Monthly Archives: August 2015

Marco Polo

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Marco Polo        Marco Polo

Italy : A Courageous Discoverer

Marco Polo September 15, 1254 – January  was an Italian merchant traveler  whose travels are recorded in Livres des merveilles du monde Book of the Marvels of the World, also known as The Travels of Marco Polo a book that introduced Europeans to Central Asia and China.

He learned the mercantile trade from his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, who travelled through Asia, and met Kublai Khan. In 1269, they returned to Venice to meet Marco for the first time. The three of them embarked on an epic journey to Asia, returning after 24 years to find Venice at war with Genoa; Marco was imprisoned and dictated his stories to a cellmate. He was released in 1299, became a wealthy merchant, married, and had three children. He died in 1324 and was buried in the church of San Lorenzo in Venice.

Marco Polo was not the first European to reach China see Europeans in Medieval China but he was the first to leave a detailed chronicle of his experience. This book inspired Christopher Columbus and many other travellers. There is a substantial literature based on Polo’s writings; he also influenced European cartography, leading to the introduction of the Fra Mauro map.

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Fa-Hsien

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Fa-Hsien         Fa-Hsien

China : Traveller And a Learned Man

Faxian  was a Chinese Buddhist monk who travelled by foot from China to India, visiting many sacred Buddhist sites in what are now Xinjiang, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka between  to acquire Buddhist texts. His journey is described in his important travelogue, A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms, Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Xian of his Travels in India and Ceylon in Search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline. Antiquated transliterations of his name include Fa-Hien and Fa-hsien.

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Christopher Columbus

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Christopher Columbus          Christopher Columbus

Italy : Great Explorer

Christopher Columbus born between 31 October 1450 and 30 October 1451, Genoa; died 20 May 1506, Valladolid was an Italian explorer, navigator, colonizer and citizen of the Republic of Genoa. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. Those voyages, and his efforts to establish permanent settlements on the island of Hispaniola, initiated the Spanish colonization of the New World.In the context of emerging western imperialism and economic competition between European kingdoms through the establishment of trade routes and colonies, Columbus’ proposal to reach the East Indies by sailing westward, eventually received the support of the Spanish Crown, which saw in it a chance to enter the spice trade with Asia through a new westward route. During his first voyage in 1492, instead of arriving at Japan as he had intended, Columbus reached the New World, landing on an island in the Bahamas archipelago that he named “San Salvador”. Over the course of three more voyages, Columbus visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, claiming all of it for the Crown of Castile.Though Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas (having been preceded by the Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson in the 11th century his voyages led to the first lasting European contact with the Americas, inaugurating a period of European exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted for several centuries. They had, therefore, an enormous impact in the historical development of the modern Western world. Columbus spearheaded the transatlantic slave trade and has been accused by several historians of initiating the genocide of the Hispaniola natives. Columbus himself saw his accomplishments primarily in the light of spreading the Christian religion.Never admitting that he had reached a continent previously unknown to Europeans, rather than the East Indies he had set out for, Columbus called the inhabitants of the lands he visited indios Columbus’ strained relationship with the Spanish crown and its appointed colonial administrators in America led to his arrest and dismissal as governor of the settlements on the island of Hispaniola in 1500, and later to protracted litigation over the benefits which Columbus and his heirs claimed were owed to them by the crown.

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Vikram Sarabhai

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Vikram Sarabhai        Vikram Sarabhai

India : Renowned Physicist

Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai 12 August 1919 – 30 December 1971 was one of the greatest scientists of India. He is widely regarded as the father of the Indian space programme. In fact he was a rare combination of a scientist, an innovator, industrialist and a visionary. He is considered the father of India’s space programme.

Vikram Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919 at Ahmedabad in an affluent family of progressive industrialists. He was one of the eight children of Ambalal and Sarla Devi. He had his early education in a private school, ‘Retreat’, run by his parents on Montessori lines. Some of the great personalities like Gurudev Rabindranath, J Krishna Murthi, Motilal Nehru, VS Shrinivasa Shastri, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Maulana Azad, CF Andrews, C V Raman et al. used to stay with the Sarabhai family when they visited Ahmedabad. Mahatma Gandhi also once stayed at their house while recovering from an illness. Visits by such great personalities greatly influenced Vikram Sarabhai.

