James Watt FRS FRSE

Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist James Watt FRS FRSE was born 30 January 1736 (19 January 1736 OS in Greenock, Renfrewshire. His father was a shipwright, ship owner and contractor, and served as the town’s chief baillie,while his mother, Agnes Muirhead, came from a well educated distinguished family. Watt’s grandfather, Thomas Watt, was a mathematics teacher and baillie to the Baron of Cartsburn. Watt did not attend school regularly; initially he was mostly schooled at home by his mother but later he attended Greenock Grammar School. He exhibited great manual dexterity, engineering skills and an aptitude for mathematics, but is said to have suffered prolonged bouts of ill-health as a child.

When he was eighteen, his mother died and his father’s health began to fail. Watt travelled to London to study instrument-making for a year, then returned to Scotland, settling in Glasgow intent on setting up his own instrument-making business. He made and repaired brass reflecting quadrants, parallel rulers, scales, parts for telescopes, and barometers, among other things. However Because he had not served at least seven years as an apprentice, the Glasgow Guild of Hammermen (which had jurisdiction over any artisans using hammers) blocked his application, despite there being no other mathematical instrument makers in Scotland. However the arrival of astronomical instruments, bequeathed by Alexander Macfarlane to the University of Glasgow which required expert handling, Allowed Watt to bypass this stalemate. These instruments were eventually installed in the Macfarlane Observatory. He was offered the opportunity to set up a small workshop within the university by two of the professors, the physicist and chemist Joseph Black and Adam Smith. At first he worked on maintaining and repairing scientific instruments used in the university, helping with demonstrations, and expanding the production of quadrants. In 1759 he formed a partnership with John Craig, an architect and businessman, to manufacture and sell a line of products including musical instruments and toys. This partnership lasted for the next six years, and employed up to sixteen workers.

While working as an instrument maker at the University of Glasgow, Watt became interested in the technology of steam engines After noticing the steam from a boiling kettle forced the lid to move. His friend, John Robison, then suggested steam could be used as a source of motive power. He realized that contemporary steam engine designs wasted a great deal of energy by repeatedly cooling and reheating the cylinder. Watt introduced a design enhancement, the separate condenser, which avoided this waste of energy and radically improved the power, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of steam engines. Eventually he adapted his engine to produce rotary motion, greatly broadening its use beyond pumping water. Watt dramatically improved on the efficiency of Thomas Newcomen’s 1712 Newcomen steam engine with his Watt steam engine in 1781, which was fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.

The design of the Newcomen engine, in use for almost 50 years for pumping water from mines, had hardly changed from its first implementation. Watt began to experiment with steam, though he had never seen an operating steam engine. He tried constructing a model. He realised the importance of latent heat—the thermal energy released or absorbed during a constant-temperature process—in understanding the engine, which, unknown to Watt, his friend Joseph Black had previously discovered some years before. In 1763, Watt was asked to repair a model Newcomen engine belonging to the university. Even after repair, the engine barely worked. After much experimentation, Watt demonstrated that about three-quarters of the thermal energy of the steam was being wasted heating the engine cylinder on every cycle. Watt decided to condense the steam in a separate chamber apart from the piston, and to maintain the temperature of the cylinder at the same temperature as the injected steam by surrounding it with a “steam jacket.Thus very little energy was absorbed by the cylinder on each cycle, making more available to perform useful work. Sadly Watt had financial difficulties constructing a full scale engine to demonstrate his findings. Luckily backing came from John Roebuck, the founder of the celebrated Carron Iron Works near Falkirk, with whom he now formed a partnership. Roebuck lived at Kinneil House in Bo’ness, during which time Watt worked at perfecting his steam engine, however the Piston and cylinder could not be manufactured with sufficient precision. Watt also worked first as a surveyor, then as a civil engineer for eight years to finance his work. Sadly

Sadly Roebuck went bankrupt, however salvation came in the form of Matthew Boulton, who owned the Soho Manufactory works near Birmingham, and acquired his patent rights. Through Boulton, Watt finally had access to some of the best iron workers in the world. The difficulty of the manufacture of a large cylinder with a tightly fitting piston was solved by John Wilkinson, who had developed precision boring techniques for cannon making at Bersham, near Wrexham, North Wales. Watt and Boulton formed a hugely successful partnership (Boulton and Watt) which lasted for the next twenty-five years.In 1776, the first engines were installed and working in commercial enterprises. These first engines were used to power pumps and produced only reciprocating motion to move the pump rods at the bottom of the shaft. The design was commercially successful, and for the next five years Watt installed more engines, mostly in Cornwall for pumping water out of mines. These early engines were not manufactured by Boulton and Watt, but were made by others according to drawings made by Watt, who served in the role of consulting engineer. The field of application for the invention was greatly widened when Boulton urged Watt to convert the reciprocating motion of the piston to produce rotational power for grinding, weaving and milling. Although a crank seemed the obvious solution to the conversion Watt and Boulton were stymied by a patent for this, whose holder, James Pickard, and associates proposed to cross-license the external condenser. Watt adamantly opposed this and they circumvented the patent by their sun and planet gear in 1781.

