On this day in 1627, the great scientist Robert Boyle was born. He did a whole lot of stuff (hence “scientist”) but he is mostly known for Boyle’s Law. This is the observation that the pressure of a gas is inversely proportional to its volume. In chemistry, we normally learn this as a subset of the ideal gas law: PV = nRT. So as you can see, this is Boyle’s Law when temperature is held constant: PV = k. Anyway, I long for the days when all of this was new and exciting and I worried about the difference between ideal and real gases.
The great mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange was born in 1736. He did many amazing things with math that I only vaguely understand. But I mostly love him because of Lagrangian mechanics. And you know me: anything that makes classical mechanics more fun is a wonderful thing. I’m just a crazy like that. Of course, it is only with Legendre’s work that it all gets crazy fun. But we’ll have to go into that later.
The great Scottish poet Robert Burns was born in 1759. I’m very fond on him to a large extent because of his political beliefs. I think they were, at base, very much like those of Thomas Paine, although I’m very aware just how broad a generalization that is regarding both men. But he was also a great lyricist. How can you not love something like “A Red, Red Rose”:
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry…
The great Etta James was born in 1938. It is hard for me to believe that she’s been dead for two years now. Here she is doing “I’d Rather Be Blind” at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1975:
Other birthdays: the great Dutch Golden Age painter Govert Flinck (1615); philosopher Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743); the great writer Somerset Maugham (1874); another great writer Virginia Woolf (1882); bluesman Sleepy John Estes (1899); the real Sybil, who almost certainly didn’t have multiple personalities, Shirley Ardell Mason (1923); and the great medium distance runner Steve Prefontaine (1951).
The day, however, belongs to Tobe Hooper who is 71 today. He is best know for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of that film. But when it came out, everyone expected great things of Hooper, because young independent horror filmmakers often go on to do great works later. Hooper, not so much. Mostly, he’s just gone on to make other horror films. And I think that’s great. Making horror films is a great thing to do. And Hooper has made some really good ones, including the megahit Poltergeist. I think he will be appreciated a lot more in 20 years than he is now (unlike Sam Raimi). I mean, after watching the following trailer for Spontaneous Combustion, how can not want to see it?
Happy birthday Tobe Hooper!