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This Day in Science History

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July 21


Milan Stefánik

Born 21 July 1880; died 1919.

Milan (Rastislav) Stefánik Slovakian astronomer and general who, with Tomás Masaryk and Edvard Benes, from abroad, helped found the new nation of Czechoslovakia by winning much-needed support from the Allied powers for its creation as a post-WWI republic, (1918-19). Before the war, the famous observatory in Meudon near Paris sent a scientific expedition to the 4810m high Mont Blanc. He joined the expedition, which was paid for by the French government to go to the roof of Europe.

Alan Shepard

Died 21 July 1998 (born 18 Nov 1923)

Alan (Bartlett) Shepard, Jr. was America's first man in space and one of only 12 humans who walked on the Moon. Named as one of the nation's original seven Mercury astronauts in 1959, Shepard became the first American into space on 5 May 1961, riding a Redstone rocket on a 15-minute suborbital flight that took him and his Freedom 7 Mercury capsule 115 miles in altitude and 302 miles downrange from Cape Canaveral, FL. (His flight came three weeks after the launch of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who on 12 Apr 1961, became the first human space traveler on a one-orbit flight lasting 108 minutes.) Although the flight of Freedom 7 was brief, it was a major step for the U.S. in a race with the USSR.


Moon mission ends

In 1969, Apollo XI astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin blasted off from the moon after 21 1/2 hours on the surface and returned to the command module piloted by Michael Collins. The Lunar module was comprised of two stages. The decent stage had the landing gear, and was used as a launch pad for the ascent stage. The ascent stage was mainly the cabin, and had a fixed thrust engine (15,500-Newton-thrust) to propel it to 2000 m/s in Lunar orbit for docking. The lunar module's lower section, left behind, has a plaque mounted upon it, reading, "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind."

First jet launch from ship

In 1946, an aviation first took place with the first U.S. test of the adaptability of jet aircraft to shipboard operations. An XFD-1 Phantom, piloted by Lieutenant Commander James Davidson made successful landing and take-offs (deck launched without catapults) from a ship-based launching platform - the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. The ship had been launched the previous year, then the biggest ship in the World.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_21.htm


July 22


Gregor Mendel

Born 22 July 1822; died 6 Jan 1884

Original name (until 1843) Johann Mendel. Austrian pioneer in the study of heredity. He spent his adult life with the Augustinian monastery in Brunn, where as a geneticist, botanist and plant experimenter, he was the first to lay the mathematical foundation of the science of genetics, in what came to be called Mendelism. Over the period 1856-63, Mendel grew and analyzed over 28,000 pea plants. He carefully studied for each their plant height, pod shape, pod color, flower position, seed color, seed shape and flower color. He made two very important generalizations from his pea experiments, known today as the Laws of Heredity. Mendel coined the present day terms in genetics: recessiveness and dominance.

John A. Roebling

Died 22 July 1869 (born 12 Jun 1806)

German-American engineer who pioneered the design and construction of suspension bridges. In 1831 he immigrated to Saxonburg, near Pittsburgh, Pa., and shortly thereafter was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Corp. to survey its route across the Allegheny Mountains. He then demonstrated the practicability of steel cables in bridge construction and in 1841 established at Saxonburg the first U.S. factory to manufacture steel-wire rope. Roebling utilized steel cables in the construction of numerous suspension bridges including a railroad suspension bridge over the Niagara River at Niagara Falls (1851-55). He designed the Brooklyn Bridge. He died from injuries while supervising preliminary construction operations.


Shoemaker-Levy comet

In 1994, the last of the large fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy strikes Jupiter (Fragment W). This image of the collision of comet fragment W consists of one frame taken within the 7-second period that the impact was visible to Galileo. Enhanced, it shows a bright point about 44 degrees south latitude on the far side of Jupiter from the Earth. The frame was obtained at 8:06 UT on July 22, 1994, with Galileo at a distance of about 150 million miles from Jupiter.

Round-the-world solo flight

In 1933, the first round-the-world solo flight (15,596 miles) was completed by Wiley Post, in his single-engine Lockheed Vega 5B aircraft "Winnie Mae," in 7 days 18hr 49min. He had made an accompanied flight around the world in 1931. Born 22 Nov 1898, Wiley Post made his first solo flight in 1926, the year he got his flying license, signed by Orville Wright, despite wearing a patch over his left eye, lost in an oilfield accident. Post invented the first pressurized suit to wear when he flew around the world. Another credit was his research into the jet streams. He died with his passenger, humorist Will Rogers, 15 Aug 1935 in a plane crash in Alaska.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_22.htm


July 23


Walter Schottky

Born 23 July 1886; died 4 Mar 1976.

Swiss-born German physicist whose research in solid-state physics led to development of a number of electronic devices. He discovered the Schottky effect, an irregularity in the emission of thermions in a vacuum tube and invented the screen-grid tetrode tube (1915). The Schottky diode is a high speed diode with very little junction capacitance (also known as a "hot-carrier diode" or a "surface-barrier diode.") It uses a metal-semiconductor junction as a Schottky barrier, rather than the semiconductor-semiconductor junction of a conventional diode.«

Alberto Santos-Dumont

Died 23 July 1932 (born 20 July 1873)

Alberto Santos-Dumont was a Brazilian aviation pioneer, deemed the Father of Aviation by his countrymen. At the age of 18, Santos-Dumont was sent by his father to Paris where he devoted his time to the study of chemistry, physics, astronomy and mechanics. His first spherical balloon made its first ascension in Paris on 4 July 1898. He developed steering capabilities, and in his sixth dirigible on 19 Oct 1901 won the "Deutsch Prize," awarded to the balloonist who circumnavigated the Eiffel Tower. He turned to heavier-than-air flight, and on 12 Nov 1906 his 14-BIS airplane flew a distance of 220 meters, height of 6 m. and speed of 37 km/h. to win the "Archdecon Prize." In 1909, he produced his famous "Demoiselle" or "Grasshopper" monoplanes, the forerunners of the modern light plane.


Three Mile Island Unit 2 re-entered

In 1980, the first human re-entry was made into the Three Mile Island Unit-2 containment building since shutdown after the 28 Mar 1979 accident, when the core of the nuclear power plant lost water coolant and began a partial melt-down incident.

World aircraft speed record

In 1956, Bell X-2 rocket plane sets world aircraft speed record of 3,050 kph. The X-2 was a swept-wing, rocket-powered research aircraft used to investigate the problems of aerodynamic heating, stability, and control effectiveness at high speeds and altitudes. The X-2 was carried to launch altitude by a Boeing B-50, and then released. Lt. Col. Frank "Pete" Everest piloted this ninth powered flight and reached Mach 2.87. (Later that year, on 27 Sep 1956, its 13th powered flight by Capt M. Apt reached Mach 3.2. The flight ended with loss of control, a crash, and the death of the pilot.)

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_23.htm


July 24


Henri-Alexandre Deslandres

Born 24 July 1853; died 15 Jan 1948.

French astrophysicist who invented a spectroheliograph (1894) to photograph the Sun in monochromatic light (about a year after George E. Hale in the U.S.) and made extensive studies of the solar chromosphere and solar activity. He worked at the Paris and Meudon Observatories. His investigation of molecular spectra produced empirical laws presaging those of quantum mechanics. He observed spectra of planets and stars and measured their radial velocities of, and he determined the rotation rates of Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn (shortly after James E. Keeler).