Watt made a number of other improvements and modifications to the steam engine. Such as A double acting engine, in which the steam acted alternately on the two sides of the piston. He also described methods for working the steam “expansively” (i.e., using steam at pressures well above atmospheric). He designed A compound engine, which connected two or more engines, a steam indicator which prevented these primative boilers from exploding and parallel motion which was essential in double-acting engines as it produced the straight line motion required for the cylinder rod and pump, from the connected rocking beam, whose end moves in a circular arc. He also created a throttle valve to control the power of the engine, and a centrifugal governor, all of which made his Steam Engines far more efficient than the Newcomen Engine. In order to minimaze the risk of exploding boilers, Watt restricted his use of high pressure steam and all of his engines used steam at near atmospheric pressure. Watt entered a partnership with Matthew Boulton in 1775. The new firm of Boulton and Watt was eventually highly successful and Watt became a wealthy man.

Watt retired in 1800, the same year that his fundamental patent and partnership with Boulton expired. The famous partnership was transferred to the men’s sons, Matthew Robinson Boulton and James Watt Jr. Watt continued to invent other things before and during his semi-retirement though none was as significant as his steam engine work. He invented and constructed several machines for copying sculptures and medallions. He maintained his interest in civil engineering and was a consultant on several significant projects. He proposed, for example, a method for constructing a flexible pipe to be used for pumping water under the Clyde at Glasgow. He and his second wife travelled to France and Germany, and he purchased an estate in mid-Wales at Doldowlod House, one mile south of Llanwrthwl. In 1816 he took a trip on the paddle-steamer Comet, a product of his inventions, to revisit his home town of Greenock. James Watt’s improvements to the steam engine converted it from a prime mover of marginal efficiency into the mechanical workhorse of the Industrial Revolution. The availability of efficient, reliable motive power made whole new classes of industry economically viable, and altered the economies of continents. This brought about immense social change, attracting millions of rural families to the towns and cities.

English novelist Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) wrote of Watt; “To us, the moment 8:17 A.M. means something – something very important, if it happens to be the starting time of our daily train. To our ancestors, such an odd eccentric instant was without significance – did not even exist. In inventing the locomotive, Watt and Stephenson were part inventors of time.”

Watt Sadly died on 25 August 1819 at his home “Heathfield” in Handsworth, Staffordshire (now part of Birmingham) at the age of 83. He was buried on 2 September in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, Handsworth. However he received many honours for his pioneering work during his lifetime. In 1784 he was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and was elected as a member of the Batavian Society for Experimental Philosophy, of Rotterdam in 1787. In 1789 he was elected to the elite group, the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. In 1806 he was conferred the honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Glasgow. The French Academy elected him a Corresponding Member and he was made a Foreign Associate in 1814. The watt is named after James Watt for his contributions to the development of the steam engine, and was adopted by the Second Congress of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1889 and by the 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1960 as the unit of power incorporated in the International System of Units (or “SI”).Boulton and Watt also feature on a Bank of England £50 note. the two industrialists pictured side by side with images of Watt’s steam engine and Boulton’s Soho Manufactory. Quotes attributed to each of the men are inscribed on the note: “I sell here, sir, what all the world desires to have—POWER” (Boulton) and “I can think of nothing else but this machine” (Watt). In 2011 he was one of seven inaugural inductees to the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.


National pharmacist Day

National Pharmacist Day is observed annually on January 12. This day has been set aside to recognize and honor all pharmacists across the nation. Pharmacists, also known as chemists (Commonwealth English) or druggists (North American and, archaically, Commonwealth English), are health professionals who practice in pharmacy, the field of health sciences focusing on safe and effective medication use. Pharmacists undergo university-level education to understand the biochemical mechanisms and actions of drugs, drug uses, therapeutic roles, side effects, potential drug interactions, and monitoring parameters. This is mated to anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology. Pharmacists interpret and communicate this specialized knowledge to patients, physicians, and other health care providers. Among other licensing requirements, different countries require pharmacists to hold either a Bachelor of Pharmacy, Master of Pharmacy, or Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

The most common pharmacist positions are that of a community pharmacist (also referred to as a retail pharmacist, first-line pharmacist or dispensing chemist), or a hospital pharmacist, where they instruct and counsel on the proper use and adverse effects of medically prescribed drugs and medicines. In most countries, the profession is subject to professional regulation. Depending on the legal scope of practice, pharmacists may contribute to prescribing (also referred to as “pharmacist prescriber”) and administering certain medications (e.g., immunizations) in some jurisdictions. Pharmacists may also practice in a variety of other settings, including industry, wholesaling, research, academia, military, and government.

The role of pharmacists over the years has shifted from the classical “lick, stick and pour” dispensary role to being an integrated member of the health care team directly involved in patient care. After mastering biochemical mechanisms of action of drugs, physiology, and pathophysiology, pharmacists interpret and communicate their specialized knowledge to patients, physicians, and other healthcare providers.

Historically, the primary role of a pharmacist was to check and distribute drugs to doctors for a patient prescribed medication. In modern times, pharmacists advise patients and health care providers on the selection, dosages, interactions and the side effects of prescriptions, along with having the role as a learned intermediary between a prescriber and a patient. Monitoring the health and progress of patients, pharmacists can then ensure the safe and effective use of medication.


National Marzipan Day occurs annually on 12 January. Marzipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal (ground almonds), sometimes augmented with almond oil or extract.

