Topic: Biography/military biography

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Agent 355

Biography Military history Military history/North American military history Military history/United States military history Women's History Military history/Military biography Military history/Early Modern warfare Military history/American Revolutionary War Biography/military biography Military history/Intelligence

Agent 355 (died after 1780) was the code name of a female spy during the American Revolution, part of the Culper Ring. Agent 355 was one of the first spies for the United States, but her real identity is unknown. The number, 355, could be de-crypted from the system the Culper Ring used to mean "lady."

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Grace Hopper

United States/U.S. Government United States Biography Computing Military history Military history/North American military history United States/Military history - U.S. military history Military history/Military science, technology, and theory New York City Women scientists Biography/science and academia Women's History Military history/Military biography Biography/military biography Software Software/Computing Military history/Maritime warfare Pritzker Military Library

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (née Murray December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first linkers. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.

Prior to joining the Navy, Hopper earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University and was a professor of mathematics at Vassar College. Hopper attempted to enlist in the Navy during World War II but was rejected because she was 34 years old. She instead joined the Navy Reserves. Hopper began her computing career in 1944 when she worked on the Harvard Mark I team led by Howard H. Aiken. In 1949, she joined the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation and was part of the team that developed the UNIVAC I computer. At Eckert–Mauchly she began developing the compiler. She believed that a programming language based on English was possible. Her compiler converted English terms into machine code understood by computers. By 1952, Hopper had finished her program linker (originally called a compiler), which was written for the A-0 System. During her wartime service, she co-authored three papers based on her work on the Harvard Mark 1.

In 1954, Eckert–Mauchly chose Hopper to lead their department for automatic programming, and she led the release of some of the first compiled languages like FLOW-MATIC. In 1959, she participated in the CODASYL consortium, which consulted Hopper to guide them in creating a machine-independent programming language. This led to the COBOL language, which was inspired by her idea of a language being based on English words. In 1966, she retired from the Naval Reserve, but in 1967 the Navy recalled her to active duty. She retired from the Navy in 1986 and found work as a consultant for the Digital Equipment Corporation, sharing her computing experiences.

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper was named for her, as was the Cray XE6 "Hopper" supercomputer at NERSC. During her lifetime, Hopper was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities across the world. A college at Yale University was renamed in her honor. In 1991, she received the National Medal of Technology. On November 22, 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

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Iannis Xenakis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Biography Military history Architecture Greece Military history/Military biography Biography/military biography Military history/World War II Military history/Cold War Dance Composers Dance/Ballet Classical music Military history/Balkan military history Biography/Musicians Military history/European military history

Iannis Xenakis (also spelt as Yannis Xenakis) (Greek: Γιάννης (Ιάννης) Ξενάκης [ˈʝanis kseˈnacis]; 29 May 1922 – 4 February 2001) was a Greek-French composer, music theorist, architect, performance director and engineer. After 1947, he fled Greece, becoming a naturalized citizen of France. He is considered an important post-World War II composer whose works helped revolutionize 20th-century classical music.

Xenakis pioneered the use of mathematical models in music such as applications of set theory, stochastic processes and game theory and was also an important influence on the development of electronic and computer music. He integrated music with architecture, designing music for pre-existing spaces, and designing spaces to be integrated with specific music compositions and performances.

Among his most important works are Metastaseis (1953–54) for orchestra, which introduced independent parts for every musician of the orchestra; percussion works such as Psappha (1975) and Pléïades (1979); compositions that introduced spatialization by dispersing musicians among the audience, such as Terretektorh (1966); electronic works created using Xenakis's UPIC system; and the massive multimedia performances Xenakis called polytopes, that were a summa of his interests and skills. Among the numerous theoretical writings he authored, the book Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition (French edition 1963, English translation 1971) is regarded as one of his most important. As an architect, Xenakis is primarily known for his early work under Le Corbusier: the Sainte Marie de La Tourette, on which the two architects collaborated, and the Philips Pavilion at Expo 58, which Xenakis designed by himself.

