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Who said: “Politics is more difficult than physics.”
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< 8 Mar | 10 Mar >
MARCH 9 – BIRTHS – Scientists born on March 9th
  Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin
baby icon  Born 9 Mar 1934; died 27 Mar 1968 at age 34.  quotes button quotes
Soviet cosmonaut who on 12 Apr 1961 became the first man to travel into space when he was 27 years old. He graduated from the Soviet Air Force cadet school in 1957. He volunteered to become a cosmonaut and joined a group of test pilots for training. Three days before the launch, he was informed he had been selected to pilot the Vostok 1 spacecraft. He orbited the Earth once in 1 hour 29 minutes at a maximum altitude of 187 miles (301 km). He never went into space again but trained other cosmonauts and toured several other nations. Gagarin was killed with another pilot in the crash of a two-seat jet aircraft while on what was described as a routine training flight. His ashes were placed in a niche in the Kremlin wall.
book icon Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin, by Jamie Doran. - book suggestion.
  Walter Kohn
baby icon  Born 9 Mar 1923.
Austrian-American physicist who shared (with John A. Pople) the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The award recognized their individual work on computations in quantum chemistry. Kohn's share of the prize acknowledged his development of the density-functional theory, which made it possible to apply the complicated mathematics of quantum mechanics to the description and analysis of the chemical bonding between atoms.
  Howard Hathaway Aiken
baby icon  Born 9 Mar 1900; died 14 Mar 1973 at age 73.
American mathematician who invented the Harvard Mark I, forerunner of the modern electronic digital computer. While a graduate student and instructor Harvard University, Aiken's research had led to a system of differential equations which could only be solved using numerical techniques, for which he began planning large computer. His idea was to use an adaptation of Hollerith's punched card machine. When eventually built, (1943) it weighed 35 tons, had 500 miles of wire and could compute to 23 significant figures. There were 72 storage registers and central units to perform multiplication and division. It was controlled by a sequence of instructions on punched paper tapes, and used punched cards to enter data and give output from the machine.
  Fernand-Isidore Widal
baby icon  Born 9 Mar 1862; died 14 Jan 1929 at age 66.
(Georges-) Fernand-Isidore Widal was a French physician and bacteriologist who made important contributions to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of many diseases. In 1896, he developed the Widal reaction, a procedure for diagnosing typhoid fever based on the fact that antibodies in the blood of an infected individual cause the bacteria to bind together into clumps. In 1906, he recognized that the retention of sodium chloride was a feature found in cases of nephritis and cardiac edema, and he recommended salt deprivation as part of the treatment for both diseases. During WW I, Widal prepared a vaccine that appreciably reduced typhoid contagion among the allied armies.
  Edward Goodrich Acheson
baby icon  Born 9 Mar 1856; died 6 Jul 1931 at age 75.
American inventor who discovered the abrasive carborundum, the second hardest substance (next to diamonds) and later perfected a method for making graphite. In his early career, he had worked at Thomas Edison's Menlo Park (1880-84), but left to become an independent inventor. In 1891, he was experimenting with an electric furnace, trying to make diamonds from a molten mixture of powdered coke and clay. Instead of diamonds, he found he had made small, gritty, hard crystals almost as hard as diamonds. He determined that this crystalline substance was silicon carbide. It was very effective as an abrasive, which Acheson  patented (28 Feb 1892) and called “carborundum.” He established the Carborundum Company (1894), to make grinding wheels, whet stones, and powdered abrasives.«
  Wilhelm Pfeffer
baby icon  Born 9 Mar 1845; died 31 Jan 1920 at age 74.
Wilhelm (Friedrich Philipp) Pfeffer was a German botanist whose work on osmotic pressure made him a pioneer in the study of plant physiology. With Julius von Sachs, he was a leader in systematizing the fundamentals of plant physiology. In 1877, while investigating cell metabolism, he devised a semi-permeable membrane for the study osmosis. By measuring osmotic pressure, a technique he developed, Pfeffer found that pressure depends on the size of the molecules that are too large to pass through the membrane. Thus, he had a method to measure the size of such giant molecules. However, he was unable to find a mathematical relationship to predict osmotic pressure, which was furthered by the work of van't Hoff.
