Looking back…

In case you were wondering about notable science events that occured the week following August 15…

Hat Creek Radio Observatory
Creative Commons License photo credit: kathycsus

Is there intelligent life out there? On August 15 of 1977, The Big Ear, a radio telescope that acts as part of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) picked up a signal from deep space. The characteristics of the signal marked it as non-terrestrial and from a point of origin outside the solar system. The signal lasted for 72 seconds (the telescope turns – so it was only pointed in the direction of the signal for 72 seconds) and has never been detected again. The source of the signal, referred to as the Wow! signal, is still unknown. Current theories are that the signal originated from Earth and bounced back off of a piece of space debris, or that the signal came from a natural phenomenon known as atmospheric twinkling.

On August 17, 1970, Venera 7, a Soviet space probe, was launched towards Venus. The probe landed on the surface of Venus in December of the same year, making it the first time a man-made object transmitted data back to Earth from the surface of another planet.

Also on August 17, but in 1982, the first Compact Discs (commonly refered to as CDs) were released to the public. CDs are still the standard medium playback for audio recordings today.

On August 18, 1868, the French astronomer Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen discovered Helium. While observing a solar eclipse in India, Janssen noticed a bright yellow line with a wavelength of 587.49 nm in the spectrum of the chromosphere of the sun (each element has a different wavelength.) Since his discovery, people have been able to succesfully sing the munchkin songs from the Wizard of Oz  at parties (there were so many different videos to choose from).
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Looking Back…

In case you were wondering about notable science events that occured the week following July 25…

On July 25, 1909, Louis Bleriot made the first airplane flight across a body of water, crossing the English Channel in 37 minutes. The Wright brothers had invented the plane only six years before. Bleriot is also credited with inventing the first working monoplane (the Wright brothers’ plane was a biplane.) The following is footage and photos of Bleriot testing his plane in 1907.
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On July 26, 1866, the first successful Transatlantic telegraph cable was completed. Although there had been five previous attempts to send telegraphs, (including a letter of congratulation in 1958 from Queen Victoria to President James Buchanan) the cable was destroyed when the operator used too much voltage in an effort to increase the speed at which messages were sent. The cable was finally repaired and put into use in July of 1866. While it would normally take ten days for a letter to travel across the ocean by ship, the telegraph cable cut this time down to mere minutes.

Arrowhead 6
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On July 28, 1998, in Kennewick, Washington, a controversial fossil skeleton was discovered. Named after the location where it was found, the Kennewich Man was determined to have lived roughly 9,300 years ago. The fossil is about 68 inches tall, and the man it originally belonged to is thought to have died while in his fifties. Interestingly, the skeleton had part of a stone projectile lodged in its pelvic bone. This skeleton, and others like it, fuel the debate of whether people crossed into the Americas via the Bering Straight Land Bridge or the watercraft migration theory.

Ony July 31, 1790, the U.S issued its first patent. Signed by George Washington, it was issued to Samuel Hopkins for developing a new potash production method. There were only two other patents that were approved that first year – one for a new candle-making process and one for a flour-milling machine.

Looking back…

In case you were wondering about notable science events that occurred the week of July 11th…

On July 11th, 1811, the Italian scientist Amedeo Avogadro published his theory on the molecular content of gases, also known as Avogadro’s law. His theory states that “Equal volumes of ideal or perfect gases, at the same temperature and pressure, contain the same number of particles, or molecules.” For those of you who have taken chemistry before, the number of molecules in one mole – a figure your teachers always make you memorize – (6.022 x 1023 particles per mole) is known as Avogadro’s number.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Roberto Garcia-S

On July 11th, 1895, the brothers Lumiere showed their new invention, which played short movies, to a group of scientists. The first time an audience paid to view one of their films was in December of that same year. Each of the original 10 films they made were 17 meters long, and lasted 46 seconds. Supposedly, their first movie of a train had the audience screaming as they thought a real train was crashing into the theater. Their first movie may have only been 46 seconds long, but I bet the previews still took 20 minutes.

On July 14th, 1965, the space probe Mariner 4 made a flyby and took the first close-up photos of Mars. After a seven month flight the probe flew by the planet, and sent back 22 television images covering about 1% of the planet’s surface. Fortunately, they remembered to remove the lens cap beforehand.

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we must reinvent love

On July 15th, 1799, French Captain Pierre-Francois Bouchard found the Rosetta Stone in the Egyptian village known as Rosetta. The stone tells the same story in three different languages (Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian Demotic, and classical Greek.) The discovery of the stone allowed later scientists to decipher the lanugage of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Rosetta Stone is currently on display in The British Museum in London.

On July 16th, 1945, the world entered the “Atomic Age” as the United States successfully detonated a plutonium-based nuclear weapon during a test at the Trinity Site near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Less than a month later, the first atomic bomb Little Boy was dropped by the plane Enola Gay on Hiroshima, instantly killing an estimated 800,000 people.

The following video illustrates the power of an atomic bomb during a test – this was not a bomb used in combat.

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Looking Back…

In case you were wondering about notable science events that happened the week of June 13th…

This round is on the house! On June 14th of 1789 the Reverend Elijah Craig used his distillery to age corn whiskey in charred oak barrels, successfully making Bourbon. Reverend Craig named the new liquor after his home county, Bourboun County, Kentucky. On a related note, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith founded Alcholics Anonymous on June 10th, 1935.

Red Strip
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Does anybody really know what time it is? On June 15th, 763 B.C. the ancient culture known as the Assyrians recorded a solar eclipse. Using modern technology astronomers can calculate the exact day the eclipse happened. Using this date historians can calculate the time of other events that the Assyrians and other cultures wrote about.

On June 15th, 1667, Dr. Jean Baptiste Denys attempted the first human blood transfusion. After several doctors had drained a 15 year old boy with fever of blood, Dr. Denys tried a transfusion using nine ounces of lamb’s blood. The attempt was unsuccessful.

rayo 3
Creative Commons License photo credit: El Garza

On June 15th, 1752, Benjamin Franklin performed his famous lightening experiment. Using a kite, a key, and a silk thread, Franklin proved that lightening was electric. However, Franklin was not the first scientist to try this experiment. The French scientist Thomas-Francois Dalibard conducted a similar test just a few weeks before.

The first Father’s day was celerated on June 19th, 1910, in Spokane, Washington. It was started by Sonara Smart Dodd, whose father was a single parent of six. Historians believe she was also inspired by Anna Jarvis, who had started the tradition of Mother’s Day just three years before.