Johann Gutenberg

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Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (circa 1398 – February 3, 1468), a German metal-worker and inventor, achieved fame for his contributions to the technology of printing during the 1440s, including a type metal alloy and oil-based inks, a mould for casting type accurately, and a new kind of printing press based on presses used in wine-making. Tradition credits him with inventing movable type in Europe, an improvement on the block printing already in use there. By combining these elements into a production system, he allowed for the rapid printing of written materials and an information explosion in Renaissance Europe.

Gutenberg was born in the German city of Mainz, as the son of a merchant named Friele Gensfleisch zur Laden, who adopted the surname "zum Gutenberg" after the name of the neighborhood into which the family had moved.

Printing

Block printing, whereby individual sheets of paper were pressed into wooden blocks with the text and illustrations carved in, was in use in Europe and East Asia long before Gutenberg. The Koreans and Chinese knew about movable metal types at the time, but due to the complex nature of the Chinese writing system, printed material was not as abundant as that of Renaissance Europe.

It is not clear whether Gutenberg knew of these existing techniques or invented them independently. Some also claim Dutchman Laurens Coster as the first European to invent movable type.

Gutenberg certainly introduced efficient methods into book production, leading to a boom in the production of texts in Europe, in large part due to the popularity of the Gutenberg Bibles, the first mass-produced work, starting on February 23, 1455.

Gutenberg was a poor businessman, and made little money from his printing system.

Gutenberg began experimenting with metal typography after he had moved from his native town of Mainz to Strassburg (then in Germany, now Strasbourg, France) around 1430. Knowing that wood-block type involved a great deal of time and expense to reproduce because it had to be hand carved, Gutenberg concluded that metal type could be reproduced much more quickly once a single mould had been fashioned. His first efforts enabled him to mass-produce indulgences, printed slips of paper sold by the Catholic Church to remit the temporal punishments in Purgatory for sins committed in this life.

Johann Fust

Bible

In 1455 Gutenberg demonstrated the power of the printing press by selling copies of a two-volume Bible (Biblia Sacra) for 300 florins each. This was the equivalent of approximately three years' wages for an average clerk, but it was significantly cheaper than a handwritten Bible, which could take a single monk 20 years to transcribe.

The one copy of the Biblia Sacra dated 1455 went to Paris and was dated by the binder.

Debt

The money Gutenberg earned at the fair was not enough to pay Fust back for his investments. Fust sued, and the court's ruling not only effectively bankrupted Gutenberg, it awarded control of the type used in his Bible, plus much of the printing equipment, to Fust. So, while Gutenberg ran a print shop until just before his death in Mainz in 1468, Fust became the first printer to publish a book with his name on it.

Gutenberg was subsidized by the Archbishop of Mainz until his death. Gutenberg was also known to spend what little money he had on alcohol, so the Archbishop arranged for him to be paid in food and lodging, instead of coin.

Gutenberg Bibles

Gutenberg Bible, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

The Gutenberg Bibles surviving today are sometimes called the oldest surviving books printed with movable type, although the oldest surviving book was published in Korea in 1377. As of 2003, the Gutenberg Bible census includes 11 complete copies on vellum, 1 copy of the New Testament only on vellum, 48 substantially complete integral copies on paper, with another divided copy on paper, and an illiminated page (the Bagford fragment).

Other printed works

The Bible was not Gutenberg's first printed work, for he produced approximately two dozen editions of Ars Minor, a portion of Aelius Donatus's schoolbook on Latin grammar, the first edition of which is believed to have been printed between 1451 and 1452.

Legacy

Although Gutenberg was financially unsuccessful in his lifetime, his invention spread quickly, and news and books began to travel across Europe far faster than before. It fed the growing Renaissance, and since it greatly facilitated scientific publishing, was a major factor in originating the scientific revolution. Literacy also increased as a result. Gutenberg's inventions are sometimes considered the turning point from the Mediaeval Era to the Early Modern Period.

The term incunabulum refers to a western printed book produced between the first work of Gutenberg and the end of the year 1500.

There are many statues of Gutenberg in Germany, one of the more famous being a work by Thorvaldsen, in Mainz, which is also home to the Gutenberg Museum.

The Gutenberg Galaxy and Project Gutenberg commemorate Gutenberg's name.

Related articles

  • Printing
  • Typography
  • Incunabulum
  • Francysk Skaryna
  • William Caxton
  • World Almanac's Ten Most Influential People of the Second Millennium

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The Gutenberg Galaxy and Project Gutenberg commemorate Gutenberg's name. As Eugene Wigner wrote: "Ten days before Fermi had passed away he told me, 'I hope it won't take long.' He had reconciled himself perfectly to his fate". There are many statues of Gutenberg in Germany, one of the more famous being a work by Thorvaldsen, in Mainz, which is also home to the Gutenberg Museum. On November 28, 1954, Fermi died at the age of 53 of stomach cancer in Chicago, Illinois and was interred there in Oak Woods Cemetery. The term incunabulum refers to a western printed book produced between the first work of Gutenberg and the end of the year 1500. He never forgot this experience of being ahead of his time, and used to tell his protégés: "Never be first; try to be second". Gutenberg's inventions are sometimes considered the turning point from the Mediaeval Era to the Early Modern Period. Thus, Fermi saw the theory published in Italian and in German before it was published in English.