Sir James Chadwick

Died 24 July 1974 (born 20 Oct 1891)

English physicist who received the Nobel Prize for Physics (1935) for his discovery of the neutron. He studied at Cambridge, and in Berlin under Geiger, then worked at the Cavendish Laboratory with Rutherford, where he investigated the structure of the atom. He worked on the scattering of alpha particles and on nuclear disintegration. By bombarding beryllium with alpha particles, Chadwick discovered the neutron - a neutral particle in the atom's nucleus - for which he received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1935. In 1932, Chadwick coined the name "neutron," which he described in an article in the journal Nature. He led the UK's work on the atomic bomb in WW II, and was knighted in 1945.


Planet found outside Solar System

In 1991, a University of Manchester scientist announced the finding a planet outside of solar system. Andrew G. Lyne of the University of Manchester subsequently retracted his claim for a planet around pulsar PSR 1829-10 at the Jan 1992 meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Atlanta. He said that the modulation of radio waves coming from the pulsar was caused not by the presence of a planet but was in fact an artifact of the Earth's motion around the Sun. That possibility that had been considered but then discounted in earlier studies of the data.

First Cape Canaveral launch

In 1950, the first successful rocket launch from Cape Canaveral took place. "Bumper" No. 8 was a captured German V-2 rocket with the payload replaced by another rocket 700-pound Army-JPL Wac Corporal rocket on top. It was fired from Long-Range Proving Ground at Cape Canaveral. The first-stage V-2 climbed 10 miles, separated from the second-stage Corporal which traveled 15 more miles. (V-2 exploded). A previous attempt on 19 July 1950 of a similar launch was aborted on the pad.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_24.htm


July 25


Sergey Vasilyevich Lebedev

Born 25 July 1874; died 2 May 1934.

Russian chemist who developed a method for industrial production of synthetic rubber. In 1910, while researching processes by which small molecules combine to form large ones, Lebedev made an elastic rubber by polymerizing butadiene (CH2CH-CHCH2), which he obtained from ethyl alcohol. Production of polybutadiene in the Soviet Union using Lebedev's process was begun in 1932-33, using potatoes and limestone as raw materials. By 1940 the Soviet Union had the largest synthetic rubber industry in the world, producing more than 50,000 tons per year.

Charles Stark Draper

Died 25 July 1987 (born 2 Oct 1901)

American aeronautical engineer, educator, and science administrator who earned degrees from Stanford, Harvard, and MIT then, in 1939, became head of MIT's Instrumentation Laboratory, which was a centre for the design of navigational and guidance systems for ships, airplanes, and missiles from World War II through the Cold War. He developed gyroscope systems that stabilized and balanced gunsights and bombsights and which were later expanded to an inertial guidance system for launching long-range missiles at supersonic jet targets. He was "the father of inertial navigation." The Project Apollo contract for guiding man and spacecraft to the moon was also placed with the Instrumentation Lab.


First woman space walks

In 1984, 15 years ago, Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya (sah-VEETS'-kah-yah) became the first woman to walk in space as she carried out more than three hours of experiments outside the orbiting space station "Salyut Seven." She was selected as a cosmonaut in 1980, as part of a female team selected to upstage pending female astronaut flights on the space shuttle. She became the second woman in space in 1982, seven months before Sally Ride became the first American female astronaut in space. On this, her second trip into space, she also became the first woman to walk in space.

First underwater nuclear test

In 1946, the U.S. detonated the "Baker" atomic bomb during "Operation Crossroads" at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. This, the first underwater nuclear explosion, was to test results on a naval fleet of war-surplus and captured enemy vessels. The bomb, encased in a watertight steel caisson, was suspended 90 feet below the landing ship LSM-60 and detonated by radio signals from a command ship at 8:45 am. The explosion created a massive column of steam and water, and a series of huge waves. After second, the first wave struck target ship Carrier Saratoga and swept it 800 yards away. It sank eight hours later. The 90-foot wave also sank Battleship Arkansas, three submarines

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_25.htm


July 26


John R. Whinnery

Born 26 July 1916

John Roy Whinnery is an American electrical engineer known for his work on microwave theory and laser experimentation. He worked on the problem of He-Ne laser modulation, the transmission of laser light for optical communication and photo thermal effects. Later he changed his research field to quantum electronics and opto-electronics. He co-authored the classic textbook, Fields and Waves in Communication Electronics, before he had a doctoral degree while working 6 days a week in microwaves at General Electric during WW II. His current research interest is communications applications of lasers, with emphasis on short-pulse phenomena.

Kunihiko Kodaira

Died 26 July 1997 (born 16 Mar 1915)

Japanese mathematician who was awarded the Fields Medal in 1954 for his work in algebraic geometry and complex analysis. Kodaira's work includes applications of Hilbert space methods to differential equations which was an important topic in his early work and was largely the result of influence by Weyl. Through the influence of Hodge, he also worked on harmonic integrals and later he applied this work to problem in algebraic geometry. Another important area of Kodaira's work was to apply sheaves to algebraic geometry. In around 1960 he became involved in the classification of compact, complex analytic spaces. One of the themes running through much of his work is the Riemann-Roch theorem. He won the 1985 Wolf Prize.


Moon rock sampled

In 1969, scientists had a first look at the 46 pounds of rocks that Apollo 11 astronauts brought back from the moon in SRC's: sample return containers. A "rock box" was opened for the first time in the Vacuum Laboratory of the Manned Spacecraft Center's Lunar Receiving Laboratory, bldg 37, at 3:55 p.m., July 26, 1969.

Curie marriage

In 1895, Pierre Curie married Marie Sklodowska (Curie) in Sceaux, France. In 1896, Marie Curie decided to investigate the Becquerel discovery of the radiactivity of uranium, as a research topic for her doctoral thesis. In 1897 she gave birth to a daughter, Irène. Pierre subsequently followed her into research into radioactivity (1898).

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_26.htm


July 27


Sir Geoffrey De Havilland

Born 27 Jul 1882; died 21 May 1965

English aircraft designer, manufacturer, and pioneer in long-distance jet flying. In 1909, he constructed his first machine and through trial and error and taught himself to fly. Since then De Havilland has been carried aloft by more than fifty aircraft. Notable were the DH-2 fighter of World War I, and the DH-4 light bomber. He established the new De Havilland Company at Stag Lane near London in 1920, beginning the long line of DH commercial and sport aircraft. De Havilland's triumph in World War II was the Mosquito light bomber, the fastest aircraft of its time. In 1943, he was one of the first to make jet-propelled aircraft, producing the Vampire jet fighter. De Havilland led the world in entering the era of jet passenger flight with its first turbine powered aircraft, the Comet in 1949.

