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This Day in Science History

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September 9


John Henry Poynting

Born 9 Sep 1852; died 30 Mar 1914

British physicist who introduced a theorem (1884-85) that assigns a value to the rate of flow of electromagnetic energy known as the Poynting vector, introduced in his paper On the Transfer of Energy in the Electromagnetic Field (1884). In this he showed that the flow of energy at a point can be expressed by a simple formula in terms of the electric and magnetic forces at that point. He determined the mean density of the Earth (1891) and made a determination of the gravitational constant (1893) using accurate torsion balances. He was also the first to suggest, in 1903, the existence of the effect of radiation from the Sun that causes smaller particles in orbit about the Sun to spiral close and eventually plunge in.

Edward Teller

Died 9 Sep 2003 (born 15 Jan 1908)

Hungarian-born American nuclear physicist who participated in the production of the first atomic bomb (1945) and who led the development of the world's first thermonuclear weapon, the hydrogen bomb. After studying in Germany he left in 1933, going first to London and then to Washington, DC. He worked on the first atomic reactor, and later working on the first fission bombs during WW II at Los Alamos. Subsequently, he made a significant contribution to the development of the fusion bomb. His work led to the detonation of the first hydrogen bomb (1952). He is sometimes known as "the father of the H-bomb." Teller's unfavourable evidence in the Robert Oppenheimer security-clearance hearing lost him some respect amongst scientists.

(ED: a small aside here is that the comedian "Teller," of Penn and Teller fame, is the son of Edward Teller)


Ozone hole over city

In 2000, the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica stretched over a populated city for the first time, after ballooning to a new record size. For two days, Sept. 9-10, the hole extended over the southern Chile city of Punta Arenas, exposing residents to very high levels of ultra violet radiation. Too much UV radiation can cause skin cancer and destroy tiny plants at the beginning of the food chain. Previously, the hole had only opened over Antarctica and the surrounding ocean. Data from the U.S. space agency NASA showed the hole covered 11.4 million square miles - an area more than three times the size of the United States.

Sound barrier broken by rocket

In 1934, the first rocket fired in America to break the sound barrier was lanched by the American Rocket Society from Marine Park, Staten Island, New York. The rocket, named ARS-4, had a single thrust chamber with four canted nozzles. Its flight reached a top speed of 700 mph, a maxium height of 400-ft,1,600-ft horizontal range and ended in New York Bay.* On an earlier attempt, 10 Jun 1934, it did not fly because the fuel ports were too small. The society was founded on 4 Apr 1930, originally named the American Interplanetary Society. Their pioneering work designing and testing several liquid-fuelled rockets led the way to the U.S. space program.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_09.htm


September 10


Stephen Jay Gould

Born 10 Sep 1941; died 20 May 2002

American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and science writer who grew up in New York City. He graduated from Antioch College and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1967. Since then he has been Professor of Geology and Zoology at Harvard University. He considers himself primarily a palaeontologist and an evolutionary biologist, though he teaches geology and the history of science as well. A frequent and popular speaker on the sciences, his published work includes both scholarly study and many prize-winning popular collections of essays.

Sir Hermann Bondi

Died 10 Sep 2005 (born 1 Nov 1919)

Austrian-born British mathematician and cosmologist who, with Fred Hoyle and Thomas Gold, formulated the steady-state theory of the universe (1948). Their theory addressed a crucial problem: "How do the stars continually recede without disappearing altogether?" Their explanation was that the universe is ever-expanding, without a beginning and without an end. Further, they said, since the universe must be expanding, new matter must be continually created in order to keep the density constant, by the interchange of matter and energy. The theory was eclipsed in 1965, when Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered a radiation background in microwaves giving convincing support to the "big bang" theory of creation now accepted.


DNA fingerprinting

In 1984, DNA fingerprinting was discovered in Leicester, England, by Alec Jeffreys as X-ray films of his tests first revealed the possibility. As he studied the image, at first what he saw seemed just a complicated mess. Then he realized this could be DNA-based biological identification since every person has a unique DNA profile. The technique has since helped in forensics, crime investigation and identifying family members. However, this result was merely an accident outcome of research Jeffreys was conducting to trace genetic markers through families for the original purpose of understanding inheritance patterns of illness. The first use of DNA profiling in criminology (1986) proved innocence.«

Champlain Canal opened

In 1823, The Champlain Canal was opened in New York state, a 60-mile canal that connects the south end of Lake Champlain to the Hudson River in New York. It was authorized on 17 Apr 1816, when a law was passed "to consider, devise and adopt such measures as may or shall be requisite, to facilitate and effect the communication, by means of canals and locks, between the navigable waters of Hudson's river and Lake Erie, and the said navigable waters and Lake Champlain." The Champlain Canal was built as part of the Erie Canal. By 1818, twelve miles were completed and in 1819 the canal was opened from Fort Edward to Lake Champlain. The canal was completed in 1823 and was an immediate financial success.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_10.htm


September 12


Richard Jordan Gatling

Born 12 Sep 1818; died 26 Feb 1903

U.S. inventor, whose Gatling gun (1861) was first successful machine gun, a crank-operated, rapid-fire multibarrel design combining reliability, high firing rate and ease of loading into a single device. His father was also an inventor, and while young, Richard helped him create machines for sowing cotton seeds and thinning cotton plants. In 1839, he designed a screw propeller for steamboats, but found a similar one had been previously patented. From 1844, he continued to invent improved agricultural machines, including one to plant grains, like rice and wheat (adapted from the cotton-sowing machine); a hemp-breaking machine (1850); and a steam plow (1857). The outbreak of the American Civil War spurred him to design firearms (1861).

Boris Borisovich Yegorov

Died 12 Sep 1994 (born 26 Nov 1937)

Soviet physician who was the first practicing doctor in space. He travelled on Voskhod 1 ("Sunrise 1"), 12-13 Oct 1964 the first space flight with a crew of more than one man. He was an expert in the sense-of-balance mechanism of the inner ear. He collected medical information, including the effects of radiation, confinement and weightlessness on the crew. He began his training in the summer of 1964, a few months before the flight, but was not a long-term cosmonaut and afterwards returned to his medical practice.


First African-American woman in space

In 1992, the crew of the Shuttle Endeavour included the first African-American woman in space, Mae C. Jemison, as a Science Mission Specialist aboard Endeavour. During the eight-day mission, she conducted space-sickness experiments and conducted research on bone loss in zero gravity. The first married couple, Mark Lee and Jan David, together with the first Japanese citizen on a U.S. space mission were also members of the same crew.

