July 26: Deaths of Elena Piscopia and Oskar Morgenstern; Pierre and Marie Curie wed; first geosynchronous satellite Syncom 2 launches

Cosmos Magazine


Cosmos is a quarterly science magazine. We aim to inspire curiosity in ‘The Science of Everything’ and make the world of science accessible to everyone.

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Elena Piscopia

We remember Venetian philosopher, linguist, astronomer, theologian, and mathematician (among other things) Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia who died of tuberculosis on 26 July 1684 at the age of 38.

Portrait of elena lucrezia cornaro piscopia 1646-1684
Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (unknown artist)

Six years previously in 1678 Piscopia had become the first woman to receive the degree of Doctor of Philosophy when her doctorate was conferred by the University of Padua. According to sources of the time, 30,000 people attended her graduation.

Syncom 2: first geosynchronous communications satellite

Today in 1963 the world’s first geosynchronous communications satellite, Syncom 2, was launched by NASA. In August 1963, US President John F. Kennedy used Syncom 2 to speak with Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa – the first live two-way call between heads of government by satellite.

Marriage of Pierre and Marie Curie

Today in 1895 French physicist Pierre Curie married Polish physicist and chemist Maria Sklodowska; Maria insisted that her wedding dress be “practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory.” Together they became the first ever married couple to win the Nobel Prize, launching the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes.

Oskar Morgenstern

We remember German-American economist and mathematician Oskar Morgenstern who died 26 Jul 1977 at age 75. Morganstern popularised “game theory” which mathematically analyses behaviour in terms of strategies to maximise gains and minimise losses, and coauthored Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (1944), with John von Neumann.

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