Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922) was a Swiss psychiatrist born in Zurich, the son of an art teacher. During his childhood, Rorschach was said to be fascinated by drawings. He was a 1912 graduate from the University of Zurich, where he obtained a medical degree. He became a follower of Freudian theories, and in 1919 was elected president of the Swiss Psychoanalytic Society.
Rorschach devised a diagnostic test intended to measure aspects of
personality, primarily the unconscious. It consisted of ten ink blots in complex shapes. The way in which the subject described these pictures would reveal his or her unconscious attitudes. Some psychologists have discounted the validity of the Rorschach test, arguing that the assumption that the subject is projecting his inner fears and other emotional problems is too speculative.


Wilhelm Konrad von Roentgen (1845-1923), professor of physics at the University of Wurzburg, Germany, was working late on the night of November 3, 1893, after all his assistants had left the laboratory. He noticed that a fluorescent surface near a cathode-ray tube was luminous, even though shielded from the direct light of the tube, which made him realize that invisible radiation could pass through substances that would block ordinary visible light. Roentgen named his find X-strahl (which in English is X-ray), the X representing an unknown quantity.
In 1901, Roentgen became the first Nobel Prize winner in physics. Roentgen’s discovery of the electromagnetic rays of very short wavelength was invaluable in medicine, science, and the arts because they could penetrate human flesh as well as various thicknesses of many other things. The X-ray is possibly the medical profession’s most important and useful tool in the diagnosis and cure of disease. Roentgen reportedly made no personal profit through his remarkable discovery.


The name Rockefeller has become synonymous with great wealth. From the original Rockefeller, the founder of the Rockefeller fortune, there have been children, grandchildren, and other Rockefellers, and the appellation American Croesus has attached to each one.
John Davison Rockefeller, more usually know as John D. (1839-1937), was born in Richford, Tioga County, New York. Rockefeller had a series of uneventful jobs, but in 1866 he joined his brother William and together with Samuel Andrews formed the firm of William Rockefeller and Company, an oil refining company. After a few business moves, the enterprise incorporated as the Standard Oil Company of Ohio. They placed other properties and interests in the Standard Oil company of New Jersey. In an antitrust suit in 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the New Jersey company to cease operation.
John D. retired in 1896 and devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy. He founded the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University) and established a host of other philanthropies. John D. lived a long, enriched, and useful life.


The word robot came from a Czech play, published in 1920 and premiered on stage in Prague in 1921, called R.U.R. The initials stand for Rossum’s Universal Robots, a corporation that manufactured robots, mechanical creatures, enslaved to work for human beings. In the play the robots developed the capacity to feel and hate. Eventually, they rebelled, became monsters, turned on their human masters, and overpowered them.
The author, Karel Capek (1890-1938), a Czech playwright born in Bohemia, borrowed the word robot from the slavic robota, meaning a forced laborer. The play was extremely popular on both sides of the Atlantic, so much so that the word robot came to be used of any person who was dehumanized because of too much work involving nonproductive tasks or to a person who works automatically without employing initiative. The word was also applied during World War II to the German «flying bombs» or «Buzz-bombs» sent against England. In the scientific world of today, a robot is used as a term to describe automated apparatus that performs human functions.


Most deliberative bodies, from the local parent-teacher meetings to the U.S. Senate, rely on a book on parliamentary procedure that was written a long time ago. The book, now called Robert’s Rules of Order, was first published in 1876 with the title Pocket Manual for Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies, a large title for a small book. But its effect on deliberative bodies has not been small; it is the procedural bible that governs the orderly operation of their meetings.
The author of this useful set of guidelines wrote the book after presiding over a meeting hampered by lack of orderliness. The book is so effective that in all these years, it has been revised only twice, once in 1915 and again in 1943.
The author, Henry Martyn Robert (1837-1923), a South Carolinian, was graduated from West Point at age twenty, and was assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers, with which he spent his entire military life. He was responsible for defense constructions for Washington, Philadelphia, and the New England coast. During the Spanish-American War, he was head of the U.S. Board of Fortifications. He devoted his remaining years to improving rivers, harbors, and coasts. When he retired in 1901, he was a brigadier general and chief of the Army engineers. His orderly mind, which created his book on Rules of Order, was exemplified in his distinguished military career.


Cesar Ritz (1850-1918), a Swiss entrepreneur and hotelier and the thirteenth child of a peasant couple, built the Ritz Hotel on Paris’s Vendome in 1898, and it became a symbol of palatial living. Its grandeur and its food, under the master chef Georges Auguste Escoffier, were designed for ultimate luxury and splendor. It was the gathering place for the elite and the children of the rich, whose mothers trusted this magnificent meeting place so much they allowed their daughters to go there unchaperoned.
Ritz built the elegant Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly, London, in 1906, and it was also quickly identified with sumptuous living. Then came the Ritz- Carlton Hotel in New York, which, like its two siblings, was lavish and costly. It set a standard for fashion and luxury. «To dine at the Ritz» was the equivalent of the best and most elegant in dining.
Ritz’s son and successor, Charles Ritz, carried on the family tradition by building a string of luxurious hotels around the world, all under the name Ritz-Carlton. Ritz became the most refined four-letter word in the English language.
Yet years ago, ritzy was defined by one lexicographer as «ostentatiously or vulgarly smart in appearance or manner».
With time ritzy became meliorated (a linguistic process whereby a word becomes more elevated in meaning) and came to signify the finer qualities inherent in luxurious, fashionable, and chic, a byword for sumptuous living. There has been since then nothing deprecatory about the word in the minds of many people — but not all. Some think that saying something is ritzy impugns good taste. It suggests pretentiousness and snobbery.
Many people today, and especially those who remember Irving Berlin’s hit song «Puttin’ on the Ritz», feel that ritzy connotes glittering opulence, but in a refined and acceptable genre; yet putting on the ritz is also a synonym for conspicious display or showing off.


