" It seems to me a hard case to make slaves of those whom God and nature have made free. "
Miguel de Cervantes

Back in the day


Lumière Brothers' First Film Screening for a Paying Public Audience

In 1882, French inventor Louis Lumière developed a method of making photographic plates. By 1894, he and his brother August were producing 15 million plates a year. They worked on improving Edison's kinetoscope, and, in 1895, patented their combination movie camera and projector, the Cinématographe. Their 46-second film La Sortie des ouvriers de l'usine Lumière is considered the first motion picture and was one of 10 included in their first public film screening. What is its subject?



The Bone-Eating Snot Flower

Osedax is a genus of polychaete—sea worm—that feeds on the bones of whale carcasses. Possessing neither stomachs nor mouths, members of the Osedax genus rely on symbiotic species of bacteria to digest whale fat and oils and to release nutrients that they can absorb through unusual root-like structures. One species is known as the "bone-eating snot flower" after its scientific name, Osedax mucofloris. When were these strange creatures first discovered?

Born on a day like today


John von Neumann

Neumann was a Hungarian-born American mathematician. He emigrated to the US in 1930 to teach at Princeton University and was among the original faculty of its Institute for Advanced Study. He solved one of David Hilbert's 23 theoretical problems, collaborated on an algebraic ring with profound applications in quantum physics, and helped develop the atomic bomb. He later made major contributions to the development of computers. What branch of applied mathematics did he help found?

Last updated on Wednesday, 28th December 2011

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