President Kennedy gives famous space speech

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy delivered perhaps the most famous space speech ever given. Speaking at the stadium of Rice University, the text of his speech included these memorable lines, "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency."

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_12.htm


September 13


Horace Welcome Babcock

Born 13 Sep 1912

American astronomer, who with his father, Harold Babcock, was first to measure the distribution of magnetic fields over the solar surface. Horace invented and built many astronomical instruments, including a ruling engine which produced excellent diffraction gratings, the solar magnetograph, and microphotometers, automatic guiders, and exposure meters for the 100 and 200-inch telescopes. By combining his polarizing analyzer with the spectrograph he discovered magnetic fields in other stars. He developed important models of sunspots and their magnetism, and was the first to propose adaptive optics (1953).

August Krogh

Died 13 Sep 1949 (born 15 Nov 1874)

Schack August Steenberg Krogh was a Danish physiologist who received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1920 for his discovery of the motor-regulating mechanism of capillaries (small blood vessels). Working with frogs, which he injected with Indian ink shortly before killing, he showed that in sample areas of resting muscle the number of visible (stained) capillaries was about 5 per square millimeter; in stimulated muscle, however, the number was increased to 190 per square millimeter. From this he concluded that there must be a physiological mechanism to control the action of the capillaries in response to the needs of the body (not just flow due to heart beating). Krogh's research linked exercise physiology with nutrition and metabolism.


Highest world shade temperature record

In 1922, 136.4 °F (58 °C), the world's highest shade temperature was recorded at the African village of Al Aziziyah, about 25 miles (40 km) south of Tripoli, capital of Libya. The village is a major trade center of the Jifarah plain. Surprisingly, it's just a few miles south of the Mediterranean Sea.

First U.S. car accident fatality

In 1899, the first American automobile fatality resulted when Henry H. Bliss was run over as he alighted from a streetcar at Central Park West and 74th Street in New York City. He stepped into the path of an approaching horseless carriage driven by Arthur Smith. Bliss, 68, was taken to hospital, where he died of the injuries he sustained. The driver, Arthur Smith was arrested and held on $1,000 bail. The first pedestrian in the world to die after being struck by a car was Bridget Driscoll, on 17 Aug 1896, on the grounds of Crystal Palace, London. She was struck by a car giving demonstration rides, and died minutes later of head injuries. On 12 Feb1898, the first car-driver crash fatality was businessman Henry Lindfield whose speeding car ran into a tree at Purley, Surrey.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_13.htm


September 14


Karl Taylor Compton

Born 14 Sep 1887; died 22 June 1954

American educator and physicist who directed development of radar during WW II. His research included the passage of photoelectrons through metals, ionization and the motion of electrons in gases, fluorescence, the theory of the electric arc, and collisions of electrons and atoms. In 1933, President Roosevelt asked him to chair the new Scientific Advisory Board. When the National Defense Research Committee was formed in 1940, he was chief of Division D (detection: radar, fire control, etc.) In 1941, he was in charge of those divisions concerned with radar within the new Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD). Afterwards he was cited for personally shortening the duration of the war. (Brother of Arthur H. Compton.)

Giovanni Domenico Cassini

Died 14 Sep 1712 (born 8 June 1625)

(a.k.a. Gian Domenico Cassini) Italian-born French astronomer who in 1675 discovered Cassini's division, the dark gap subdividing Saturn's rings into two parts. He stated that Saturn's ring, believed by Huygens to be a single body, was actually composed of small particles. Cassini also discovered four of Saturn's moons: Iapetus (Sep 1671), Rhea (1672) and on 21 Mar 1684,* Tethys and Dione. He compiled new tables (1662) on the annual motion of the Sun. He observed shadows of four Galilean satellites on Jupiter (1664), and measured its rotation period by studying the bands and spots on its surface. He determined the period of rotation of Mars (1666), and attempted the same for Venus. His son Jacques was also an astronomer.


Moon probe

In 1959, the first space probe to strike the moon was the Soviet Luna 2, which crashed east of the Sea of Serenity. Thirty-six hours after its launch, it was the first man-made object reach a celestial body.

First U.S. lighthouse

In 1716, Boston Light, the first lighthouse in America was first lighted just before sunset. Located on Little Brewster Island to mark the entrance to Boston, Massachusetts, harbour, has guided ships since then. Building it was authorized 23 Jul 1715 by the Boston Light Bill. In the 1600s, treacherous rocks caused countless loss of lives. False signal fires lit in the wrong places by "wreckers" lured ships aground to plunder. Boston Light was blown up by the British in 1776, but rebuilt in 1783 by Governor John Hancock. The lighthouse is also the last remaining manned station in the U.S.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_14.htm


September 15


Murray Gell-Mann

Born 15 Sep 1929

American theoretical physicist who predicted the existance of quarks, for which he won the 1969 Nobel Prize. His first major contribution to high-energy physics was made in 1953, when he demonstrated how some puzzling features of hadrons (particles responsive to the strong force) could be explained by a new quantum number, which he called "strangeness". In 1964, he (and Yuval Ne'eman) proposed the eightfold way to define the structure of particles. This led to Gell-Mann's postulate of the quark, a name he coined.

Willy Messerschmitt

Died 15 Sep 1978 (born 26 June 1898)

German aircraft engineer and designer, born Frankfurt-am-Main. Messerschmitt. He studied at the Munich Institute of Technology, and in 1926 joined the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke as its chief designer and engineer. In 1938 the company became the Messerschmitt-Aitken-Gesellschaft, producing military aircraft. His Me109 set a world speed record in 1939, and during World War 2 he supplied the Luftwaffe with its foremost types of combat aircraft. In 1944 he produced the Me262 fighter, the first jet plane flown in combat.


Jupiter's rings

In 1998, the rings around the planet Jupiter were declared to be made of dust from the impacts of cosmic bodies that crashed into Jupiter's moons. The idea came from studies of the rings made by scientists at several institutions.

Cosmic radiation

In 1910, cosmic radiation was the subject of a paper published in Physikalische Zeitchrift by Theodor Wulf, a priest and amateur physicist. He reported the result of four days of observations he made the previous Spring from the top of the Eiffel Tower. He suggested that Earth was under constant bombardment from radiation from outer space, from sources other than the sun.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_15.htm


September 16


Nicolas Desmarest

Born 16 Sep 1725; died 28 Sep 1815

French geographer whose discovery of the volcanic origin of basalt disproved the Neptunist theory that all rocks were formed by sedimentation from primeval oceans. Studying the Auvergne of central France (1763-74), he found large basalt deposits that he traced as lava flows from nearby ancient volcanoes. He further showed that many valleys are formed by the erosion of the rivers that flow in them. From 1757, Desmarest was employed by the government to help spread better manufacturing methods throughout France. By 1788 he had risen to the post of inspector general and director of manufactures. In 1792, during the French Revolution, Desmarest was imprisoned and narrowly escaped execution.