Literacy also increased as a result. When he submitted his famous paper on beta decay to the prestigious journal Nature, the journal's editor turned it down because "it contained speculations which were too remote from reality". It fed the growing Renaissance, and since it greatly facilitated scientific publishing, was a major factor in originating the scientific revolution. Not finding him either in his lab or his office, the executive was surprised to find the Nobel Laureate in the machine shop, cutting sheets of tin with a big pair of shears. Although Gutenberg was financially unsuccessful in his lifetime, his invention spread quickly, and news and books began to travel across Europe far faster than before. Walking into the lab one day, Smyth saw the distinguished scientist helping a graduate student move a table, under another student's directions! Another time, a Du Pont executive made a visit to see him at Columbia. The Bible was not Gutenberg's first printed work, for he produced approximately two dozen editions of Ars Minor, a portion of Aelius Donatus's schoolbook on Latin grammar, the first edition of which is believed to have been printed between 1451 and 1452. Henry DeWolf Smyth, who was Chairman of the Princeton Physics department, had once invited Fermi over to do some experiments with the Princeton cyclotron.

As of 2003, the Gutenberg Bible census includes 11 complete copies on vellum, 1 copy of the New Testament only on vellum, 48 substantially complete integral copies on paper, with another divided copy on paper, and an illiminated page (the Bagford fragment). It was this quality that made him popular and liked among people of all strata, from other Nobel Laureates to technicians. The Gutenberg Bibles surviving today are sometimes called the oldest surviving books printed with movable type, although the oldest surviving book was published in Korea in 1377. Fermi's most disarming trait was his great modesty, and his ability to do any kind of work, whether creative or routine. Gutenberg was also known to spend what little money he had on alcohol, so the Archbishop arranged for him to be paid in food and lodging, instead of coin. Later on, this method of getting approximate and quick answers through back of the envelope calculations became informally known as the 'Fermi method'. Gutenberg was subsidized by the Archbishop of Mainz until his death. (Rhodes, page 674).

So, while Gutenberg ran a print shop until just before his death in Mainz in 1468, Fust became the first printer to publish a book with his name on it. He estimated 10 kilotons of TNT, the measured result was 18.6. Fust sued, and the court's ruling not only effectively bankrupted Gutenberg, it awarded control of the type used in his Bible, plus much of the printing equipment, to Fust. By measuring the distance they were blown, he could compare to a previously computed table and thus estimate the bomb energy yield. The money Gutenberg earned at the fair was not enough to pay Fust back for his investments. As the blast wave reached him, Fermi dropped bits of paper. The one copy of the Biblia Sacra dated 1455 went to Paris and was dated by the binder. An instance of this was seen during the first atomic bomb test in New Mexico on July 16, 1945.

This was the equivalent of approximately three years' wages for an average clerk, but it was significantly cheaper than a handwritten Bible, which could take a single monk 20 years to transcribe. He was famous for getting quick and accurate answers to problems which would stump other people. In 1455 Gutenberg demonstrated the power of the printing press by selling copies of a two-volume Bible (Biblia Sacra) for 300 florins each. He disliked complicated theories, and while he had great mathematical ability, he would never use it when the job could be done much more simply. His first efforts enabled him to mass-produce indulgences, printed slips of paper sold by the Catholic Church to remit the temporal punishments in Purgatory for sins committed in this life. Fermi's ability and success stemmed as much from his appraisal of the art of the possible, as from his innate skill and intelligence. Knowing that wood-block type involved a great deal of time and expense to reproduce because it had to be hand carved, Gutenberg concluded that metal type could be reproduced much more quickly once a single mould had been fashioned. If this sounds like hyperbole, anything about Fermi is likely to sound like hyperbole".

Gutenberg began experimenting with metal typography after he had moved from his native town of Mainz to Strassburg (then in Germany, now Strasbourg, France) around 1430. Snow, says about him, "If Fermi had been born a few years earlier, one could well imagine him discovering Rutherford's atomic nucleus, and then developing Bohr's theory of the hydrogen atom. Gutenberg was a poor businessman, and made little money from his printing system. P. Gutenberg certainly introduced efficient methods into book production, leading to a boom in the production of texts in Europe, in large part due to the popularity of the Gutenberg Bibles, the first mass-produced work, starting on February 23, 1455. The well-known historian of physics, C. Some also claim Dutchman Laurens Coster as the first European to invent movable type. Fermi was one of the few physicists of the twentieth century who excelled both theoretically and experimentally (see link below in 'References').

