German-American physicist Hedwig Kohn was born 5 April 1887 in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland), Kohn was the daughter of Georg Kohn, a wholesale merchant of fine cloth, and Helene Hancke, a member of a well-to-do family. Her parents were both German Jews. In 1907, Kohn became the second woman to enter the physics department of Breslau University (Universität Breslau, now University of Wrocław). She obtained her doctorate in physics under Otto Lummer in 1913 and was soon appointed as Lummer’s assistant and was trained by Otto Lummer in the quantitative determination of the intensity of light, both from broad-band sources, such as a “black body”, and from the discrete emission lines of atoms and molecules. She stayed at the university’s Physics Institute during World War I and obtained her habilitation (the qualification for university teaching) in physics in 1930 becoming one of only three women to do so. Sadly Kohn was dismissed from her position in 1933 due to Nazi regulations which barred Jews from government service She survived by fulfilling contracts for applied research in the illumination industry until 1938, when she found herself without work or financial resources whereupon she was eventually forced to leave Germany during the Nazi regime.
She had been given a visa to the United Kingdom in 1939, but it was cancelled because of World War II; she eventually secured a visa to travel to Sweden and immediately went there in July 1940, then On receiving a visa from the United States, she moved there.
When Kohn arrived in the United States in January of 1941, she was significantly unwell. After recovering, Kohn taught at the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for a year and a half The journey to her first position at the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro took Kohn through Berlin, Stockholm, Leningrad, Moscow, Vladivostok, Yokohama, San Francisco, and Chicago. She was then Offered temporary positions at three women’s colleges in the United States through the aid of Rudolf Ladenburg, Lise Meitner, Hertha Sponer, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and many others. In 1942, she began teaching at Wellesley College in Massachusetts where Kohn established a research laboratory for flame spectroscopy.
Hedwig Kohn retired as a Professor in 1952 and Upon Kohn’s retirement, Hertha Sponer, then professor of physics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, offered her a position as a research associate. Kohn set up a laboratory at Duke University and resumed research, where she guided two graduate students to their doctorates and recruited two post-doctoral fellows to assist in her study of flame spectroscopy. She wrote 270 pages in the leading physics text of the 1930s and 1940s in Germany, received one patent, and wrote numerous articles in scientific journals, some of which were still being cited into the 2000s.Two of her students became professors in Germany. She worked at Duke University until very shortly before her death on 26 November 1964.
Hedwig will be forever remembered for her work in flame spectroscopy and the quantitative determination of the intensity of light, both from broad-band sources, such as a “black body”, and from the discrete emission lines of atoms and molecules, and for developing methods and devising ways of extracting information from intensity measurements and from emission line shapes.
International Day of Sport for Development and Peace
National Caramel Popcorn Day
National Hostess Twinkie Day
National Siamese Cat Day
National Student Athlete Day
National Tartan Day
National Walking Day
Paraprofessional Appreciation Day
Plan Your Epitaph Day
Sorry Charlie Day
Whole Grain Sampling Day
National Teflon day commemorates the accidental invention of Teflon by Dr. Roy Plunkett on 6 April 1938 while he was searching for a substance to coat his scientific hand tools.