It is often made into sweets; common uses are chocolate-covered marzipan and small marzipan imitations of fruits and vegetables. It can also be used in biscuits or rolled into thin sheets and glazed for icing cakes, primarily birthday, wedding cakes and Christmas cakes. This use is particularly common in the UK, on large fruitcakes. Marzipan paste may also be used as a baking ingredient, as in stollen or banket. In some countries, it is shaped into small figures of animals as a traditional treat for New Year’s Day. Marzipan is also used in Tortell, and in some versions of king cake eaten during the Carnival season. Traditional Swedish princess cake is typically covered with a layer of marzipan that has been tinted pale green or pink.

Marzipan is believed to have been introduced to Eastern Europe through the Turks (badem ezmesi in Turkish, and most notably produced in Edirne), however there is some dispute between Hungary and Italy over its origin. In Sicily it was (1193) known as panis martius or marzapane, i.e., March Bread.[9] Marzipan became a specialty of the Hanseatic League port towns. In particular, the cities of Lübeck and Tallinn have a proud tradition of marzipan manufacture. Examples include Lübecker Marzipan  The city’s manufacturers like Niederegger still guarantee their marzipan to contain two-thirds almonds by weight, which results in a product of highest quality. Historically, the city of Königsberg in East Prussia was also renowned for its distinctive marzipan production. Königsberg marzipan remains a special type of marzipan in Germany that is golden brown on its surface and sometimes embedded with marmalade at its centre.

Another possible geographic origin of Marzipan is in Spain, then known as Al-Andalus. In Toledo (850-900, though more probably 1150 during the reign of Alfonso VII) this specialty was known as Postre Regio (instead of Mazapán) and there are also mentions in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights of an almond paste eaten during Ramadan and as an aphrodisiac. Mazapán is Toledo’s most famous dessert, often created for Christmas. Almonds have to be at least 50% of the total weight, following the directives of Mazapán de Toledo regulator counseil another Spanish almond-based Christmas confectionery, is turrón.

In the U.S., marzipan is not officially defined, but it is generally made with a higher ratio of sugar to almonds than almond paste. One brand, for instance, has 28% almonds in its marzipan, and 45% almonds in its almond paste. However, in Sweden and Finland almond paste refers to a marzipan that contains 50% ground almonds, a much higher quality than regular marzipan. In Germany, Lübecker Marzipan is known for its quality. It contains 66% almonds. The original manually produced Mozartkugeln are made from green pistachio marzipan.

More Events and National days happening on 12 January
Kiss a Ginger Day
Curried Chicken Day
Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day
National Marzipan Day
National Pharmacist Day
Stick To Your New Year’s Resolution Day

Nicholas Steno

Often considered the father of geology and stratigraphy, Danish Catholic bishop and scientist Blessed Nicolas Steno was born 11 January in 1638 in Copenhagen. His pioneering research in both anatomy and geology has led to a greater understanding in both, and he was also beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988. He was the son of a Lutheran goldsmith who worked regularly for King Christian IV of Denmark, but grew up in isolation during his childhood, because of an unknown disease. In 1644 his father died, after which his mother married another goldsmith. Across the street lived Peder Schumacher (who would later offer Steno a post as professor in Copenhagen). After completing his university education, Steno set out to travel through Europe, In the Netherlands, France, Italy and Germany he came into contact with prominent physicians and scientists. These influences led him to use his own powers of observation to make important scientific discoveries. At a time when scientific questions were mostly answered by appeal to ancient authorities, Steno was bold enough to trust his own eyes, even when his observations differed from traditional doctrines.

He studied anatomy focusing again on the Lymphatic system and discovered a previously undescribed structure, the “ductus stenonianus” (the duct of the parotid salivary gland) in sheep, dog and rabbit heads. Steno’s name is associated with this structure. Within a few months Steno moved to Leiden, where he met the students Jan Swammerdam, Frederik Ruysch, Reinier de Graaf, Franciscus de le Boe Sylvius, a famous professor, and Baruch Spinoza. At the time Descartes was publishing on the working of the brain, and Steno did not think his explanation of the origin of tears was correct. Steno studied the heart, and determined that it was an ordinary muscle.

He later travelled to Saumur and Montpellier, where his work was introduced to the Royal Society. In Pisa, Steno met the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who supported arts and science. Steno was invited to live in the Palazzo Vecchio, he also went to Rome and met Alexander VII and Marcello Malpighi. As an anatomist in the hospital Steno focused on the muscular system and the nature of muscle contraction. He also became a member of Accademia del Cimento in Florence. Like Vincenzio Viviani, Steno used geometry to show that a contracting muscle changes its shape but not its volume.

Steno also dissected a sharks head and noted that the shark’s teeth bore a striking resemblance to certain stony objects, found embedded within rock formations. at the time these were known as glossopetrae or “tongue stones” by Ancient authorities, such as the Roman author Pliny the Elder, who had suggested in his book Naturalis Historia that these stones had fallen from the sky or from the Moon, while Others thought, that fossils grew natuarally in the rocks. Fabio Colonna, however, had already shown in a convincing way that glossopetrae were shark teeth and Steno added to the discussion on the differences in composition between glossopetrae and living sharks’ teeth, arguing that the chemical composition of fossils could be altered without changing their form, using the contemporary corpuscular theory of matter.