After his matriculation, Vikram Sarabhai proceeded to Cambridge for his college education and took the tripos in Natural Sciences from St. John’s College in 1940. With the beginning of World War II, he returned home and joined as a research scholar under Sir CV Raman at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. His interest in solar physics and cosmic ray led him to set up many observation stations around the country. He built the necessary equipment and took measurements at Bangalore, Pune and the Himalayas. He returned to Cambridge in 1945 and completed his PhD in 1947.

Back home, he became instrumental in establishing the Physical Research Laboratory  in Ahmedabad in November 1947. The laboratory was established in a few rooms in the MG Science Institute of the Ahmedabad Education Society, which was founded by his parents. Subsequently, it got support from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Atomic Energy.

The research that Vikram Sarabhai did on the time variations of cosmic rays concluded that meteorological effects could not entirely affect the observed daily variations of cosmic rays; Further, the residual variations were wide and global and these were related to variations in solar activity. Vikram Sarabhai visualised a new field of research opening up in solar and interplanetary physics.

The year 1957-1958 was designated as International Geo-physical year . The Indian programme for the IGY had been one of the most significant ventures of Sarabhai. This gave him exposure to new vistas of space science with the launching of Sputnik-I in 1957. Subsequently, the Indian National Committee for Space Research was formed, under his chairmanship.

Knowing the unique feature of Thumba on account of its proximity to the geomagnetic equator, Vikram Sarabhai chose this fishing village near Thiruvananthapuram on the Arabian Coast to set up the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching station  the first rocket launching station in the country. In this venture he got active support from Homi Bhabha, who was then the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. The first rocket with sodium vapour payload was launched on November 21, 1963. In 1965, the UN General Assembly gave recognition to TERLS as an international facility.

After the sudden demise of Homi Bhabha in an air crash, Vikram Sarabhai took over as Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission in May 1966. He always longed that the practical application of science should reach the common man. He worked towards acquiring competence in advance technology for the solution of country’s problems based on technical and economic evaluation of its real resources. He initiated India’s space programme, which today is renowned all over the world.

Dr Vikram Sarabhai received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Medal in 1962. The nation honoured him awarding Padma Bhushan in 1966 and Padma Vibhushan in 1972.

Vikram Sarabhai passed away in his sleep on December 30, 1971.

Vikram Sarabhai went to Sheth Chimanlal Nagindas Vidyalaya for his high school studies. Vikram Sarabhai matriculated from the Gujarat College in Ahmedabad after passing the Intermediate Science examination.

After that, he moved to England and joined the St. John’s College, University of Cambridge.

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Nicephore Niepce

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Nicephore Niepce         Nicephore Niepce

France : Inventor of Photography

Nicéphore Niépce born Joseph Niépce; 7 March 1765 – 5 July 1833 was a French inventor, now usually credited as the inventor of photography and a pioneer in that field.Niépce developed heliography, a technique he used to create the world’s oldest surviving product of a photographic process: a print made from a photoengraved printing plate in 1825. In 1826 or 1827, he used a primitive camera to produce the oldest surviving photograph of a real-world scene. Among Niépce’s other inventions was the Pyréolophore, the world’s first internal combustion engine, which he conceived, created, and developed with his older brother Claude.

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Michael Faraday

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Michael Faraday       Michael Faraday

England : Inventor of Electric Dynamo

Michael Faraday 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867 was an English scientist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include those of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

Although Faraday received little formal education, he was one of the most influential scientists in history. It was by his research on the magnetic field around a conductor carrying a direct current that Faraday established the basis for the concept of the electromagnetic field in physics. Faraday also established that magnetism could affect rays of light and that there was an underlying relationship between the two phenomena. He similarly discovered the principle of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and the laws of electrolysis. His inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices formed the foundation of electric motor technology, and it was largely due to his efforts that electricity became practical for use in technology.

As a chemist, Faraday discovered benzene, investigated the clathrate hydrate of chlorine, invented an early form of the Bunsen burner and the system of oxidation numbers, and popularised terminology such as anode, cathode, electrode, and ion. Faraday ultimately became the first and foremost Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a lifetime position.

Faraday was an excellent experimentalist who conveyed his ideas in clear and simple language; his mathematical abilities, however, did not extend as far as trigonometry or any but the simplest algebra. James Clerk Maxwell took the work of Faraday and others, and summarized it in a set of equations that is accepted as the basis of all modern theories of electromagnetic phenomena. On Faraday’s uses of the lines of force, Maxwell wrote that they show Faraday “to have been in reality a mathematician of a very high order – one from whom the mathematicians of the future may derive valuable and fertile methods.The SI unit of capacitance is named in his honour: the farad.