Salim Ali

Died 27 Jul 1987 (born 12 Nov 1896)

Indian ornithologist, the "birdman of India," who championed conservation of India's biological diversity. His fieldwork provided scientific guidance for the Indian government's conservation efforts. His love of birds began at age 10, when he began writing his observations. Eventually, he undertook professional education in ornithology. In 1930 he began a bird survey of Hyderabad State. By 1976, he had published several popular regional field guides of Indian birds for which he is famous. These surveys were based on extensive travels throughout India and Pakistan. The title of his autobiography "The Fall of a Sparrow" (1987) recalls the first sparrow that drew his interest as a boy.«


Jet airliner

In 1949, the British De Havilland Comet, the world's first jet-propelled airliner, made its maiden flight in England. Before the time of the Comet. today's speed and comfort standards did not exist. Commercial transport used piston engines and most planes were akin to WW2 aircraft. Flying was made difficult by the bad weather of low cruising levels; the cruising speed was reduced making long trips a tough and exhausting matter. The development of jet-engines in WW2 led to a new milestone in commercial air transport. One of them was the De Havilland DH 106 Comet, a commercial aircraft designed for high cruise speed at high ceilings.

Transatlantic cable success

In 1866, Cyrus W. Field finally succeeded, after two failures, in laying the first underwater telegraph cable 1,686 miles long across the Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe. Massachusetts merchant and financier Cyrus W. Field first proposed laying a 2,000-mile copper cable along the ocean bottom from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1854, but the first three attempts ended in broken cables and failure. Field's persistence finally paid off in July 1866, when the Great Eastern, the largest ship then afloat, successfully laid the cable along the level, sandy bottom of the North Atlantic.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_27.htm


July 28


Gerd Faltings

Born 28 July 1954

Gerd Faltings is a German mathematician who was awarded the Fields Medal, the highest honour that a young mathematician can receive, in 1986, primarily for his proof of the Mordell Conjecture which he achieved using methods of arithmetic algebraic geometry. He has also been closely linked with the work leading to the final proof of Fermat's Last Theorem by Andrew Wiles. In 1983 Faltings proved that for every n > 2 there are at most a finite number of coprime integers x, y, z with xn + yn = zn. This was a major step but a proof that the finite number was 0 in all cases did not seem likely to follow by extending Falting's arguments.
However, Faltings was the natural person that Wiles turned to when he wanted an opinion on the correctness of his repair of his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem in 1994.

Francis Crick

Died 28 July 2004 (born 8 June 1916)

Francis Harry Compton Crick was a British biophysicist, who, with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, received the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their determination of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the chemical substance ultimately responsible for hereditary control of life functions. Crick and Watson began their collaboration in 1951, and published their paper on the double helix structure on 2 Apr 1953 in Nature. This accomplishment became a cornerstone of genetics and was widely regarded as one of the most important discoveries of 20th-century biology.


Tricycle crosses English Channel

In 1883, Mr. Ferry pedalled a water tricycle across the English Channel. He started from Dover about nine o"clock in the morning, and arrived at Calais in less than eight hours. The distance as the crow flies was twenty miles, but on account of the currents, the effort required was considerably increased. The construction of his vehicle was illustrated in La Nature. Bulky paddlewheels (probably needing more displacement than shown) replace wheels of a land tricycle. The small wheel behind acted as a rudder. The event was reported in Science, 14 Dec 1883.

First eclipse photo

In 1851, a total solar eclipse was first captured on a daguerreotype photograph by Busch and Berkowski, at the Royal Observatory in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kalinigrad in Russia). It showed a slight but distinct impression of the corona duringthe total eclipse. Berkowski, a local daguerrotypist whose first name was never published, observed at the Royal Observatory. A small 6-cm refracting telescope was attached to a 15.8-cm Fraunhofer heliometer and a 84-second exposure was taken shortly after the beginning of totality.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_28.htm


July 29


I. I. Rabi

Born 29 July 1898; died 11 Jan 1988

Isidor Isaac Rabi was an American physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1944 for his invention (in 1937) of the atomic and molecular beam magnetic resonance method of measuring magnetic properties of atoms, molecules, and atomic nuclei. He spent most of his life at Columbia University (1929-67), where he performed most of his pioneering research in radar and the magnetic moment associated with electron spin in the 1930s and 1940s. His Nobel-winning work led to the invention of the laser, the atomic clock, and diagnostic uses of nuclear magnetic resonance. He originated the idea for the CERN nuclear research center in Geneva (founded 1954).

Dorothy Hodgkin

Died 29 July 1994 (born 12 May 1910)

Dorothy (Mary) Hodgkin (née Crowfoot) was an English chemist, born in Cairo, Egypt. A crystallographer of distinction, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964 for her discoveries, by the use of X-ray techniques, of the structure of biologically important molecules, including penicillin (1946), vitamin B-12 (1956), and later, the protein hormone insulin (1969). Her achievements included not only these structure determinations and the scientific insight they provided but also the development of methods that made such structure determinations possible. (One of her students was Margaret Roberts, later Margaret Thatcher, the only British prime minister with a degree in science.)


Tenth planet proposed

In 2005, another candidate for tenth planet was announced by Mike Brown of California Institute of Technology. Its diameter is estimated at 2,100 miles - about 1-1/2 times that of Pluto. Its orbit is eccentric and inclined at about 45 degrees to the main plane of the solar system. It was named 2003 UB313 on a photograph made 31 Oct 2003. Later, its motion was recognized, on 8 Jan 2005. With orbits significantly inclined to the others, the status as a planet of either or even Pluto, is a subject for debate. They are in a region of numerous frozen comet-like objects beyond Neptune - the Kuiper Belt. The object Sedna - somewhat smaller than Pluto - was also found there in 2004. NASA also in an official statement referred to 2003 UB313 as a tenth planet.

Iron lung

In 1927, the first iron lung (electric respirator) was installed at Bellevue hospital in New York for the post war polio epidemic. The first iron lung was developed at Harvard University by Phillip Drinker and Louis Agassiz Shaw built with two vacuum cleaners. The iron lung is a negative pressure machine which surrounds the patient's body except for the head, and alternates a negative atmospheric pressure with the ambient one, resulting in rhythmic expansion of the chest cage (and thus inhalation) in response to the negative extra thoracic pressure. During periods of ambient extrathoracic pressure, the lungs deflate. This type of machine is rarely used today.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_29.htm


July 30


Vladimir Kosma Zworykin

Born 30 July 1889; died 29 July 1982

Russian-born U.S. electronic engineer, inventor, "the Father of Television." Concurrent with the start of radio broadcasting, Zworykin was developing a system of transmitting sound and pictures. Other inventors were using a motorized, mechanical scanning system with rotating disks capable of a picture about one inch square. It was heavy, bulky and impractical for home use. Zworykin, at Westinghouse, instead developed an electronic scanning television system using his innovations, the iconoscope and kinescope, the forerunners of today's television camera. He also invented the electron microscope.

Lyle B. Borst

Died 30 July 2002 (born 24 Nov 1912)

American nuclear physicist who led the construction of the Graphite Research Reactor (BGRR), at Brookhaven National Laboratory. After work on the Manhattan Project in WW II. he organized about 1,300 scientists, and spoke before Congress to keep atomic research under civilian control, to avoid a worldwide nuclear arms race. In 1946, with Karl Morgan, he developed a film badge to measure worker exposure to fast neutrons. BGRR, completed in 1949, was the first reactor built solely to research peacetime uses of atomic energy. In its first year of operation, Borst announced the production of radioactive iodine suitable for treating thyroid cancer. In 1952, he explained how beryllium-7 from helium fusion triggers supernovae.