Gordon Gould

Died 16 Sep 2005 (born 17 July 1920)

American physicist who coined the word "laser" from the initial letters of "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation." Gould was inspired from his youth to be an inventor, wishing to emulate Marconi, Bell, and Edison. He contributed to the WWII Manhattan Project, working on the separation of uranium isotopes. On 9 Nov 1957, during a sleepless Saturday night, he had the inventor's inspiration and began to write down the principles of what he called a laser in his notebook. Although Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow, also successfully developed the laser, eventually Gould gained his long-denied patent rights.


Ozone layer

In 1987, the "Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer" was signed, agreeing that the production and consumption of most compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), were to be phased out by 2000. It was further adjusted and amended at subsequent Meeting of the Parties between 1990 and 1997. Because of their relatively high ozone depletion potential, several man-made compounds in addition to (CFCs), carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform, and halons were targeted first for phaseout. Now, the U.S. Clean Air Act, for example, bans the release of ozone-depleting refrigerants the during maintenance or disposal of air conditioners and other refrigeration equipment.

Solar eclipse

In 1662, the first recorded astronomical observation of the first Astronomer Royal was John Flamsteed's observation of a solar eclipse from his home in Derby at the age of sixteen, about which he corresponded with other astronomers. Flamsteed's interest in astronomy was stirred by the solar eclipse, and besides reading all he could find on the subject he attempted to make his own measuring instruments.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_16.htm


September 17


Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky

Born 17 Sep 1857; died 19 Sep 1935

Russian pioneer space theorist who, while a provincial Russian schoolteacher, worked out many of the principles of space travel. In 1883, he noted that vehicle in space would travel in the opposite direction to gas that it emitted, and was the first to seriously propose this method propulsion in space travel. He wrote various papers, including the 1903 article "Exploration of Space with Reactive Devices." The engineering equations he derived included parameters such as specific impulse, thrust coefficient and area ratio. He established that the most efficient chemical combination would be that of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. He was later recognized by the Soviet Union as the "father of cosmonautics." He also built the first wind tunnel.

William Fox Talbot

Died 17 Sep 1877 (born 11 Feb 1800)

English mathematician, physicist, chemist who invented the negative-positive photographic process. He improved Thomas Wedgewood's discovery (1802) that brushing silver nitrate solution onto paper produces a light-sensitive medium able to record negative images, but Wedgewood was unable to control the darkening. In February 1835, Fox Talbot found that a strong solution of salt fixed the image. Using a camera obscura to focus an image onto his paper to produce a negative, then - by exposing a second sheet of paper to sunlight transmitted through the negative - he was the first to produce a positive picture of which he was able to make further copies at will. His Pencil of Nature (1844) was the first photographically illustrated book.


First airplane flight across U.S.

In 1911, "Cal" (Calbraith Perry) Rogers (1879-1912) took off from Long Island, NY, on the first coast to coast airplane flight. When William Randolph Hearst offered a $50,000 prize for the first 30-day transcontinental flight, Cal Rodgers took up the challenge. He was a slender motorcycle racer with only limited flying experience (some of it gained at the Wright School,) using a 35 h.p.Wright EX biplane, named the Vin Fiz after his commercial sponsor's soft drink. He made thirty stops, including nineteen crashes, virtually rebuilding the Vin Fiz by the time he reached Pasadena, California, on Nov 5. During 49 days, he flew for 82 hours, becoming the first person to complete a transcontinental flight (though 19 days too late to win the prize).

Rosetta Stone decyphered

In 1822, at the French Academie Royale des Inscriptions, Jean-François Champollion read a paper, Lettre a M. Dacier, describing his solution to the mystery of the triple inscriptions on the Rosetta Stone which had been unearthed July of 1799, by Napoleon’s army near the Rosetta branch of the Nile. (Baron Joseph Dacier, to whom he addressed the letter, was Secretary of the Academie.) Champollion's work to decipher the hieroglyphics had began in 1808. Thomas Young did some preliminary fragmentary work, but otherwise it was Champollion's major accomplishment. In 1823 he gave more details in a series of memoirs read at the Institute, published the following year as Precis du systeme hieroglyphique des anciens Egyptiens.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_17.htm


September 18


Jean Bernard Léon Foucault

Born 18 Sep 1819; died 11 Feb 1868

French physicist whose Foucault Pendulum experimentally proved that the Earth rotates on its axis (6 Jan 1851). Using a long pendulum with a heavy bob, he showed its plane rotated at a rate related to Earth's angular velocity and the latitude of the site. He studied medicine and physics and became an assistant at the Paris Observatory (1855). He invented an accurate test of a lens for chromatic and spherical aberations. Working with Fizeau, and also independently, he made accurate measurements of the absolute velocity of light. In 1850, Foucault showed that light travels slower in water than in air. He also built a gyroscope (1852), the Foucault's prism (1857) and made improvements for mirrors of reflecting telescopes.

Sir John Cockcroft

Died 18 Sep 1967 (born 27 May 1897)

Sir John Douglas Cockcroft was a British physicist, who shared (with Ernest T.S. Walton of Ireland) the 1951 Nobel Prize for Physics for pioneering the use of particle accelerators to study the atomic nucleus. Together, in 1929, they built an accelerator, the Cockcroft-Walton generator, that generated large numbers of particles at lower energies - the first atom-smasher. In 1932, they used it to disintegrate lithium atoms by bombarding them with protons, the first artificial nuclear reaction not utilizing radioactive substances. They conducted further research on the splitting of other atoms and established the importance of accelerators as a tool for nuclear research. Their accelerator design became one of the most useful in the world's laboratories.


First Latin American in space

In 1980, Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendéz became the first person of color and the first Latin American sent into space on board Soyuz 38 (for 188.7 hours), one of a two men comprising the seventh international crew under the Intercosmos programme. Tamayo-Mendéz spent several days aboard the Soviet space laboratory Salyut 6. He engaged in several experiments and measured the speed at which sugar crystals grow in space. He was born 29 Jan 1942.


