Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was France’s most celebrated mathematician and physicist and religious philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father. He worked on conic sections and projective geometry and he laid the foundations for the theory of probability. In 1642, at the age of 18, Pascal invented and build the first digital calculator as a means of helping his father perform tedious tax accounting. Pascal’s father was the tax collector for the township of Rouen. The device was called Pascal’s calculator or the Pascaline or the Arithmetique. Pascal continued to make improvements to his design through the next decade and built fifty Pascaline machines in total. Read more and see pictures at https://www.educalc.net/196488.page
Our country is named after the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci. He was an Italian merchant, born in 1454 in Florence and employed by the Medicis. They sent him to look after their ship-outfitting business, which operated out of Seville, about the time Columbus made his first voyage. In fact, the business had a part in outfitting Columbus's third voyage. Vespucci finally outfitted his own voyage in quest of the passage to the Indian subcontinent that had eluded Columbus. He sailed in 1499-- even years after Columbus first landed in the West Indies. Vespucci made two voyages between 1499 and 1502 and possibly a third one in 1503. During his first voyage he explored the northern coast of South America to well beyond the mouth of the Amazon. He gave names like "Gulf of the Ganges," and other Asian place-names he knew about, to the things he saw. He also made significant improvements in navigational techniques. During this trip he predicted the earth's circumference to within 50 miles. But the big breakthrough came on Vespucci's second trip. And that was the realization that what he was looking at was not India at all, but an entirely new continent. He verified the fact by following the coast of South America down to within 400 miles of Tierra del Fuego. And who wrote Vespucci's Christian name on the maps? We were given our name by an obscure German clergyman and amateur geographer named Waldseemuller. Waldseemuller was a member of a little literary club that published an introduction to cosmology in 1507. In it he wrote of the new land mass that Vespucci had explored: I see no reason why anyone should justly object to calling this part . . . America, after Amerigo [Vespucci], its discoverer, a man of great ability. The name stuck, and when a second land mass was discovered to the north, the names North and South America were applied to the two continents. John H. Lienhard http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi43.htm
The Qin dynasty was brief in duration (221-206 BCE) but very important in Chinese history. Despite its brevity, the Qin dynasty left important marks on Chinese culture. In fact, the name "China" is derived from the name Qin (“Ch’in” in former Romanization systems). The Qin empire unified China for the first time in its history. Qin did more than just found a dynasty in China: they brought a continent together. Gabriel Peralta Read about legalism, the Terracotta Army in Xi'an, and The Great Wall of China at http://www.ancient.eu/Qin_Dynasty/
Paraphrase from Even the Dead, #7 in the Quirke series of novels by Benjamin Black (pen name of John Banville) I'm not well-read. I'm a magpie--I pick up bright scraps and store them away.
The Man Who Invented The Computer is Pulitzer Prize winning author Jane Smiley’s fascinating story of the invention of the first computer. The story follows the parallel tracks of the development of four different computers and their inventors in the US, Great Britain, and Germany set against the backdrop of World War II. The core thread tells the story of John Atanasoff, a young associate professor of physics at Iowa State University, who, frustrated with the tedium of solving complex mathematical equations, scribbled what would become the foundation of modern digital computing on a cocktail napkin in a roadside bar. Atanasoff’s ideas were later found to have jump-started the development of the ENIAC, which usurped the title of “world’s first electronic digital computer” from Atanasoff’s ABC computer. ENIAC’s creators, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, went on to patent their invention in 1964. Meanwhile, in Great Britain, Thomas Flowers and Alan Turing were part of a group charged with the task of creating the world’s first code-breaking computers, only to be forced to destroy their inventions, as well as evidence of their existence by a cautious (or paranoid) Winston Churchill. And in Nazi Germany, Konrad Zuse embarked on a Fellini-esque adventure to spirit his state-of-the-art Z4 computer out of Berlin. A controversial 1973 patent infringement suit decision ultimately invalidated Eckert and Mauchly’s 1964 ENIAC patent, finding that “Eckert and Mauchly did not themselves first invent the automatic electronic digital computer, but instead derived that subject matter from one Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff.” This landmark decision was buried by the news of the Watergate “Saturday Night Massacre.” The judge’s decision in Honeywell, Inc. v. Sperry Rand Corp was not appealed, thus placing the invention in the public domain. http://blog.sfgate.com/tmiller/2011/01/06/the-man-who-invented-the-computer-an-interview-with-pulitzer-prize-winning-author-jane-smiley/