Rocket reaches 100 mi altitude

30 July 1946 was the first time an altitude of 100 mi (167 km) is reached by a test rocket. It was a V-2 rocket (No. 9), fueled with alcohol and liquid oxygen launched at White Sands, NM. This test had the first separation of nose cone. During World War II, the nose cone held a German warhead containing almost a ton of explosives. At White Sands, the Army invited government agencies and universities to use the nose cone's 20 cubic feet of space for scientific research, up to 2,000 pounds of scientific equipment, such as cameras, sensors, and on-board experiments, were carried aloft on each flight.

Wireless telegraphy

In 1872, Mahlon Loomis received a patent for "a new and Improved Mode of Telegraphing and of Generating Light, Heat, and Motive Power" (U.S.No. 129,971). In 1865, Loomis had transmitted wireless signals between two mountains in Virginia using two kites flown 18 miles apart, each carrying a 600 foot wire from the ground. When he interrupted the flow of electricity from the atmosphere, through the wire, to an earth ground, a galvonometer on the other kite's wire measured a current change. He also noted dark clouds passing over his apparatus causing too much electricity to be collected by the aerials...causing him to shut down operations. This wireless communication took place many years before Marconi's experiments.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_30.htm


July 31


John Ericsson

Born 31 July 1803; died 8 Mar 1889.

Naval engineer, born Langbanshyttan, Sweden, became an American citizen in 1847. He was the inventor of the screw propeller, built the first armoured turret warship, the USS Monitor. At the age of 14, he participated in the building of the Göta Canal (1817). A locomotive of his design, The Novelty, participated in a competition with Stephenson's Rocket in 1829. Ericsson invented and patented (No.588, on 1 Feb 1836) a double rotation propeller. In Aug 1861, the American Congress authorized ironclad warships and one ship of the Monitor type designed by Ericsson was ordered. By Mar 1862 the Monitor was ready for sea. He also developed a torpedo boat, "The Destroyer," and worked to design his sun-motor engine.

Hendrik Christoffel van de Hulst

Died 31 July 2000 (born 19 Nov 1918)

Dutch astronomer who predicted theoretically (1944) that in interstellar space the amount of neutral atomic hydrogen, which in its hyperfine transition radiates and absorbs at a wavelength of 21 cm, might be expected to occur at such high column densities as to provide a spectral line sufficiently strong as to be measurable. Shortly after the end of the war several groups set about to test this prediction. The 21-cm line of atomic hydrogen was detected in 1951, first at Harvard University followed within a few weeks by others. The discovery demonstrated that astronomical research, which at that time was limited to conventional light, could be complemented with observations at radio wavelengths, revealing a range of new physical processes.


Lunar auto

In 1971, Dave Scott became the first person to drive a vehicle on the Moon - the battery-powered Lunar Rover (LRV) - as part of the Apollo 15 mission to the mountainous Hadley-Apennine region. This LRV, the first to be carried on an Apollo mission, built by Boeing, weighed 460 lb (209 kg) and folded into a space 5 ft by 20 in (1.5 m by 0.5 m). Each wheel was independently driven by ¼ horsepower (200 W) electric motor. The astronauts could travel further from their landing site and sample a wider variety of lunar materials. The car travelled 17.4 miles (28 km) and collected about 168 pounds (76 kg) of lunar materials to return to Earth. Shepard and Mitchell of the previous Apollo 14 mission walked about 2.5 miles (4 km), hauling their scientific gear in a two-wheeled cart

Moon pictures

In 1964, the American space probe Ranger 7 transmitted the first close-up images of the moon's surface ever taken by a U.S. spacecraft, beginning the mapping of the surface in preparation for a future lunar landing. Ranger spacecraft were designed to fly straight down towards the Moon and send images back until the moment of impact. Ranger 7 carried six slow-scan vidicon TV cameras capable of transmitting high-resolution, close-up television pictures of the lunar surface. Seventeen minutes before impact it captured the first image, showing 360-km from top to bottom, including the large crater Alphonsus (108-km diam). The partial scan image taken immediately before impact had a resolution of 0.5 meters. A total of 4308 photographs of excellent quality were returned before Ranger 7 crashed in Mare Cognitum (Sea of Clouds), a mare terrain modified by crater rays.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/7/7_31.htm


August 1


Douglas D. Osheroff

Born 1 Aug 1945

American physicist who (with David M. Lee and Robert Richardson) was the corecipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery of superfluidity in the isotope helium-3. As helium is reduced in temperature toward almost absolute zero, a strange phase transition occurs, and the helium takes on the form of a superfluid. The atoms had, until that point, moved with random speeds and directions. But as a superfluid, the atoms then move in a co-ordinated manner!

Otto Warburg

Died 1 Aug 1970 (born 8 Oct 1883)

Otto Heinrich Warburg was a German biochemist awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1931 for his research on cellular respiration, the process by which substances directly supplied to cells or stored in them are broken down into simpler components while using up oxygen. It is by this process that the energy required for other vital processes is made available to the cells in a form capable of immediate utilization. He devised a manometer for this research, enabling him to study the action of respiratory enzymes and poisons in detail.


Atomic Energy Commission

In 1946, the Atomic Energy Commission was established as President Harry S. Truman signed the Atomic Energy Act, which transfered the control of atomic energy from military to civilian hands. Almost a year after World War II ended, Congress established the United States Atomic Energy Commission to foster and control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. The National Laboratory system was established from the facilities created under the Manhattan Project. and Argonne National Laboratory was one of the first laboratories authorized under this legislation as a contractor-operated facility dedicated to fulfilling the new Commission's mission.


In 1774, Joseph Priestley, British Presbyterian minister and chemist, identified a gas which he called "dephlogisticated air" -- later known as oxygen. Priestley found that mercury heated in air became coated with "red rust of mercury," which, when heated separately, was converted back to mercury with "air" given off. Studying this "air" given off, he observed that candles burned very brightly in it. Also, a mouse in a sealed vessel with it could breathe it much longer than ordinary air. A strong believer in the phlogiston theory, Priestley considered it to be "air from which the phlogiston had been removed." Further experiments convinced him that ordinary air is one fifth dephlogisticated air, the rest considered by him to be phlogiston.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_01.htm


August 2


Elisha Gray

Born 2 Aug 1835; died 21 Jan 1901.

Elisha Gray was a U.S. scientist and innovator who would have been known to us as the inventor of the telephone if Alexander Graham bell hadn't got to the patent office before him earlier that day, resulting in a famous legal battle. He subsequently joined Western Electric where he designed the telegraph printer, the answer-back call-box of the A.D.T. System, and the needle annunciator, among other inventions. He also goes down in history as the accidental creator of the first electronic musical instrument using his discovery of the basic single note oscillator and design of a simple loudspeaker device.

