Voltaire

Jérôme Lalande – Astronomer in Times of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution

Jérôme Lalande – Astronomer in Times of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution

On July 11, 1732, French astronomer, freemason and writer Jérôme Lalande was born. Lalande is best known for having determined the Moon’s parallax from Berlin for the French Academy in 1751. His planetary tables, into which he introduced corrections for mutual perturbations, were the best available up to the end of the 18th century. Jérôme Lalande – Early Years Jérôme Lalande first studied at the Jesuit College in Lyon and later went…
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Geneviève Thiroux d’Arconville and the Chemistry of Putrefaction

Geneviève Thiroux d’Arconville and the Chemistry of Putrefaction

On December 23, 1805, Marie-Geneviève-Charlotte Thiroux d’Arconville, née d’Arlus, passed away, who was referred to as Geneviève Thiroux d’Arconville. She was a French writer, translator and naturalist. As a researcher in the field of chemistry, she became known for her studies on decay processes. Her work represented basic research on decomposition processes. She also published, anonymously throughout, numerous philosophical, literary and historical writings as well as translations. Further manuscripts, which she had compiled in twelve volumes,…
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Asaph Hall and the Discovery of Phobos and Deimos

Asaph Hall and the Discovery of Phobos and Deimos

On October 15, 1829, American astronomer Asaph Hall III was born, who is most famous for having discovered the moons of Mars, Deimos and Phobos, in 1877. He determined the orbits of satellites of other planets and of double stars, the rotation of Saturn, and the mass of Mars. “The deepest truths require still deeper truths to explain them.” – Asaph Hall Asaph Hall – Early Years Asaph Hall was born in…
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Pierre Louis Maupertuis – The Man who flattened the Earth

Pierre Louis Maupertuis – The Man who flattened the Earth

On September 28, 1698, French mathematician, philosopher and man of letters Pierre Louis Maupertuis was born. Maupertuis made an expedition to Lapland to determine the shape of the Earth. He is also credited with having invented the principle of least action, an integral equation that determines the path followed by a physical system. “Nature always uses the simplest means to accomplish its effects.” – Formulation of the principle of least action, as…
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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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The Idea of Tolerance in the Theatre and Essays of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

The Idea of Tolerance in the Theatre and Essays of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

On January 22, 1708, German author of the enlightenment Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was born. With his dramas and his theoretical writings, which are above all committed to the idea of tolerance, this enlightener showed the further development of the theater a significant path and had a lasting influence on the public impact of literature. Lessing is the first German dramatist whose work is still being performed in theaters without interruption. “The true…
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Étienne de Condillac and the Importance of Language in Logical Reasoning

Étienne de Condillac and the Importance of Language in Logical Reasoning

On September 30, 1714, French philosopher and epistemologist Étienne Bonnot de Condillac was born. A leading advocate in France of the ideas of John Locke de Condillac further emphasized the importance of language in logical reasoning, stressing the need for a scientifically designed language and for mathematical calculation as its basis.[4] “The art of reasoning is nothing more than a language well arranged.” – Étienne de Condillac, as quoted in [5]  Étienne de Condillac…
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Edward Jenner’s Fight against Smallpox

Edward Jenner’s Fight against Smallpox

On May 17, 1749, English physician and scientist Edward Anthony Jenner was born, who was the pioneer of smallpox vaccine. He is often referred to as “the father of immunology“. “The highest powers in our nature are our sense of moral excellence, the principle of reason and reflection, benevolence to our creatures and our love of the Divine Being.” – Edward Jenner in The Life of Edward Jenner M.D. Vol. 2 (1838) by…
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Sir Francis Bacon and the Scientific Method

Sir Francis Bacon and the Scientific Method

On January 22, 1561, English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, essayist, and author Sir Francis Bacon was born. Bacon has been called the creator of empiricism. His works established and popularized inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry. “Knowledge, that tendeth but to satisfaction, is but as a courtesan, which is for pleasure, and not for fruit or generation.” — Francis Bacon, as quoted in Valerius Terminus: Of the Interpretation of Nature (ca. 1603) Scholasticism…
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Vivant Denon and the Science of Egyptology

Vivant Denon and the Science of Egyptology

On January 4, 1747, French artist, writer, diplomat, author, and archaeologist Dominique Vivant, Baron Denon was born. He was appointed as the first Director of the Louvre Museum by Napoleon. His two-volume Voyage dans la basse et la haute Egypte (“Journey in Lower and Upper Egypt“, 1802), was the foundation of modern Egyptology. “Finally, I believe that, among all the monuments of Syracuse that have survived the centuries, this one of the catacombs…
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