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On 27 August 1883 the volcano known as Krakatoa, itself part of an island archipelago of the same name, was destroyed in an enormous explosion. The detonation’s blast is said to have been heard thousands of kilometres away, sending shock waves round the world several times. Read more
When demand for prostheses increased massively in war-torn Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Pierre Ballif (1775–1831), personal dentist to the King of Prussia in Berlin, developed new technology and in doing so created the basis for the further development of artificial limbs. Read more
The blue and white trams are as much part of the Zurich cityscape as the Grossmünster. We take for granted high frequencies between the centre and the various districts of the city. But completion of the first tram line in Zurich did in fact require several attempts. Read more
‘Eripuit caelo fulmen sceptrumque tyrannis’ (He snatched the thunderbolt from heaven and the sceptre from tyrants) is an epigram about Benjamin Franklin, coined by the French economist and minister Anne-Robert Jacques Turgot (Möhring 2010, p. 253). It shows that Franklin achieved fame in the eighteenth century not only as co-author and signatory of the American Declaration of Independence but also as researcher into electricity and inventor of the lightning conductor. Read more
When the title of a book is ‘Anticopernicus catholicus’, it is not necessary to explain that its author Giorgio Polacco pits himself against the heliocentric world view and it is likewise clear that the arguments of the Roman Catholic church must be anticipated. That his own condemnation and adjuration – printed in full – also had to be used as an argument would not have pleased Galileo Galilei at all. Read more
Conrad Gessner (1516-1565), a polymath and Zurich city doctor, lived at a time when traditional knowledge was joined by a wealth of new experiences. Not only did the discovery of America open up unknown places, but also unfamiliar flora and fauna. At the same time, many ancient Read more