This led him to the question of how any solid object could come to be found inside another solid object, such as a rock or a layer of rock. The “solid bodies within solids” that attracted Steno’s interest included not only fossils, as we would define them today, but minerals, crystals, encrustations, veins, and even entire rock layers or strata. He published his geologic studies in De solido intra solidum naturaliter contento dissertationis prodromus, or Preliminary discourse to a dissertation on a solid body naturally contained within a solid in 1669. Steno was not the first to identify fossils as being from living organisms; his contemporaries Robert Hooke and John Ray also argued that fossils were the remains of once-living organisms.

Steno, in his Dissertationis prodromus is credited with three of the defining principles of the science of stratigraphy: the law of superposition, the principle of original horizontality and the principle of cross-cutting discontinuities. These principles were applied and extended in 1772 by Jean-Baptiste L. Romé de l’Isle. Steno’s landmark theory that the fossil record was a chronology of different living creatures in different eras was a sine qua non for Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Despite Having been brought up in the Lutheran faith, Steno also questioned its teachings, and After making comparative theological studies, and by using his natural observational skills, he decided that Catholicism, rather than Lutheranism, provided more sustenance for his constant inquisitiveness. Steno converted to Catholicism. In 1675 Steno was ordained a priest. Athanasius Kircher expressly asked why Steno had left science and became one of the leading figures in the Counter-Reformation.

In 1684 Steno moved to Hamburg and became involved in the study of the brain and the nerve system with an old friend Dirck Kerckring. Steno was invited to Schwerin. To test his theory Steno dressed like a poor man in an old cloak and drove in an open carriage in snow and rain. Living four days a week on bread and beer, he became emaciated. When Steno had fulfilled his mission, he wanted to go back to Italy. Sadly though Steno died whilst in Germany on 5th December 1686, His corpse was shipped by Kerckring to Florence and buried in the Basilica of San Lorenzo close to his protectors, the De’ Medici family. In 1953 his grave was discovered, and the corpse was reburied after a procession through the streets of the city.

The Steno Museum in Århus, Denmark, is named after Steno, and holds exhibitions on the history of science and medicine, and also has a planetarium and a medicinal herb garden. Impact craters on Mars and the Moon have also been named in his honour. In 1950 the “Niels Steensens Gymnasium”, a Catholic preparatory school, was founded on a Jesuit monastery in Copenhagen. The Steno Diabetes Center, a research and teaching hospital dedicated to diabetes in Gentofte, Denmark, was also named after Nicolas Steno and The Istituto Niels Stensen, in Florence, is also dedicated to his memory.

Nikola Tesla

Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist Nikola Tesla passed away on 7 January 1943 in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel. He was born 10 July 1856 in the village Smiljan, Lika county, Serbia and raised in the Austrian Empire. Tesla received an advanced education in engineering and physics in the 1870s and gained practical experience in the early 1880s working in telephony and at Continental Edison in the new electric power industry. In 1881, Tesla moved to Budapest, Hungary, to work under Tivadar Puskás at a telegraph company, the Budapest Telephone Exchange. Upon arrival, Tesla realized that the company, then under construction, was not functional, so he worked as a draftsman in the Central Telegraph Office instead. Within a few months, the Budapest Telephone Exchange became functional, and Tesla was allocated the chief electrician and made many improvements to the Central Station equipment including the improvement of a telephone repeater or amplifier, which was never patented nor publicly described.

In 1882, Tivadar Puskás got Tesla another job in Paris with the Continental Edison Company.Tesla began working in what was then a brand new industry, installing indoor incandescent lighting citywide in the form of an electric power utility. The company had several subdivisions and Tesla worked at the Société Electrique Edison, the division in the Ivry-sur-Seine suburb of Paris in charge of installing the lighting system. There he gained a great deal of practical experience in electrical engineering. Management took notice of his advanced knowledge in engineering and physics and soon had him designing and building improved versions of generating dynamos and motors.They also sent him on to troubleshoot engineering problems at other Edison utilities being built around France and in Germany.

He emigrated to the United States in 1884, And got a job at the Edison Machine Works in New York City however he left in 1885 and began working on patenting an arc lighting system, In March 1885, he met with patent attorney Lemuel W. Serrell, the same attorney used by Edison, to obtain help with submitting the patents. Serrell introduced Tesla to two businessmen, Robert Lane and Benjamin Vail, who agreed to finance an arc lighting manufacturing and utility company in Tesla’s name, the Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing. Tesla obtained patents for an improved DC generator, which was installed in Rahway, New Jersey. Tesla new system gained notice in the technical press, which commented on its advanced features. However the Investors decided against Tesla’s idea and formed a new utility company, abandoning Tesla’s company and leaving the inventor penniless Tesla even lost control of the patents he had generated.