Jacques Étienne Montgolfier

Died 2 Aug 1799 (born 6 Jan 1745)

French balloon pioneer, with his older brother, Joseph. An initial experiment with a balloon of taffeta filled with hot smoke was given a public demonstration on 5 June 1783. This was followed by a flight carrying three animals as passengers on 19 Sep 1783, shown in Paris and witnessed by King Louis XVI. On 21 Nov 1783, their balloon carried the first two men on an untethered flight. In the span of one year after releasing their test balloon, the Montgolfier brothers had enabled the first manned balloon flight in the world. Étienne also developed a process for manufacturing vellum.


Greenwich Mean Time

In 1880, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was adopted officially by Parliament. Greenwich had been the national centre for time since 1675. GMT was originally set-up to aid naval navigation, but was not was used on land until transportation improved. In the 1840 's with the introduction of the railways there was a need in Britain for a national time system to replace the local time adopted by major towns and cities. GMT was adopted by the U.S. at noon on 18 Nov 1883 when the telegraph lines transmitted time signals to all major cities. Prior to that there were over 300 local times in the USA. GMT was adopted worldwide on 1 Nov 1884 when the met International Meridian Conference in Washington, DC, USA and 24 time zones created.

Portable barometer patent

In 1695, a British patent was granted to Daniel Quare for a portable portable weather-glass column (barometer) "which," in the words of the patent "may be removed and transported to any place, though turned upside down, without spilling one drop of the quicksilver, or letting any air into the tube, or excluding the pressure of the atmosphere." Quare's elegant barometers had a wooden or ivory column resting on brass feet and a brass compartment with a glass front to read the measurement scales at the top of the barometric tube. Just below the top of the tube, Quare formed a constriction controlling sudden mercury flow to protect the closed end of the glass tube from breaking due to the impact by the mercury column during transport.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_02.htm


August 3


Charles Stanhope

Born 3 Aug 1753; died 15 Dec 1816.

(3rd Earl Stanhope) English politician who believed strongly in the liberty of the individual. He was also an active experimental scientist and inventor. In 1771, he won a prize from the Swedish Academy for a paper on the pendulum, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in Nov 1772 before his 20th birthday. His Principles of Electricity (1779) included his nacent theory on the "return stroke" of electric current resulting from lightning's contact with the earth. He introduced the first successful iron-frame printing press (1798) and a process of stereotyping to produce moulds from a printing forme to cast printing plates. He worked in steam navigation (1795-97), invented a microscope lens and created two calculating machines.

Georg Frobenius

Died 3 Aug 1917 (born 26 Oct 1849)

German mathematician who made major contributions to group theory, especially the concept of abstract groups (with Ludwig Stickleberger) and the theory of finite groups of linear substitutions (with Issai Schur), that later found important uses in the theory of finite groups as it applies to quantum mechanics. He also contributed to means of solving linear homogenous differential equations. The fact so many of Frobenius's papers read like present day text-books on the topics which he studied is a clear indication of the importance that his work, in many different areas, has had in shaping the mathematics which is studied today.



In 1958, the USS Nautilus (SSN571), became the first submarine to travel under the geographic North Pole when the ice-pack conditions were favorable. This was the first atomic-powered submarine in the U.S. Navy. Attempts earlier in the year failed due to the ice-pack conditions. The crew created a post office while under the North Pole and canceled their letters with a home-made North Pole Stamp. (The Post Master General later declared it to be a legal post office.) Santa Claus boarded through one of the forward torpedo tubes and complained about the effect on his lawn..

Edison on X-Rays

In 1903, Thomas Edison's concern about X-Ray injury was front page news in the New York World newspaper. Under the headline "Edison Fears Hidden Perils of the X-rays" the history of injuries of his laboratory employee were described. Clarence Dally had an arm and hand amputated because of cancer caused by exposure to X-rays. Edison's own experience was that viewing with his own X-ray fluoroscope harmed his own eyesight two years earlier. The focus of his left eye was disturbed by his experiments causing him to abandon research on X-rays. Edison, the "Wizard of Menlo Park," was also quoted saying, "I am afraid of radium and polonium too, and I don't want to monkey with them."

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_03.htm


August 4


Alexander George McAdie

Born 4 Aug 1863 (died 1 Nov 1943)

American meteorologist who was a pioneer in employing kites in the exploration of high altitude air conditions. As a college graduate, McAdie in Jan 1882 joined the Army Signal Service, which preceded the civilian U.S. Weather Bureau. He invented and patented devices to protect fruit from frost. He examined the influence of smoke pollution on the atmosphere, McAdie studied the relation between atmospheric electricity and auroral phenomena, and wrote about lightning as a hazard both in the air and on the ground. He believed that the units used in meteorology should be standardized by adoption of the metric system. McAdie was a founder of the Seismological Society of America. Mt. McAdie (13,799 ft.) in the Sierra Nevada was named for him

Daniel Hale Williams

Died 4 Aug 1931 (born 18 Jan 1858)

American physician remembered as the first black American to suture the pericardium (the fluid sac surrounding the heart muscle). On 9 Jul 1893, he operated on a 24-yr-old stabbing victim and sutured the wound to the pericardium, but left the heart muscle itself alone, allowing a small (1/10" long) nick to heal on its own. The patient recovered and lived for at least 20 years afterward. (A similar procedure was performed earlier by H.C. Dalton on 6 Sep 1891. The first surgery on heart muscle was done on 10 Sep 1896, by Ludwig Rehn who sutured a myocardial laceration). Williams helped establish the Provident Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago (1891), the oldest free-standing black owned hospital in the U.S.


UK supersonic fighter

In 1954, Britain's first supersonic fighter plane, the P-1 English Electric Lightning, made its maiden flight.

Bell tribute

In 1922, every telephone in North America was silent for one minute at sunset marking the time funeral services were taking place for Alexander Graham Bell. He was laid to rest in a tomb blasted in the solid rock at the peak of Beinn Bhreagh Mountain on his estate in Nova Scotia, Canada. A watch tower had been built there years earlier by the inventor. His coffin was made in the inventor's own workshop by his laboratory staff. In a memory of the famous inventor, all the switchboards and switching stations of AT&T and the Bell System in the U.S. and Canada suspended service to the 13 million telephones then installed. Bell had died two days earlier on 2 Aug 1922..

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_04.htm


August 5


Neil Armstrong

Born 5 Aug 1930

Neil Alden Armstrong, U.S. astronaut, was the first man to walk on the moon (20 Jul 1969, Apollo 11). He served as a Navy pilot during the Korean War, then joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (which became NASA), as a civilian test pilot. In 1962, he was the first civilian to enter the astronaut-training program. He gained experience as command pilot of the Gemini 8 mission, which accomplished the first physical joining of two orbiting spacecraft. Later he was commander of the Apollo 11 lunar mission. From 1971, he worked as professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He was a member of the commission that investigated the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster.

Charles-Eugène Delaunay

Died 5 Aug 1872 (born 9 Apr 1816)

French mathematician and astronomer whose theory of lunar motion advanced the development of planetary-motion theories. After 20 years of work, he published two volumes on lunar theory, La Théorie du mouvement de la lune (1860,1867). This is an important case of the three body problem. Delaunay found the longitude, latitude and parallax of the Moon as infinite series. These gave results correct to 1 second of arc but were not too practical as the series converged slowly. However this work was important in the beginnings of functional analysis. Delaunay succeeded Le Verrier as director of the Paris Observatory in 1870 but two years later he and three companions drowned in a boating accident.


