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Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
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< 28 Aug | 30 Aug >
AUGUST 29 – BIRTHS – Scientists born on August 29th
  Nathan Pritikin
baby icon  Born 29 Aug 1915; died 21 Feb 1985 at age 69.
American scientist, inventor and nutritionist. Pritikin believed that moderate exercise combined with a diet low in fat and high in unrefined carbohydrates reversed his own heart disease discovered in the late 1950's. He opened the Pritikin Longevity Center in 1976 in Santa Barbara, Cal. to treat others with diet and exercise in a clinical setting.
  Bernard Vonnegut
baby icon  Born 29 Aug 1914.
American physicist.
  Werner Forssmann
baby icon  Born 29 Aug 1904; died 1 Jun 1979 at age 74.
German surgeon who shared (with Andrι F. Cournand and Dickinson W. Richards) the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1956 for the development of cardiac catheterization. This is a procedure in which a tube is inserted into a vein at the elbow and passed through the vein into the right atrium of the heart. Drugs can thus be passed into the heart. In 1929, while a young surgical resident in a small German hospital in Eberswalde, Forssmann proposed introducing a catheter as an alternative to avoid dangers with the direct injection of drugs into the heart frequently demanded in an emergency. It was believed at the time that any entry into the heart would be fatal. Nevertheless, after practice on cadavers, Forssman experimented on himself. He anesthetized his own elbow, inserted a 65-cm catheter in his antecubital vein. Then walked with catheter dangling from his arm, along several flights of stairs to the x-ray department where he calmly documented the position of the tip of the catheter in the right atrium of his heart. Without pain or discomfort, he had proved that a catheter could be inserted safely into a human heart. Various biographical sources (including the Nobel Prize) give date of birth as 29 Aug; Enc. Brit. gives 20 Aug.
book icon Mavericks, Miracles, and Medicine: The Pioneers Who Risked Their Lives..., by Julie M. Fenster. - book suggestion.
  Charles F. Kettering
baby icon  Born 29 Aug 1876; died 25 Nov 1958 at age 82.  quotes button quotes
Charles Franklin Kettering was an American engineer whose 140 patents included the electric starter, car lighting and ignition systems. In his early career, with the National Cash Register Co., Dayton (1904-09), he created the first electric cash register with an electric motor that opened the drawer. When he co-founded the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO, with Edward A. Deeds) he invented the key-operated self-starting motor for the Cadillac (1912) and it spread to nearly all new cars by the 1920's. As vice president and director of research for General Motors Corp. (1920-47) he developed engines, quick-drying lacquer finishes, anti-knock fuels, and variable-speed transmissions.«  read more button more
book icon Charles Franklin Kettering: A Biography, by T. A. Boyd. - book suggestion.
  Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet
baby icon  Born 29 Aug 1821; died 25 Sep 1898 at age 77.
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.
  Oliver Wendell Holmes
baby icon  Born 29 Aug 1809; died 7 Oct 1894 at age 85.  quotes button quotes
American physician and writer was best-known as an essayist-poet, but in medicine was famous for his 1843 article 'The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever,' concerning the high mortality of women giving birth in hospitals. He asserted that the infection was carried from patient to patient by physicians and nurses. Because that defied the conventional wisdom, he received abuse from the obstetricians of the time. (A few years later, Ignaz Semmelweiss demonstrated the importance of hand-washing and hygiene. Before them, John Burton in 1751, and Charles White in 1773 had suspected the role of medical attendants.) Holmes coined the term “anesthesia,” from Greek words meaning “no feeling”. He was the father of the Supreme Court judge of the same name.«
  Sir Gilbert Blane
baby icon  Born 29 Aug 1749; died 26 Jun 1834 at age 84.  quotes button quotes
Scottish physician who, when head of the Navy Medical Board, required (1795) a diet including lemon juice on navy vessels, which virtually eliminated scurvy and its significant lost manpower due to sickness of sailors. The value of citrus juice had been established by James Lind, with his Treatice on Scurvy (1754). Blane also improved sanitary conditions in the Navy by providing supplies of soap and medicines, and was involved with designing rules that were precursors to modern quarantine conditions. He required every surgeon in the service to make regular returns or journals of the state of health and disease onboard their ship. In 1829, he established a prize medal as an incentive for the surgeon producing the best journal.«
book icon Scurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner, and a Gentlemen Solved..., by Stephen Bown. - book suggestion.
  John Locke
baby icon  Born 29 Aug 1632; died 28 Oct 1704 at age 72.  quotes button quotes
English physician who was the most important philosopher during the Age of Reason. He spent over 20 years developing the ideas he published in most significant work, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) which analysed the nature of human reason, and promoted experimentation as the basis of knowledge. He established primary qualities, (ex. solidity, extension, number) as distinct from secondary qualities identified by the sense organs (ex. colour, sound). Thus the world is otherwise silent and without colour. Locke recognised that science is made possible when the primary world mechanically affects the sense organs, thereby creating ideas that faithfully represent reality. He was an acquaintance of Robert Boyle.«


Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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< 28 Aug | 30 Aug >
AUGUST 29 – DEATHS – Scientists died on August 29th
  Horace W. Babcock
gravestone icon  Died 29 Aug 2003 at age 90 (born 13 Sep 1912).