In 1886, Tesla met Alfred S. Brown, a Western Union superintendent, and New York attorney Charles F. Peck andbased on Tesla’s new idea’s for electrical equipment, including a thermo-magnetic motor idea,they agreed to back the inventor financially and handle his patents. Together they formed the Tesla Electric Company in1887, And set up a laboratory for Tesla at 89 Liberty Street in Manhattan. In 1887, Tesla developed an induction motor that ran on alternating current, a power system format that was rapidly expanding in Europe and the United States because of its advantages in long-distance, high-voltage transmission. The motor used polyphase current, which generated a rotating magnetic field to turn the motor. This innovative electric motor, patented in May 1888, was a simple self-starting design that did not need a commutator, thus avoiding sparking and the need for constantly servicing and replacing mechanical brushes. Physicist William Arnold Anthony tested the motor and Electrical World magazine editor Thomas Commerford Martin arranged for Tesla to demonstrate his alternating current motor on 16 May 1888 at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. George Westinghouse was also working on a device similar device To Tesla’s polyphase induction motor and transformer and Westinghouse also hired Tesla for one year to be a consultant at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company’s Pittsburgh labs. His alternating current (AC) induction motor and related polyphase AC patents, licensed by Westinghouse Electric in 1888, earned him a considerable amount of money and became the cornerstone of the polyphase system which that company would eventually market.

In 1889, Tesla traveled to the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris and learned of Heinrich Hertz’ 1886–88 experiments that proved the existence of electromagnetic radiation, including radio waves. Tesla decided to explore it by repeating and then expanding on these experiments, Tesla tried powering a Ruhmkorff coil with a high speed alternator he had been developing as part of an improved arc lighting system but found that the high frequency current overheated the iron core and melted the insulation between the primary and secondary windings in the coil. To fix this problem Tesla came up with his Tesla coil with an air gap instead of insulating material between the primary and secondary windings and an iron core that could be moved to different positions in or out of the coil.

After 1890, Tesla experimented with transmitting power by inductive and capacitive coupling using high AC voltages generated with his Tesla coil. He attempted to develop a wireless lighting system based on near-field inductive and capacitive coupling and conducted a series of public demonstrations where he lit Geissler tubes and even incandescent light bulbs from across a stage. In 1893 at St. Louis, Missouri, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the National Electric Light Association, Tesla told onlookers that he was sure a system like his could eventually conduct “intelligible signals or perhaps even power to any distance without the use of wires” by conducting it through the Earth. Tesla served as a vice-president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers from 1892 to 1894, the forerunner of the modern-day IEEE (along with the Institute of Radio Engineers).

Tesla also conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wireless-controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited. Tesla became well known as an inventor And Throughout the 1890s, Tesla experimented with wireless lighting and worldwide wireless electric power distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs. In 1893, he Worked on a device enabling wireless communication and tried to put these ideas to practical use in his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project, an intercontinental wireless communication and power transmitter.

After Wardenclyffe, Tesla went on to try and develop a series of inventions in the 1910s and 1920s with varying degrees of success. He is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Tesla gained experience in telephony and electrical engineering before emigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison. He soon struck out on his own with financial backers, setting up laboratories/companies to develop a range of electrical devices. His patented AC induction motor and transformer were licensed by George Westinghouse, who also hired Tesla as a consultant to help develop apower system using alternating current. Tesla is also known for his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs which included patented devices and theoretical work used in the invention of radio communication, for his X-ray experiments, and for his ill-fated attempt at intercontinental wireless transmission in his unfinished Wardenclyffe Towerproject.

Tesla’s achievements and his abilities as a showman demonstrating his seemingly miraculous inventions made him world-famous.Although he made a great deal of money from his patents, he spent a lot on numerous experiments. He lived for most of his life in a series of New York hotels although the end of his patent income and eventual bankruptcy led him to live in diminished circumstances. Despite this Tesla still continued to invite the press to parties he held on his birthday to announce new inventions he was working and make (sometimes unusual) statements. Because of his pronouncements and the nature of his work over the years, Tesla gained a reputation in popular culture as the archetypal “mad scientist”.

Sadly after his death Tesla’s work fell into relative obscurity, but since the 1990s, his reputation has experienced a comeback in popular culture. His work and reputed inventions are also at the center of many conspiracy theories and have also been used to support various pseudosciences, UFO theories and New Age occultism. In 1960, in honor of Tesla, the General Conference on Weights and Measures for the International System of Units dedicated the term “tesla” to the SI unit measure for magnetic field strength. There is also a range of Electric Cars named after him.

Louis Braille

Louis Braille

Posted on January 4, 2018 by rich1698 • Posted in Health • Tagged Health • Leave a comment • Edit
Louis Braille, French teacher of the blind and inventor of braille Was Born 4 January 1809 in Coupvray, France, a small town located east of Paris. He had an unfortunate accident At the age of three when he was toying with some of the tools, trying to make holes in a piece of leather with an awl. Squinting closely at the surface, he pressed down hard to drive the point in, and the awl glanced across the tough leather and struck him in one of his eyes. A local physician bound and patched the affected eye and even arranged for Louis to be met the next day in Paris by a highly-respected surgeon, but no treatment could save the damaged organ. Braille suffered for weeks as the wound became severely infected and spread to his other eye and by the age of five he was completely blind in both eyes. He learned to navigate the village and country paths with canes his father hewed for him, and he grew up seemingly at peace with his disability.

His bright and creative mind impressed the local teachers and priests, and he was encouraged to seek higher education. Braille studied in Coupvray until the age of ten. Because of his combination of intelligence and diligence, Braille was permitted to attend one of the first schools for blind children in the world, the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. The school was an underfunded, ramshackle affair, but it provided a stable environment for blind children to learn and associate together. The children were taught how to read by a system devised by the school’s founder, Valentin Haüy. Not blind himself, Haüy was a committed philanthropist who devoted his life to helping the blind. He designed and manufactured a small library of books for the children using a technique of embossing heavy paper with the raised imprints of Latin letters. Readers would trace their fingers over the text, comprehending slowly but in a traditional fashion which Haüy could appreciate.