Mariner 7

In 1969, Mariner 7 flew past Mars. It had been launched 27 Mar1969, and was now 3430-km above the Martian surface. Its 7.7 square meter area of photocell solar panels provided 800 W of power. The probe took 22 near-encounter images across 20% of the planet's surface. They showed the Martian and Moon surfaces were very different, and also varied from the earlier Mariner 4 images. These added to the far-encounter sequence of 93 images taken since 2 Aug 1969 during the approach. Other instruments took atmospheric measurements, and revealed that the south polar ice cap composition was mostly frozen carbon dioxide. Radio telemetry provided improved estimates of the planet's size, shape and mass.


In 1962, a lunar occultation on August 5 enabled Australian radio astronomers to more precisely fix the location of the previously known radio source 3C 273, in Virgo. In 1963 this became the first member of a new class of object eventually to be called quasars or "quasi-stellar radio sources." Maarten Schmidt, using the Hale optical telescope, saw it as a faint star-like object with a visible jet. Its spectrum featured unusual emission lines, which he identified as ordinary hydrogen lines shifted toward longer wavelengths (redshifted) by 16%. If the shift is due to velocity, it is moving away at one-sixth the speed of light and one of the most distant objects visible. Quasars radiate as much energy per second as a hundred or more galaxies. 3C273 is the brightest quasar known.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_05.htm


August 6


Jon Postel

Born 6 Aug 1943; died 16 Oct 1998.

Jonathan Bruce Postel was an American computer scientist who played a pivotal role in creating and administering the Internet. In the late 1960s, Postel was a graduate student developing the ARPANET, a forerunner of the Internet for use by the U.S. Dept. of Defense. As director of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which he formed, Postel was a creator of the Internet's address system. The Internet grew rapidly in the 1990s, and there was concern about its lack of regulation. Shortly before his death, Postel submitted a proposal to the U.S. government for an international nonprofit organization that would oversee the Internet and its assigned names and numbers. He died at age 55, from complications after heart surgery.

Joseph-Achille Le Bel

Died 6 Aug 1930 (born 21 Jan 1847)

French chemist who was the first to present a theory on the relationship between molecules and how they absorb or reflect light. Born into a family wealthy in petroleum holdings, he was able to build his own laboratory to pursue his work. He theorized (1874) that optical activity - the presence of two forms of the same organic molecule, one a mirror image of the other - is due to an asymmetric carbon atom bound to four different groups. For this contribution he is regarded as the cofounder of stereochemistry, with J. H. van't Hoff. His interests also included petrochemistry, cosmology, and biology.


Atomic bomb

In 1945, the first atomic bomb used in World War II was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The weapon, code-named "Little Boy," was dropped from a United States Air Force B-29 bomber, The Enola Gay.


In 1181, a supernova was observed by Chinese astronomers in the constellation now known as Cassiopeia, and independently found one day later from Japan. The "guest star" remained visible for 185 days (over 6 months). A supernova remnant, 3C58, found by radio astronomers in the 1960's, was first proposed to be the remnant of the supernova 1181 by F. Richard Stephenson. 3C58 is a filled-center supernova remnant, extends now about 9x5 arc minutes and contains a pulsar which rotates about 15 times per second. In addition, an extended X-ray source surrounding the pulsar has been observed, thought to be produced by a cloud of high-energy particles about 20 light years across.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_06.htm


August 7


James Bowdoin

Born 7 Aug 1726; died 6 Nov 1790.

American founder and first president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1780). He was a scientist prominent in physics and astronomy, and wrote several papers including one on electricity with Benjamin Franklin, a close friend. In one of his letters to Franklin, Bowdoin suggested the theory, since generally accepted, that the phosphorescence of the sea, under certain conditions, is due to the presence of minute animals. Bowdoin was also a political leader in Massachusetts during the American revolution (1775-83), and governor of Massachusetts (1785-87). His remarkable library of 1,200 volumes, ranged from science and math to philosophy, religion, poetry, and fiction. He left it in his will to the Academy.

Bart J. Bok

Died 7 Aug 1983 (born 28 Apr 1906)

Bart Jan Bok was a Dutch-American astronomer whose name remains associated with the "Bok globules" he was the first to investigate - dark clouds of dense gas and dust visible against a background of bright nebulae. Bok globules have a mass of 10 to 50 times the mass of the Sun and are about a light year across. He began their observation in the 1940's and in a 1947 paper with E.F. Reilly proposed that these were sites of new star formation as the gas clouds underwent gravitational collapse. Bok's other important work was on the structure and evolution of the Milky Way Galaxy. His enthusiasm for astronomy began as a young boy. Bok bicycled to Norway to observe the solar eclipse of 1927. He moved to the U.S. in 1929.



In 1947, the balsa-wood raft Kon-Tiki, which carried Thor Heyerdahl and five companions more than 4,000 miles, crashed into a reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It had left Peru on 28 Apr 1947 to demonstrate his belief that the voyage was possible using materials and technology of pre-Columbian times, and that thus ancient Polynesians could have originated in South America. The Kon-Tiki raft party reported first sighting land - Pukapuka Island in the Tuamotas - on 30 Jul 1947. Kon Tiki was an old name of the Inca sun god, Viracocha.

Fulton's Steam Boat

In 1807, Robert Fulton's North River Steam Boat (also known as the Clermont) began chugging its way up New York's Hudson River on its successful round-trip from New York City to Albany 150 miles apart in 32 hours.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_07.htm


August 8


Ernest Orlando Lawrence

Born 8 Aug 1901; died 27 Aug 1958

American physicist who was awarded the 1939 Nobel Prize for Physics for his invention of the cyclotron, the first device for the production of high energy particles. His first device, built in 1930 used a 10-cm magnet. He accelerated particles within a cyclinder at high vacuum between the poles of an electromagnetic to confine the beam to a spiral path while a high A.C. voltage increased the particle energy. Larger models built later created 8 x 104 eV beams. By colliding particles with atomic nuclei, he produced new elements and artificial radioactivity. By 1940, he had created plutonium and neptunium. He extended the use of atomic radiation into the fields of biology and medicine. Element 103 was named Lawrencium as a tribute to him.

Sir Frank Whittle

Died 8 Aug 1996 (born 1 Jun 1907)

English aviation engineer and pilot who was a pioneer in the field of jet propulsion, which he used to develop aircraft that could fly at faster speeds and higher altitudes than piston-engine propeller airplanes of the 1920s. While he was at Cranwell, still only 21 years of age, Whittle began to consider the possibilities of jet propulsion as applied to aircraft. By 1930, he had designed and patented a jet aircraft engine. After 11 years, Whittle's engine, tested and modified, successfully powered a Gloster-Whittle E.28/39, on a historic 17-min flight on 15 May 1941. Design work continued, and by the end of WW II, the Gloster Meteor became the RAF's first jet fighter that would fly 200-mph faster than the RAF's Spitfires and Hurricanes.


