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Today in History :: Monday, 26 February 2018

1786François Arago, physicist, astronomer, statesman. Discovered the chromosphere of the sun, the lower atmosphere, primarily composed of hydrogen gas. He also devised an experiment that proved the wave theory of light, showed that light waves move more slowly through a dense medium than through air, and contributed to the discovery of the laws of light polarisation. He entered politics in 1848 as Minister of War and Marine and was instrumental in abolishing slavery in the French colonies. Born in Estagel, near Perpignan, France.
1802Victor Hugo, author (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Les Miserables). Wrote his first play at the age of 14 and went on to become the most prolific French writer of the 19th century. Born in Besançon, France.
1829Levi Strauss, jeans manufacturer. Trained as a tailor in his native Bavaria, he moved to San Francisco, USA in 1850, hoping to make his fortune from the California gold rush. He originally planned to manufacture tents and wagon covers but instead used the stout canvas to make very durable pants for the Forty-niners football team. When demand increased, he opened a factory, improved the design by adding copper rivets and adopted a heavy blue denim material, known as "genes" in France. Born Loeb Strauss in Buttenheim, Bavaria (now Germany).
1846Buffalo Bill, buffalo hunter, Indian fighter, gold prospector, Pony Express rider. Made a living killing buffalo to feed construction crews of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. He killed 4,280 buffalo (by his count) over a period of 17 months. Born William Frederick Cody in Davenport, Iowa, USA.
1852John Harvey Kellogg, physician, health food pioneer. Pioneered the flaked-cereal industry. He also developed peanut butter, granola, and toasted flakes. He was one of the first to warn that smoking caused lung cancer, decades before this link was studied, and was an early advocate of exercise. Born in Tyrone, Michigan, USA.
1864John Evershed, astronomer. Discoverer and namesake of the Evershed effect - the horizontal motion of gases outward from the centres of sunspots. He showed that many of the Fraunhofer lines in sunspot spectra were shifted toward the red of the visible spectrum and were therefore Doppler shifts, proving the motion of the source gases. Born in Gomshall, Surrey, England.
1866Herbert Henry Dow, chemist. Founder of the Dow Chemical Corporation in 1897, producing bromine, used in medicines and dyes. He soon added chlorine, bleaching powder, insecticides, and pharmaceuticals to the product list. Born in Belleville, Ontario, Canada.
1903Giulio Natta, chemist. Contributed to the development of high polymers, useful in the manufacture of films, plastics, fibres, and synthetic rubber. He shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1963 for the development of Ziegler-Natta catalysts. He found that certain types of Ziegler catalysts lead to macromolecules with a spatially uniform structure called isotactic chains. Such polymers give rise to synthetic products that are light but exceptionally strong. Born in Imperia, near Genoa, Italy.
1906Madeleine Carroll, actress (The 39 Steps, Secret Agent). Following the death of her sister Marguerite in a London WW II air bombing, she retired from acting and worked for the allied war effort from California, USA. Born in West Bromwich, West Midlands, England.
1916Jackie Gleason, actor (The Honeymooners, The Hustler, Requiem for a Heavyweight). Known for his legendary dislike of rehearsal and his excess with wine, women, song, and work, a lifestyle which often led to exhaustion. Born Herbert John Gleason in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York.
1920Tony Randall, actor (The Odd Couple). Born Leonard Rosenberg in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.
1928Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister of Israel (2001 - present). A former soldier who conducted intelligence and reconnaissance work after Israel achieved independence. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, and again during the Six-Day War in 1967, a unit under his command captured the strategic Mitla Pass, and in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, he led an Israeli counter-attack. He was appointed minister of defence (1981 - 83), overseeing Israel's invasion of Lebanon. An Israeli court of inquiry held him indirectly responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and he was forced to resign in 1983. In 1999 he became head of the Likud (Unity) party, and in 2001 he was elected prime minister. Born in Kefar Malal, Palestine.
1928"Fats" Domino, musician. Best known for his song "Blueberry Hill". Born Antoine Domino in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
1932Johnny Cash, musician. A legend in country music who grew up in a poor family, the son of a southern cotton farmer, and began playing guitar and writing songs as a young boy. He began recording at Sun Records in 1955 and in 1957, became the first Sun artist to release an LP, but battled drug and alcohol addiction during the early part of his career. He is best known for his hit songs including "I Walk The Line", "Folsom Prison Blues", "Ring of Fire", "A Boy Named Sue" and "Don't Take Your Guns to Town". Born in Kingsland, Arkansas, USA.
1834Alois Senefelder (b. Johann Nepomuk Franz Alois Senefelder), Czech actor, playwright. Accidentally discovered the technique of lithography by using a grease pencil on limestone in 1796 while trying to engrave printing plates to publish his plays. His invention was the biggest revolution in the printing industry since Gutenberg's movable type. Died in Munich, Germany, aged 62.
1903Richard Gatling, American inventor. Inventor of the Gatling Gun, a hand-cranked machine gun that could fire up to 1200 rounds per minute. Died in New York City, USA, aged 84.
1931Otto Wallach, German chemist. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1910 in recognition of his services to organic chemistry and the chemical industry by his pioneer work in the field of alicyclic compounds. He succeeded in determining the structure of several terpenes, including limonene in 1894, and showed that terpenes were derived from isoprene, C5H8. Terpenes were of importance only in the medicine and perfume industries, and also as a source of camphors. Died in Göttingen, Germany, aged 83.
1997Max Sterne, Italian research veterinarian. Developed an effective, safe, and reproducible vaccine against anthrax that succeeded in virtually eliminating the disease. Died aged 91.
Events on this day:
1870The first New York City subway line opens.
1893Two Clydesdale horses set a new world record by pulling 48 tons on a sledge in Michigan, USA.
1895Michael Owens of Toledo, Ohio, USA, patents a glass-blowing machine.
1907Royal Oil and Shell merge to form British Petroleum (BP).
1919US Congress establishes the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, USA.
1935Radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging) is demonstrated for the first time by Scottish physicist Robert Watson-Watt at Daventry, England.
1935The German Luftwaffe is reformed and begins operation under Reichsmarshall Herrman Göring.
1936Hitler introduces Ferdinand Porsche's "Volkswagen" to the German public.
1952British Prime Minister Winston Churchill announces that Great Britain has built an atomic bomb.
1954The first typesetting machine is used in Quincy, Massachusetts, USA.
1966AS-201 is launched, marking the first flight of the Saturn IB rocket.
1973Triple Crown winner Secretariat is sold for a record $5.7 million.
1981The French Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) records an average speed of 380 kph on a trial run.
1993Islamic extremists explode a car bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, USA explodes, killing 6 and injuring over a thousand.
1995The UK's oldest investment banking firm Barings Bank collapses after securities broker Nick Leeson lost $1.4 billion gambling on the Singapore Monetary Exchange Simex with derivative securities.
2001Afghanistan's Taliban regime orders the demolition of 'un-Islamic' statues, including two ancient Buddhas.
Quote of the day:
A new randomly-selected quote each day.

"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence."
~ Richard Dawkins

Daily Trivia
A new (mostly science-related) question each day.
Q. What was the first vitamin to be discovered?
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 official web site of NASA (National Aeronautical and Space Administration). Contains a wealth of information about the various NASA projects, its history, careers at NASA, visiting NASA, etc.
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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