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Released: 20 Dec 2013



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Today in History :: Sunday, 22 April 2018

Earth Day: Celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere spring and the Southern Hemisphere autumn to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment.


Birthdays:
1451Isabella of Castile, Queen of Castile (1474 - 1504), Queen of Aragon (1479 - 1504). Daughter of King John II of Castile and his second wife Queen Isabella of Portugal, she married Ferdinand II of Aragon and was the patron of Christopher Columbus. Motivated by politics and religious zealotry, she and her husband started the Inquisition in Spain, which targeted converted Moors and Jews. The Spanish Pope, Alexander VI, awarded them each titles of Catholic king and queen for their efforts. However, in later life, she greatly regretted the misery that she caused. Born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Castile, Spain.
1799Jean-Louis-Marie Poiseuille, physician, physiologist. Formulated a mathematical expression for the flow rate for the laminar (non-turbulent) flow of fluids in circular tubes. Subsequently developed an improved method for measuring blood pressure. Born in Paris, France.
1834Gaston Planté, physicist. Produced the first electric storage battery in 1859, the precursor to the lead-acid battery which eventually became the first rechargeable electric battery marketed for commercial use and is still used in motor vehicles today. He also investigated the differences between static and dynamic electricity. As part of this investigation, he invented a mechanical device that he called the Rheostatic Machine which was a mechanical predecessor of the modern day Marx generator. Born in Orthez, France.
1876Robert Bárány, otologist. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1914 for his work on the physiology and pathology of the vestibular (balancing) apparatus of the inner ear. He was imprisoned in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp when the award was announced for his work as surgeon to the Austrian army. He was released in 1916, following the personal intervention of Prince Carl of Sweden on behalf of the Red Cross, and presented with the award by the King of Sweden in Stockholm. Born in Vienna, Austria.
1891Sir Harold Jeffreys, astronomer, geophysicist. Known for his wide variety of scientific contributions including his studies of the origin of the solar system, establishing that the four large outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) are very cold. He also investigated the thermal history of the Earth, was first to hypothesise that the Earth's core is liquid, explained the origin of monsoons and sea breezes, and showed how cyclones are vital to the general circulation of the atmosphere. Born in Fatfield, Durham, England.
1904J. Robert Oppenheimer, physicist. As scientific director of the , his name became almost synonymous with the atomic bomb. He studied physics at Harvard University and graduated summa cum laude in 1925 before moving to England to conduct research at Cambridge University, working under J.J. Thomson. He became a founding father of the American school of theoretical physics, conducting research in astrophysics, nuclear physics, spectroscopy, and quantum field theory. He made important contributions to the theory of cosmic ray showers, and did work that eventually led to descriptions of quantum tunnelling. In the 1930s, he wrote papers suggesting the existence of what we today call black holes. In June 1942 he was appointed scientific director of the Manhattan Project and the Los Alamos laboratories were constructed under his guidance. He brought some of the best minds in physics to work on the project, including Richard Feynman, Edward Teller, and Leó Szilárd, and their collective work resulted in the first nuclear explosion at Alamagordo on 16 July 1945, which Oppenheimer named "Trinity". After the end of WW II he was appointed Chairman of the General Advisory Committee to the Atomic Energy Commission where he voiced strong opposition to the development of the more powerful hydrogen bomb. He was accused of having communist sympathies and his security clearance was taken away. In 1963 he was awarded the Enrico Fermi Award. Born Julius Robert Oppenheimer in New York City, USA.
1908Eddie Albert, actor (Green Acres). An ex-US Marine, he was awarded the Bronze Star with a combat 'V' for rescuing 70 Marines during the battle of Tarawa in 1943, one of the bloodiest battles of WW II and US Marine Corps history. He was also an active campaigner for environmental issues. Born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island, Illinois, USA.
1909Rita Levi-Montalcini, neurologist. Shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1986 for her discovery of NGF, nerve growth factor, a bodily substance that stimulates and influences both the normal and abnormal growth of nerve cells. Born in Turin, Italy.
1916Sir Yehudi Menuhin, violinist, conductor. A renowned interpreter of classical and modern music, also famous for establishing the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, England, which trained other stars such as Nigel Kennedy. He was knighted in 1965. Born in New York City, USA.
