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Released: 20 Dec 2013



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Today in History :: Saturday, 23 June 2018


Birthdays:
1750Dieudonné Dolomieu (also known as Déodat De Gratet De Dolomieu), geologist, mineralogist. Best known for his study of the Italian Alps in 1789 in which he described the mineral dolomite. The Dolomite Mountains of Italy were subsequently named after him. Born in Dolomieu, near Tour-du-Pin, France.
1775Étienne-Louis Malus, physicist. Discovered that light, when reflected, becomes partially plane polarised ie. its rays vibrate in the same plane. He coined the word polarisation to describe the phenomenon. Born in Paris, France.
1894King Edward VIII, King of the United Kingdom and Ireland (1936), Duke of Windsor. Eldest son of King George V. He is best known as the king who abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson, a charismatic American woman who had recently moved to London with her husband. Born Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Windsor in Richmond, London, England.
1902Dr Howard T. Engstrom, computer designer. Co-founder of Engineering Research Associates, designing electronic digital circuit technology for the US Navy. The company delivered its first Atlas computer to the National Security Agency in 1950, and he later took the initiative to make a commercial version, renamed UNIVAC, the first commercially available digital computer. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
1912Alan Turing, English mathematician. A pioneer in the field of computer theory who contributed important logical analyses of computer processes. He made major contributions to mathematics, cryptoanalysis, logic, philosophy, and biology, and to the new areas later named computer science, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and artificial life. He was also instrumental in the Enigma project at Bletchley Park, deciphering Nazi coded messages during WW II. He was persecuted and his career was ruined due to his homosexuality and he was convicted of the "crime" in 1954. In punishment he was offered a choice of two years in prison or a course of hormone injections designed to "cure" him of homosexuality, which effectively amounted to chemical castration. Rather than choose between the two options he committed suicide by eating an apple he had injected with cyanide. Born in Paddington, London, England.
1925John Shepherd-Barron, engineer. The son of a Scottish engineer working at a Bangladeshi port, he joined De La Rue Instruments in Hampshire, England, in the 1960s. He is credited with the development of the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) while working there, an electronic version of the machine first invented by America engineer Luther Simjian in 1939 but which was unsuccessful due to lack of demand at that time. His machine was inspired by chocolate vending machines and first ATM was installed outside an Enfield, north London, branch of Barclays Bank in 1967. His machines pre-dated the plastic cards used today and instead used special cheques which had been impregnated with a radioactive compound of carbon-14 and matched against the personal identification number (PIN) entered on a keypad. Another Scottish engineer, James Goodfellow, is also widely credited with inventing the ATM. Goodfellow patented personal identification number (PIN) technology and his system accepted a machine readable encrypted card, with a numerical PIN keypad, more similar to the machines in modern use. However his machine was tested a month later than the one developed by Shepherd Barron. Born in Shillong, Assam (now Meghalaya), India.
1940Stu Sutcliffe, musician, artist. Original bass player for The Beatles, whom he played with for two years. After leaving the Beatles he enrolled at the Hamburg College of Art in Germany. He suffered from debilitating headaches while studying in Hamburg, but doctors could find no reason for his worsening condition. In 1962 he collapsed during an art class and died of a brain haemorrhage in the ambulance on the way to hospital. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Deaths:
1881Matthias Jakob Schleiden, German botanist. First formulated the theory that plants are composed of cells which was later elaborated and extended to animals by the German physiologist Theodor Schwann. Died in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, aged 77.
1891Wilhelm Eduard Weber, German physicist. Known for his investigations into terrestrial magnetism. Working in collaboration with friend Carl Gauss, he developed sensitive magnetometers, an electromagnetic telegraph (1833), and other magnetic instruments. His later work on the ratio between the electrodynamic and electrostatic units of charge proved crucial to James Clerk Maxwell in his electromagnetic theory of light. Weber found the ratio was 3.1074 x 108 m.s-1 but failed to notice that this was close to the speed of light. The international unit of magnetic flux is named after him. A change in flux of one weber per second will induce an EMF of one volt into a single coil conductor. Died in Göttingen, Germany, aged 86.
1995Dr Jonas Salk, American physician, medical researcher. Developed the first safe and effective vaccine for poliomyelitis by cultivating three strains of the virus separately in monkey tissue. The virus was then separated from the tissue, stored for a week, killed with formaldehyde, then tested to make certain that it was dead. A series of three or four injections with the killed virus vaccine was required for immunity. He is also remembered for his early research on the influenza virus. The Salk Institute in La Jolla, California was named in his honour. Died of a heart ailment in La Jolla, California, USA, aged 80.
Events on this day:
1860The US Secret Service is founded.
1868Christopher Latham Sholes receives a patent for a "Type-Writer".
1894The International Olympic Committee is founded at the Sorbonne, Paris, France at the initiative of Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
1931Aviators Wiley Post and Harold Gatty take off from New York on the first flight around the world in a single-engined aeroplane.
1944German novelist and Nobel Prize laureate, Thomas Mann, becomes a US citizen.
1951British diplomats and soviet spies Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean flee to the USSR.
1964Arthur Melin obtains a patent for the hula-hoop.
1970Chubby Checker is arrested for possession of marijuana.
1972H.R. Haldeman and US President Nixon secretly agree to use the CIA to cover up the Watergate scandal.
1982A record low temperature of -83 °C (-117 °F) is recorded at the South Pole.
Quote of the day:
A new randomly-selected quote each day.

"The first principle is you must not fool yourself. And you are the easiest person to fool."
~ Richard Feynman

Daily Trivia
A new (mostly science-related) question each day.
Q. What are known as the doldrums?
show answer

Site of the Day:
A random site to visit each day, some of which I've found interesting, useful, humourous, provocative, etc...
For Good Reason
For Good Reason is produced in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation to promote critical thinking and skepticism. The site contains many interviews with particular focus on the paranormal, religion, pseudoscience, and the supernatural. Guest speakers include luminaries such as Richard Dawkins, James Randi, and Richard Wiseman.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Marking 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy. Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

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