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John von Neumann

Biography Computing Mathematics Military history Military history/North American military history Military history/United States military history Military history/Military science, technology, and theory Physics Economics Philosophy Philosophy/Logic Biography/science and academia Philosophy/Philosophy of science Philosophy/Contemporary philosophy Military history/Military biography Biography/military biography History of Science Computing/Computer science Philosophy/Philosophers Education Hungary Military history/World War II Military history/Cold War Physics/History Physics/Biographies Game theory Eastern Europe

John von Neumann (; Hungarian: Neumann János Lajos, pronounced [ˈnɒjmɒn ˈjaːnoʃ ˈlɒjoʃ]; December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957) was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, engineer and polymath. Von Neumann was generally regarded as the foremost mathematician of his time and said to be "the last representative of the great mathematicians"; who integrated both pure and applied sciences.

He made major contributions to a number of fields, including mathematics (foundations of mathematics, functional analysis, ergodic theory, representation theory, operator algebras, geometry, topology, and numerical analysis), physics (quantum mechanics, hydrodynamics, and quantum statistical mechanics), economics (game theory), computing (Von Neumann architecture, linear programming, self-replicating machines, stochastic computing), and statistics.

He was a pioneer of the application of operator theory to quantum mechanics in the development of functional analysis, and a key figure in the development of game theory and the concepts of cellular automata, the universal constructor and the digital computer.

He published over 150 papers in his life: about 60 in pure mathematics, 60 in applied mathematics, 20 in physics, and the remainder on special mathematical subjects or non-mathematical ones. His last work, an unfinished manuscript written while he was in hospital, was later published in book form as The Computer and the Brain.

His analysis of the structure of self-replication preceded the discovery of the structure of DNA. In a short list of facts about his life he submitted to the National Academy of Sciences, he stated, "The part of my work I consider most essential is that on quantum mechanics, which developed in Göttingen in 1926, and subsequently in Berlin in 1927–1929. Also, my work on various forms of operator theory, Berlin 1930 and Princeton 1935–1939; on the ergodic theorem, Princeton, 1931–1932."

During World War II, von Neumann worked on the Manhattan Project with theoretical physicist Edward Teller, mathematician Stanisław Ulam and others, problem solving key steps in the nuclear physics involved in thermonuclear reactions and the hydrogen bomb. He developed the mathematical models behind the explosive lenses used in the implosion-type nuclear weapon, and coined the term "kiloton" (of TNT), as a measure of the explosive force generated.

After the war, he served on the General Advisory Committee of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and consulted for a number of organizations, including the United States Air Force, the Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory, the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. As a Hungarian émigré, concerned that the Soviets would achieve nuclear superiority, he designed and promoted the policy of mutually assured destruction to limit the arms race.

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Kurt Vonnegut's rules for writing short stories

United States Biography Military history Military history/North American military history Military history/United States military history Science Fiction Biography/science and academia Military history/Military biography Biography/military biography Biography/arts and entertainment Chicago United States/Massachusetts - Cape Cod and the Islands United States/Indiana - Indianapolis

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (; November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American writer. In a career spanning over 50 years, Vonnegut published fourteen novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction, with further collections being published after his death. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel Slaughterhouse-Five (1969).

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Vonnegut attended Cornell University but dropped out in January 1943 and enlisted in the United States Army. As part of his training, he studied mechanical engineering at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and the University of Tennessee. He was then deployed to Europe to fight in World War II and was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. He was interned in Dresden and survived the Allied bombing of the city by taking refuge in a meat locker of the slaughterhouse where he was imprisoned. After the war, Vonnegut married Jane Marie Cox, with whom he had three children. He later adopted his sister's three sons, after she died of cancer and her husband was killed in a train accident.

Vonnegut published his first novel, Player Piano, in 1952. The novel was reviewed positively but was not commercially successful. In the nearly 20 years that followed, Vonnegut published several novels that were only marginally successful, such as Cat's Cradle (1963) and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1964). Vonnegut's breakthrough was his commercially and critically successful sixth novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. The book's anti-war sentiment resonated with its readers amidst the ongoing Vietnam War and its reviews were generally positive. After its release, Slaughterhouse-Five went to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list, thrusting Vonnegut into fame. He was invited to give speeches, lectures and commencement addresses around the country and received many awards and honors.