1919Donald Cram, biochemist. Shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1987 for the creation of molecules that mimic the chemical behaviour of molecules found in living systems. Born in Chester, Vermont, USA.
1925George Cole, actor (Minder, Scrooge, The Green Man). Born in Tooting, London, England.
1928Aaron Spelling, producer. Lives in a mansion with land covering 2.5 hectares in Belair, Los Angeles, that he bought from Bing Crosby in 1983. Known as "The Manor", it has 123 rooms including a bowling alley, swimming pool, gymnasium, tennis court, screening room and four 2-car garages. Born in Dallas, Texas, USA.
1935Glen Campbell, musician. One of the top studio guitarists on the US West Coast for more than a decade, working with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Rick Nelson, Jan and Dean, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, and the Kingston Trio. Born in Delight, Arkansas, USA.
1937Jack Nicholson, actor (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Shining, Hoffa, Batman). One of the most successful and highly paid Hollywood actors of the 20th century. Known for his volatile personality which enables him to play parts such as Jack Torrance in "The Shining" with ease. Born John Joseph Nicholson in Neptune, New Jersey, USA.
1950Peter Frampton, musician. Born in Beckenham, Kent, England.
Deaths:
536 CEPope Agapetus I, pope (535 - 536 CE). Son of Gordian, a priest who had been slain during the riots in the days of Pope Symmachus, he succeeded Pope John II in 535 CE. He collaborated with Cassiodorus at Rome in founding a library of ecclesiastical authors in Greek and Latin, and helped Cassiodorus with the project at Vivarium of translating the standard Greek philosophers' works into Latin. Died in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey, age unknown).
1616Miguel de Cervantes (b. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra), Spanish novelist, playwright, poet. Shot at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 while serving in the Spanish fleet against the Turks, he suffered permanent damage to his left hand. He was captured by Barbary pirates and held prisoner in Algiers in 1575. Released after 5 years, he returned to Madrid and began writing, achieving popular success and wealth for "Don Quixote", but he continued to struggle financially throughout his life. Died in Madrid, Spain, aged 68.
1778James Hargreaves, English engineer. Inventor of the spinning jenny, the first practical application of multiple spinning by a machine. Died in Nottingham, England, aged 58.
1833Richard Trevithick, English engineer. Constructed the world's first steam railway locomotive to run successfully on rails, in February 1804 while working at the Pen-y-Darren ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, improving on the steam engine design of James Watt. The locomotive, with its single vertical cylinder, 8 foot (2.4 metre) flywheel and long piston-rod, managed to haul around ten tonnes of iron, seventy passengers, and five wagons from the ironworks at Pen-y-Darren to the Merthyr-Cardiff Canal. During the 6 kilometre journey the locomotive reached speeds of nearly 8 km.h-1. Trevithick's locomotive employed the very important principle of turning the exhaust steam up the chimney, so producing a draft which drew the hot gases from the fire more powerfully through the boiler. In 1805 he adapted his high-pressure engine to driving an iron-rolling mill and to propelling a barge with the aid of paddle wheels. His lack of business acumen however, meant that he failed to achieve significant financial return on his work. Died in Dartford, Kent, England, aged 62.
1908Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, prime minister (Liberal) of Great Britain (1905 - 08). A member of the House of Commons from 1868, he was elected leader of the Liberal Party in 1899 and was elected prime minister in 1905. His popularity unified his badly divided party and though much of his legislative program was nullified by the House of Lords, he obtained approval of the Trades Disputes Act of 1906. He took the lead in granting self-government to the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, thereby securing the Boers' loyalty to the British Empire. He was the first British prime minister to be given official use of the title "prime minister". Died in London, England, aged 71.
1933Sir Henry Royce (b. Frederick Henry Royce), English automotive engineer. Co-founder of Rolls-Royce Limited in 1884, manufacturing cars with an international reputation for quality and reliability. His company also manufactured aeroplane engines for all types of aircraft from the Spitfire to Concorde. He was knighted in 1930. Died at his home in West Wittering, Sussex, England, aged 70.
