What happened today in science history.

Month: October 2019 (Page 2 of 2)

October 2nd in Science and Engineering

Oct 2, 1608: Johannes Lippershey demonstrated his new invention, the first optical telescope. He showed it to the Netherlands States General. Lippershey was a lens grinder who made eyeglasses or spectacles. One of his apprentices discovered that by holding a long-focus lens at a distance from the eye and a short-focus lens directly in front of the eye, distant objects appeared closer. Lippershey mounted lenses in tubes and applied for a patent in 1608. He also offered them for sale to the Dutch government, which appreciated their military value.

When Galileo heard of the device, he made a similar one and used it to study the sky. The word “telescope” was coined by a guest attending a banquet honoring Galileo on April 14, 1611, where he demonstrated the device.

Oct 2, 1721: The first record of the importation of an African camel into America was an advertisement in the Boston Gazette, announcing that the camel was being exhibited in Boston, Massachusetts, and that it stood 7 feet high and 12 feet long. The first commercial importation of camels into the USA was made in 1856. They were to be used for military purposes, mainly in the desert Southwest.

Oct 2, 1832: Julius von Sachs, a German botanist famous for studying plant physiology, nutrition, and tropism (response to environmental stimuli) was born. He discovered transpiration — that absorbed water moves in tubes in the plant walls without the cooperation of living cells. In 1865, Sachs discovered chlorophyll, the green substance of plants, that it is located in special bodies within plant cells, later called chloroplasts, that glucose is made by the action of chlorophyll, and that the glucose is usually stored as starch. Sachs also studied the formation of growth rings in trees, the role of tissue tension in promoting organ growth, and he invented the clinostat to measure the effects of such external factors such as light and gravity on the movement of growing plants. His work was a significant contribution to the knowledge of plant physiology during the second half of the 19th century.

Oct 2, 1832: English anthropologist, Edward Burnett Tylor, regarded as the founder of cultural anthropology, was born. After travelling in the USA in 1855, he proceeded to Cuba where he met Henry Christy the ethnologist. Together, they visited Mexico, where Christy’s influence greatly stimulated Tylor’s interest in anthropology. Seeing the rich prehistoric remains in Mexico inspired Tylor to make a systematic study.

His most important work, Primitive Culture, published in 1871, was influenced by Darwin’s theory of biological evolution. Tylor developed the theory of an evolutionary, progressive relationship between primitive and modern cultures.

Oct 2, 1836: Charles Darwin returned from his famous five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle to the Pacific. It would be 23 years before he published Origin of Species.

Oct 2, 1846: American physician, Eliza Maria Mosher, whose wide-ranging medical career included an educational focus on physical fitness and health maintenance, was born. Upon receiving her doctorate in medicine in 1875, she began private practice in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 1877 she was made resident physician at the Massachusetts State Reformatory Prison for Women at Sherborn, Massachusetts. Subsequently, she became superintendent of the institution, though an injury to her knee forced her to return to private practice and university positions.

In private research she investigated medical aspects of posture. She designed the seats in several types of rapid-transit streetcars, invented an orthopedically sound kindergarten chair, and was a founder of the American Posture League.

Oct 2, 1852: Scottish chemist, William Ramsay, who discovered who discovered the elements neon, krypton and xenon and co-discovered argon, radon, calcium and barium. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904, “in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air, and his determination of their place in the periodic system.” The so-called “inert gases” are now called “noble gases” because some examples of chemical reactions have been discovered.

Oct 2, 1854: Scottish biologist and sociologist, Sir Patrick Geddes, who was one of the modern pioneers of the concept of town and regional planning, was born. He studied under Darwin’s champion, Thomas Henry Huxley. As a professor of botany, Geddes emphasized the development of sexual reproduction as a major step in organic evolution and, with the naturalist John Arthur Thomson, published The Evolution of Sex (1889). Geddes turned his attention to sociology after an attack of blindness in Mexico hampered his biological experimentation. His researches in India, Palestine, Mexico, and Scotland led to his conviction that the development of human communities was primarily biological in nature, consisting of interactions among people, their environment, and their activities.

Oct 2, 1858: Gerhard (Jakob), Friherre De Geer (Baron), Swedish geologist, was born. He originated the varve-counting method used in geochronology. A varve is a seasonal coarse-fine layer of clay deposited in still water. The layers were produced by the annual meltwater sequence with rapid melting and discharge in summer depositing coarse sediments and slow settling of fine-grained material during the winter months. The method he devised of counting of layers in glaciers was good for dating back to 18,000 years. In 1920 De Geer visited the United States to study the varves of New England.

Oct 2, 1866: The first U.S. patent for a tin can with a key opener was issued to J. Osterhoudt of New York City, US #58,554.

Oct 2, 1878: German geophysicist and petroleum engineer, Conrad Schlumberger, was born. He is noted for his invention in 1927 of a method of continuous electric logging of boreholes. Beginning in 1912, Conrad Schlumberger conceived the idea for electrical measurements to map subsurface rock bodies. He was first joined by his brother, Marcel, in 1919 for work together in Normandy, France, opening their first office in 1921.

