Jean-Jacques Rousseau (28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a major philosopher, writer, and composer of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, whose political philosophy influenced the French Revolution and the development of modern political and educational thought. His novel, Emile: or, On Education, which he considered his most important work, is a seminal treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship.
His sentimental novel, Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse, was of great importance to the development of pre-Romanticism and romanticism in fiction. Rousseau’s autobiographical writings: his Confessions, which initiated the modern autobiography, and his Reveries of a Solitary Walker (along with the works of Lessing and Goethe in Germany, and Richardson and Sterne in England), were among the pre-eminent examples of the late eighteenth-century movement known as the “Age of Sensibility“, featuring an increasing focus on subjectivity and introspection that has characterized the modern age. Rousseau also wrote a play and two operas, and made important contributions to music as a theorist. During the period of the French Revolution, Rousseau was the most popular of the philosophes among members of the Jacobin Club. He was interred as a national hero in the Panthéon in Paris, in 1794, sixteen years after his death.
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (or Lord Kelvin) (26 June 1824 – 17 December 1907) was an Irish-born British mathematical physicist and engineer. At Glasgow University he did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form. He is widely known for developing the Kelvin scale of absolute temperature measurement. He was given the title Baron Kelvin in honour of his achievements and is therefore often described as Lord Kelvin. The title refers to the River Kelvin, which flows past his university in Glasgow, Scotland.
Blaise Pascal (June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a civil servant. Pascal’s earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the construction of mechanical calculators, the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also wrote in defense of the scientific method.
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (17 June 1882 – 6 April 1971) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor, widely acknowledged as one of the most important and influential composers of 20th century music. He was a quintessentially cosmopolitan Russian who was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the century. In addition to the recognition he received for his compositions, he also achieved fame as a pianist and a conductor, often at the premieres of his works.
Nikolaus August Otto (14 June 1832 – 26 January 1891) was the German inventor of the first internal-combustion engine to efficiently burn fuel directly in a piston chamber. Although other internal combustion engines had been invented (e.g. by Étienne Lenoir) these were not based on four separate strokes. The concept of four strokes is likely to have been around at the time of Otto’s invention but he was the first to make it practical.
James Clerk Maxwell (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish theoretical physicist and mathematician. His most important achievement was classical electromagnetic theory, synthesizing all previously unrelated observations, experiments and equations of electricity, magnetism and even optics into a consistent theory. His set of equations—Maxwell’s equations—demonstrated that electricity, magnetism and even light are all manifestations of the same phenomenon: the electromagnetic field. From that moment on, all other classic laws or equations of these disciplines became simplified cases of Maxwell’s equations. Maxwell’s work in electromagnetism has been called the “second great unification in physics”, after the first one carried out by Isaac Newton.