Blaise Pascal: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Blaise Pascal.

  • Blaise Pascal was a French physicist, inventor, mathematician and philosopher. He also studied the properties of fluids, and researched and wrote about probability theory and projective geometry.

  • He was born in Clermont-Ferrand, France in 1623, and was interested in mathematics and science from an early age. By age 16 he was presenting mathematical theories that he had devised.
  • In 1642, Pascal invented a calculator with movable dials, to help his father calculate taxes. He devised and built 20 calculating machines, making him one of the first people to construct a mechanical calculator.
  • Pascal was fascinated by the concept of the vacuum, and he conducted important research. During one of his experiments he carried a barometer to the top of a 50 metre high Paris church tower.
  • The hydraulic press and the syringe were both invented by Blaise Pascal. He also devised an early version of a roulette game, and experimented with measuring pressure with a barometer.
  • Blaise Pascal developed a mathematical theory of probability, based on his interest in gambling. He also carried out important work into the relationship between gasses and liquids.

Blaise Pascal

  • Pascal became interested in religion and philosophy and wrote important works on the subjects. His famous work, the Provincial Letters, was written to defend another theologian of the time.
  • After having a religious vision in 1654, Blaise Pascal became less interested in science and mathematics. He wrote several important books on Christianity and philosophy, such as his book, the Thoughts.
  • One of his last achievements was the development of an early bus route to transport many people at once.
  • He died in Paris in 1662, rejecting the help of his doctor.
  • Blaise Pascal has lent his name to a programming language, a unit of pressure and a hydrostatics law. Pascal’s Triangle, a diagram of prime numbers, is also named for him.

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Samuel Morse: Facts About the Famous Inventor

Here are some facts about Samuel Morse.

  • Samuel Morse was born in 1791 in Charlestown, Massachusetts in the United States.

  • His father was a pastor and geographer.
  • Samuel Morse studied at Phillips Academy and Yale College. He supported himself by selling his paintings.
  • In 1811, Samuel Morse and his father traveled to England. They stayed there for three years and Morse worked on improving his painting technique.
  • One his most well-known paintings is called Dying Hercules.
  • In 1816, Samuel Morse painted President John Adams. He also painted the Marquis de Layfayette, a leading French supporter of the American Revolution.
  • Morse traveled to Europe in the early 1830s. He visited Italy, France and Switzerland and became friends with James Fennimore Cooper (author of The Last of the Mohicans) after meeting him in Paris.
  • In 1832, Samuel Morse met Charles Thomas Jackson, a student of electromagnetism. Keen to develop a rapid means of communicating over long distance, Morse developed the single-wire telegraph.

Samuel Morse

  • He developed the Morse code with Alfred Vail, a way of transmitting text through a series of on/off tones, became the main language of telegraphy.
  • In 1838, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail demonstrated the electric telegraph to the public at the Speedwell Ironworks in New Jersey.
  • In 1844, Morse set up a telegraph wire between Washington DC and Baltimore. The first official message sent was “What hath God wrought.”
  • In the 1850s, Samuel Morse was in favour of slavery, believing it to be sanctioned by God.
  • Morse also invented a machine for cutting marble for three-dimensional sculptures.
  • Samuel Morse died in 1872, in New York City. He is buried at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
  • In 1871, a statue of Samuel Morse was put up in Central Park, New York. More than 10000 people witnessed the statue’s unveiling.
  • The death of Samuel Morse’s first wife was the event that triggered his work on developing the telegraph. He was informed by his wife’s illness by a message sent by horse messenger. He raced to her side but he hadn’t received the message in time. By the time he arrived, she was already dead and buried.

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Humphry Davy: Facts About The Famous Scientist and Inventor

Here are some facts about Humphry Davy.

  • Humphry Davy was born on 17th December 1778 in Penzance, Cornwall.

  • He went to Truro Grammar School.
  • In 1794 his father died and Humprhy Davy was apprenticed to John Bingham Borlase, a surgeon from Penzance.
  • As an apprentice, Humphry became interested chemistry and carried out experiments in John Tonkin’s house, where he was boarder.
  • As a young man, Humphry Davy wrote poetry and painted landscapes.
  • In 1798, Davy became a member of the Pneumatic Institute in Bristol.
  • In Bristol he became friends with James Watt and his son Gregory, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey.
  • In 1804, Davy became a Fellow of the Royal Society. His lectures often involved dangerous experiments with different types of gas.
  • Humphry Davy was a key pioneer in the use of electrolysis to split compounds. He isolated several new elements, including potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, boron and barium.
  • In 1810, Humphry Day named chlorine, after proving that it didn’t in fact contain oxygen and was element.