For three years, starting in 1923, Schlumberger teams conducted geophysical surveys in Romania, Serbia, Canada, South Africa, Belgian Congo and the USA. Electrical prospecting was used for the first time to map a subsurface oil-bearing structure: a salt dome in Romania. In 1927, the first electrical resistivity log was recorded in a well in Pechelbronn, France.

Today, Schlumberger Limited is the world’s largest oilfield services company. Schlumberger employs approximately 100,000 people working in more than 85 countries.

Oct 2, 1883: Karl (Anton von) Terzaghi, Austrian-American civil engineer, was born. He who founded the branch of civil engineering science known as soil mechanics, a term he coined for the study of the properties of soil under stresses and under the action of flowing water. Soil dynamics deals with soil properties and behaviour under changing stress, such as may occur due to earthquakes, bomb blasts, fast-moving traffic, wind, or wave action.

Oct 2, 1886: Swiss-American astronomer, Robert Julius Trumpler, who moved to the USA in 1915 and worked at the Lick Observatory, was born. In 1922, by observing a solar eclipse, he confirmed Einstein’s theory of relativity. He made extensive studies of galactic star clusters, and demonstrated the presence throughout the galactic plane of a faint haze of interstellar material that absorbs light generally, that dims and reddens the light of distant star clusters.

The presence of this obscuring haze revealed how the size of spiral galaxies had been over-estimated. Harlow Shapley, in 1918, determined the distance to the centre of the Milky Way to be 50,000 light-years away. Trumpler’s work reduced this to 30,000 light-years.

Oct 2, 1901: American aeronautical engineer, educator, and science administrator, Charles Stark Draper, was born. He who earned degrees from Stanford, Harvard, and MIT. In 1939, he became head of MIT’s Instrumentation Laboratory, which was a center 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 targets. He was the “father of inertial navigation.” The Apollo contract for guiding man and spacecraft to the moon was placed with the Draper Instrumentation Lab, which developed the Apollo’s onboard computer and many other instruments.

Oct 2, 1903: The first US steam-turbine of large capacity for commercial service was placed in service at the Fiske Street station of the Commonwealth Edison Co., Chicago, Illinois. It was built by General Electric Co in Schenectady, New York, and had been factory-tested on March 4, 1903. Compared to the reciprocating engine it replaced, the turbine needed only one-third the floor space, had one-eighth the weight, and cost one-third as much. The turbine developed 6,500 horsepower, operating at a steam pressure 175 psi and a temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Oct 2, 1906: German-American engineer, Willy Ley, who was a founder of the German Rocket Society, was born. The society was the first group of men (with the sole exception of Robert Goddard) to experiment with rockets. Ley introduced Wernher von Braun to the society. Ley was consultant for the science fiction film Frau im Mond in which the countdown from ten to zero was introduced. Fiercely anti-Nazi, unlike Von Braun, he emigrated to the USA in 1934 rather than pursue military applications of rocketry. In the USA, he became a popularizer of space exploration and travel, writing many popular books.

Oct 2, 1907: Baron Alexander R(obertus) Todd (of Trumpington), British biochemist, was born. His research on the structure and synthesis of nucleotides, nucleosides, and nucleotide coenzymes gained him the 1957 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Nucleotides, found in the chromosomes and also in cell plasma, are connected with the units of heredity. It was known that they are built up of three very different “building stones”: phosphoric acid, a sugar, and a heterocyclic base containing nitrogen, assembled in one macromolecule. Todd researched how they are connected to each other.

Oct 2, 1917: Belgian cytologist and biochemist, Christian René de Duve, was born. He discovered lysosomes (the digestive organelles of cells) and peroxisomes (organelles that are the site of metabolic processes involving hydrogen peroxide). Lysosomes have been shown by de Duve and others to be engaged in a series of cellular activities during which biological material must be degraded. The lysosomes are used in defense mechanisms against bacteria, during resorption, and secretion. They can also be used for a controlled degradation of the cell in which they are contained, for example, to remove worn out components. For this work he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1974 with Albert Claude and George Palade.

Oct 2, 1937: Motion pictures of moving X-ray images on a fluoroscopic screen showing the movement of organs of the human body were shown at the American Roentgen Ray Society convention in New York City. The images were filmed with a home 16 mm movie camera at 16 frames per second. Two second long shots could capture two or three beats of the heart, the act of breathing, movements of the diaphragm or motion of joints. The clips could be looped to show repeating motion. The films were made by Drs William H. Stewart, William J. Hoffman and Francis H. Ghiselin from Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital.

Oct 2, 1956: The Atomicron, the first atomic clock in the USA, was unveiled at the Overseas Press Club in New York City. The time base was the frequency of the transitions between two hyperfine grounds states of cesium, which results in a frequency of 9,192,631,770 Hz. For greatest precision this should be adjusted for the influence of Earth’s magnetic field and Earth’s orbit around the sun. However, when the cesium standard was adopted in 1960, these adjustments weren’t necessary because the precision of the clock exceeded the precision of all other scientific measurements ever made.

October 1st in Science and Engineering

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.

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