New Beers Eve commemorate the night before the sale of beer becomes legal again in the U.S on 6 April 1933 when the Cullen-Harrison Act came into effect, redefining what an “intoxicating beverage” is to exclude beer from Prohibition – full repeal of Prohibition didn’t happen until the December 5, 1933 ratification of the 21 Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment
National Tartan Day was created 5 April 1982 in New York City to allow U.S. and Canadians of Scottish descent to celebrate their Scottish heritage and commemorate the anniversary of the 1320 signing of the Declaration of Arbroath on 5 April 1320 1320 which was signed by at least 8 earls and 31 barons. The Declaration of Arbroath was a letter in Latin to Pope John XXII, intended to confirm Scotland’s status as a sovereign nation, and defending Scotland’s right to use military force when unjustly attacked. Scotland’s leader Robert the Bruce is excommunicated for the murder of John Comyn before the altar in Greyfrairs Abbey, and the Pope recognizes Edward I of England’s claim of overlordship of Scotland
Italian high Renaissance painter and architect Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino was born on either March 28 or April 6, 1483 (depending on the Julian or Gregorian calender) in Urbino in the Marche region. His father Giovanni Santi was court painter to the Duke. The reputation of the court had been established by Federico III da Montefeltro, a highly successful condottiere who had been created Duke of Urbino by the Pope but died the year before Raphael was born. Federico was succeeded by his son Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, who married Elisabetta Gonzaga, daughter of the ruler of Mantua, Under them, the court continued as a centre for literary culture .Court life in Urbino was depicted by Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, Castiglione moved to Urbino in 1504, when Raphael was no longer based there but frequently visited, and they became good friends. Raphael mixed inthe highest circles throughout his life. His mother Màgia died in 1491 when Raphael was eight, followed on August 1, 1494 by his father. Raphael was thus orphaned at eleven; his formal guardian became his only paternal uncle Bartolomeo, a priest. Raphael had already shown talent, according to Vasari, His father’s workshop continued and, probably together with his stepmother. In Urbino, he also came into contact with the works of Paolo Uccello, previously the court painter and Luca Signorelli.VAccording to Vasari, his father placed him in the workshop of the Umbrian master Pietro Perugino as an apprentice he may have Also received training from Timoteo Viti, who acted as court painter in Urbino from 1495. Raphael is described as a “master”, (fully trained) in December 1500.
His first documented work was the Baronci altarpiece for the church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino in Città di Castello, halfway between Perugia and Urbino. Evangelista da Pian di Meleto, was also named in the commission. It was commissioned in 1500 and finished in 1501; sadly only some cut sections and a preparatory drawing remain. He also painted works for other churches including the Mond Crucifixion, the Brera Wedding of the Virgin and the Oddi Altarpiece ar Perugia. He also painted many small and exquisite cabinet paintings like the Three Graces and St. Michael, he also began to paint Madonnas and portraits. In 1502 he was invited to Siena by Pinturicchio, who was a friend of Raphael and considered him to be a draughtsman of the highest quality, to help with the cartoons, and designs, for a fresco series in the Piccolomini Library in Siena Cathedral. Although Raphael mainly worked in Northern Italy, he also spent a good deal of time in Florence. Raphael was influenced by Florentine art, whilst keeping his own developing style. Frescos in Perugia of about 1505 show a new monumental quality in the figures which may represent the influence of Fra Bartolomeo, who Vasari says was a friend of Raphael. Another major influence was Leonardo da Vinci,
Raphael’s figures became more dynamic and complex and he made drawn studies of fighting nude men, And portraits of young women that using the three-quarter length pyramidal composition of the just-completed Mona Lisa. Another of Leonardo’s compositional inventions, is the pyramidal Holy Family, . There is a drawing by Raphael in the Royal Collection of Leonardo’s lost Leda and the Swan, from which he adapted the contrapposto pose of his own Saint Catherine of Alexandria. He also perfected his own version of Leonardo’s sfumato modelling, to give subtlety to his painting of flesh, However these are much less enigmatic than Leonardo’s But retain the soft clear light of Perugino. Raphael’s Deposition of Christ draws on classical sarcophagi to spread the figures across the front of the picture space in a complex and not wholly successful arrangement. There is an influence of the Madonna in Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo in the kneeling figure on the right, but the rest of the composition is far removed from his style, or that of Leonardo. in 1508, Raphael had moved to Rome, where he lived for the rest of his life. He was invited by the new Pope Julius II, at the suggestion of his architect Donato Bramante, then engaged on St. Peter’s Basilica, who came from just outside Urbino and was distantly related to Raphael. Unlike Michelangelo, Raphael was immediately commissioned by Julius to fresco what was intended to become the Pope’s private library at the Vatican Palace. Several other artists and their teams of assistants were already at work on different rooms, many painting over recently completed paintings commissioned by Julius’s loathed predecessor, Alexander VI, whose contributions, and arms, Julius was determined to efface from the palace. Michelangelo, meanwhile, had been commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
