first personal computer to offer a graphical user interface in an inexpensive machine aimed at individual business users. Although a commercial failure, the Lisa paved the way for the famous Apple MacIntosh released in 1984 [4]. I don’t know if you are old enough to remember the early 1980s. But the era of personal computers had just began, which means there were small…
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Carl David Anderson and the Positron

Carl David Anderson and the Positron

On January 11, 1991, American physicist Carl David Anderson passed away. He is best known for his discovery of the positron in 1932, an achievement for which he received the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics, and of the muon in 1936. “The atom can’t be seen, yet its existence can be proved. And it is simple to prove that it can’t ever be seen. It has to be studied by indirect evidence — and…
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