Humphry Davy

  • Davy damaged his eyesight in an experiment with nitrogen trichloride. He hired Michael Faraday as a co-worker, as a result.
  • He was knighted as Sir Humphry Davy in 1812.
  • In 1813, he demonstrated that iodine was an element, and he showed that diamond is made of pure carbon.
  • He visited Alessandro Volta in Milan, Italy in 1814.
  • Davy designed his version of the safety lamp for use in coal mines. It used wire gauze to enclose the lamp’s flames, preventing the methane in the mines from igniting. The Davy Lamp worked well at first, but the gauze rusted very quickly in the mines, making it unsafe to use after a while.
  • In 1820, he was named President of the Royal Society.
  • He died in 1829 in Geneva, Switzerland. He is buried in Plainpalais Cemetery in Switzerland. There is a memorial tablet for him in Westminster Abbey, London.
  • A lunar crater has been named after him.
  • There is a Humphry Davy statue in Penzance, Cornwall.
  • He enjoyed fly-fishing and wrote a book on the subject called Salmonia.
  • Humphry Davy was addicted to nitrous oxide (laughing gas).

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Sir Richard Arkwright: Facts And Information

Here are some facts about Richard Arkwright.

  • Richard Arkwright was born in Preston, England on 23 December 1732.

  • He was one of the key inventors and businessmen during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Many people believe that he is the architect of the modern factory system.
  • Richard was the youngest of seven children. Thomas Arkwright, his father, was a tailor.
  • When he had completed his education -Thomas was taught at home by his cousin, Ellen- Richard became an apprentice barber and wig-maker.
  • When his apprenticeship was over, he set up on his own as a wig-maker. He invented a waterproof dye for wigs and this made him a good income.

Richard Arkwright

  • In 1755, Richard married Patience Holt. They had a son, Richard Arkwright Junior.
  • Unfortunately, Patience died in 1756. In 1761, Richard married Margaret Biggins.
  • In 1769 Richard Arkwright patented the spinning frame (later called the water-frame), a machine to produce inexpensive spun cotton.
  • In 1771, Arkwright and his business partners built the first water-powered cotton mill at Cromford in Derbyshire.
  • In 1776, Arkwright constructed a larger mill at Cromford. He then built other mills at Wirksworth and Bakewell.
  • The Cromford Mill employed more than 1000 people, many of whom had been relocated by Arkwright from outside of the Cromford area. Many of the employees were children, some as young as ten.

Cromford Mill

  • In 1786, Arkwright was knighted.
  • In 1787, Sir Richard Arkwright became High Sheriff of Derbyshire
  • Arkwright died in Cromford on 3 August 1792. He was 59 years old.
  • In 1788, Sir Richard Arkwright purchsed a plot of land from Florence Nightingale‘s father. He started to build Willersley Castle, but due to a fire which resulted in much rebuilding, Richard Arkwright never got to stay. The castle was only completed after his death.

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Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

  • Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a Scottish designer and architect. He is most famous for his Art Nouveau designs, one of the most popular early 20th century styles of decorative art.

  • Mackintosh was born in Glasgow, Scotland in June, 1868 and lived in the city for most of his life. In 1890 he won a student award, allowing him to study architecture and design.
  • Between 1899 and 1913 Mackintosh worked in a local architectural practice. Along with his wife and two other designers, he formed an artistic group known as the Four.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

  • Mackintosh was heavily influenced by the simple designs of Asian painting, drawing and design.
  • The Four was mistrusted by the public because of their unusual designs and the group was sometimes known as the Spook School. They designed furniture, metalwork and book illustrations.
  • Mackintosh’s designs were more appreciated in Austria and Germany than in the UK. He exhibited his architectural designs in Moscow and Berlin and was asked to design the Warndorfer Music Room in Vienna.
  • One of his best known buildings is the Glasgow School of Art, which is still in use today. The design of the building was influenced by his travels to Italy and his love of nature.
  • Charles Rennie Mackintosh also designed Glasgow’s Willow Tea Rooms, which still serve tea on Glasgow’s Sauciehall Street today. The elegant room had a fireplace, comfortable armchairs and sofas, and a vaulted ceiling.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Dining Room
A dining room design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh
  • He submitted a design for Liverpool Cathedral in 1903 but it was not chosen. He designed several other never built buildings, including a concert hall, science museum and railway station.
  • Charles Rennie Mackintosh moved to Brittany, France in 1923, and painted watercolours. He died in December, 1928 and is buried in Golders Green crematorium in London.

Charles Babbage: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Charles Babbage.