This first of the famous “Stanze” or “Raphael Rooms” to be painted, now known as the Stanza della Segnatura after its use in Vasari’s time, influenced Roman art, and remains generally regarded as his greatest masterpiece, containing The School of Athens, The Parnassus and the Disputa. Raphael was given two more rooms to paint, displacing other artists including Perugino and Signorelli. He completed a sequence of three rooms, each with paintings on each wall and often the ceilings too. The death of Julius in 1513 did not interrupt the work at all, as he was succeeded by Raphael’s last Pope, the Medici Pope Leo X, with whom Raphael formed an even closer relationship, and who continued to commission him. Raphael’s friend Cardinal Bibbiena was also one of Leo’s old tutors, and a close friend and advisor. Raphael was clearly influenced by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling in the course of painting the room. Vasari said Bramante let him in secretly. The first section was completed in 1511 and the reaction of other artists to the daunting force of Michelangelo was the dominating question in Italian art for the following few decades. Raphael, had already shown his gift for absorbing influences into his own personal style and One of the first and clearest instances was the portrait in The School of Athens of Michelangelo himself, as Heraclitus, which were influenced by the Sybils and ignudi of the Sistine ceiling. Other figures in that and later paintings in the room show the same influences, but still demonstrate Raphael’s own style this led Michelangelo to accuse Raphael of plagiarism. However These very large and complex compositions have since become regarded as among the supreme works of the grand manner of the High Renaissance, and the “classic art” of the post-antique West which give a highly idealised depiction of the forms represented.
After Bramante’s death in 1514, Raphael was named architect of the new St Peter’s. Most of his work there was altered or demolished after his death and the acceptance of Michelangelo’s design, but a few drawings have survived. He also designed several other buildings, and for a short time was the most important architect in Rome, working for a small circle around the Papacy. Julius had made changes to the street plan of Rome, creating several new thoroughfares, and he wanted them filled with splendid palaces. An important building, the Palazzo Branconio dell’Aquila for Leo’s Papal Chamberlain Giovanni Battista Branconio, was completely destroyed to make way for Bernini’s piazza for St. Peter’s, however drawings of the richly decorated façade and courtyard remain. The main designs for the Villa Farnesina were not by Raphael, but he did design, and decorated with mosaics, the Chigi Chapel for the same patron, Agostino Chigi, the Papal Treasurer. Another building, for Pope Leo’s doctor, the Palazzo di Jacobo da Brescia, was moved in the 1930s but survives; this was designed to complement a palace on the same street by Bramante, where Raphael himself lived for a time. The Villa Madama, a lavish hillside retreat for Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, later Pope Clement VII, was never finished, and his full plans have to be reconstructed speculatively. He produced a design from which the final construction plans were completed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. Even incomplete, it was the most sophisticated villa design yet seen in Italy, and greatly influenced the later development of the genre; it appears to be the only modern building in Rome of which Palladio made a measured drawing.
In 1515 he was made “Prefect” over all antiquities unearthed entrusted within the city, or a mile outside. Raphael wrote a letter to Pope Leo suggesting ways of halting the destruction of ancient monuments, and proposed a visual survey of the city to record all antiquities in an organised fashion. The Pope’s concerns were not exactly the same; he intended to continue to re-use ancient masonry in the building of St Peter’s, but wanted to ensure that all ancient inscriptions were recorded, and sculpture preserved, before allowing the stones to be reused. The Vatican projects took most of his time, although he painted several portraits, including those of his two main patrons, the popes Julius II and his successor Leo X, the former considered one of his finest. Other portraits were of his own friends, like Castiglione, or the immediate Papal circle. Other rulers pressed for work, and King Francis I of France was sent two paintings as diplomatic gifts from the Pope. For Agostino Chigi, the hugely rich banker and Papal Treasurer, he painted the Triumph of Galatea and designed further decorative frescoes for his Villa Farnesina, a chapel in the church of Santa Maria della Pace and mosaics in the funerary chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo. He also designed some of the decoration for the Villa Madama, the work in both villas being executed by his workshop.