In 1927, Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System went on the air with 47 radio stations. However, the radio network lost money in its first year, and on 18 Jan 1929 Columbia Records sold out to a group of private investors for $400,000, headed by William S. Paley, a Philadelphia cigar manufacturer. The radio network was renamed The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_18.htm


September 19


JJames W. Alexander

Born 19 Sep 1888; died 23 Sept 1971

James Waddell Alexander was an American mathematician and a founder of the branch of mathematics originally known as analysis situs, now called topology. In 1912, he joined the faculty of the mathematics department at Princeton. Soon after, Alexander generalised the Jordan curve theorem and, in 1928, he discovered the Alexander polynomial which is much used in knot theory.

Chester F. Carlson

Died 19 Sep 1968 (born 8 Feb 1906)

Chester Floyd Carlson was an American physicist who invented xerography (22 Oct 1938), an electrostatic dry-copying process that found applications ranging from office copying to reproducing out-of-print books. The process involved sensitizing a photoconductive surface to light by giving it an electrostatic charge Carlson developed it between 1934 and 1938, and initially described it as electrophotography It was immediately protected by Carlson with an impenetrable web of patents, though it was not until 1944 that he was able to obtain funding for further development. In 1947 he sold the commercial rights for his invention to the Haloid Company, a small manufacturer of photographic paper (which later became the Xerox Corporation).


Israel in space

In 1988, Israel launches its first satellite, "Offeq-1" (Horizon 1) onboard a Shavit rocket from the Negev Desert over the Mediterranean, becoming the ninth country in space. As an experimental satellite it was possibly on an experimental surveillance mission. Its announced functions: 1) Experimentation in generation of solar power; 2) Experimentation in transmission reception from space; 3) Verification of system's ability to withstand vacuum and weightless conditions; 4) Data collection on space environment conditions and Earth's magnetic field.

First US underground nuclear test

In 1957, the United States conducted its first underground nuclear test, in the Nevada desert, at Area 12 of the Nevada Test Site. The Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) first fully contained underground nuclear detonation named the Rainier event, detonated in a horizontal tunnel, about 47 meters (1600 feet) into the mesa and 274 meters (900 feet) beneath the top of the mesa.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_19.htm


September 20


Sir James Dewar

Born 20 Sep 1842; died 27 Mar 1923

British chemist and physicist. Blurring the line between physics and chemistry, he advanced the research frontier in several fields at the turn of the century, and gave dazzling lectures. His study of low-temperature phenomena entailed making an insulating double-walled flask of his own design by creating a vacuum between the two silvered layers of steel or glass (1892). This Dewar flask that has been named for him led to the domestic Thermos bottle. In June 1897, The Scientific American reported that "Dewar has just succeeded in liquefying fluorine gas at a temperature of -185 degrees C." He obtained liquid hydrogen in 1898. Dewar also invented cordite, the first smokeless powder.

Paul Erdös

Died 20 Sep 1996 (born 26 Mar 1913)

Hungarian mathematician, who was one of the century's top math experts and pioneered the fields of number theory and combinatorics. The type of mathematics he worked on were beautiful problems that were simple to understand, but notoriously difficult to solve. At age 20, he discovered a proof for a classic theorem of number theory that states that there is always at least one prime number between any positive integer and its double. In the 1930s, he studied in England and moved to the USA by the late 1930s when his Jewish origins made a return to Hungary impossible. Affected by McCarthyism in the 1950s, he spent much of the next ten years in Israel. Writing his many hundreds of papers made him one of history's most prolific mathematicians.



In 1954, the first FORTRAN computer program was run. Fortran is the dominating language for technical and scientific applications. John Backus at IBM supervised the development of the programming language that would allow uses to express their problems in commonly understood mathematical formulae - later to be named FORTRAN. By 1958 the language was expanded to Fortran II, which included subroutines, functions and common blocks, and in 1962 IBM introduced the extended Fortran IV.

AAAS founded

In 1848, the first meeting of the American Association For The Advancement of Science was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_20.htm


September 21


Donald A. Glaser

Born 21 Sep 1926

American physicist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1960 for his invention of the bubble chamber in which the behaviour of subatomic particles can be observed by the tracks they leave. A flash photograph records the particle's path. Glaser's chamber contains a superheated liquid maintained in a superheated, unstable state without boiling. A piston causing a rapid decrease in pressure creates a tendency to boil at the slightest disturbance in the liquid. Then any atomic particle passing through the chamber leaves a track of small gas bubbles caused by an instantaneous boiling along its path where the ions it creates act as bubble-development centers.

Edward Arthur Milne

Died 21 Sep 1950 (born 14 Feb 1896)

English astrophysicist and cosmologist best known for his development of kinematic relativity. Poor eyesight prevented him from active service in WWI, he did important war service in research in ballistics and sound ranging, and problems related to the atmosphere of the earth.. From 1920-29, he studied problems of radiative equilibrium and the theory of stellar atmospheres. He extended work done earlier by Schuster and by Schwarzschild, which he combined in a mathematical interesting integral equation now known as Milne's integral equation. Later, he turned to the theory of stellar structure and cosmology. After 1932, he concentrated on a new form of relativity called kinematic relativity, an alternative to Einstein's general theory.


Galileo probe ends mission

In 2003, the U.S. NASA Galileo space probe ended its eight-year mission to Jupiter as planned. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California directed the craft into Jupiter's atmosphere to burn up, totally vaporizing its structure. This prevented the possibility of any later uncontrolled fall onto a moon causing contamination with bacterial life from Earth, perhaps carried on the probe since launch. Contact was lost with the spacecraft slightly after 3:40 p.m. EDT. More than 1,000 people who worked on the Galileo program gathered at the Laboratory to celebrate the end of the mission. Galileo was first conceived in 1976 as a mission to Jupiter and its moons, Ganymede, Callisto, Io, and Europa.

Duryea automobile

In 1895, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company became the first American auto manufacturer to open for business. In 1893, Frank Duryea and his brother, Charles, designed what is believed to be the first gasoline-powered automobile built in the U.S. Since it didn't need a horse, it was called a "horseless carriage," which took its first short test drive in Springfield, Mass. Although the first in the U.S. auto business, the Duryeas did not develop into a major manufacturer.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_21.htm


September 22


Chen Ning Yang

Born 22 Sep 1922

Chinese-American theoretical physicist who shared the 1957 Nobel Prize for Physics (with Tsung-Dao Lee) for a ground-breaking theory that the weak force between elementary particles did not conserve parity, thus violating a previously accepted law of physics. (Parity holds that the laws of physics are the same in a right-handed system of coordinates as in a left-handed system.) The theory was subsequently confirmed experimentally by Chien-Shiung Wu in observations of beta decay. Yang is also known for his collaboration with Robert L. Mills. They developed the Yang-Mills fields theory - a mathematical idea for describing interactions among elementary particles and fields.