Horace Welcome was an American astronomer, son of Harold Babcock. Working together, they were the first to measure the distribution of magnetic fields over the surface of the Sun. 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).
  Sir Peter Scott
gravestone icon  Died 29 Aug 1989 at age 79 (born 14 Sep 1909).
Sir Peter Markham Scott, son of Robert Falcon Scott (Scott of the Antarctic), was a British naturalist, conservationist, artist, and author. He was a founder of both the Severn Wildfowl Trust (1946, now renamed as the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust) and the World Wildlife Fund. From 1953 to 1970 he hosted the environmental television series Look for the British Broadcasting Corporation. (In 1978, he gave the Loch Ness Monster a scientific name, Nessiteras rhombopteryx. Scottish Member of Parliament Nicholas Fairbairn later anagrammed it: "Monster Hoax by Sir Peter S." )
  Charles Darrow
gravestone icon  Died 29 Aug 1967 at age 78 (born 10 Aug 1889).  quotes button quotes
Charles Brace Darrow was an American inventor who designed the board game Monopoly. He had invented the game on 7 Mar 1933, though it was preceded by other real-estate board games. On 31 Dec 1935, a patent was issued for the game of Monopoly assigned to Parker Brothers, Inc., by Charles Darrow of Pennsylvania (No. 2,026,082). The patent titled it a “Board Game Apparatus” and described it as “intended primarily to provide a game of barter, thus involving trading and bargaining” in which “much of the interest in the game lies in trading and in striking shrewd bargains.” Illustrations included with the patent showed not only the playing board and pieces, cards, and the scrip money. Parker Brothers began mass marketing the game on 7 Feb 1935.
book icon Monopoly (board game), by Parker Brothers. - book suggestion.
  Christian Friedrich Schφnbein
gravestone icon  Died 29 Aug 1868 at age 68 (born 18 Oct 1799).  quotes button quotes
German-Swiss chemist who discovered and named ozone (1840) and was the first to describe guncotton (nitrocellulose). He noted ozone appeared during thunderstorms and named the gas ozone for its peculiar smell (ozo is Greek for smell). Later experiments showed that sending an electric current through pure, dry oxygen (O2) creates ozone (O3). His discovery of the powerful explosive called cellulose nitrate, or gun cotton, was the result of a laboratory accident. One day in 1845 he spilled sulfuric and nitric acids and soaked it with a cotton apron. After the apron dried, it burst into flame - he had created nitrated cellulose. He found that cellulose nitrate could be molded and had some elastic properties. It eventually was used for smokeless gun powder.
  Robert Remak
gravestone icon  Died 29 Aug 1865 at age 50 (born 30 Jul 1815).  quotes button quotes
Polish-German physician, neurologist and embryologist. While in medical practice, he researched unpaid at university. (As a Jew, he was barred from teaching.) He discovered the fibres of Remak (1830), nonmedullated nerve fibres (1838), and named the three germ layers he discovered of the early embryo: the ectoderm, the mesoderm, and the endoderm (1842). In 1844 he discovered the nerve cells in the heart now called Remak's ganglia and provided the first illustration of the 6-layered cortex. He was a pioneer in the use of electrotherapy for the treatment of nervous diseases. He finally became the first Jew to teach at university (1847), but even promotion to assistant professor in 1859 did not reflect his eminence. DSB give date of birth 30 Jul 1815. EB gives 26 Jul 1815.]

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< 28 Aug | 30 Aug >
AUGUST 29 – EVENTS – Science events on August 29th
  Element 109
calendar icon   In 1982, an atom of a new element was made. It has been given the proposed name of Meitnerium, symbol Mt. Physicists at the Heavy Ion Research Laboratory, Darmstadt, West Germany made and identified element 109 by bombing a target of Bi-209 with accelerated nuclei of Fe-58. After a week of target bombardment a single fused nucleus was produced. The combined energy of two nuclei had to be sufficiently high so that the repulsive forces between the nuclei could be overcome. The team confirmed the existence of element 109 by four independent measurements. The nucleus started to decay 5 ms after striking the detector. This experiment demonstrated the feasibility of using fusion techniques as a method of making new, heavy nuclei.
  Transglobe expedition
calendar icon   In 1982, the 52,000-mile “Transglobe” expedition completed the first circumnavigation of the world's polar axis. Beginning in 1979, British explorer Ranulph Fiennes with Charles Burton had travelled for three years around the Earth via the Poles circling the earth on longitude 0, the Greenwich Meridian. They had reached the North Pole on 11 Apr 1982, and the South Pole sixteen months before that. Their journey across Antarctica took 67 days, despite the advantages of motorised skidoos. The ocean voyage was undertaken in a craft named Benjamin Bowring. The expedition cost an estimated $18 million. (source)
  Astronaut speaks to aquanaut
calendar icon   In 1965, astronaut Gordon Cooper in orbit 100 miles above the Earth aboard Gemini 5 held a conversation with aquanaut M. Scott Carpenter in Sealab II which was 205 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. It was was first time an astronaut in space spoke with an aquanaut. Gemini 5 splashed down later in the day.