Braille was helped by the Haüy books, but he also despaired over their lack of depth: the amount of information kept in such books was necessarily small. Because the raised letters were made using a complex process, the children could not hope to “write” by themselves. The handcrafted Haüy books all came in uncomfortable sizes and weights, were laboriously constructed, exquisitely delicate, and greatly expensive to obtain. Haüy promoted their use with zeal: the books presented a new and handsome system which could be readily comprehended by those with eyesight. Braille and his schoolmates, however, could detect the books’ limitations. Nonetheless, Haüy’s well-intentioned efforts still provided a breakthrough achievement – the recognition of the sense of touch as a workable strategy for sightless reading. Braille proved to be a highly proficient student and, after he had exhausted the school’s curriculum, he was immediately asked to remain as a teacher’s aide. By 1833, he was elevated to a full professorship. For much of the rest of his life, Braille stayed at the Institute where he taught history, geometry, and algebra. Braille’s ear for music also enabled him to become an accomplished cellist and organist, his musical talents led him to play the organ for churches all over France. He held the position of organist in Paris at the Church of Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs and the Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

Braille was determined to fashion a system of reading and writing that could bridge the critical gap in communication between the sighted and the blind. In 1821, Braille learned of a communication system devised by Captain Charles Barbier of the French Army. Barbier willingly shared his invention called “night writing” which was a code of dots and dashes impressed into thick paper. which could be interpreted entirely by the fingers, letting soldiers share information on the battlefield without having light or needing to speak.The captain’s code turned out to be too complex to use in its original military form, but it inspired Braille to develop a system of his own and he worked tirelessly on his ideas, which were largely completed by 1824, when he was just fifteen years of age. From Barbier’s night writing, he innovated by simplifying its form and maximizing its efficiency. He made uniform columns for each letter, and he reduced the twelve raised dots to six. He published his system in 1829, and by the second edition in 1837 had discarded the dashes because they were too difficult to read. Crucially, Braille’s smaller cells were capable of being recognized as letters with a single touch of a finger. Braille created his own raised-dot system by using an awl, the same kind of implement which had blinded him. In the process of designing his system, he also designed an ergonomic interface for using it, based on Barbier’s own slate and stylus tools which would keep the lines straight and readable. he system was later extended to include braille musical notation.

Passionate about his own music, Braille also took meticulous care in its planning to ensure that the musical code would be “flexible enough to meet the unique requirements of any instrument. In 1829, he published the first book about his system, Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them. Ironically this book was first printed by using the Haüy system. In 1839, Braille published details of a method he had developed for communication with sighted people, using patterns of dots to approximate the shape of printed symbols. his friend Pierre Foucault was also working on the development of a device that could emboss letters in the manner of a typewriter.

Braille had always been a sickly child, and his condition worsened in adulthood. A persistent respiratory illness, long believed to be tuberculosis, dogged him, and by the age of forty, he was forced to relinquish his position as a teacher. When his condition reached mortal danger, he was taken back to his family home in Coupvray, where he passed away on 6th January 1852, two days after he had reached the age of forty-three. Through the overwhelming insistence of the blind pupils, Braille’s system was finally adopted by the Institute in 1854. The system spread throughout the French-speaking world, but was slower to expand in other places. In the Netherlands though, braille was already taught at the institute for the blind in Amsterdam at least as early as 1846. braille was officially adopted by schools for the blind in the United States in 1916, and a universal braille code for English was formalized in 1932. New variations in braille technology continue to grow, including such innovations as braille computer terminals; RoboBraille email delivery service; and Nemeth Braille, a comprehensive system for mathematical and scientific notation. Braille’s revolutionary form of communication that transcended blindness and transformed the lives of millions. After two centuries, the braille system remains an invaluable tool of learning and communication for the blind, and it has been adapted for languages worldwide.

Louis Pasteur (Part One)

French biologist, microbiologist and chemist Louis Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822, in Dole, Jura, France, to a Catholic family of a poor tanner. He was the third child of Jean-Joseph Pasteur and Jeanne-Etiennette Roqui. The family moved to Marnoz in 1826 and then to Arbois in 1827. Pasteur entered primary school in 1831 and was an average student in his early years, and not particularly academic, as his interests were fishing and sketching. He drew many pastels and portraits of his parents, friends and neighbors. Pasteur attended secondary school at the Collège d’Arbois. In October 1838, he left for Paris to join the Pension Barbet, but became homesick and returned in November.

In 1839, he entered the Collège Royal at Besançon to study philosophy and earned his Bachelor of Letters degree in 1840. He was appointed a tutor at the Besançon college while continuing a degree science course with special mathematics. He managed to pass the baccalauréat scientifique (general science) degree in 1842 from Dijon but with a mediocre grade in chemistry. In 1842, Pasteur took the entrance test for the École Normale Supérieur. He also attended classes at the Lycée Saint-Louis and lectures of Jean-Baptiste Dumas at the Sorbonne. In 1843, he passed his exam and entered the École Normale Supérieure and In 1845 he received the licencié ès sciences (Master of Science) degree.