Otto Robert Frisch

Died 22 Sep 1979 (born 1 Oct 1904)

Austrian-British nuclear physicist, born in Vienna, who, with his aunt Lise Meitner, described the division of neutron-bombarded uranium into lighter elements. He named the process fission, borrowing a term from biology (1939). At the time, Meitner was working in Stockholm and Frisch (1934-39) at Copenhagen under Niels Bohr, who brought their observation to the attention of Albert Einstein and others in the United States. He did research with James Chadwick 1940-43, and was head of the Critical Assembly Group on the Los Alamos project 1943-46. After World War II, Frisch became a science writer on atomic physics for the layman.


1910 - England's 1st aircraft flight

1949 - USSR detonates its 1st atomic bomb

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_22.htm
Source: http://www.historyorb.com/events/september/22


September 23


Typhoid Mary

Born 23 Sep 1869; died 11 Nov 1938

Byname of Mary Mallon, famous typhoid carrier in the New York City area in the early 20th century. Fifty-one original cases of typhoid and three deaths were directly attributed to her (countless more were indirectly attributed), although she herself was immune to the typhoid bacillus (Salmonella typhi). The outbreak of Typhus in Oyster Bay, Long Island, in 1904 puzzled the scientists of the time because they thought they had wiped out the deadly disease. Mallon's case showed that a person could be a carrier without showing any outward signs of being sick, and it led to most of the Health Code laws on the books today. She died not from typhoid but from the effects of a paralytic stroke dating back to 25 Dec 1932.

Sigmund Freud

Died 23 Sep 1939 (born 6 May 1856)

Austrian father of psychoanalysis, best known for such works as Interpretation of Dreams (1900) and the New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1933). In the publication of these, and numerous other works, he revolutionized the field of psychotherapy, so much so that often later workers have failed to recognize forebearers prior to him. Throughout his work he emphasized the role of unconscious and nonrational functioning, going against much of contemporary thought by suggesting that dreams and "mistakes" may also have meaning. Freud battled cancer of the jaw from 1923 until his death in 1939 in London - after 16 operations.


Truman announces Soviet A-bomb

In 1949, President Truman shocked America with a terse announcement: "We have evidence that within recent weeks an atomic explosion occurred in the USSR." The alarm stimulated activity in scientific and political circles, and an arms race was the clear response when on 31 Jan 1950, President Harry S. Truman announced a program to develop the American hydrogen bomb. "I have directed ... work on all forms of atomic weapons, including the so called hydrogen or superbomb. Like all other work in the field of atomic weapons, it is ... consistent with the overall objectives of our program for peace and security ... until a satisfactory plan for international control of atomic energy is achieved."

Neptune discovered

In 1846, the German astronomer Johan G. Galle discovered Neptune after only an hour of searching, within one degree of the position that had been computed by Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier. Independently of the English astronomer John C. Adams, Le Verrier had calculated the size and position of a previously unknown planet, which he assumed influenced the irregular orbit of Uranus, and he asked Galle to look for it.

First Non-Stop Crossing of Atlantic by Jet

Air Force Colonel David C. Schilling touched down to complete the first nonstop crossing of the Atlantic by jet.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_23.htm
Source: Newsie!


September 24


John Watts Young

Born 24 Sep 1930

American astronaut who was the commander of the first ever Space Shuttle mission (STS-1, 12 Apr 1981), walked on the Moon during the Apollo 16 mission (21 Apr 1972), made the first manned flight of the Gemini spacecraft with Virgil Grissom. He became the first person to fly into space six times in a career that was one of the busiest of any NASA astronaut. He piloted four different classes of spacecraft: Gemini, Apollo Command and Service Module, Apollo Lunar Module and the Space Shuttle. Young worked for NASA for 42 years and retired on 31 Dec 2004 at the age of 74.


Died 24 Sep 1541 (born 1 May 1493)

Paracelsus (more properly, Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim), the physician and alchemist, died in Salzburg. He had travelled widely, gaining practical medical knowledge as surgeon to mercenary armies. In 1527, while a physician at Basel, he also lectured, but his controversial views led to exile in 1538. In his major text, the Grosse Wundartzney (1536) he discusses wounds, ulcers, and their cure with salves and balms, with a section on treating gunpowder wounds. He established the use of chemistry in medicine, gave the most up-to-date description of syphilis, and was the first to argue that small doses of what makes people ill can also cure them.


First nuclear aircraft carrier

In 1960, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, was launched in Newport, Virginia. It was the most astonishing vessel of its time and by far the largest warship in the world. Powered by eight nuclear reactors, it does not need to carry its own fuel oil and so has more room foor aviation fuel and weapons. In 1963, Enterprise and two similarly powered cruisers made a non-stop voyage around the world to demonstrate the viability of nuclear power. Length: 1120 ft, flight deck width: 250 ft, displacement: 93,970 tons. Speed: 33 knots. Range: 470,000 miles at 20 knots.Air wing: 86 aircraft. Crew: 5765


In 1852, a new invention, the dirigible - a semi-rigid airship - was demonstrated in a flight from Paris to Trappe. Henri Giffard (1825-82) installed a small (3 h.p.) steam engine of his own design in the gondola of a 147-foot-long spindle shaped coal-gas balloon. This engine turned a 11 ft propeller producing a speed of 5 mph against the wind over a distance of 17 mile on a 3 hour trip. This was the first powered and controlled flight ever achieved. (In 1858 he patented a steam injector which became widely used in locomotives, making him rich. Nevertheless, Giffard was depressive and died by suicide in 1882, but left his fortune for humanitarian and scientific purposes.)

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_24.htm


September 25


Wladimir Koppen

Born 25 Sep 1846; died 22 Jun 1940

Wladimir (Peter) Köppen was a German meteorologist and climatologist best known for his delineation and mapping of the climatic regions of the world. He played a major role in the advancement of climatology and meteorology for more than 70 years. The climate classification system he developed remains popular because it uses easily obtained data (monthly mean temperatures and precipitation) and straightforward, objective criteria. He recognized five principal climate groups: (A) Humid tropical -winterless climates; (B) Dry - evaporation constantly exceed precipitation; (C) humid mid-latitude, mild winters; (D) humid mid-latitude, severe winters; and (E) Polar - summerless climates.

Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet

Died 25 Sep 1898 (born 29 Aug 1821)

French anthropologist who was the first to organize man's prehistoric cultural developments into a sequence of epochs. Based on the idea that older specimens of man were more primitive structurally and culturally, he created a ladder-like model of the evolution of man. This model was the basis for the idea of linear evolution of men. This classification system was further detailed in 1882, in Le Prehistorique: antiquite de l’homme (The Prehistoric: Man's Antiquity). His classification system continued to be the basis for anthropological classification into the 1900’s. For example, he ordered the Paleolithic (Stone Age) epochs into Chellean, Acheulian, Mousterian, Solutrean, Magdalenian, and so on.


Spray cans and ozone

In 1974, scientists first reported that freon gases released from aerosol spray cans were destroying the ozone layer.

Arago announces electromagnetism

In 1820, Francois Arago announced that a copper wire between the poles of a voltaic cell, could laterally attract iron filings to itself (Ann. de Chim. et de Physique., xv. p.93). His discovery came in the same year that Oersted discovered that an electric current flowing in a wire would deflect a neighbouring compass needle. Arago in the same publication described how he had successfully succeeded in causing permanent magnetism in steel needles laid at right angles to the copper wire. Arago and André-Marie Ampère, discussed and experimented with forming the copper wire into a helix to intensify the magnetizing action. However, it was not until 1825 that the electromagnet in its familiar form was invented by William Sturgeon.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_25.htm


September 26


Harrison Brown

Born 26 Sep 1917; died 8 Dec 1986

Harrison (Scott) Brown was an American geochemist known for his role in isolating plutonium for its use in the first atomic bombs and for his studies regarding meteorites and the Earth's origin. He was one of 67 concerned Manhattan Project scientists at Oak Ridge to sign a July 1945 petition to the President, which said, in part, "...Therefore we recommend that before this weapon be used without restriction in the present conflict, its powers should be adequately described and demonstrated, and the Japanese nation should be given the opportunity to consider the consequences of further refusal to surrender." His later studies included mass spectroscopy, thermal diffusion, fluorine and plutonium chemistry, geochemistry and planetary structure.

August Möbius

Died 26 Sep 1868 (born 17 Nov 1790)

August Ferdinand Möbius was a German astronomer, mathematician and author, died in Leipzig. He is best known for his work in analytic geometry and in topology, especially remembered as one of the discoverers of the Möbius strip, which he had discovered in 1858. A Möbius strip is a two-dimensional surface with only one side. It can be constructed in three dimensions as follows. Take a rectangular strip of paper and join the two ends of the strip together so that it has a 180 degree twist. It is now possible to start at a point A on the surface and trace out a path that passes through the point which is apparently on the other side of the surface from A. Although his most famous work is in mathematics, Möbius did publish important work on astronomy.


Biosphere 2

In 1991, four men and four women entered the Biosphere 2, an airtight, self-contained structure in Oracle, Ariz., where they would live for two years. The 7,200,000-cu-ft sealed glass and space-frame structure contained 5 biomes, including a 900,000-gallon ocean, a rain forest, a desert, agricultural areas and a human habitat. It was built in the late 1980s with $150 million in funding by Texas oil magnate Edward Bass. Biosphere 2 was designed as replica of Earth's environment (Biosphere 1). During their stay, the crew experienced various problems. Limited agricultural productivity restricted their diet. Micro-organisms in the soil reduced oxygen levels in the atmosphere and added nitrous oxide. The crew emerged on 26 Sep 1993. Unfortunately, the problems with the project's results brought scientific disdain.«

First US doctor's license

In 1772, the soon-to-be state of New Jersey passed the first law in the US to license medical practioners, except those who do not charge for their services, or whose activity is bleeding patients or pulling teeth. There is no federal medical licensing law.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_26.htm


September 27


Henry Melson Stommel

Born 27 Sep 1920; died 17 Jan 1992

American oceanographer and meteorologist who was an expert on physical oceanography, primarily in the interpretation of data associated with large scale ocean dynamics. He had a long standing interest in the Gulf Stream. He spent most of his career conducting research at the prestigious Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Considered one of the most influential oceanographers of his time, Stommel proposed many theories that were later proven to be correct by other scientists. He applied electromagnetic measurements to oceanic flows, the dynamics of estuaries and the related problem of hydraulic controls, and the interaction of nonlinear eddy-like phenomena (hetons).

Auguste Michel-Levy

Died 27 Sep 1911 (born 7 Aug 1844)

Auguste Michel-Lévy was a French geologist and mineralogist who was a pioneer in microscopic petrology, the study of the origin, composition, structure, and alteration of rocks. He was particularly interested in rocks of volcanic origin. He was the first scientist in France to examine thin slices of rock with a polarizing microscope to identify the mineral content. In his published papers, he described the granulite group, and dealt with pegmatites, variolites, eurites, the ophites of the Pyrenees, the extinct volcanoes of Central France, gneisses, and the origin of crystalline schists. He became inspector-general of mines, and in 1870 joined the Geological Survey of France, becoming its director in 1887.


First European mission to the Moon

In 2003, the first European mission to the Moon was launched aboard an Ariane-5 rocket. The SMART-1 exploration probe, along with two commercial satellites, blasted off from the European Space Agency's launch centre in Kourou, French Guiana. SMART-1 will take 15 months to reach lunar orbit, covering 62 million miles with only 13 gallons of fuel. The 170-lb probe will scan the Moon for up to 30 months to try to answer tantalising questions about the chemical composition of the Moon and whether it contains water. It is powered by a revolutionary new "ion drive", a solar-powered engine that could one day be used for long-distance space flight. With a cost of £70 million, SMART-1 is at a relatively low price for a space mission.

British Association for the Advancement of Science

In 1831, the first annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science was held in York. The British Association had been established in the same year by Sir David Brewster, R.I. Murchison and others. One of the association's main objectives was to "promote the intercourse of those who cultivate science with each other." The second annual meeting was held at Oxford (1832), and in following years at Cambridge, Edinburgh, Dublin, Bristol, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Glasgow, Plymouth, Manchester and Cork respectively, until returning to York in 1844.* It is incorporated by Royal Charter dated 21 Apr 1928.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_27.htm


September 28


Seymour R. Cray

Born 28 Sep 1925; died 5 Oct 1996

American electronics engineer who pioneered the use of transistors in computers and later developed massive supercomputers to run business and government information networks. He was the preeminent designer of the large, high-speed computers known as supercomputers.

Edwin Hubble

Died 28 Sep 1953 (born 20 Nov 1889)

American astronomer, born in Marshfield, Mo., who is considered the founder of extragalactic astronomy and who provided the first evidence of the expansion of the universe. In 1923-5 he identified Cepheid variables in "spiral nebulae" M31 and M33 and proved conclusively that they are outside the Galaxy. His investigation of these objects, which he called extragalactic nebulae and which astronomers today call galaxies, led to his now-standard classification system of elliptical, spiral, and irregular galaxies, and to proof that they are distributed uniformly out to great distances. Hubble measured distances to galaxies and their redshifts, and in 1929 he published the velocity-distance relation which is the basis of modern cosmology.