Later in his career, Vonnegut published several autobiographical essays and short-story collections, including Fates Worse Than Death (1991), and A Man Without a Country (2005). After his death, he was hailed as a morbidly comical commentator on the society in which he lived and as one of the most important contemporary writers. Vonnegut's son Mark published a compilation of his father's unpublished compositions, titled Armageddon in Retrospect. In 2017, Seven Stories Press published Complete Stories, a collection of Vonnegut's short fiction including five previously unpublished stories. Complete Stories was collected and introduced by Vonnegut friends and scholars Jerome Klinkowitz and Dan Wakefield. Numerous scholarly works have examined Vonnegut's writing and humor.

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Tarrare

Biography France Military history Military history/Military biography Biography/military biography Military history/French military history Military history/Napoleonic era Military history/European military history

Tarrare (c. 1772 – 1798), sometimes spelled Tarare, was a French showman and soldier, noted for his unusual eating habits. Able to eat vast amounts of meat, he was constantly hungry; his parents could not provide for him, and he was turned out of the family home as a teenager. He travelled France in the company of a band of thieves and prostitutes, before becoming the warm-up act to a travelling charlatan; he would swallow corks, stones, live animals and a whole basketful of apples. He then took this act to Paris where he worked as a street performer.

At the start of the War of the First Coalition, Tarrare joined the French Revolutionary Army. With military rations, though quadrupled, unable to satisfy his large appetite, he would eat any available food from gutters and refuse heaps but his condition still deteriorated through hunger. He was hospitalised due to exhaustion and became the subject of a series of medical experiments to test his eating capacity, in which, among other things, he ate a meal intended for 15 people in a single sitting, ate live cats, snakes, lizards and puppies, and swallowed eels whole without chewing. Despite his unusual diet, he was of normal size and appearance, and showed no signs of mental illness other than what was described as an apathetic temperament.

General Alexandre de Beauharnais decided to put Tarrare's abilities to military use, and he was employed as a courier by the French army, with the intention that he would swallow documents, pass through enemy lines, and recover them from his stool once safely at his destination. Tarrare could not speak German, and on his first mission was captured by Prussian forces, severely beaten and underwent a mock execution before being returned to French lines.

Chastened by this experience, he agreed to submit to any procedure that would cure his appetite, and was treated with laudanum, tobacco pills, wine vinegar and soft-boiled eggs. The procedures failed, and doctors could not keep him on a controlled diet; he would sneak out of the hospital to scavenge for offal in gutters, rubbish heaps and outside butchers' shops, and attempted to drink the blood of other patients in the hospital and to eat the corpses in the hospital morgue. After being suspected of eating a toddler he was ejected from the hospital. He reappeared four years later in Versailles with a case of severe tuberculosis, and died shortly afterwards, following a lengthy bout of exudative diarrhoea.

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April 12, 1961: First man in space

Biography Aviation Soviet Union Russia Russia/technology and engineering in Russia Spaceflight Military history Military history/Military aviation Biography/science and academia Military history/Military biography Biography/military biography Aviation/aerospace biography project Military history/Cold War Biography/sports and games Russia/Russian, Soviet, and CIS military history Military history/Russian, Soviet and CIS military history Russia/history of Russia

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin  (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Soviet Air Forces pilot and cosmonaut who became the first human to journey into outer space, achieving a major milestone in the Space Race; his capsule Vostok 1 completed one orbit of Earth on 12 April 1961. Gagarin became an international celebrity and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, his nation's highest honour.

Born in the village of Klushino near Gzhatsk (a town later renamed after him), in his youth Gagarin was a foundryman at a steel plant in Lyubertsy. He later joined the Soviet Air Forces as a pilot and was stationed at the Luostari Air Base, near the Norwegian border, before his selection for the Soviet space programme with five other cosmonauts. Following his spaceflight, Gagarin became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre, which was later named after him. He was also elected as a deputy of the Soviet of the Union in 1962 and then to the Soviet of Nationalities, respectively the lower and upper chambers of the Supreme Soviet.