One of his most important papal commissions was the Raphael Cartoons (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum), a series of 10 cartoons, of which seven survive, for tapestries with scenes of the lives of Saint Paul and Saint Peter, for the Sistine Chapel. The cartoons were sent to Brussels to be woven in the workshop of Pier van Aelst. He also designed and painted the Loggie at the Vatican, a long thin gallery then open to a courtyard on one side, decorated with Roman-style grottesche. He produced a number of significant altarpieces, including The Ecstasy of St. Cecilia and the Sistine Madonna. His last work, on which he was working up to his death, was a large Transfiguration, which together with Il Spasimo shows the direction his art was taking in his final years—more proto-Baroque than Mannerist.
Raphael also collaborated with Marcantonio Raimondi to produce engravings, Raimondi created many of the most famous Italian prints of the century, and was important in the rise of the reproductive print. His interest was unusual in such a major artist; from his contemporaries it was only shared by Titian, who had alao worked with Raimondi. A total of about fifty prints were made; some were copies of Raphael’s paintings, but other designs were apparently created by Raphael purely to be turned into prints. Raphael made preparatory drawings, many of which survive, for Raimondi to translate into engraving. The most famous original prints to result from the collaboration were Lucretia, the Judgement of Paris and The Massacre of the Innocents (of which two virtually identical versions were engraved), The Parnassus (with considerable differences) and Galatea. Outside Italy, reproductive prints by Raimondi and others were the main way that Raphael’s art was experienced until the twentieth century. Baviero Carocci, an assistant who Raphael evidently trusted ended up in control of most of the copper plates after Raphael’s death, and had a successful career in the new occupation of a publisher of prints.
Raphael was also an excellent draftsmen and used drawings extensively to plan his compositions. Over forty sketches survive for the Disputa in the Stanze. He used different drawings to refine his poses and compositions. For final compositions scaled-up full-size cartoons were made, He also made unusually extensive use, on both paper and plaster, of a “blind stylus”, scratching lines which leave only an indentation, but no mark. These can be seen on the wall in The School of Athens, The “Raphael Cartoons”, as tapestry designs, were fully coloured in a glue distemper medium, as they were sent to Brussels to be followed by the weavers. Most Raphael drawings are rather precise—even initial sketches with naked outline figures are carefully drawn, and later working drawings often have a high degree of finish, with shading and sometimes highlights in white. They lack the freedom and energy of some of Leonardo’s and Michelangelo’s sketches, but are nearly always aesthetically very satisfying. He was one of the last artists to use metalpoint extensively, although he also made superb use of the freer medium of red or black chalk In his final years he was one of the first artists to use female models for preparatory drawings—male pupils (“garzoni”) were normally used for studies of both sexes.
Between 1517 and 1520, Raphael lived in the Palazzo Caprini in the Borgo, in a palace designed by Bramante. He never married, but in 1514 became engaged to Maria Bibbiena, Cardinal Medici Bibbiena’s niece. He is said to have had many affairs, but his deepest love was “La Fornarina”, Margherita Luti, the daughter of a baker (fornaro) named Francesco Luti from Siena who lived at Via del Governo Vecchio. He was made a “Groom of the Chamber” of the Pope, and a knight of the Papal Order of the Golden Spur. According to Vasari, Raphael’s premature death on Good Friday (April 6, 1520), which was possibly his 37th birthday, was caused by a night of excessive sex with Luti, after which he fell into a fever. Vasari also says that Raphael had also been born on a Good Friday, which in 1483 fell on March 28. During his acute illness, which lasted fifteen days, Raphael confessed his sins, receive the last rites, and to put his affairs in order, he left sufficient funds for his mistress’s care, entrusted to his loyal servant Baviera, and left most of his studio contents to Giulio Romano and Penni. Raphael was buried in the Pantheon. His funeral was extremely grand, attended by large crowds. The inscription in his marble sarcophagus, an elegiac distich was written by Pietro Bembo.