Teacher launched on Space Shuttle Endeavour

In 2007, Barbara Morgan became the first educator to safely reach space was launched on the U.S. Space Shuttle Endeavour. en route to the International Space Station. In 1986, she was the alternate for the first teacher selected for a space mission, Christa McAuliffe (who died with six astronauts in the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle 73-sec after its launch). Immediately after the Endeavour reached orbit, Mission Control announced: "For Barbara Morgan and her crewmates, class is in session." During the flight, Morgan spoke with students in Idaho, where she had taught elementary classes. In 1998, she moved to Houston for astronaut training. Since its previous flight in 2002, the Endeavour had a massive overhaul.

Steam locomotive

In 1829, the first steam locomotive for railroad use in the U.S., the Stourbridge Lion, made its first run in America. It travelled at 10 m.p.h. on the wooden tracks faced with wrought iron that already existed as a gravity railway, used to carry coal from mines at Carbondale to the canal terminus at Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The 7-ton engine was built by Foster, Rastrick & Co., of Stourbridge, England for the Hudson Railroad Company. However, after the trials, it was deemed to be too heavy for continued use hauling loads of coal on those tracks

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_08.htm


August 9


Ralph Wyckoff

Born 9 Aug 1897; died 3 Nov 1994

Ralph (Walter Graystone) Wyckoff was an American scientist, a pioneer in the application of X-ray methods to determine crystal structures and one of the first to use these methods for studying biological substances. He became famous in two areas of structural research: X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy. He developed a new technique of 'metal shadowing' for observation with the electron microscope. A specimen, such as a virus, is placed in a vacuum together with a heated tungsten filament covered with gold. Vaporized gold coated the side of the specimen nearest the filament, leaving a 'shadow' on the far side. This allowed better estimates to be made of their size and shape, as well as revealing details of their structure.

John Charles Fields

Died 9 Aug 1932 (born 14 May 1863)

American mathematician who originated the idea, postumously given his name - for the Fields Medal. It became the most prestigious award for mathematicians, often referred to as the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for mathematicians. As a professor at the University of Toronto, he had worked to bring the International Congress of Mathematicians to Toronto (1924). The Congress was so successful that afterward there was a surplus of about $2,500 which Fields, as chairman of the organizing committee, proposed be used to fund two medals to be awarded at each of future Congresses. This was approved on 24 Feb 1931. He died the following year, leaving $47,000 as additional funding for the medals, which have been awarded since 1936.


Mars 7

In 1973, the USSR launched the Mars 7, on a Proton SL-12/D-1-e booster. It was one of several Soviet Mars probes - Mars 4, 5, 6, and 7 - launched in Jul-Aug 1973. The Mars 7 spacecraft was made up of a flyby bus and a descent module intended separate to study the atmosphere and land on the Martian surface with instruments to study soil composition, and mechanical properties soil sensors. The combined vehicle reached Mars on 9 Mar 1974. However, an equipment problem believed to be due to a faulty computer chip resulted in the premature separation of the lander. Being released about 4 hours too early, the lander missed the planet by 1300-km. Both the bus and the lander instead travelled into solar orbits.

Atomic bomb dropped

In 1945, during WW II, an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, by the Americans. A few days earlier, the first wartime use of an atomic bomb was the destruction of the Janpanese city of Nagasaki.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_09.htm


August 10


Leo Fender

Born 10 Aug 1909; died 21 Mar 1991.

American inventor and manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, including the first solid-body electric guitar to be mass-produced: the Fender Broadcaster (1948, renamed the Telecaster two years later). He was an electronics enthusiast and radio repairman who got involved with guitar design after guitar-playing customers kept bringing him their external pickups for repair. Before Fender came along, guitarists met their amplification needs by attaching pickups to the surface of their hollow-bodied instruments. The Stratocaster (1954), had a flashier, contoured, double-cutaway body, with three (as opposed to two) single-coil pickups and a revolutionary string-bending (tremolo) unit. It became a much favored model of rock guitarists.

Robert Hutchings Goddard

Died 10 Aug 1945 (born 5 Oct 1882)

American professor, physicist and inventor, "father of modern rocketry". From age 17 Goddard was interested in rockets (1899) and by 1908 he conducted static tests with small solid-fuel rockets. He developed mathematical theory of rocket propulsion (1912) and proved that rockets would functioned in a vacuum for space flight (1915). During WW I, Goddard developed rocket weapons. He wrote A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, in 1919. Over the following two decades he produced a number of large liquid-fuel rockets at his shop and rocket range at Roswell, N.M. During WW II he developed rocket-assisted takeoff of Navy carrier planes and variable-thrust liquid-fuel rocket motors. At the time of his death Goddard held 214 patents in rocketry.


Magellan orbits Venus

In 1990, the space probe Magellan arrived at its planned polar orbit around Venus. As the planet rotated slowly beneath it, Magellan circled once every 3-hr 15-min, collecting radar images of the surface in strips about 17-28 km (10-17 mi) wide and radioed back the information. Magellan was carried into space in the shuttle cargo bay of STS-30 Atlantis, launched 4 May 1989, and was the first planetary spacecraft to be released from a shuttle in Earth orbit. The Magellan mission also provided gravity, atmospheric and other measurements. On 11 Oct 1994, it was directed towards the surface, collecting data until it broke up and partially vaporized in the atmosphere.

The Smithsonian Institution

In 1846, an Act of Congress signed by President James K. Polk established the Smithsonian Institution as a trust to administer the generous bequest of James Smithson, an amount over $500,000. In 1826, James Smithson, a British scientist, drew up his last will and testament, naming his nephew as beneficiary. Smithson stipulated that, should the nephew die without heirs (as he would in 1835), the estate should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” The motives behind Smithson’s bequest remain mysterious; he had never traveled to the U.S. and seems to have had no correspondence with anyone there.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_10.htm


August 11


Tom Kilburn

Born 11 Aug 1921; died 17 Jan 2001.

British electrical engineer who wrote the computer program used to test the first stored-program computer, the Small-Scale Experimental Machine, SSEM, also known as "The Baby." First tested on 21 Jun 1948, the program took 52 minutes to run. The tiny experimental computer had no keyboard or printer, but it successfully tested a memory system developed at Manchester University in England. This system, based on a cathode-ray tube, was the first that could store programs, whereas previous electronic computers had to be rewired to execute each new problem.

Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa

Died 11 Aug 1464 (born 1401)

German theologian, influential philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. His scientific ideas, shrouded in theological language, were his personal speculations. Before Copernicus by half a century, he suggested that the Earth was a nearly spherical shape, turned on its axis and revolved around the Sun (1440); that each star is itself a distant sun with inhabited worlds in orbit; and that space was infinite. In mathematics, he contributed concepts of the infinitesimal and of relative motion. He made spectacles for nearsighted people using concave lenses, departing from the usual and more easily produced convex shape that worked only for farsighted users. He considered air as a source of some sustenance for plants, and recognized the pulse for diagnosis.


Double Eagle II balloon crossed Atlantic

In 1978, the first successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by balloon began when three Americans, Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman, took off in their Double Eagle II from Presque Isle, Maine. Their 3,100-mile flight ended on 17 Aug 1978, 137-hr 6-min later, in France. The helium balloon Double Eagle II was 112- ft high, 65-ft diam., capacity 160,000 cu.ft. with a 15x7x4½-ft passenger gondola named The Spirit of Albuquerque. The underside of the gondola was a twin-hulled catamaran to provide emergency flotation for any unplanned water landing. Double Eagle II was built by Ed Yost. The history of transatlantic balloon crossing included seventeen prior unsuccessful attempts and seven lives lost.