Vostok 1 was Gagarin's only spaceflight but he served as the backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission, which ended in a fatal crash, killing his friend and fellow cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. Fearing for his life, Soviet officials permanently banned Gagarin from further spaceflights. After completing training at the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy on 17 February 1968, he was allowed to fly regular aircraft. Gagarin died five weeks later when the MiG-15 training jet he was piloting with his flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin crashed near the town of Kirzhach.

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50th anniversary of the first human space flight

Biography Aviation Soviet Union Russia Russia/technology and engineering in Russia Spaceflight Military history Military history/Military aviation Biography/science and academia Military history/Military biography Biography/military biography Aviation/aerospace biography project Military history/Cold War Biography/sports and games Russia/Russian, Soviet, and CIS military history Military history/Russian, Soviet and CIS military history Russia/history of Russia

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin  (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Soviet Air Forces pilot and cosmonaut who became the first human to journey into outer space, achieving a major milestone in the Space Race; his capsule Vostok 1 completed one orbit of Earth on 12 April 1961. Gagarin became an international celebrity and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, his nation's highest honour.

Born in the village of Klushino near Gzhatsk (a town later renamed after him), in his youth Gagarin was a foundryman at a steel plant in Lyubertsy. He later joined the Soviet Air Forces as a pilot and was stationed at the Luostari Air Base, near the Norwegian border, before his selection for the Soviet space programme with five other cosmonauts. Following his spaceflight, Gagarin became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre, which was later named after him. He was also elected as a deputy of the Soviet of the Union in 1962 and then to the Soviet of Nationalities, respectively the lower and upper chambers of the Supreme Soviet.

Vostok 1 was Gagarin's only spaceflight but he served as the backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission, which ended in a fatal crash, killing his friend and fellow cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. Fearing for his life, Soviet officials permanently banned Gagarin from further spaceflights. After completing training at the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy on 17 February 1968, he was allowed to fly regular aircraft. Gagarin died five weeks later when the MiG-15 training jet he was piloting with his flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin crashed near the town of Kirzhach.

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“Jack” Parsons was an American rocket engineer, chemist, & Thelemite occultist

United States Biography California Aviation Spaceflight Military history Military history/North American military history Military history/United States military history Biography/science and academia Military history/Military biography Biography/military biography LGBT studies Aviation/aerospace biography project Chemistry Military history/World War II Military history/Cold War Libertarianism California/Southern California California/Los Angeles area Thelema Occult

John Whiteside Parsons (born Marvel Whiteside Parsons; October 2, 1914 – June 17, 1952) was an American rocket engineer, chemist, and Thelemite occultist. Associated with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Parsons was one of the principal founders of both the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Aerojet Engineering Corporation. He invented the first rocket engine to use a castable, composite rocket propellant, and pioneered the advancement of both liquid-fuel and solid-fuel rockets.

Born in Los Angeles, Parsons was raised by a wealthy family on Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena. Inspired by science fiction literature, he developed an interest in rocketry in his childhood and in 1928 began amateur rocket experiments with school friend Edward S. Forman. He dropped out of Pasadena Junior College and Stanford University due to financial difficulties during the Great Depression, and in 1934 he united with Forman and graduate Frank Malina to form the Caltech-affiliated Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory (GALCIT) Rocket Research Group, supported by GALCIT chairman Theodore von Kármán. In 1939 the GALCIT Group gained funding from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to work on Jet-Assisted Take Off (JATO) for the U.S. military. After the U.S. entered World War II, they founded Aerojet in 1942 to develop and sell JATO technology; the GALCIT Group became JPL in 1943.

Following some brief involvement with Marxism in 1939, Parsons converted to Thelema, the new religious movement founded by the English occultist Aleister Crowley. Together with his first wife, Helen Northrup, Parsons joined the Agape Lodge, the Californian branch of the Thelemite Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) in 1941. At Crowley's bidding, Parsons replaced Wilfred Talbot Smith as its leader in 1942 and ran the Lodge from his mansion on Orange Grove Boulevard. Parsons was expelled from JPL and Aerojet in 1944 owing to the Lodge's infamous reputation and to his hazardous workplace conduct.

