Science: Robert Edwards

Robert Edwards, 1925-2013. An English physiologist.

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Sir Robert Geoffrey Edwards was born in 1925 in Batley, England. He is known for pioneering the technique of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Edwards served in the British army between 1943 and 1948. He later studied agriculture, switching to zoology and eventually graduating with a Ph. D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1955. In the next eight years after his graduation, Edwards carried out research on embryos and infertility at various institutions in England and U.S.

In 1968, Edwards achieved a breakthrough in the field of in vitro fertilization together with a surgeon, Patrick Steptoe. The pair managed to successfully fertilise a human ovum outside of the womb. Lesley Brown became the first “test-tube baby” to be born this way. Over the next ten years, Edwards and Steptoe looked to perfect the process and understanding of when it was best to implant the eggs. In the next years over 1,000 babies would be born in Oldham, England as the result of their research.

*In 2010, Edwards received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and knighted in 2011 for his work.

History: Cosimo de Medici

Cosimo de Medici, 1389-1464. A ruler of Florence.

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Cosimo de Medici was born in 1389 in Florence, Republic of Florence (modern Italy). He was the ruler of Florence and patron of the arts during the Italian Renaissance.

Cosimo was born into the family of bankers. From an early age he was taught the skill of trading and finance. In 1429, following the death of his father, Cosimo assumed the power as the leader of his family. (Today, he is considered to be the founder of the Medici dynasty that ruled Florence for the next 100 years).

Cosimo eventually became de facto ruler of Florence, although he only assumed the official public office once. He sought to establish himself as a “behind the scenes” leader and to gain a reputation of the “people’s man”. For this reason once he rose to power, Cosimo reformed the tax system, changing it from a fixed one to a graduate one. At the same time, Cosimo invited many great architects and artists of that time to Florence, and became the patron of the arts during the early period of Italian Renaissance. Some of his “protégées” included: Filippo Brunelleschi, Michelozzo and Niccolo Niccoli.

Although loved by the people, Cosimo had a lot of enemies amongst the oligarchs and aristocrats, who envied the extent of his influence and power. In 1433, they finally gathered enough force to arrest and exile Cosimo. However, a year later the new government overturned the sentence, and Cosimo returned to rule Florence until his death in 1464.

Writers: T. S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot, 1888-1965. An American poet.

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Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in 1888 in Missouri, U.S. He would become one of the most famous American poets of the 20th century.

Eliot graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Classical Arts. For a while, the young scholar would study philosophy, in particular the Indian philosophers. However, following the outbreak of World War I and his marriage 1915, Eliot would become a bank clerk, and hold that position until 1925.

During that period in his life, Eliot would meet another poet – Ezra Pound. The latter encouraged Eliot to write, and soon his first poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was published (1915). In 1917, Eliot’s big break came along, when his collection of poems, “Prufrock and Other Observations” was published. From that point and onward, his fame would skyrocket in the poetic circles, and he would become a leading American poet of his generation. At the same time, Eliot wrote critical and literary reviews that proved to be just as popular.

Eliot’s most famous work proved to be “The Waste Land”, published in 1922. An obscure poem that focused on post-war disillusionment became a hit, and an all-time classic. After the poem was published, Eliot joined the publishing house Faber & Faber, where he overlooked the works of other poets.

*In 1948, T.S. Eliot received a Nobel Prize in Literature.