December 26. Just in: Birth of Charles Babbage, computer pioneer

1986 In Assen (Drenthe), the first one will stand firm earthquake in the Netherlands registered at a magnitude of 3.0 on the Richter scale. On March 30, 1976, a slight earthquake could already be felt in Witteveen. The Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) categorically denies that there is any relation to gas extraction and calls a speech by geographer and socialist politician Meent van der Sluis about this ‘nonsense’. Much earlier, other politicians and scientists had already warned about the potentially harmful effects of gas extraction in Groningen.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie (1867-1934) on a French postage stamp

1902 Born in Leopoldsburg by Leo Walters, philologist, jurist and Flemish national politician. See Today 26 December 2021.

1898 Discovery of radium, by Mary Curie, actually Maria Salomea Skłodowska, born in Warsaw. She is the only woman to ever receive two Nobel Prizes (1903 and 1911).

1897 Birth in Brussels (Jette) of Willy Corsari, Flemish-Dutch writer and comedian. Her real name is Wilhelmina Schmidt. She wrote stories, plays, radio plays, songs and novels. Below Moonlight Sonata, Footsteps on the Stairs, The Dead Don’t Dance, Playing with Death, Ours etc. She lived to be a hundred years old.


Leo Elaut (1897-1978)

1897 Born in Gentbrugge van Leo Elaut, doctor, professor and Flemish national politician. In July 1918 he passed the exam for the first candidacy in medicine at Ghent University, which had become Dutch during the occupation. For this he is punished after the war. Neither the reopened and once again French-speaking Ghent University nor the central examination board in Brussels allow him.

After his army service, he was able to resume his medical studies in Ghent in 1921, at the age of almost 24. He received his doctorate in 1927 with the highest distinction. He fully experienced the struggle for the Dutchization of Ghent University: the demonstrations of the Gand-Français supporters, the establishment of the Nolf barracks, the increasing hostility between the pro-Flemish and the pro-French camps within the institution and the boycott of Flemish departments.

Elaut further specialized in urology abroad (Paris, Amsterdam, Rochester, Minnesota). Returning in 1930, he established himself as an independent medical urologist. In 1934 he became associate professor, in 1939 full professor at the University of Ghent. As a pro-Flemish professor, Elaut mainly focuses on the dissemination of science in Dutch during this period. He will be editor-in-chief Magazine for nursing, midwifery and social medicine and editorial secretary for Flemish medical journal. Together with Frans Daels and Jozef Goossenaerts, he campaigned for the creation of an independent Flemish medical academy, of which in 1938 he belonged to the core of the first fifteen members.

During the Second World War, Elaut became dean of the Faculty of Medicine. In 1946 he came before the court martial in Brussels. The accusations were: signing the manifesto of the People’s Movement in August 1940, membership of the board of the Flemish Chamber of the Order of Doctors, giving lectures in the Mac Leod student house, at the 1941 Dietsche Studenten congress in Ghent and at the lustrum celebration of 1942 by the Katholiek Vlaams Hoogstudentenverbond ( KVHV) in Leuven. Elaut is suspended as a professor, loses his civil rights and receives an appeal in 1949 for two years in prison, which he never served.

During this period, Elaut devoted himself to the study of the history of medicine. He wrote numerous medical-historical essays in more than 75 journals, often under a pseudonym due to the publication ban imposed on him. In 1958, the year Elaut regained his civil rights, he was immediately elected president of the Provincial Council of the Medical Order, as a result of which the East Flemish doctors gave him a kind of rehabilitation.

In 1965 he enters politics and is elected a senator for the League of Nations, which he remains until March 1974. In November 1966 he joins the Senate again – Maurits Coppieters does the same in the chamber – in May 1966 by Jan Verroken in the chamber that is suggested. , but not taken into account at the time, bills that aim to make Dutch the only language of instruction at universities and higher education in Flanders and thus include the transfer of Louvain French to Wallonia. The proposal was now considered, but got stuck in a committee. On 7 December 1971, he chaired the first meeting of the Flemish Council as Dean of Elders. He devoted his last years to his memoirs. He dies in 1978 at the age of 80.

1816 Rome premiere of the opera The Barber of Seville by Giachino Rossini.

1791 Birth in London of Charles Babbage, English mathematician, philosopher and inventor. He is the designer of the first automated, programmable, mechanical calculator, the forerunner of the electronic computer. From 1821 he begins to design mechanical calculating machines. From 1834 until his death in 1871, Babbage worked on the concept of the first programmable mechanical calculator: his Analytical Engine. This can be called a full-fledged predecessor of the electronic computer as we know it today. He wanted the basic functions of a simple computer, working with punched cards, making decisions, doing calculations and remembering results. It was not built because it was too bulky: it would have been a gigantic device, powered by a steam engine.

From 1841 to 1849 Babbage designs an improved Difference Engine 2. This device is already much smaller than the first version and weighed ‘only’ 2.6 tons with its 4000 parts. Charles Babbage dies in 1871 at the age of 71.

1716 Birth in London of Thomas GreyEnglish poet, classicist and professor of history at Cambridge University.

1615 Willem Corneliszoon Schouten and Jacob Lemaire of Doornik, commander of Concordediscover Cape Horn, South America’s southernmost point. Schouten named the cape after his birthplace, the town of Hoorn in West Frisia. So be careful when someone talks about Horn: ‘Which Horn do you mean?’

1481 Battle of Westbroek, between an army of the States of Holland and an army of the Prince-Bishopric of Utrecht supported by citizens of Utrecht. It is one of the last battles during the ‘Hoekse en Cod’ disputes. The inhabitants of Utrecht lose 1500 people (citizens, countrymen, mercenaries and children).


Emperor Frederick II (1194-1250)

1194 Born in the Italian Jesi (Ancona) of Frederik II, the most extraordinary and most talked about monarch of his time. He was king of Sicily and southern Italy and from 1220 emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. His nickname was Stupor Mundi: the man who stunned the world. This was mainly due to his versatility as a scientist, mathematician and linguistic virtuoso: he spoke French, German, Italian and Greek and even more languages. But above all, Frederik II was a self-willed monarch who disregarded everything the Church and the Pope said.


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