Thomas the Rhymer, the famous thirteenth century Scottish mystic and poet, once met the Faery Queen by a hawthorn bush from which a cuckoo was calling. She led him into the Faery Underworld for a brief sojourn, but upon reemerging into the world of mortals he found he had been absent for seven years. Themes of people being waylaid by the faery folk to places where time passes differently are common in Celtic mythology, and the hawthorn was one of, if not the, most likely tree to be inhabited or protected by the Wee Folk. In Ireland most of the isolated trees, or so-called 'lone bushes', found in the landscape and said to be inhabited by faeries, were hawthorn trees. Hawthorn is at its most prominent in the landscape when it blossoms during the month of May, and probably the most popular of its many vernacular names is the May-tree. As such, it is the only British plant which is named after the month in which it blooms. As 'Thorn' it is also the most common tree found in English place names, and the tree most frequently mentioned in Anglo-Saxon boundary charters. It has many associations with May Day festivities. Though the tree now flowers around the middle of the month, it flowered much nearer the beginning of the month, before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1752. The blossoms were used for garlands, and large leafy branches were cut, set in the ground outside houses as so-called May bushes and decorated with local wildflowers. The leaves were eaten and were commonly referred to as bread and cheese, the blossom and berries were made into wines and jellies, and decoctions of the flowers and leaves were used to stabilise blood pressure. The strong, close-grained wood was used for carving, and for making tool handles and other small household items. Probably its greatest practical use to people has been as hedging. http://treesforlife.org.uk/forest/mythology-folklore/hawthorn/
Nominative determinism is the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their name. The term was first used in the magazine New Scientist in 1994, after the magazine's humorous Feedback column noted several studies carried out by researchers with remarkably fitting surnames. These included a book on polar explorations by Daniel Snowman and an article on urology by researchers named Splatt and Weedon. These and other examples led to light-hearted speculation that some sort of psychological effect was at work. The idea that people are drawn to professions that fit their name was suggested by psychologist Carl Jung, citing as an example Sigmund Freud who studied pleasure and whose surname means "joy". A few recent empirical studies have indicated that certain professions are disproportionately represented by people with appropriate surnames, though the methods of these studies have been challenged. One explanation for nominative determinism is implicit egotism, which states that humans have an unconscious preference for things they associate with themselves. An alternative explanation is genetic: a person might be named Smith or Taylor because that was originally their occupation, and they would pass on their genes to their descendants, including an aptitude for activities involving strength in the case of Smith, or dexterity in the case of Taylor. Before people could gravitate towards areas of work that matched their name, many people were given names that matched their area of work. The way people are named has changed over time. In pre-urban times people were only known by a single name, for example, the Anglo-Saxon name Beornheard. Single names were chosen for their meaning or given as nicknames. In England it was not until after the Norman conquest that surnames were added. Surnames were created to fit the person, mostly from patronyms (e.g., son of William becomes John Williamson), occupational descriptions (e.g., John Carpenter), character or traits (e.g., John Long), or location (e.g., John from Acton became John Acton). Names were not initially hereditary; only by the mid-14th century did they gradually become so. Surnames relating to trades or craft were the first to become hereditary, as the craft often persisted within the family for generations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative_determinism
A TANK AWAY FROM TOLEDO On May 28, 2017 we visited the Akron Art Museum and the main branch of the Akron-Summit Public Library. They are across the street from each other, and as it was a Sunday, we parked free in a ramp with an entrance directly into the library. The art museum opened earlier than the library so that was our first stop. I especially enjoyed Bach Chord by William Sommer, an American Modernist painter. https://akronartmuseum.org/collection/Obj2281?sid=124&x=86670&port=203 Sommer spent most of his life in Summit County near Brandywine Falls. Sommer was an acknowledged leader of the "Cleveland School," a group of Cleveland-based artists who were active from the teens through the mid-1940s. He continued to paint until his death in 1949. Hart Crane dedicated his poem, Sunday Morning Apples to him. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Sommer I saw a puzzling pink bagel (?) sculpture by Claes Oldenburg, but no--it turned out to be an "Inverted Q." https://akronartmuseum.org/collection/Obj1478?sid=1615582&x=84266307 The main branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library is a welcoming place with good light, good signage and friendly staff. No computers were working, so we contented ourselves with reading books, newspapers and magazines. http://www.akronlibrary.org/locations/main-library