  DDT
Thumbnail - DDT
Carson
Carson
calendar icon   In 1962, the dangerous long-range side-effects of DDT and other pesticides was the subject of a press-conference question to President John F. Kennedy. In his reply, he acknowledged Rachel Carson's ground-breaking environmental book on the subject (Silent Spring) and stated that the government was taking a closer look at this. Eventually, in 1972, DDT was banned in the U.S.
book icon DDT, Silent Spring, and the Rise of Environmentalism: Classic Texts, by Thomas R. Dunlap. - book suggestion.
  USSR's first atomic bomb
calendar icon   In 1949, the USSR tested their first atomic device, “First Lightning.” It was an an implosive type plutonium bomb, detonated at the Semipalatinsk test range, giving up to a 20 kiloton yield. In the U.S. it was called Joe No. 1 ("Joe" was nickname for Y. Stalin.) This event came five years earlier than anyone in the West had predicted, largely due to one man, the spy Klaus Fuchs. As a Los Alamos physicist, Fuchs had passed detailed blue prints of the original American Trinity bomb design to the Russians. With the emergence of the USSR as a nuclear rival, America's monopoly of atomic weaponry was ended giving the U.S. strong motivation for intensifying its program of nuclear testing. Thus the Cold War was launched. On 23 Sep 1949, President Truman announced the Soviet detonation to the American public. [Image right: from RFNC-VNIIEF Nuclear Weapons Museum.]
  World War II cooperation
calendar icon   In 1940, Sir Henry Tizard led a mission of leading British and Canadian scientists to the USA to brief official American representatives on devices under active development for war use and to enlist the support of American scientists. Thus began a close cooperation of Anglo-American scientists in such fields as aeronautics and rocketry. His influence probably made the difference between defeat or victory at the Battle of Britain in 1940.
  Zipper patent
Thumbnail - Zipper patent
(USPTO)
calendar icon   In 1893, U.S. patent No. 504,038 was issued to Whitcomb L. Judson for a "Zipper Clasp Locker or Unlocker for Shoes."
  Mount Washington Cog Railway
calendar icon   In 1866, a public demonstration was given of the first cog railway in the world to show the first half-mile of track at the base of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast U.S. The Mount Washington Cog Railway eventually ran to the summit of Mount Washington, N.H. giving views of four states, Canada, and the Atlantic Ocean. Invented by Sylvester Marsh of Littleton, N.H., work began on the railway in May 1866 and finished in July 1869 at a cost of $139,500. In 1869, the Cog Railway was an engineering marvel, a new technology of toothed cog gears, rack rails and tilted boilers. A third toothed rail was laid between the steel rails for the wheels. In the present day, it remains in use, the only cog railway still powered by steam.
  Design patent
calendar icon   In 1842, the design patent, a new form of patent was authorized by Act of Congress. The first U.S. design patent was issued for typefaces and borders to George Bruce of New York City on 9 Nov 1842.
  Darwin invited as Beagle naturalist
calendar icon   In 1831, Charles Darwin returned home from a geology field trip in North Wales to find letters from Revd. John Henslow and George Peacock informing him that he will soon be invited on a scientific voyage of HMS Beagle. He was 22 years old, and had just graduated from Cambridge University. The offer was to be a naturalist on H.M.S. Beagle for a two year survey of South America, leaving on 25 Sep. Although he immediately accepted the offer, his father and sisters were opposed. They regarded it as an idle pursuit that would delay his expected career in the clergy. His father, however, was prepared to change his mind, but only if Darwin could find a qualified man who viewed the exploit as worthwhile. Darwin spent the next two days doing just that.«
book icon From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin's Four Great Books, by Charles Darwin, Edward O. Wilson. - book suggestion.
booklist icon Booklist for Charles Darwin.
  Faraday experiment
calendar icon   In 1831, Michael Faraday wound a thick iron ring on one side with insulated wire that was connected to a battery. He then wound the opposite side with wire connected to a galvanometer. He found that upon closing the battery circuit, there was a deflection of the galvanometer in the second circuit. Then he was astonished to see the galvanometer needle jump in the opposite direction when the battery circuit was opened. He had discovered that a current was induced in the secondary when a current in the primary was connected and an induced current in the opposite direction when the primary current was disconnected. eb
book icon The Electric Life Of Michael Faraday, by Alan W. Hirshfeld. - book suggestion.
booklist icon Booklist for Michael Faraday.
  Brake patent
calendar icon   In 1828, the first U.S. patent for a brake of any kind was issued to Robert Turner of Ward (now Auburn), Mass. This was for a "self-regulating wagon brake."

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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

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