Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The bewigged fellow above is one Christiaan Huygen born this day 1629 in The Hauge, Netherlands. His dear old dad was a friend of Descartes, and I am sure that Rene would show some pride in Huygen's achievements. After graduating from Leiden University, he had a brief stint as a diplomat, but it was in the world of science in which he was to achieve the fame that makes him our hero of the day. He will always always hold a special place in any gambler's heart because he wrote the first book on probability, publishing "On Reasoning in Games of Chance" in 1657. He is especially remembered for his wave theory of light, being one of the first proponents of light moving in waves rather than as particles. Another one of his major contributions to the world was the invention (though he left the building of it to someone else) of the pendulum clock. He also discovered Titan, a moon of Saturn, and wrote quite a bit about Saturn's rings. He even believed that there was life on other planets, and that it was just a question of having the water on the planet to sustain life. I guess we can't be right all the time (although I happen to believe there is life somewhere else in the universe as well, so he might yet be proven correct). So, for all those things he was right about that helped advance some many things in the world of science, math, and optics Christiaan Huygen (April 14th, 1629-July 8th 1695, at the age of 66), you are my (233rd) hero of the day.

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