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Personalities of the University of Cluj/Kolozsvár

Sámuel Brassai (1797?-1897) polymath
Born at Colţeşti/Torockószentgyörgy (Romania). He lived in difficult circumstances from childhood. He worked as teacher for aristocrats, linguist, music professor and librarian. Between 1837 and 1848 he worked as teacher in the Reformat College in Cluj/Kolozsvár. He was the Vice-Chairman and referent of the Congress on Education held in 1848 and was appointed as professor in 1837. The Director of the Transylvanian Museum Society; in 1872 he became professor of the University of Cluj/Kolozsvár while in 1874 he was awarded Doctor Honoris Causa. At the University of Cluj/Kolozsvár he taught mathematics, linguistics and Sanskrit language. He was first an honorary member, then an ordinary member of the Hungarian Academy of Science. He had remarkable result mainly on the field of philosophy and linguistics, but he also had an outstanding activity in theology and music. He was actively involved in the activity of his Church for a long period of time; as of 1862 he acted as the supervisor administrator of the College and was the first Chairman of the Ferenc Dávid Society.
Lajos Martin (1827-1879) mathematician and a pioneer in aeronautics
He carried out his activity in aeronautics as professor at the Franz Joseph University in Cluj/Kolozsvár. To this day, the role he played in the discovery of ailerons is considered of basic importance. These ailerons are situated along the rare wings of the airplane, the so-called trailing edge which allow banking the wings when the airplane turns. Without these, the plane would continue its initial course sideways. He first drew a figure detailing the operation of these ailerons in a letter dated 1892.
Rudolf Fabínyi (1849-1920), chemist
Born at Jelšava/Jolsva on July 31, 1849. He learnt chemical engineering, and then became assistant lecturer at the Technical University. After a study trip of 2 years, in 1878 he was appointed professor of chemistry at the University of Cluj/Kolozsvár. In addition to organizing the institution, he also headed the chemical research station in Cluj/Kolozsvár. He launched and edited the first Hungarian-language journal (1882-1889) with the title Vegytani Lapok (Journal of Chemical Sciences). He became the first Chairman of the Association of Hungarian Chemists founded in 1907. Rudolf Fabinyi was the first to start modern organic chemical research in Hungary. It is especially interesting the pioneering work in the study of cyason and its derivates that became so important for the pharmaceutical industry nowadays. He also made experiments with fuel cell batteries that gained in importance only nowadays in space flights. He made ingenious amendments to the method applied to reduce the boiling point and the freezing point that is used to determine the molecular weight of organic substances. He died on March 7, 1920, at Budapest after collapse following the Dictate of Trianon.
Gyula Farkas (1847-1930) mathematician and theoretical physician
His scientific activity is connected to the Hungarian University of Cluj/Kolozsvár. His achieved the most important results in relation to the Farkas theorem concerning linear inequalities which became known due to the work of Kuhn and Tucker and was frequently quoted by mathematicians engaged in the study of the optimization theory after 1950. He was the first to adopt a modern approach to the notion of entropy. He also made use of his position as Dean and Rector to convince Lipót Fejér, Frigyes Riesz and Alfréd Haar to join the University staff.
Herrmann Antal (1851-1926), ethnographer
Born at Brasov/Brassó on July 30, 1851. He attended the primary and secondary school in Brasov/Brassó and Cluj/Kolozsvár. In the academic year 1870/71 he learnt philosophy at the University of Vienna, and after a year returned to Brasov/Brassó where he began teaching in the Roman-Catholic Gymnasium. He was the editor of a daily newspaper called Nemere. After 1883 he taught German language and literature in the Pedagogy College of Budapest. He was also engaged in the study of comparative literary history. In 1898 he was appointed Director of the Institute. In 1887, together with Lajos Katona and Henrik Wlislocki, he launched the first Hungarian ethnography journal with the title Ethnologische Mittheilungen aus Ungarn. In 1889, together with Pál Hunfalvy, he founded the Hungarian Ethnographic Society.He was the editor of the materials published in Hungarian in the journal Osztrák-Magyar Monarchia írásban és képben. Due to his organizing activity several museum collections were created in Transylvania: the Csángó (Hungarian speaking natives of Moldavia) collection from Sacele/Hétfalu, the collection of Kalotaszeg, the Armenian Museum in Gherla/Szamosújvár, the Saxon museum in Brasov/Brassó, and the museums in Deva/Déva, Turda/Torda and Dej/Dézs. He mainly conducted ethnic folklore surveys and (Gipsy, Armenian or Saxon) studies of folk ballads. In 1898 he became private professor at the University of Cluj/Kolozsvár teaching ethnography and the first professor specialized on the ethnography of Hungary. He spent 21 and half years at the University before the Romanian occupation. After forcedly leaving the University, in 1921 he moved to Szeged (Hungary) and continued to teach at the Franz Joseph University. On June 21 1921 he was first awarded the title of honorary extraordinary professor, and then on June 2, 1921, the title of honorary ordinary professor. He died at Szeged on April 15, 1926.
Gyula Vályi (1855-1913), mathematician
Born at Targu-Mures/Marosvásárhely. His scientific activity is connected to the Hungarian University of Cluj/Kolozsvár. He was engaged in the study of geometry and the mathematical problems of designing propellers. He also defined the criteria and method to solve a partial differential equation related to a variation problem. He was a major supporter of the Bolyai-cult. His results in the field of differential equations encouraged Gyula Kőnig and József Kürschák to explore the same field. He published only a small number of studies and thus his impact was manifest in the carefully developed lectures he gave.
István Apáthy (1863-1922), biologist
Founder of the Zoological Institute of Cluj/Kolozsvár. His research in the field of neurohistology revolutionized the theories on the functioning of the nervous system. The sectioning technique developed by him allowed him to prepare the thinnest sections of his age (1-5 microns). Using this technique he succeeded to demonstrate the existence of neurofibrils which constitute a crucial component of the nervous system. He presented his discovery in 1895 for which, later, he was proposed for the Nobel Prize. Only during the last decades was discovered that one of the consequences of the Alzheimer disease is the accumulation of neurofibriles. At the end of 1918 he was elected as Chairman of the Transylvanian Hungarian National Council. He was captured and condemned to death by the occupying Romanian Army, but due to the international reactions, this sentence was never carried out. He died of a heart condition acquired during his imprisonment.
Barabási, Albert-László (1967-) physicis
He solved the mystery of networks that occur in the natural environment. Following the theoretical work of Alfréd Rényi and Pál Erdős it was assumed that random connections provide the functionality of real networks, and that the hubs have approximately identical number of neighbors. Analyzing complex systems such as the Internet or biochemical reactions, Albert-László Barabási demonstrated that power functions describe the distribution of the number of the neighbors, i.e. few hubs have a very large number of neighbors, while the vast majority of the hubs have limited number of neighbors. Their observations were supported by a theoretical model based on the principle "the rich get richer", in other words new hubs entering the network are more likely to connect to hubs with many neighbors. Based on Barabási’s findings the most "vulnerable" points of the network may be identified, which have the most neighbors and which, if disconnected, may cause the system to fall apart. Applying this to the network of biochemical reactions of pathogens, new ways of managing infectious diseases may be identified. The above findings also indicate that attacks on the Internet are the most efficient if launched against hubs having the most neighbors.