In 1846, he was appointed professor of physics at the Collège de Tournon (now called Lycée Gabriel-Faure [fr]) in Ardèche, but the chemist Antoine Jérôme Balard wanted him back at the École Normale Supérieure as a graduate laboratory assistant (agrégé préparateur). He joined Balard and simultaneously started his research in crystallography and in 1847, he submitted two theses, in chemistry and physics He became professor of physics at the Dijon Lycée in 1848 and professor of chemistry at the University of Strasbourg, and in May 29, 1849 he married Marie Laurent, daughter of the university’s rector.

He made a number of remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and prevention of diseases, He reduced mortality from puerperal fever, and created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax. He disproved the doctrine of spontaneous generation and investigated tartaric acid and optical isomers. He made significant discoveries in chemistry, most notably on the molecular basis for the asymmetry of certain crystals and racemization . He also invented a technique for treating milk and wine to stop bacterial contamination, a process now called pasteurization And discovered a fundamental principle in the structure of organic compounds. He also performed experiments that showed that without contamination, microorganisms could not develop and demonstrated that in sterilized and sealed flasks nothing ever developed, however in sterilized but open flasks microorganisms could grow.

Pasteur was appointed professor of chemistry at the University of Strasbourg in 1848, and became the chair of chemistry in 1852 and In 1854, he was named dean of the new faculty of sciences at University of Lille, where he began his studies on fermentation. In 1857, he moved to Paris as the director of scientific studies at the École Normale Supérieure where he took control from 1858 to 1867 and In 1863, he was appointed professor of geology, physics, and chemistry at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts Until resigning in 1867 whereupon he became the chair of organic chemistry at the Sorbonne. In 1867, the École Normale’s laboratory of physiological chemistry was created at Pasteur’s request, and he was the laboratory’s director from 1867 to 1888.

Charles Babbage

Mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer and English Polymath Charles Babbage, FRS was born 26 December 1791. Babbage attended country school inAlphington near Exeter, then attended King Edward VI Grammar School in Totnes, South Devon, but his health forced him back to private tutors for a time Babbage then joined Holmwood academy, in Baker Street, Enfield,Middlesex, The academy’s library kindled Babbage’s love of mathematics. He studied with two more private tutors after leaving the academy. He was brought home, to study at the Totnes school: Babbage was accepted by Cambridge University and arrived at Trinity College, Cambridge, in October 1810, where he formed the Analytical society in 1812 with John Herschel and George Peacock ; Babbage was also a member of The Ghost Club, which investigated supernatural phenomena, and the Extractors Club, dedicated to liberating its members from the madhouse, should any be committed to one .In 1812 Babbage transferred to Peterhouse, Cambridge. He was the top mathematician there, but did not graduate with honours, receiving a degree without examination instead in 1814 after having defended a thesis that was considered blasphemous in the preliminary public disputation;

In 1815 Babbage lectured at the Royal Institution on astronomy and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1816. After graduation, Babbage and Herschel visited the Society of Arcueil in Paris, meeting leading French mathematicians and physicists and also worked on a basic explanation of the Electrodynamics of Arago’s rotation with Herschel, and Michael Farraday. These are now part of the theory of eddy currents. He also worked on the unification of electromagnetics. Babbage was also interested in the Coarative View of the Various institutions for the Assurance of Lives and calculated Acturial tables for an insurance Company using Equitable Society Mortality Data from 1762. Babbage helped found the Astronomical Society in 1820, whose aims were to reduce astronomical calculations to a more standard form, and publish the data. In 1824 Babbage won the Astronomical Society’s Gold Medal, “for his invention of an engine for calculating mathematical and astronomical tables” to overcome errors made in tables by mechanisation and to improve the Nautical Almanac after decrepencies were found in traditional calculations. Babbage also helped establish a modern postal system, with his friend Thomas Frederick Colby, And introduced the Uniform Fourpenny Post supplanted by the Uniform Penny Post. In 1816 Babbage, Herschel and Peacock published a translation from French of the lectures of Sylvestre Lacroix concerning Calculus, the Formal Power Series which affected functional equations (including the difference equations fundamental to the difference engine) and operator (D-module) methods for differential equations. He also originated the concept of a programmable computer” and invented the first mechanical computer that eventually led to more complex designs.

The analogy of difference and differential equations was notationally changing Δ to D, as a “finite” difference becomes “infinitesimal”. These symbolic directions became popular, as operational calculus, and pushed to the point of diminishing returns. Woodhouse had already founded this second “British Lagrangian School” Babbage worked intensively on functional equations in general, influenced by Arbogast’s ideas. From 1828 to 1839 Babbage was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. Not a conventional resident don, and inattentive to teaching, he wrote three topical books during this period of his life. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of theAmerican Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1832. Babbage planned to lecture in 1831 on political economy. Babbage’s reforming direction Aiming to make university education more inclusive, with universities doing more for research, a broader syllabus and more interest in applications, but the idea was rejected. Another controversy Babbage had with Richard Jones lasted for six years and he never gave another lecture. Babbage also tried to enter politics, his views included disestablishment of the Church of England, a broader political franchise, and inclusion of manufacturers as stakeholders. He twice stood for Parliament as a candidate for the borough of Finsbury. In 1832 he came in third among five candidates, missing out by some 500 votes in the two-member constituency when two other reformist candidates, Thomas Wakley and Christopher Temple, split the vote. Babbage wrote another book Reflections on the Decline of Science and some of its Causes (1830) attacking the establishment and aiming to improve British science, by ousting Davies Gilbert as President of the Royal Society. Babbage also wished to become the junior secretary of the Royal Society, as Herschel was the senior, but failed after antagonizing Humphry Davy. subsequently the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) was formed in 1831.