  Franz Joseph Gall
baby icon  Born 9 Mar 1758; died 22 Aug 1828 at age 70.  quotes button quotes
German physician, anatomist and physiologistt who pioneered in linking cerebral functions to localized areas of the brain and associated with underlying attributes of the human personality. As early as the 1790s, he was developing theories on the anatomy and function of the parts of the brain. He was first to identify recognize that the brain's gray matter was made up of nerve cell bodies, and that the white matter has the fibers that carry impulses from the nerves. He believed an external examination of the skull could reveal individual intellect and personality, which he termed “cranioscopy,” later called “phrenology” by his protegé, Johann G. Spurzheim. In 1805, they travelled on a long lecture tour of Europe, also studying at prisons and asylums.«
  Zabdiel Boylston
baby icon  Born 9 Mar 1676; died 1 Mar 1766 at age 89.
American physician who introduced smallpox inoculation into the American colonies. Small-pox had broken out again in Boston in 1721. Rev. Cotton Mather had learned of a technique being practiced abroad that was reported to give protection. When a small wound was infected with pus taken from a smallpox sore, a person would thereupon develop a trivial case of the disease, but would likely suffer no further more serious infection later. After Mather was rebuffed by other medical practitioners in Boston, he approached Boylston with the idea to experiment with the technique. Boyston thought a trial to be so worthwhile that he inoculated his own son and two others on 26 Jun 1721. Their resulting illness was mild; they recovered by 4 Jul 1721.  read more button more
book icon The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling the Smallpox Epidemic, by Jennifer Lee Carrell. - book suggestion.
booklist icon Booklist for Smallpox.
  David Fabricius
Thumbnail - David Fabricius
baby icon  Born 9 Mar 1564; died 7 May 1617 at age 53.  quotes button quotes
A German astronomer, friend of Tycho Brahe and Kepler, and one of the first to follow Galileo in telescope observation of the skies. He is best known for a naked-eye observation of a star in Aug 1596, subsequently named Omicron Ceti, the first variable star to be discovered, and now known as Mira. Its existence with variable brightness contradicted the Aristotelian dogma that the heavens were both perfect and constant. With his son, Johannes Fabricius, he observed the sun and noted sunspots. For further observations they invented the use of a camera obscura and recorded sun-spot motion indicating the rotation of the Sun. David Fabricius, a Protestant minister, was killed by a parishioner angered upon being accused by him as a thief.
  Amerigo Vespucci
baby icon  Born 9 Mar 1451; died 22 Feb 1512 at age 60.
Spanish astronomer whose name was given to the New World - America - because it was he and not Columbus, who realized and announced that Columbus had discovered a new continent. Also known as Americus Vespucius. Dates above from Ency. of World Bio. (Gale, 1998). Enc. Brit. gives years 1454-1512 only.


Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

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< 8 Mar | 10 Mar >
MARCH 9 – DEATHS – Scientists died on March 9th
  Ulf von Euler
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1983 at age 78 (born 7 Feb 1905).
Swedish physiologist who shared the 1970 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (with Sir Bernard Katz and Julius Axelrod) for their independent study of transmitter mechanisms of nerve cells. Since 1906, when Thomas Elliott first proposed that nerve cells communicate with each other and the muscles they control by the release of chemicals, there had been efforts to identify these substances. Euler's recognition was for his discovery (1946) of noradrenaline which serves as neurotransmitter at the nerve terminals of the sympathetic nervous system. He further showed how noradrenaline is stored in small nerve granules within the nerve fibres of this system. Euler had earlier, in 1935, discovered the substance he named prostaglandin
book icon Release and uptake functions in adrenergic nerve granules, by Ulf von Euler. - book suggestion.
  Max Ludwig Henning Delbrόck
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1981 at age 74 (born 4 Sep 1906).  quotes button quotes
German-born U.S. biologist, a pioneer in the study of molecular genetics. He was a co-recipient (with Alfred Day Hershey and Salvador Luria), of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for work on the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of bacteriophages (a type of virus that infects bacteria, rather than ordinary cells.) Bacteriophages serve as models for the more complex, less approachable cells of animals and humans. This insight into the nature of viruses and of virus diseases leads to understanding the mechanism of inheritance, development growth and function of tissues and organs.
  Earl W. Sutherland Jr.
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1974 at age 58 (born 19 Nov 1915).
American pharmacologist and physiologist who was awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for isolating cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cyclic AMP) and demonstrating its involvement in numerous metabolic processes that occur in animals.