Moons of Mars

In 1877, American astronomer Asaph Hall discovered the two moons of Mars, which he named Phobos and Deimos. In Greek mythology, these are the sons of Ares (Mars) and Aphrodite (Venus). Deimos is Greek for "panic" and phobos is Greek for "fear". These moons are composed of carbon-rich rock like C-type asteroids and ice. But their densities are so low that they cannot be pure rock. They are more likely composed of a mixture of rock and ice. Both are heavily cratered. They are probably asteroids perturbed by Jupiter into orbits that allowed them to be captured by Mars. There is some speculation that they originated in the outer solar system rather than in the main asteroid belt.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_11.htm


August 12


Erwin Schrödinger

Born 12 Aug 1887; died 4 Jan 1961

Austrian theoretical physicist who shared the 1933 Nobel Prize for Physics with the British physicist P.A.M. Dirac. Schrödinger took de Broglie's concept of atomic particles as having wave-like properties, and modified the earlier Bohr model of the atom to accommodate the wave nature of the electrons. This made a major contribution to the development of quantum mechanics. Schrödinger realized the possible orbits of an electron would be confined to those in which its matter waves close in an exact number of wavelengths. This condition, similar to a standing wave, would account for only certain orbits being possible, and none possible in between them. This provided an explanation for discrete lines in the spectrum of excited atoms

James Keeler

Died 12 Aug 1900 (born 10 Sep 1857)

James Edward Keeler was an American astronomer who confirmed Maxwell's theory that the rings of Saturn were not solid (requiring uniform rotation), but composed of meteoric particles (with rotational velocity given by Kepler's 3rd law). His spectrogram of 9 Apr 1895 of the rings of Saturn showed the Doppler shift indicating variation of radial velocity along the slit. At the age of 21, he observed the solar eclipse of July, 1878, with the Naval Observatory expedition to Colorado. He directed the Allegheny Observatory (1891-8) and the Lick Observatory from 1898, where, working with the Crossley reflector, he observed large numbers of nebulae whose existence had never before been suspected. He died unexpectedly of a stroke, age 42.



In 1981, IBM introduced the PC personal computer for $1,600 base price. It shortly eliminated most other machines suitable for home or small business such as those with the S-100 bus, running on CP/M or their own operating system. The PC was developed in less than a year at IBM's Boca Raton Florida facility by using existing off-the-shelf components. The IBM-PC established the dominance of the Microsoft operating system. The IBM PC hardware design also became the industry standard for PC compatibles, with the ISA bus. Its Intel 8080 processor speed was 4.77 MHz, and it used from 16K up to 640K of memory. Data storage choices included 5.25" floppy drives, cassette tape, and later hard disks.

Enterprise shuttle test

In 1977, the Enterprise, named after the Star Trek space module and the prototype for the space shuttle, made its first flight on its own within Earth's atmosphere after being launched from a Boeing 747, separated, and then touched down in California's Mojave Desert; the space shuttle Enterprise passed its first solo flight test.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_12.htm


August 13


John Logie Baird

Born 13 Aug 1888; died 14 Jun 1946

Scottish engineer, who was the first man to televise outline pictures of objects (1924) followed the next year by recognizable human faces. By 1926, he was able to demonstrate TV for moving objects at the Royal Institution, London, and colour TV in 1928. In 1936, the BBC started the world’s first regular high-definition service from Alexandra Palace using the Baird system, though it was abandoned one year later in favour of a system developed by Marconi-EMI. By 1939, 20,000 television sets were in use in Great Britain. In 1940, Baird gave a demonstration of a high-definition full colour stereo television. Baird continued experimenting, and was reported to have completed his researches on stereoscopic television in 1946.

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis

Died Aug 1865 (born 1 Jul 1818)

German-Hungarian physician who discovered the cause of puerperal ("child bed") fever and introduced antisepsis into medical practice. While originally a student of law, he attended an anatomy lecture with a friend, resulting in Semmelweis changing his career. He observed that puerperal fever killed as many as 3 out of 10 of the offspring of mothers who gave birth in hospitals, yet it was rare among mothers who delivered at home. Against the prejudice of other doctors, Semmelweis proposed they were themselves transmitting the disease themselves. Semmelweis insisted that those working under him wash their hands in strong chemicals between patient examinations, with the result that deaths from fever were significantly reduced.


Balloon telecommunications

In 1960, the first two-way telephone conversation by satellite took place with the help of Echo 1, a balloon satellite.

Helium ions from radium

In 1903, the journal Nature reported that helium gas is produced by the radioactive decay of the radium. This key discovery by William Ramsay and Frederick Soddy helped to reveal the structure of atoms. In 1908, Rutherford confirmed that alpha rays and these radium emanations were one and the same: the nuclei of helium atoms, bearing a positive electrical charge. Each were future Nobel laureates in Chemistry. Ramsey won the Nobel Prize in 1904 for his discovery of the noble gases. Rutherford was recognized in 1908 for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements. Soddy was honoured in 1921 for his pioneering contributions to understanding the chemical properties of radioactive elements such as radium and uranium.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_13.htm


August 14


Arthur Jeffrey Dempster

Born 14 Aug 1886; died 11 Mar 1950.

Canadian-American physicist who in 1918 built the first mass spectrometer (based on the invention of Francis W. Aston) and discovered isotope uranium-235 (1935). The mass spectrometer is an instrument that uses electric and magnetic fields to separate and measure a sample's atoms according to their mass and relative quantity. In 1935, he discovered that naturally occurring uranium, though mostly uranium-238, contained 0.7% U-235 (later used as the primary fuel in atomic bombs and reactors after Niels Bohr predicted it could be used to produce a chain reaction releasing huge amounts of nuclear fission energy). During WW II, Dempster worked with the secret Manhattan Project that developed the world's first nuclear weapons.«

Enzo Ferrari

Died 14 Aug 1988 (born 18 Feb 1898)

Italian automobile manufacturer, designer, and racing-car driver whose Ferrari cars often dominated world racing competition in the second half of the 20th century. In 1947, as a former racecar driver, Ferrari built cars under his own name for the first time. Within five years, his powerful 12-cylinder cars dominated racing. Within a decade, the road models had become status symbols. Individually crafted, their fenders were pounded into shape against tree trunks, their engines were cast like statues.


Uranus rings

In 1994, the Hubble space telescope photographs Uranus with rings.

First wireless communication

Lodge In 1894, the first wireless transmission of information using Morse code was demonstrated by Oliver Lodge during a meeting of the British Association at Oxford. A message was transmitted about 150 yards (50-m) from the old Clarendon Laboratory to the University Museum. However, as he later wrote in his Work of Hertz and Some of his Successors, the idea did not occur to Lodge at the time that this might be developed into long-distance telegraphy. "Stupidly enough, no attempt was made to apply any but the feeblest power, so as to test how far the disturbance could really be detected." Nevertheless this demonstration predated the work of Guglielmo Marconi, who began his experiments in 1896.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_14.htm
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