Babbage used symbols to express the actions of his Difference and Analytical Engines in his influential book Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, which dealt with the organisation of industrial production. And An essay on the general principles which regulate the application of machinery to manufactures and the mechanical arts, was featured in the Encyclopædia Metropolitana. In his book Babbage developed the schematic classification of machines, whether for Domestic or industrial use andThe book also contained ideas on rational design in factories, and profit sharing and described The Babbage Principal. This discussed the commercial advantages available with more careful division of labour This principal had already been mentioned in the work of Melchiorre Gioia in 1815.The term was introduced in 1974 by Harry Braverman. Related formulations are the “principle of multiples” of Philip Sargant Florence, and the “balance of processes”. Babbage noticed that skilled workers typically spend parts of their time performing tasks that are below their skill level. If the labour process can be divided among several workers, labour costs may be cut by assigning only high-skill tasks to high-cost workers, restricting other tasks to lower-paid workers And that apprenticeship can be taken as fixed cost but returns to scale are available favoring the factory system. He also published a detailed breakdown of the cost structure of book publishing exposing the trade’s profitability,much to the chagrin of many publishers and namedthe organisers of the trade’s restrictive practices.

Babbage’s theories also influenced the 1851 Great Exhibition his views having a strong effect on many. Karl Marx argued that the source of the productivity of the factory system was the combination of the division of labour with machinery but mentioned that the motivation for division of labour was often for the sake of profitability, rather than productivity. Babbage also influenced the economic thinking of John Stuart Mill, George Holyoake, the economist Claude Lucien Bergery, William Jevons and Charles Fourier among others

In 1837, Babbage published On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God. A work of natural theology in which Babbage favored uniformitarianism preferring the conception of creation in which natural law dominated, removing the need for “contrivance. It incorporated extracts from related correspondence of Herschel withCharles Lyell. Babbage put forward the thesis that God had the omnipotence and foresight to create as a divine legislator. He could make laws which then produced species at the appropriate times, rather than continually interfering with ad hoc miracles each time a new species was required. The British Association as inspired by the Deutsche Naturforscher-Versammlung, founded in 1822. It rejected romantic science as well as metaphysics, and started to entrench the divisions of science from literature, and professionals from amateurs. Babbage also identified closely with industrialists And Suggested that industrial society was the culmination of human development. In 1838 a clash with Roderick Murchison led to his withdrawal from further involvement and he also resigned as Lucasian professor,

His interests became more focussed, on computation and metrology, and on international contacts And announced A project to tabulate all physical constants (referred to as “constants of nature”, a phrase in itself a neologism), and then to compile an encyclopedic work of numerical information. He was a pioneer in the field of “absolute measurement”.] His ideas followed on from those of Johann Christian Poggendorff, and were mentioned to Brewster in 1832. There were to be 19 categories of constants, and Ian Hacking sees these as reflecting in part Babbage’s “eccentric enthusiasms” Babbage’s paper On Tables of the Constants of Nature and Art was reprinted by the Smithsonian Institution in 1856, with an added note that the physical tables of Arnold Henry Guyot “will form a part of the important work proposed in this article”.Exact measurement was also key to the development of machine tools. Here again Babbage is considered a pioneer, with Henry Maudslay, William Sellers, and Joseph Whitworth

Babbage also met the the Engineers Marc Brunel and Joseph Clement at the Royal Society And introduced them to Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1830, for a contact with the proposed Bristol & Birmingham Railway. He also carried out studies, around 1838, showing the superiority of the broad gauge for railways, used by Brunel’s Great Western Railway ln 1838, And invented the pilot (also called a cow-catcher), the metal frame attached to the front of locomotives that clears the tracks of obstacles; he also constructed a dynamometer car. His eldest son, Benjamin Herschel Babbage, also worked as an engineer for Brunel on the railways before emigrating to Australia in the 1850s. Babbage also invented an ophthalmoscope, however the optician Thomas Wharton Jones, ignored it and It Was only widely used after being independently invented by Hermann von Helmholtz.

Babbage also decoded Vigenère’s autokey cipher during the Crimean War His discovery being kept a military secret And later wrote a letter anonymously to the Journal of the Society for Arts concerning “Cypher Writing” . Babbage lived and worked for over 40 years at 1 Dorset Street, Marylebone, where he died, at the age of 79, on 18 October 1871; he was buried in London’s Kensal Green Cemetery. According to Horsley, Babbage died “of renal inadequacy, secondary to cystitis.” He had declined both a knighthood and baronetcy. He also argued against hereditary peerages, favoring life peerages instead .In 1983 the autopsy report for Charles Babbage was discovered and later published by his great-great-grandson A copy of the original is also available. Half of Babbage’s brain is preserved at the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons in London The other half of Babbage’s brain is on display in the Science Museum, London.