Welcome to the month of June, the sixth month of the year … but we won’t actually be exactly halfway through the year until midnight July 2nd! Anyway, we’re on to see another compilation of the great works, births, death and achievements of many scientists and ‘normal’ people who dabbled in invention, including believe-it-or-not, an 11 year-old!
Today was the day the first ever light pollution law was passed in 2002. It was actually coming from the Czech Republic, with their astronomers unable to clearly observe the skies. Now, there is legislation mandating that all outdoor lighting and street lights must be shielded to direct the light and not allow it to go up at all.
This marked the day radio really came into our lives when Guglielmo Marconi was issued the first patent for a wireless telegraphy apparatus in 1896. That technology was then developed and improved until we reached TV and today, wireless satellite streaming.
In 2015, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was reactivated on June 3rd after 2 whole years of maintenance and repairs. These upgrades allowed the LHC to perform experiments at up to 13 trillion electron volts (TeV) up from the previous 8 trillion.
First hot air balloon flight in 1783 by two ambitious Frenchmen, Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier, not, however, flying it themselves. Their linen and paper balloon travelled over 1.5km, a remarkable achievement for being a first! The first manned flight occurred in November of the same year, flown by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes, in a ballon created by the Montgolfier’s … moral of the story, always get others to test your own inventions!
In 1977, the first ever personal computer went on sale and it was …. the Apple II. Created by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, today Apple is one of the biggest tech companies worldwide, and we can see they made an early start to that!
The birthday of Richard E. Smalley (1943-2005), known colloquially as ‘the father of nanotechnology’. He shared the 1996 Nobel for Chemistry with the discovery of carbon60 (C60) with its fancy name, Buckminsterfullerene, which is pretty much a ball-like network of carbon atoms.
You’re never to young to be awesome. That’s be the motto of Richard G. Woodbridge, awarded a patent at 11 years old in 1988. It was a brush on a chainsaw that would clean out sawdust that could otherwise become trapped and jam the motor. Pretty impressive!
The birthday of Francis Crick (1916-2004), one of the people who discovered the structure of DNA with the help of James D. Watson, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin. He received a joint Nobel prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1962 for this brilliant discovery that truly revolutionised our understanding of genetics and molecular biology.
Einstein’s Nobel-prize winning paper, not on relativity, but on quantum theory and its application to light, was published June 9, 1905. Although he may be best known for his theories of relativity, he was also one of the founders of quantum mechanics and spent the final 30 years of his life unsuccessfully trying to combine the two theories into a complete unified theory, a goal we still haven’t reached over 100 years later.
I can say with almost certainty that you’ve used a ball-point pen before. Coming out from 1943, with Laszlo Biro’s British patent (he’d gained a Hungarian patent 5 years earlier). He managed to sell the rights to it to a man named Henry Martin, who wished to produce them for the convenience of airplane pilots. And then by 1945, they were released to the world in commercial production.
Have you heard of the ozone hole? It is slowly shrinking, which is great, but it originally arose from atmospheric pollutants, particularly hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) reacting and destroying ozone. In 1975, on June 11, a set of Harvard professors began proclaiming that HFCs should be banned. They were successful in America 3 years later.
Back in 1913, this date marks the first …. animated cartoon! A popular newspaper artist and cartoonist, John Randolph Bray invented and patented many cartoon techniques for animating.
This marks the birth of a pretty incredible scientist. Erwin Wilhelm Müller invented the field emission microscope (FEM) which could magnify over a million times and even survey individual atoms, all way back in 1951.
Another birthday, and that of the namesake of that famous physics law you might recall- Charles-Augustin Coulomb (1736-1806). Coulomb’s law sets down that the force between two charges (either attractive or repellant) is proportional to their product and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.
I think we’d all realise that lightning and electricity are related; however, it was 1752 when Benjamin Franklin first discovered this, connecting a kite to lightning rods that jangled bells if electrified.
America’s first successful commercial roller coaster was put into operation on June 16th, 1884. It was gravity-powered and simple involved getting on a train, roughly 15m high and riding along a down-hill track until it stopped. Fare was 5 cents!
The day (way back in 1885) when the statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbour after it’s journey from France. In fact, it is little known that it was originally envisioned to be placed around the Suez canal, commemorating that famous achievement of connecting the two seas!
Marking the 35th anniversary of the first American woman to enter space, Sally Ride, on the second flight of the space shuttle Challenger. Today, on the ISS (International Space Station) similar numbers of men and women are selected for missions.
And the actual first woman in space was 55 years ago today, with Valentina Tereshkova’s 3-day space flight, orbiting Earth 48 times.
In 1979, 32 solar panels were installed on the roof of the white house, demonstrating commitment to renewable energy. However, with a new president, they only lasted 7 years before their removal when the roof was re-surfaced. But, in 2010, Obama wanted them back, so currently, they’re still up there.
And along the lines of solar, the world’s first solar-sail spacecraft was placed in orbit in 2005 to test the how viable solar power was as a method of propulsion.
This marks the day in 1633 where Galileo Galilei was forced by the Pope and Inquisition to renounce his findings and research on a heliocentric solar system (sun-centered). The church had considered this heresy, holding staunchly to the belief that the Earth was the centre of the solar system and universe. But even after Galileo denounced his research, he was still left under house arrest indefinitely.
Birth of Alan M. Turing (1912-1954) who pioneered computer theory, looking at the logical processes within computer, contributing to the diverse fields of mathematics, cryptanalysis, logic, philosophy, biology, computer science, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and artificial life. Talk about incredible!
This next man has no fear. Along with a group of colleagues, they designed an emergency oxygen unit. To test it, you’d have to find a low-oxygen area, so how about from 12,200 metres? When you’ve never done a parachute jump before? So in 1943, Dr. William Randolph Lovelace II jumped out on his first ever parachute jump. He was knocked unconscious from a force of 32 G’s as soon as he pulled the parachute ripcord, and was luckily kept alive by the oxygen unit, so that he could return to inventing and develop the automatically opening parachute!
Marie Curie’s PhD defence in 1903. She succeeded, and won a Nobel prize for her research later in the same year!
The Human Genome Project published its first draft copy of the entire human genome in the year 2000 after 10 years of work. And now today, it takes less than 2 days to sequence and costs only $3000-$5000!
I think erasable pens have become far more common recently, to the point where I thought they’d only been developed this century. However, it turns out that the first truly erasable pen was invented way back in 1978!
The 1886 discovery of fluorine gas by Henri Moissan. He’d managed to isolate the element, and tested it by adding silicon, at which point it spontaneously combusted into some lovely flames!
Take a guess as to when the first high-speed jet wind tunnel was developed. It was 1929, allowing testing for aircraft parts. Later, wind tunnels were also used in testing spacecraft parts to ensure nothing would go dangerously wrong given the wind speed rushing past a rocket.
You’ve heard of a leap year, but what about a leap-second day? To end this month’s science history, let’s learn about the 1972 leap-second day on June 30. You see, the value of the second (exactly 1/86400 of the length of the year 1900) had some problems in that Earth’s rotation has been slowing slightly. And those incredible atomic clocks weren’t accounting for that. In fact, since then, we’ve had to add a whole 26 seconds to the clocks!