Oct 1, 1842: French inventor and poet, Charles Cros, was born. His work in several fields foreshadowed and paralleled important developments in science. He was interested in mechanical and physical sciences. Cros designed an automatic telegraph and showed it at the Worlds Fair of 1867. In 1869, he sent to the Société Française de Photographie, a system for reproduction of color images. In April 1877, he delivered plans for an apparatus he called a paléophone, which was a phonograph. Thus, he had the idea before Edison. He died in poverty and was never recognized for his discoveries due to more influential and better funded competitors for fame.

Oct 1, 1846: Ten years after his voyage on the Beagle, Charles Darwin began his study of barnacles, which was to appear in four volumes on living and fossil Cirripedes (barnacles). For his observations, he used a single lens microscope made to his own design with a large stage to take shallow dishes for aqueous dissections.

Oct 1, 1847: Maria Mitchell, the first woman astronomer in the United States, discovered a comet. One night in the fall of 1847, Maria looked at the sky through the telescope in her homemade observatory at Nantucket, Massachusetts, 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 had moved — 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.

Oct 1, 1862: American archaeologist, Esther Boise Van Deman, was born. While studying on a scholarship in Rome when she decided that Roman archaeology was to be her chosen field of work. In 1907, while attending a lecture in the Atrium Vestae, she noticed that the bricks blocking up a doorway were different from those in the structure itself. She speculated that those differences in building materials might provide a wealth of information for dating the chronology of Roman structures. Thus began thirty years of life in Rome. She was the first woman to specialize in Roman field archaeology. She established lasting criteria for the dating of ancient constructions, which advanced the serious study of Roman architecture and the construction of the great aqueducts.

Oct 1, 1880: Thomas Edison opened his first electric incandescent lamp factory in Menlo Park, New Jersey — The Edison Lamp Works. More than 130,000 bulbs had been manufactured by the time the plant was moved to Harrison, NJ in April of 1882.

Oct 1, 1881: William Edward Boeing, American aviation pioneer, was born. He began in the lumber business in 1902, but his interests shifted to aviation. He trained at Glenn L. Martin’s flying school in 1915, and bought his own aircraft. In 1916, Boeing co-founded Pacific Aero Products Company, soon renamed Boeing Airplane Company. By 1920, he received a major order for 200 MB-3 fighter planes. Boeing Air Transport began flying mail and passengers in July of 1927. By mergers with other aircraft industries, he built United Aircraft and Air Transport the most profitable aviation company of its time. In 1934, government antitrust action split the company up and United Airlines became an independent business. Embittered, Boeing sold all his stock in the company, but volunteered as a consultant during WW II.

Oct 1, 1890: An Act of Congress reserved areas of forest land in California and created Yosemite National Park, under the control of the Secretary of the Interior. This followed the original Yosemite Grant made on June 30, 1864 by Act of Congress to the State of California of the “Yo-Semite Valley” and the land embracing the “Mariposa Big Tree Grove,” by which, for all time, the area was protected for “public use, resort, and recreation.” On March 3, 1905, the State of California ceded and granted the Yosemite Valley land back to the USA, transferring responsibility and maintenance costs to the federal government for the National Park. Yosemite National Park is the USA’s third oldest national park.

Oct 1, 1904: Austrian-British nuclear physicist, Otto Robert Frisch, was born in Vienna. Frisch, with his aunt Lise Meitner, described the division of neutron-bombarded uranium into lighter elements. He named the process fission in 1939, borrowing a term from biology. At the time, Meitner was working in Stockholm and Frisch at Copenhagen under Niels Bohr. Bohr brought their observations to the attention of Albert Einstein and others in the United States.

Frisch did research with James Chadwick from 1940 to 1943, and was the head of the Critical Assembly Group at Los Alamos project on the Manhattan Project from 1943 to 1946. After World War II, Frisch became a science writer describing atomic physics for the layman.

Jerome Bruner Oct 1, 1915: American psychologist, Jerome Seymour Bruner, was born. He pioneered techniques for investigating infant perception. His investigations of various aspects of cognition, learning, and memory in young children complemented studies by Jean Piaget. Their work was influential on education in America. Bruner observed, “there is no unique sequence for all learners, and the optimum in any particular case will depend upon a variety of factors, including past learning, stage of development, nature of the material, and individual differences.”

Oct 1, 1939: Black-American astrophysicist, George R. Carruthers, was born. He 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 in 1972. Positioned on the moon’s surface, the camera could also image the gases of the Earth’s atmosphere and the concentration of pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, in the air surrounding large cities.

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 was also a pioneer in the development of electronic telescopes.

Oct 1, 1940: A 260-km stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike between Irwin and Carlise in the State of Pennsylvania, was officially opened to the public as the first American limited-access interstate-type highway. It had been used earlier by the U.S. Army. It was not called an Interstate Highway at the time because the term didn’t exist. On June 29, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Act of 1956, which established a national system of interstate and defense highways. The Pennsylvania Turnpike became part of that Interstate Highway system.

Although not newly-constructed, it became part of the Interstate System. It’s been called the “The Granddaddy of the Pikes,” and can be regarded as the oldest U.S. Interstate Highway.

Oct 1, 1949: The first deliveries were made of the first practical rectangular television tube made in the USA. Prior television tubes (screens) were round. The tubes were manufactured by the Kimble Glass Co., a subsidiary of Owens-Illinois, and sold for about $12. The display face of the tube measured approx. 12 in. by 16 in.

Oct 1, 1956: The Physical Review published a paper by Tsung Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang on the Question of Parity Conservation in Weak Interactions. They addressed an issue that had long been believed, but for which there had been no experimental support.

There existed the Theta-Tau Puzzle in the disintegration of certain cosmic ray particles via the nuclear weak force. Lee and Yang believed this was because of parity violation, which contradicted the generally accepted Law of Conservation of Parity. They proposed experiments involving weak interactions. Chien-Shiung Wu validated non-conservation of parity on Dec 27, 1956.

Oct 1, 1957: The notorious drug thalidomide was first marketed in West Germany and shortly sold in at least 46 countries. First synthesized in 1953 by Chemie Grünenthal, as a sedative, it seemed a wonder drug for pregnant women to combat symptoms associated with morning sickness. Too late, it was found that the drug’s molecules crossed the placental wall, especially during the first trimester, tragically affecting the proper growth of the fetus. Worldwide, over 10,000 babies were born by the early 1960s with substantial birth defects, including deafness, blindness, internal disabilities, cleft palate, deformed or missing limbs.

Oct 1, 1969: The French Concorde prototype broke the sound barrier for the first time. The first test flight of the aircraft took place on March 2, 1969 in Toulouse, France. The first commercial passenger supersonic flights began on Jan 21, 1976.

The Concorde was a brilliant technological achievement. It was the first airplane to be entirely controlled by computer. But it was not destined to become widely successful due to high operating cost, high fuel consumption and the terrific noise it produced.