  • Charles Babbage was an English inventor, engineer and mathematician. He is best known for devising the first mechanical computer which led to modern advances in computers.
  • Babbage was born in London in 1791, attended Cambridge University and became the college’s top mathematician.

  • He and his friends at Cambridge founded the Ghost Club to investigate supernatural happenings.

Charles Babbage

  • He helped to found the Astronomical Society in 1820. He was also in charge of a survey of Ireland and helped to create Britain’s modern postal system.
  • In 1822, Charles Babbage devised a machine able to perform mathematical calculations. He built a 12 metre long workshop in his garden, but was accused of wasting government money on the project.
  • During the 1830s, Babbage worked on an analytical engine which would perform all sorts of calculations. Babbage and his team produced over 7,000 pages of designs and notes for the machine.
  • The machine would be housed in a 5 metre tall building, a mechanical version of a modern computer’s CPU. Babbage never got funding for the machine, but continued to work on improved versions.
  • In 1832, Babbage stood for Parliament and was almost elected as an MP.
  • He invented the cow catching device on the front of locomotives, and published several papers on God and religion.
  • Babbage died in October, 1871, having declined a knighthood.
  • Half of his brain is on display in London’s Science Museum, and the other half can be seen in the Royal College of Surgeons.
  • A plaque at 1, Dorset Street in London commemorates the 40 years Charles Babbage lived there.
  • He has had a locomotive and a moon crater named after him, as well as several university buildings.
  • A difference engine was built in 1991, based on Babbage’s design. It worked perfectly. In 2011, a plan was announced to build his analytical engine, which should be finished around 2021.

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Percy Shaw: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Percy Shaw.

  • Percy Shaw was a British businessman and inventor. He is best known for inventing the cat’s eye, the reflective block that is set into roads to make it easier for motorists to identify the division between lanes and the edges of the roads at night.

  • Shaw was born in Yorkshire in 1890 and worked in a local mill when he was 13. During World War 1 he started a business that repaired small machine tools.
  • Shaw learned to play the violin and flute at an early age.
  • As a youngster, he made extra money by selling vegetables from the family’s garden in the local village.
  • In the early 1920s, Shaw took his first ever holiday. He bought a bicycle, which at the time was a novelty, and cycled to London, a journey which took 3 days.
  • He came up with the idea for the cat’s eye when he was driving along a dark and winding road near his home. Shaw saw the eyes of a cat reflecting his headlights back to him.
  • In 1934, Shaw took a patent out on his device and created a company to manufacture it. The company was soon making over £1 million  a year, partly due to the World War 2 blackout.
  • Percy Shaw even designed the cat’s eye to clean itself. When a car ran over the device, any rain water collected would wash over the glass surface, like human tears washing over a human eye.
  • Although the cat’s eye saved many lives, there was also some concern that they could harm people with epilepsy.
  • In 1999, a cat’s eye became loose and flew through a windscreen, killing the driver.
  • Percy Shaw became quite eccentric in his old age. He removed the carpets and furniture from his home and kept 3 televisions constantly tuned to different channels.
  • Percy Shaw’s simple invention has been improved over the years. A recent development has been a solar powered LED device which remains bright all through the night.

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Henry Ford: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Henry Ford.

  • Henry Ford was an American industrialist. He is most famous for founding the Ford motor company and for introducing the concept of the assembly line to improve production.
  • He was born in Michigan in 1863 on a farm.

  • Henry hated farm work and, at 14, he became an apprentice machinist and later worked for a company started by Thomas Edison.
  • Ford experimented with gasoline engines, building the Quadricycle, his first car in his tool shed.

Henry Ford

  • After building a 26 horsepower car in 1901, the Henry Ford company was formed.
  • The Ford Model T was introduced in 1908 and was so affordable that most American drivers learned to drive in one. It was only manufactured in black at first, as black paint at the time dried the fastest.
  • He was also an enthusiastic car racer. He set a speed record for a 1.6 km track in 1911 and also finished first in a race across America in 1909.
  • Henry Ford wanted his workers to be happy and paid them double the regular rate. He was against trade unions and insisted his employees did not gamble or drink a lot.
  • By 1916, about 55 percent of all the cars on American roads were Ford Model Ts. When production of the car stopped in 1927, 15,007,034 Model Ts had been sold.
  • Henry Ford never had a driving licence. He also fired any of his workers who drove any car which was manufactured by any of his competitors.
  • Henry Ford was an enthusiastic inventor and was awarded over 160 patents. He helped to invent a plastic car, as well as the charcoal bricks used to start fires.
  • Ford died in 1947 from complications caused by a brain tumour and his grandson took over the company.
  • His image appeared on stamps featuring famous Americans, in the 1960s and 70s.