Black Francis, the American singer-songwriter and guitarist with the Pixies and Grand Duchy, was born Born 6 April 1965. The Pixies originally consisted of Black Francis (vocals, rhythm guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), Kim Deal (bass, vocals), and David Lovering (drums). The band’s style of music contains elements of indie rock and surf rock and while the Pixies only found modest commercial success in America, they were significantly more successful in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe, releasing some great albums including Doolittle, Bossanova, Trompe Le Monde and Indie Cindy among others.
Black Francis is the Pixies’ primary songwriter and singer and is noted for his yowling delivery. He has written about offbeat subjects, such as extraterrestrials surrealism and biblical violence. The group has been described as a big influence on the alternative rock boom of the 1990s, though they disbanded in 1993 under acrimonious circumstances, before reaping any of the benefits this might have brought them. During the break-up of the Pixies Black Francis became a successful solo artist in his own right.
Avowed fan Kurt Cobain’s acknowledgment of the debt his band Nirvana owed to the Pixies, along with similar tributes by other alternative bands, helped the Pixies’ legacy and popularity grow in the years following their break-up. However the Pixies reformed in 2004 leading to sold-out tours following their reunion. Since The Pixies reformed in 2004 they have released Indie Cindy and A special remastered 25th Anniversary edition of the album Doolittle, containing rarities, outtakes and extra tracks in addition to the album itself.
German painter, engraver, mathematician printmaker, and theorist Albrecht Dürer sadly Died 6 April 1528. He was Born 21 May 1472, and is regarded as one of the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance. His vast body of work includes altarpieces and religious works, numerous portraits and self-portraits, and copper engravings. The woodcuts, such as the Apocalypse series (1498), retain a more Gothic flavour than the rest of his work. His well-known prints include the Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513), Saint Jerome in his Study (1514) and Melencolia I(1514). His watercolours also mark him as one of the first European landscape artists, and his ambitious woodcuts were revolutionary. Dürer’s introduction of classical motifs into Northern art, secured his reputation as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance. This is reinforced by his theoretical treatises, which involve principles of mathematics, perspective and ideal proportions.
Dürer’s worked as an apprentice with his godfather Anton Koberger, who was one of the most successful publisher in Germany, eventually owning twenty-four printing-presses and having many offices in Germany and abroad. Koberger’s most famous publication was the Nuremberg Chronicles, published in 1493 containing 1,809 woodcut illustrations. In 1492 Dürer travelled to Basel to stay with another brother of Martin Schongauer, the goldsmith Georg. Upon his return to Nuremberg, on 7 July 1494, Dürer married Agnes Frey and opened his own workshop. Over the next five years his style increasingly integrated Italian influences into underlying Northern forms. Dürer’s father died in 1502, and his mother died in 1513. His best works in the first years of the workshop were his religious woodcut prints, and scenes such as The Men’s Bath House (ca. 1496). These were larger and more finely-cut than the great majority of German woodcuts and far more complex and balanced in composition. During an outbreak of plague in Nurenburg Dürer left for Italy and painted watercolour sketches as he traveled over the Alps.