Murchison meteorite

In 1969, a meteorite fell over Murchison, Australia. Only 100-kg of this meteorite have been found. Classified as a carbonaceous chondrite, type II (CM2), this meteorite is suspected to be of cometary origin due to its high water content (12%). An abundance of amino acids found within this meteorite has led to intense study by researchers as to its origins. More than 92 different amino acids have been identified within the Murchison meteorite to date. Nineteen of these are found on Earth. The remaining amino acids have no apparent terrestrial source.

Donati's comet

In 1858, Donati's comet (discovered by Giovanni Donati, 1826-1873) became the first to be photographed. It was a bright comet that developed a spectacular curved dust tail with two thin gas tails, captured by an English commercial photographer, William Usherwood, using a portrait camera at a low focal ratio. At Harvard, W.C. Bond, attempted an image on a collodion plate the following night, but the comet shows only faintly and no tail can be seen. Bond was subsequently able to evaluate the image on Usherwood's plate. The earliest celestial daguerreotypes were made in 1850-51, though after the Donati comet, no further comet photography took place until 1881, when P.J.C. Janssen and J.W. Draper took the first generally recognized photographs of a comet.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_28.htm


September 29


Enrico Fermi

Born 29 Sep 1901; died 29 Nov 1954

Italian-born American physicist who was one of the chief architects of the nuclear age. He developed the mathematical statistics required to clarify a large class of subatomic phenomena, discovered neutron-induced radioactivity, and directed the first controlled chain reaction involving nuclear fission.

Rudolf Diesel

Died 29 Sep 1913 (born 18 Mar 1858)

Rudolf (Christian Karl) Diesel was a German thermal engineer who invented the internal-combustion engine that bears his name. After studying the four-stroke internal combustion engines developed by Nikolaus Otto, Diesel conceived of an engine that would approach the thermodynamic limit established by Sadi Carnot in 1824. If the fuel in a cylinder could be expanded at constant pressure, it could get closer to Carnot's limit. He patented the concept in 1892, while working at the firm of the refrigeration engineer Carl von Linde in Berlin. He threw himself over the rail of an English Channel steamer in 1913 after having lost control over his invention and after receiving a great deal of criticism in the German engineering journals for his theories.


Space Shuttle

In 1988, the space shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., marking America's return to manned space flight following the Challenger disaster.


In 1954, the CERN convention was ratified by the 12 founding Member States, which, as stated by CERN's Director General Robert Aymar, "gave the new organization a mission to provide first class facilities, to coordinate fundamental research in particle physics, and to help reunite the countries of Europe after two world wars." Thus, the Centre Européenne de Recherche Nucléaire was officially founded. In 1952, the third session of the provisional Council chose Geneva, Switzerland, to be the home of the new CERN Laboratory. Official ground-breaking took place at the Meyrin site on 17 May 1954.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_29.htm


September 30


Irving B. Kahn

Born 30 Sep 1917; died 22 Jan 1994

Inventor of the teleprompter, who headed the TelePrompTer company. In the mid 50's, Kahn designed and built what was perhaps the first remotely controlled, multi-image, rear projection system in the world for the U.S. Army’s facility in Huntsville, Ala., to make persuasive presentations to visiting Congressmen. With five images (one large, 3¼ by 4 slide or film image in the center flanked smaller slides at each side) and random access it could search and select among 500 slides. TelePrompTer also made many technological contributions to the early cable TV industry. In 1961, Kahn and Hub Schlafley demonstrated Key TV, an early pay TV concept, by showing the second Patterson vs. Johansson heavyweight fight, essentially giving birth to pay-per-view.

Dr. Charles Richter

Died 30 Sep 1985 (born 26 Apr 1900)

Dr. Charles Francis Richter was a seismologist and inventor of the Richter Scale that measures earthquake intensity which he developed with his colleague, Beno Gutenberg, in the early 1930's. The scale assigns numerical ratings to the energy released by earthquakes. Richter used a seismograph (an instrument generally consisting of a constantly unwinding roll of paper, anchored to a fixed place, and a pendulum or magnet suspended with a marking device above the roll) to record actual earth motion during an earthquake. The scale takes into account the instrument's distance from the epicenter. Gutenberg suggested that the scale be logarithmic so, for example, a quake of magnitude 7 would be ten times stronger than a 6.


Helicopter circumnavigation flight

In 1982, H. Ross Perot and Jay Colburn completed the first circumnavigation of the world in a helicopter, the Spirit of Texas. Their journey began 29 days, 3 hours, and 8 minutes earlier on September 1. For their trip around the world, which began and ended in Fort Worth, Texas, Perot and Coburn flew a Long Ranger with full navigation equipment, survival gear, and emergency items. Pop-out floats were added, and a 151-gallon auxiliary fuel tank in place of the rear seat was used to enable the Spirit of Texas to fly eight hours without refueling. An Allison 250-C28B turbine engine performed flawlessly for 246.5 hours of flight, flying more than 10 hours a day, over open ocean, barren desert, and tropical rain forest with an average ground speed of 117 mph.

First manned rocket flight

In 1929, an early manned rocket-powered flight was made by German auto maker Fritz von Opel. His Sander RAK 1 was a glider powered by sixteen 50 pound thrust rockets. In it, Opel made a successful flight of 75 seconds, covering almost 2 miles near Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. This was his final foray as a rocket pioneer, having begun by making several test runs (some in secret) of rocket propelled vehicles. He reached a speed of 238 km/h (148 mph) on the Avus track in Berlin on 23 May, 1928, with the RAK 2. Subsequently, riding the RAK 3 on rails, he pushed the world speed record up to 254 km/h (158 mph). The first glider pilot to fly under rocket power, was another German, Friedrich Staner, who flew about 3/4-mile on 11 Jun 1928.

Source: http://www.todayinsci.com/9/9_30.htm


October 1


George R. Carruthers

Born 1 Oct 1939

African-American astrophysicist who was the principal inventor of a new space camera to measure ultraviolet light which can be used to identify interstellar atoms and molecules. After several years in development, it was taken to the moon on the Apollo 16 mission (1972). Positioned on the moon's surface, the camera could also image the gases of the Earth's atmosphere. The concentration of the pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, in the air surrounding large cities could be determined for many cities at the same time. Other space cameras developed by Carruthers and his colleagues have surveyed the ozone layer and transmitted photos of distant stars and planets for computer analysis. He also pioneered in the development of electronic telescopes.