Although no one knows how to prevent earthquakes, a gauge invented in 1935 by Charles Francis Richter (1900-1985) may give warnings of an impending disturbance so that measures might be taken to lessen the effect.
Richter, who gave his name to his invention, the Richter scale, was born in Ohio and attended the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, where he became a professor of seismology. His colleague on his project to calculate the magnitude of an earthquake was Dr. Beno Gutenberg (1889-1960). The gauge they invented to assess the intensity of a quake is called a seismograph, an instrument that registers the amplitude of seismic waves emanating from its epicenter and the energy released by it. Ground motions are recorded and then calibrated by the scale.
The Richter scale operates on an indefinite scale from zero to infinity, which makes it a relative rather than an absolute scale. Waves close to zero are scarcely felt and do little damage. Damage begins to occur when the magnitude measures 3.5. Anything over 5 is considered serious. The highest reading ever recorded is 8.9, in a quake off the coast of Japan.
The moment-magnitude scale has largely replaced the Richter scale to measure earthquake energy.


Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1902), for whom Rhodesia was named, was born at Bishop Stortford, Hertfordshire, England, the son of a clergyman. His family had neither wealth nor position, and Cecil suffered from poor health. In 1870, Rhodes went to South Africa, a better climate for him. There he took advantage of the rush to the Kimberley diamond fields and by 1888 had established the De Beers Consolidated Mines. This enterprising thirty-five-year-old man dominated the world market in diamonds and later the Transvaal gold fields.
Rhodes had a vision of an English-speaking empire from «Cape to Cairo». He was heavily involved in politics, becoming prime minister of Cape Colony. However, his involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow President Kruger and seize the Transvaal left an indelible scar on his political future.
Rhodes attended Oxford University several times, ultimately graduating in 1881. Three years before his death, he wrote his famous will, which set up scholarships for two years at Oxford based on high standards of scholarship, character, leadership, and athletic ability. The scholarships were to be granted annually to some two hundred students from the British colonies and dominions, the United States, and Germany. A Rhodes scholarship is not merely a tuition-paid form of education; it is a mark of scholarly distinction.
The territory called Rhodesia has since been split into Zambia and Zimbabwe.


Raglan sleeves became well-known during the Crimean War in 1852 because of a coat worn by the commander-in-chief, Lord Raglan. The sleeve made the coat different from others, and it has continued to be stylish to this day.
Lord Raglan (1788-1855) was named Fitzroy James Henry Somerset at birth. He spent most of his life in the military as Lord Fitzroy, serving as an aide-de-camp for forty years to the Duke of Wellington, whose niece he had married. At Waterloo, Lord Fitzroy was shot in the shoulder by a sniper, and a military doctor amputated his right arm. As the amputated arm was being carted away, he yelled, «Bring back my arm. The ring my wife gave me is on one of the fingers».
In 1852 England joined forces with France against Russia, and the Crimean War began. Lord Fitzroy, now the first Baron Raglan, was appointed commander-in-chief of the British forces by Queen Victoria.
Raglan had no field experience and, according to historians, was not a military strategist. Worse, he kept confusing France with Russia and vice versa. The war had little historical significance and would probably be treated with little respect in history books were it not for the battle of Balaclava, in which confused communications between Raglan and the field commander, Lord Cardigan, led to the death of the brave Six Hundred, immortalized by Lord Alfred Tennyson in his famous poem «The Charge of the Light Brigade».
Raglan became the scapegoat for the Crimean War, a most unpopular undertaking. He was blamed for the sufferings of the British soldiers and the death of fifteen hundred of them at Sevastopol — as well as for the rout of the British army. Army medical reports said Raglan died of cholera. But attending doctors said he died of a broken heart.


Rabelaisian refers to a style of writing that is licentious and coarse, but also humorous and satirical. It was derived from French author Frangois Rabelais (1490-1553).
Rabelais was a man who had a seemingly insatiable appetite for all the gutsy pleasures of life — food, drink, and love-making. He may have felt some restraint early in life because for a time he was a Franciscan monk and then a Benedictine monk. That restrictive phase of his life, however, did not last long, and his interest soon turned to medicine. As a physician, Rabelais was well-accepted and became well-known in his own country as well as in Italy for his humanism and enlightenment. But he was ever the foe of the establishment, an immutable enemy to the blindness and bigotry of the church and state. Throughout, he was a remarkably devoted scholar, and he published works on medicine and translations throughout his life.
The immortality of Rabelais rests on his ribald writing, primarily his celebrated work Gargantua and Pantagruel. The hero Gargantua, despite his elephantine build, had a kindly heart and was a helpful and peace- loving giant. From him English acquired the word gargantuan, meaning enormous or gigantic.