He also travelled to Venice to study its more advanced artistic world and learned how to make prints in drypoint and design woodcuts in the German style, based on the works of Martin Schongauer and the Housebook Master. He was also influenced by Giovanni Bellini. In 1496 he produced his famous series of sixteen great designs for the Apocalypse, the engraving of St. Michael Fighting the Dragon and the first seven scenes of the Great Passion. A little later, he also produced a series of eleven on the Holy Family and saints. The Seven Sorrows Polyptych, commissioned by Frederick III of Saxony in 1496. Around 1503–1505 he produced the first seventeen of a set illustrating the Life of the Virgin, which he did not finish for some years. Dürer made large numbers of preparatory drawings, especially for his paintings and engravings, and many survive, most famously the Betende Hände, a study for an apostle in the Heller altarpiece. He also continued to produce watercolours, including a number of still lifes of meadow sections or animals, including his Young Hare (1502) and the Great Piece of Turf (1503,The Venetian artist Jacopo de’ Barbari, whom Dürer had met in Venice, visited Nuremberg in 1500, and Dürer said that he learned much about the new developments in perspective,anatomy, and proportion from him.
A series of extant drawings show Dürer’s experiments in human proportion, leading to the famous engraving of Adam and Eve (1504), which shows his subtlety while using the burin in the texturing of flesh surfaces.Despite the regard in which he was held by the Venetians, Dürer returned to Nuremberg by mid-1507, remaining in Germany until 1520. His reputation had spread throughout Europe and he was on friendly terms and in communication with most of the major artistsIn Italy, he returned to painting, at first producing a series of works executed in tempera on linen. These include portraits and altarpieces, notably, the Paumgartner altarpiece and the Adoration of the Magi. In early 1506, he returned to Venice and stayed there until the spring of 1507. By this time Dürer’s engravings had attained great popularity and were being copied. In Venice he was given a valuable commission from the emigrant German community for the church of San Bartolomeo. This was the altar-piece known as the Adoration of the Virgin or the Feast of Rose Garlands. It includes portraits of members of Venice’s German community, but shows a strong Italian influence. It was subsequently acquired by the Emperor Rudolf II and take to Prague. Other paintings Dürer produced in Venice include The Virgin and Child with the Goldfinch, Christ Disputing with the DoctorsFrom 1512, Maximilian I became Dürer’s major patron. His commissions included The Triumphal Arch.
Dürer produced some of his most celebrated paintings: Adam and Eve(1507), The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (1508, for Frederick of Saxony), Virgin with the Iris(1508), the altarpiece Assumption of the Virgin (1509, for Jacob Heller of Frankfurt), andAdoration of the Trinity (1511, for Matthaeus Landauer). he also completed two woodcut series, the Great Passion and the Life of the Virgin, both published in 1511 together with a second edition of the Apocalypse series. The post-Venetian woodcuts show Dürer’s development of chiaroscuro modelling effects, creating a mid-tone throughout the print to which the highlights and shadows can be contrasted. He also printed thirty-seven woodcut subjects of the Little Passion, in 1511, and a set of fifteen small engravings on the same theme in 1512. He decided that painting did not make enough money to justify the time spent when compared to his prints, he produced no paintings from 1513 to 1516. However, in 1513 and 1514 Dürer created his three most famous engravings: Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513, probably based on Erasmus’s treatise Enchiridion militis Christiani), St. Jerome in his Study, and the much-debated Melencolia I (both 1514). In 1515, he created a woodcut of a Rhinoceros which had arrived in Lisbon from a written description and sketch by another artist, without ever seeing the animal himself. An image of the Indian rhinoceros, the image has such force that it remains one of his best-known and was still used in some German school science text-books as late as last century.