1978Will Geer, American actor (The Waltons). Best known as Grandpa Zebulon Walton in the television series "The Waltons". He was a self-confessed agitator and radical, and was blacklisted in Hollywood in 1951 for his fervent, active interest in left-wing politics influenced by former boyfriend Harry Hay, the Los Angeles Communist and radical who founded the USA's first large-scale gay activist organisation, the Mattachine Society. While blacklisted, he built the Will Geer Theatrical Botanicum as an acting haven for himself and other blacklisted actors. Died of a respiratory ailment in Los Angeles, California, USA, aged 75.
1980Fritz Strassmann, German physical chemist. Discovered, with Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner, neutron-induced nuclear fission in uranium in 1938 and thereby opened the field of atomic energy used both in nuclear reactors to produce electricity and in the atomic bomb. His analytical chemistry techniques showed up the lighter elements produced from neutron bombardment which were the result of the splitting of the uranium atom into two lighter atoms. Earlier in his career, he was co-developer of the rubidium-strontium technique of radio-dating geological samples. Died in Mainz, West Germany, aged 78.
1989Emilio Segrè, Italian physicist. Shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1959 for the discovery of the antiproton, an antiparticle having the same mass as a proton but opposite electrical charge. He also created atoms of the new man-made element technetium in 1937, and astatine in 1940. Died in Lafayette, California, USA, aged 84.
1994Richard Nixon, 37th president (Republican) of the USA (1968 - 74). Enjoyed a meteoric rise in politics, being elected to the US Congress in 1946, to the Senate in 1950, and was elected vice president to Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 at the age of only 39. He ran for president in 1960, losing to John F. Kennedy but won the presidency in 1968, accomplishing several notable achievements including the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Drug Enforcement Administration as well as the instigation of the space shuttle program. However he is best remembered for the "Watergate conspiracy", being investigated for the instigation and cover-up of the burglary of the offices of the Democratic Party National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington DC. His complicity in the cover-up was revealed by secret recordings of White House conversations and he was forced to resign, or face impeachment, in August 1974. Died of complications related to a stroke in New York City, USA, aged 81.
Events on this day:
1056The supernova in the Crab Nebula is last seen by the naked eye.
1145Halley's Comet completes its 19th recorded perihelion passage.
1509Henry VIII ascends to the throne as King of England on the death of his father King Henry VII.
1529The Treaty of Saragossa divides Spain and Portugal.
1823Roller skates are patented by Robert John Tyers, a fruiterer in Picadilly, London, England.
1861General Robert E. Lee is named commander of the Virginia forces.
1864The USA mints a 2 cent coin which is the first to use the phrase, "In God We Trust".
1914Babe Ruth plays his first professional game at the age of 19 for the Baltimore Orioles.
1915German soldiers release chlorine gas from several metal cylinders on the front lines at Ypres, Belgium during WW I, marking the first use of chemical warfare. Five thousand French soldiers were killed.
1918The British Royal Navy carries out a daring raid on Zeebrugge, Belgium, briefly blocking the German-held port.
1951An heroic stand by the 'Glorious Glosters' at the Imjin River, Korea, allows UN forces to regroup.
1952The first atomic explosion to be shown on network news takes place in Nob, Nevada, USA.
1954US Senator Joseph McCarthy begins hearings investigating the US Army for being "soft on Communism".
1969The first human eye transplant is performed.
1971The USSR launch Soyuz 10 for orbit around the Earth.
1896The first virus produced by genetic engineering is approved for use in a vaccine by the US Department of Agriculture. The virus was designed for use in veterinary medicine to fight a form of swine herpes.
1991Intel releases the 486SX microprocessor.
1993Mosaic version 1.0 is released.
1997A 126 day hostage crisis at the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Lima, Peru ends after government commandos storm the building rescuing 71 hostages. One hostage dies of a heart attack, two soldiers are killed from rebel fire, and all 14 rebels are killed.
Quote of the day:
A new randomly-selected quote each day.

"Any man whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a man."
~ J. Robert Oppenheimer (speaking of Albert Einstein)

Daily Trivia
A new (mostly science-related) question each day.
Q. How much microbial life does a human body contain on average?
show answer

Site of the Day:
A random site to visit each day, some of which I've found interesting, useful, humourous, provocative, etc...
The Ignoble Prizes
A different kind of Nobel Prize. Celebrating the unusual and honouring the imaginative, the Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded each year since 1991 by the scientific community to reward research that could not, or should not, be reproduced.
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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This page first created by Craig Porter: 2002.