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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Google celebrates Nicolas Steno's 374th Birthday

Today, January 11, 2012, Google celebrates Nicolas Steno's 374th Birthday by showing a geogologic and paleontologic-er logo (see above). Some of you would also find it weird that Google would celebrate his birthday on January 11, when Nicolas Steno was born on January 1, 1638. Well, that's because in the NS or New Style date, he was born on January 11. January 1 was his birthday in the O.S.

Now, for an additional knowledge, what is an Old Style (O.S.) and a New Style (N.S.) dates? According to the online encyclopedia (Wikipedia), they are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January (N.S.) even though documents written at the time use a different start of year (O.S.); or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian calendar (O.S.), formerly in use in many countries, rather than the Gregorian calendar (N.S.). That's how tough it is to be born in the 17th century when the calendar was still being decided.

Now, for those who don't know who Nicolas Steno is... he was a Danish Catholic cleric and scientist who pioneered in both anatomy and geology. He also contributed to paleontology in 1667. By 1659, Steno decided not to accept a statement as true simply because it was written in a book, but rather to rely on his own research. He is considered the father of geology and stratigraphy. He was formerly a Lutheran, carrying Martin Luther's theology, but later on converted to Catholicism. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1987.


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