It is not clear whether Gutenberg knew of these existing techniques or invented them independently. That is the time when I left Columbia University, and after a few months of commuting between Chicago and New York, eventually moved to Chicago to keep up the work there, and from then on, with a few notable exceptions, the work at Columbia was concentrated on the isotope separation phase of the atomic energy project, initiated by Booth, Dunning and Urey about 1940". The Koreans and Chinese knew about movable metal types at the time, but due to the complex nature of the Chinese writing system, printed material was not as abundant as that of Renaissance Europe. In Fermi's 1954 address to the APS he also said, "Well, this brings us to Pearl Harbor. Block printing, whereby individual sheets of paper were pressed into wooden blocks with the text and illustrations carved in, was in use in Europe and East Asia long before Gutenberg. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America in 1944. . Eventually Fermi and Szilárd's reactor work was folded into the Manhattan Project.

Gutenberg was born in the German city of Mainz, as the son of a merchant named Friele Gensfleisch zur Laden, who adopted the surname "zum Gutenberg" after the name of the neighborhood into which the family had moved. The chain-reacting pile was important not only for its help in assessing the properties of fission — needed for understanding the internal workings of an atomic bomb — but because it would serve as a pilot plant for the massive reactors which would be created in Hanford, Washington, which would then be used to "breed" the plutonium needed for the bombs used at the Trinity test and Nagasaki. By combining these elements into a production system, he allowed for the rapid printing of written materials and an information explosion in Renaissance Europe. The natives were very friendly'. Tradition credits him with inventing movable type in Europe, an improvement on the block printing already in use there. When man first achieved the first self sustained nuclear chain reaction, a coded phone call was made to one of the leaders of the Manhattan Project, James Conant: 'The Italian navigator has landed in the new world.. Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (circa 1398 – February 3, 1468), a German metal-worker and inventor, achieved fame for his contributions to the technology of printing during the 1440s, including a type metal alloy and oil-based inks, a mould for casting type accurately, and a new kind of printing press based on presses used in wine-making. Every step had been carefully planned, every calculation meticulously done by him.

World Almanac's Ten Most Influential People of the Second Millennium. This experiment was a landmark in the quest for energy, and it was typical of Fermi's brilliance. William Caxton. The money was used in studies which led to the first nuclear reactor — Chicago Pile-1, a massive "pile" of graphite bricks and uranium fuel which went critical on December 2, 1942, at the University of Chicago. Francysk Skaryna. Roosevelt in 1939, the Navy awarded Columbia University the first Atomic Energy funding of US$ 6,000. Incunabulum. After the famous letter signed by Albert Einstein (transcribed by Leó Szilárd) to President Franklin D.

Typography. Fermi recalled the beginning of the project in a speech given in 1954 when he retired as President of the American Physical Society:. Printing. Fermi then began studies that led to the construction of the first nuclear pile. At Columbia, Fermi verified the initial nuclear fission experiment of Hahn and Fritz Strassman (with the help of Booth and Dunning). Soon after his arrival in New York, Fermi began working at Columbia University.

By this time, the Fascist government in Italy had instituted anti-Semitic laws, and Fermi's wife, Laura Capon, was Jewish. After Fermi received the prize in Stockholm, he, his wife Laura, and their children emigrated to New York. In 1938, Fermi won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his "demonstrations of the existence of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation, and for his related discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons". Fermi remained in Rome until 1938.

Some of these include Fermi-Dirac statistics, the theory of beta decay, and the discovery of slow neutrons, which was to prove pivotal for the working of nuclear reactors. During their time in Rome, Fermi and his group made important contributions to many practical and theoretical aspects of physics. The group went on with its now famous experiments, but in 1933 Rasetti left Italy for Canada and the United States, Pontecorvo went to France, Segrè left to teach in Palermo. For the theoretical studies only, Ettore Majorana also took part in what was soon nicknamed "the Via Panisperna boys" (after the name of the road in which the Institute had its labs).

Corbino worked a lot to help Fermi in selecting his team, which soon was joined by notable minds like Edoardo Amaldi, Bruno Pontecorvo, Franco Rasetti and Emilio Segrè. Fermi took a professorship in Rome (the first for theoretical physics in Italy, created for him by professor Orso Maria Corbino, director of the Institute of Physics). While there, he also met Albert Einstein. Fermi became unhappy, though, with what he saw as an excessively formal theoretical style under the influence of Max Born, and so after six months left for the University of Leiden, Netherlands, to work with Paul Ehrenfest.

He graduated with a doctorate in 1922, and the next year left for the University of Göttingen, then the center of the quantum physics world. Fermi did especially well, and the examiner at the Scuola Normale thought the 17-year-old Fermi's competition essay worthy of a doctoral exam. Amidei also suggested Fermi attend not a university in Rome but to apply to the prestigious "Scuola Normale Superiore" of Pisa, a special university-college for selected gifted students in 1918. A friend of the family, Adolfo Amidei, guided the young Fermi's study of algebra, trigonometry, analytic geometry, calculus and theoretical mechanics.

According to his later recollection, he would walk each day in front of the hospital where Giulio had died, until he could look back at the event with detachment. When his brother Giulio died during a minor surgery in 1915, 14-year-old Enrico threw himself into the study of physics as a way of coping with his grief. Enrico Fermi was born in Rome, Italy in 1901. .

Fermi won the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity. Enrico Fermi (September 29, 1901 – November 28, 1954) was an Italian-American physicist most noted for his work on beta decay, the development of the first nuclear reactor, and for the development of quantum theory.

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