Albert Einstein kept a picture of Faraday on his study wall, alongside pictures of Isaac Newton and James Clerk Maxwell.Physicist Ernest Rutherford stated; “When we consider the magnitude and extent of his discoveries and their influence on the progress of science and of industry, there is no honour too great to pay to the memory of Faraday, one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time.

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Louis Braille

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Louis Braille        Louis Braille

France : Inventor of Braille Script

Louis Braille 4 January 1809 – 6 January 1852 was a French educator and inventor of a system of reading and writing for use by the blind or visually impaired. His system remains known worldwide simply as braille.

Blinded in both eyes as a result of an early childhood accident, Braille mastered his disability while still a boy. He excelled in his education and received scholarship to France’s Royal Institute for Blind Youth. While still a student there, he began developing a system of tactile code that could allow blind people to read and write quickly and efficiently. Inspired by the military cryptography of Charles Barbier, Braille constructed a new method built specifically for the needs of the blind. He presented his work to his peers for the first time in 1824.

In adulthood, Braille served as a professor at the Institute and enjoyed an avocation as a musician, but he largely spent the remainder of his life refining and extending his system. It went unused by most educators for many years after his death, but posterity has recognized braille as a revolutionary invention, and it has been adapted for use in languages worldwide.

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Maria Montessori

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Maria Montessori    Maria Montessori

Italy : Founder of Montessori System

Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952 was an Italian physician and educator best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name, and her writing on scientific pedagogy. Her educational method is in use today in some public and private schools throughout the world. 

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G.W. FRIEDRICH HEGEL

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G.W. FRIEDRICH HEGEL         G.W. FRIEDRICH HEGEL

GERMANY : RADICAL-Ldealist Pholosopher

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831 was a German philosopher of the late Enlightenment. He achieved wide renown in his day and, while primarily influential within the Continental tradition of philosophy, has become increasingly influential in the Analytic tradition as well..Although he remains a divisive figure, his canonical stature within Western philosophy is universally recognized.

Hegel’s principal achievement is his development of a distinctive articulation of idealism sometimes termed “absolute idealism,” in which the dualisms of, for instance, mind and nature and subject and object are overcome. His philosophy of spirit conceptually integrates psychology, the state, history, art, religion, and philosophy. His account of the master–slave dialectic has been highly influential, especially in 20th-century France. Of special importance is his concept of spirit Geist: sometimes also translated as “mind” as the historical manifestation of the logical concept and the “sublation” Aufhebung: integration without elimination or reduction of seemingly contradictory or opposing factors; examples include the apparent opposition between nature and freedom and between immanence and transcendence.

Hegel has influenced many thinkers and writers whose own positions vary widely. Karl Barth described Hegel as a “Protestant Aquinas,” while Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote that “All the great philosophical ideas of the past century—the philosophies of Marx and Nietzsche, phenomenology, German existentialism, and psychoanalysis—had their beginnings in Hegel.

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SIR BOB GELDOF

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Bob Geldof         SIR BOB GELDOF

LRELAND : HUMANIST AND  SOCIAL WORKER

Robert Frederick born 5 October 1951 is an Irish singer-songwriter, author, occasional actor and political activist. He rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats in the late 1970s and early 1980s alongside the punk rock movement. The band had hits with his compositions “Rat Trap” and “I Don’t Like Mondays”. He co-wrote “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, one of the best-selling singles of all time,and starred in Pink Floyd’s 1982 film Pink Floyd – The Wall as “Pink”.

Geldof is widely recognised for his activism, especially anti-poverty efforts concerning Africa. In 1984 he and Midge Ure founded the charity supergroup Band Aid to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. They went on to organise the charity super-concert Live Aid the following year and the Live 8 concerts in 2005. Geldof currently serves as an adviser to the ONE Campaign, founded by fellow Irishman Bono. A single father, Geldof has also been outspoken for the fathers’ rights movement.

Geldof was appointed an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, and is a recipient of the Man of Peace title which recognises individuals who have made “an outstanding contribution to international social justice and peace”, among numerous other awards and nominations. In 2005 he received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.

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