In 1945, Parsons separated from Helen, after having an affair with her sister Sara; when Sara left him for L. Ron Hubbard, Parsons conducted the Babalon Working, a series of rituals intended to invoke the Thelemic goddess Babalon on Earth. He and Hubbard continued the working with Marjorie Cameron, whom Parsons married in 1946. After Hubbard and Sara defrauded him of his life savings, Parsons resigned from the O.T.O., then held various jobs while acting as a consultant for Israel's rocket program. Amid McCarthyism, Parsons was accused of espionage and left unable to work in rocketry. In 1952 Parsons died at the age of 37 in a home laboratory explosion that attracted national media attention; the police ruled it an accident, but many associates suspected suicide or murder.

Parsons's libertarian and occult writings were published posthumously. Historians of Western esoteric tradition cite him as one of the more prominent figures in propagating Thelema across North America. Although academic interest in his scientific career was negligible, historians have come to recognize Parsons's contributions to rocket engineering. For these innovations, his advocacy of space exploration and human spaceflight, and his role in founding JPL and Aerojet, Parsons is regarded as among the most important figures in the history of the U.S. space program. He has been the subject of several biographies and fictionalized portrayals.

Bruno Pontecorvo

Biography Soviet Union Military history Physics Italy Socialism Biography/science and academia Military history/Military biography Biography/military biography Physics/Biographies Military history/Russian, Soviet and CIS military history Soviet Union/Russian, Soviet and CIS military history

Bruno Pontecorvo (Italian: [ponteˈkɔrvo]; Russian: Бру́но Макси́мович Понтеко́рво, Bruno Maksimovich Pontecorvo; 22 August 1913 – 24 September 1993) was an Italian and Soviet nuclear physicist, an early assistant of Enrico Fermi and the author of numerous studies in high energy physics, especially on neutrinos. A convinced communist, he defected to the Soviet Union in 1950, where he continued his research on the decay of the muon and on neutrinos. The prestigious Pontecorvo Prize was instituted in his memory in 1995.

The fourth of eight children of a wealthy Jewish-Italian family, Pontecorvo studied physics at the University of Rome La Sapienza, under Fermi, becoming the youngest of his Via Panisperna boys. In 1934 he participated in Fermi's famous experiment showing the properties of slow neutrons that led the way to the discovery of nuclear fission. He moved to Paris in 1934, where he conducted research under Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie. Influenced by his cousin, Emilio Sereni, he joined the French Communist Party, as did his sisters Giuliana and Laura and brother Gillo. The Italian Fascist regime's 1938 racial laws against Jews caused his family members to leave Italy for Britain, France and the United States.

When the German Army closed in on Paris during the Second World War, Pontecorvo, his brother Gillo, cousin Emilio Sereni and Salvador Luria fled the city on bicycles. He eventually made his way to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he applied his knowledge of nuclear physics to prospecting for oil and minerals. In 1943, he joined the British Tube Alloys team at the Montreal Laboratory in Canada. This became part of the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs. At Chalk River Laboratories, he worked on the design of the nuclear reactor ZEEP, the first reactor outside of the United States that went critical in 1945, followed by the NRX reactor in 1947. He also looked into cosmic rays, the decay of muons, and what would become his obsession, neutrinos. He moved to Britain in 1949, where he worked for the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell.

After his defection to the Soviet Union in 1950, he worked at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna. He had proposed using chlorine to detect neutrinos. In a 1959 paper, he argued that the electron neutrino (
ν
e
) and the muon neutrino (
ν
μ
) were different particles. Solar neutrinos were detected by the Homestake Experiment, but only between one third and one half of the predicted number were found. In response to this solar neutrino problem, he proposed a phenomenon known as neutrino oscillation, whereby electron neutrinos became muon neutrinos. The existence of the oscillations was finally established by the Super-Kamiokande experiment in 1998. He also predicted in 1958 that supernovae would produce intense bursts of neutrinos, which was confirmed in 1987 when Supernova SN1987A was detected by neutrino detectors.

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