In 1515 he produced woodblocks for the first western printed star charts and portraits in tempera on linen in 1516.On his return to Nuremberg, Dürer worked on a number of grand projects with religious themes, including a crucifixion scene and aSacra Conversazione, though neither was completed. This may have been due in part to his declining health, but perhaps also because of the time he gave to the preparation of his theoretical works on geometry and perspective, the proportions of men and horses, and fortification.Having secured his pension, Dürer finally returned home in July 1521, having caught an undetermined illness—perhaps malaria. As for engravings, Dürer’s work was restricted to portraits and illustrations for his treatise. However, one consequence of this shift in emphasis was that during the last years of his life, Dürer produced comparatively little as an artist. In painting, there was only a portrait of Hieronymus Holtzschuher, a Madonna and Child (1526), Salvator Mundi (1526), and two panels showing St. John with St. Peter in background and St. Paul with St. Mark in thebackground. This last great work, the Four Apostles
Dürer sadly died in Nuremberg at the age of 56, leaving an estate and workshop where his widow lived until her death in 1539 this is a prominent Nuremberg landmark and is now a museum. He is buried in the Johannisfriedhof cemetery. Dürer’s final major work, a drawn portrait of the Nuremberg patrician Ulrich Starck. Dürer’s intense and self-dramatizing self-portraits have continued to have a strong influence up to the present, especially on painters in the 19th and 20th century who desired a more dramatic portrait style and has never fallen from critical favour, and has exerted a huge influence on the artists of succeeding generations, especially in printmaking, His success in spreading his reputation across Europe through prints was an inspiration for major artists such as Raphael, Titian, and Parmigianino, all of whom collaborated with printmakers in order to promote and distribute their work.
Prolific Russian-American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, Isaac Asimov, sadly Died 6 April 1992. He was born January 2, 1920, and is best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Isaac Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His works have been published in all ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System (although his only work in the 100s—which covers philosophy and psychology—was a foreword for The Humanist Way).Asimov is widely considered a master of hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime.
Asimov’s most famous work is the Foundation Series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are explicitly set in earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation Series. Later, beginning with Foundation’s Edge, he linked this distant future to the Robot and Spacer stories, creating a unified “future history” for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He wrote many short stories, among them “Nightfall”, which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.
Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much non-fiction. Most of his popular science books explain scientific concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. He often provides nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for technical terms. Examples include Guide to Science, the three volume set Understanding Physics, Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery, as well as works on astronomy, mathematics, the Bible, William Shakespeare’s writing and chemistry. Asimov was a long-time member and Vice President of Mensa International, albeit reluctantly; he described some members of that organization as “brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs.” He took more joy in being president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, a crater on the planet Mars,a Brooklyn, New York elementary school, and one Isaac Asimov literary award are named in his honour.
Most of Asimov’s robot short stories are set in the first age of positronic robotics and space exploration. The unique feature of Asimov’s robots are the Three Laws of Robotics, hardwired in a robot’s positronic brain, which all robots in his fiction must obey/follow, and which ensure that the robot does not turn against its creators.The stories were not initially conceived as a set, but rather all feature his positronic robots — indeed, there are some inconsistencies among them, especially between the short stories and the novels. They all, however, share a theme of the interaction of humans, robots, and morality.
Some of the short stories found in The Complete Robot and other anthologies appear not to be set in the same universe as the Foundation Universe. “Victory Unintentional” has positronic robots obeying the Three Laws, but also a non-human civilization on Jupiter. “Let’s Get Together” features humanoid robots, but from a different future (where the Cold War is still in progress), and with no mention of the Three Laws. The multiple series offer a sense of completeness, because they all are interconnected in some way.The first four robot novels The Caves of Steel (1953), The Naked Sun (1955), The Robots of Dawn (1983), and Robots and Empire (1985) make up the Elijah Baley (sometimes “Lije Baley”) series, and are mysteries starring the Terran Elijah Baley and his humaniform robot partner, R. Daneel Olivaw.
They are set thousands of years after the short stories, and focus on the conflicts between Spacers — descendants of human settlers from other planets, and the people from an overcrowded Earth. “Mirror Image”, one of the short stories from The Complete Robot anthology, is also set in this time period (between The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn), and features both Baley and Olivaw. Another short story (found in The Early Asimov anthology), “Mother Earth”, is set about a thousand years before the robot novels, when the Spacer worlds chose to become separated from Earth. Because many of the Robot novels were written prior to 1962, they were not eligible for science fiction awards, such as the Hugo, which only arrived on the scene after that year. However Robots of Dawn was nominated for both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1984, and Robots and Empire was shortlisted for the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1986