Walter Bradford Cannon

Died 1 Oct 1945 (born 19 Oct 1871)

American neurologist and physiologist who was the first to use X-rays in physiological studies. These led to his publication of The Mechanical Factors of Digestion (1911). He investigated hemorrhagic and traumatic shock during WW I. He devised the term homeostasis (1930) for how the body maintains its temperature. He worked on methods of blood storage and discovered sympathin (1931), an adrenaline-like substance that is liberated at the tips of certain nerve cells. He died from leukemia - probably a legacy from his early work with X rays. He was nominated for a Nobel Prize in 1920 for his work on digestion, but his claim was ruled out as "too old." In 1934, 1935, and 1936 he was adjudged "prizeworthy" by the appropriate Nobel jurors but was not given a prize.


Concorde Mach 1

In 1969, the prototype French-built Concorde broke the sound barrier for the first time. The inaugural flight of the aircraft had taken place on 2 Mar 1969 in Toulouse, France, and its first commercial flight was on 21 Jan 1976. It was the first plane in the world to be entirely controlled by computer. As the only supersonic passenger aircraft, the Anglo-French Concorde remains a brilliant technological achievement, though its impact on international air travel has been limited by the high cost of buying and operating the aircraft. There was also widespread opposition from environmental groups on the grounds of the Concorde's noise on takeoff and its fuel consumption. Only British Airways and Air France have operated the aircraft.

Maria Mitchell

In 1847, Maria Mitchell, the first woman astronomer in the United States discovered a comet. One night in the Autumn of 1847, Maria looked at the sky through the telescope in her homemade observatory at Nantucket, Mass. and saw a star five degrees above the North Star where there had been no star before. She had memorized the sky and was sure of her observation. It occurred to her that this might be a comet. Maria recorded the presumed comet's coordinates. The next night the star moved again. This time she was sure it was a comet. For this discovery, she was awarded a gold medal by the king of Denmark. She became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



October 2


Charles Stark Draper

Born 2 Oct 1901; died 25 Jul 1987

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.

Svante Arrhenius

Died 2 Oct 1927 (born 19 Feb 1859)

Svante (August) Arrhenius was a Swedish physical chemist who was awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered to the advancement of chemistry by his electrolytic theory of dissociation." Electrolytes are chemical compounds which will conduct an electric current when fused or dissolved in certain solvents, usually water. He discovered that even when there is no current flowing through the solution, such compounds separate into particles carrying an electrical charge, called ions. He also investigated the viscosity of solutions and how reaction speed changes with temperature. After 1900, his interests diversified into cosmic physics, meterology and the theory of immunity.


Atomic clock

In 1956, the Atomicron, the first atomic clock in the U.S., was unveiled at the Overseas Press Club in New York City. The basis of the timing was the constant frequency of the oscillations of the caesium atom - 9,192,631,830 MHz. It was priced at $50,000. The Atomicron measured 84" high, 22" wide and 18" deep.

First refracting telescope

In 1608, Johannes Lippershey (c.1570-c.1619) demonstrated a new invention, the first optical (refracting) telescope - prototype of the modern telescopes - to the Netherlands States General. Lippershey was a lens grinder who furnished spectables. An apprentice discovered that - by separating both a long-focus lens and a short-focus lens in front of the eye - distant objects appeared closer. Lippershey mounted lenses in tubes, applied for a patent in 1608, and also offered them for sale to the Dutch government, which appreciated their military value. When Galileo heard of the device, he made a similar arrangement and used it to study the heavens. It was named a "telescope" by a guest at an outdoor banquet 14 Apr 1611 honouring Galileo, where he demonstrated it to the assembly.



October 3


James Francis (Frank) Pantridge

Born 3 Oct 1916; died 26 Dec 2004

Irish cardiologist who developed the life-saving portable defibrillator. He found out that death occurred within the first hour for 60% of males (up to middle-age) that died from heart attack, and of these, 90% suffered ventricular fibrillation. To begin earliest possible treatment, in 1965, Pantridge equipped an ambulance with a portable defibrillator. It achieved a 50% long-term patient survival rate. This pre-hospital coronary care plan was adopted rapidly in America and was used in 1972 when President Lyndon Johnson suffered a heart attack during a visit to Virginia. In 1979, the first automated external defibrillators (AEDs) became available. The British government lagged, but in 1990 funded defibrillators for all front-line ambulances in England.

Max Wolf

Died 3 Oct 1932 (born 21 Jun 1863)

Maximilian Franz Joseph Cornelius Wolf was a German astronomer who founded and directed the Königstuhl Observatory. He used wide-field photography to study the Milky Way and used statistical treatment of star counts to prove the existence of clouds of dark matter. He was among the first astronomers to show that the spiral nebulae have absorption spectra typical of stars and thus differ from gaseous nebulae. His most important contribution was the introduction of photography to discover hundreds of asteroids, the first of which he named Brucia in honor of the donor of his 16-inch double telescope, Catherine Wolfe Bruce.


Record speed

In 1963, the X-15 rocket plane achieved a world record speed of Mach 6.7, which is 4,520 mph or over a mile per second, with U.S. Air Force pilot Pete Knight. It reached an altitude of 192,100 feet (58,552 m). Its internal structure of titanium was covered with a skin of Inconel X, a chrome-nickel alloy. To save fuel, the X-15 was air launched from a B-52 aircraft at about 45,000 ft. Test flights between 8 Jun 1959 and 24 Oct 1968 provided data on hypersonic air flow, aerodynamic heating, control and stability at hypersonic speeds and piloting techniques for reentry used in the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spaceflight programs. The X-15 reached 354,200 feet (67 miles) on 22 Aug 1963.

First UK atom bomb test

In 1952, "Hurricane", the first British atomic bomb was tested at the Monte Bello, Australia, becoming the third country in the world to test such a weapon. The bomb used an improved plutonium implosion bomb similar to the U.S. "Fat Man". The bomb used plutonium produced in Britain at Windscale (now Sellafield) with a low Pu-240 content since hurried production led to short irradiation times, plus some Canadian origin plutonium. To test the effects of a ship-smuggled bomb (a threat of great concern at the time), Hurricane was exploded inside the hull of the HMS Plym (1450 ton frigate) which was anchored in 40 feet of water 400 yards off shore. The explosion, 9-ft below the water line, left a saucer-shaped crater on the seabed 20-ft deep and 1,000-ft across.

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