  Dr. Howard T. Engstrom
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1962 at age 59 (born 23 Jun 1902).
American computer designer who promoted the first commercially available digital computer, the Univac. As a Yale professor he had written a paper on the mathematical basis for cryptanalysis techniques. During WW II he was called to the Navy and placed in command of the OP-20-G automated machines "Research Section" for message decryption. After the war, he was a co-founder of Engineering Research Associates, a private company to work on electronic digital circuit technology for the Navy on a contract basis, with former Navy researchers. ERA delivered its first Atlas computer to the National Security Agency in Dec 1950. As vice president for research, Engstrom took the initiative to make a commercial version, renamed Univac.
  V(agn) Walfrid Ekman
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1954 at age 79 (born 3 May 1874).
Swedish physical oceanographer and mathematical physicist whose research into the dynamics of ocean currents led to his name remaining associated with terms for particular phenomena of the ocean or atmosphere, including Ekman spiral, Ekman transport and Ekman layer. Fridtjof Nansen pointed out to Ekman that he had noticed that icebergs drift at an angle of 20°-40° to the prevailing wind, rather than directly with the wind. In 1902, Ekman published an explanation, known now as the Ekman spiral, describing movement of ocean currents influenced by the Earth's rotation. He also developed experimental techniques and instruments such as the Ekman current meter and Ekman water bottle.«
  Robert Bosch
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1942 at age 80 (born 23 Sep 1861).
German engineer and industrialist who was responsible for the invention of the spark plug and magneto for automobiles and whose firm produced a wide range of precision machines and electrical equipment in plants throughout the world.
  Henry Chapman Mercer
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1930 at age 73 (born 24 Jun 1856).
American archaeologist, collector, and tilemaker. In his early years, he pursued archaeology. In 1897, while searching for fireplace tools in a junk dealer's barn, Mercer found a jumble of American Pioneer handicraft tools made obsolete by the Industrial Revolution. He realized these pre-1850 work related implements might one day be the prized findings of future archeologists. Mercer seized upon opportunity to preserve such endangered artifacts. He spent a lifetime building his collection, which he called "The Tools of the Nation Maker." In 1898, he founded the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown, PA., to manufacture hand-worked relief-decorated ceramic tiles by a system he developed and patented.
book icon Ancient Carpenter's Tools: Illustrated and Explained..., by Henry Chapman Mercer. - book suggestion.
  Johannes Diederik van der Waals
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1923 at age 85 (born 23 Nov 1837).
Dutch physicist who was awarded the 1910 Nobel Prize for Physics for his research on the gaseous and liquid states of matter. He was largely self-taught in science and he originally worked as a school teacher. His main work was to develop an equation (the van der Waals equation) that—unlike the laws of Charles Boyle and Jacques Charles—applied to real gases. Since the molecules do have attractive forces and volume (however small), van der Waals introduced into the theory two further constants to take these properties into account. The weak electrostatic attractive forces between molecules and between atoms are called van der Waals forces in his honour. His valuable results enabled James Dewar and Heike Kamerlingh-Onnes to work out methods of liquefying the permanent gases. [Note: Alphabetizing under rules for Dutch names, usage is "Waals, Johannes van der". Notice use of lower case for "van der". Contrast German names like "Von Braun, Werner".]
  Henry Clifton Sorby
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1908 at age 81 (born 10 May 1826).
English geologist whose microscopic studies of thin slices of rock earned him the title "father of microscopical petrography."
  Hans Christian Oersted
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1851 at age 73 (born 14 Aug 1777).  quotes button quotes
Hans Christian Ψrsted was a Danish physicist and chemist whose discovery (1820) that an electric current in a wire causes a nearby magnetized compass needle to deflect, indicating the electric current in a wire induces a magnetic field around it, marks the starting point for the development of electromagnetic theory. For this, he can be called “the father of electromagnetism,” for which his name was adopted for the magnetic field strength in the CGS system of units (for which the SI system now uses the henry unit). Philosophically, he had believed nature's forces had a common origin. Oersted was the first to isolate aluminium as a metal (1825). He also made the first accurate determination of the compressibility of water (1822). Late in his career, he researched diamagnetism. In his final years, he turned back to philosophy, and started writing The Soul in Nature
  Mary Anning
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1847 at age 47 (born 21 May 1799).  quotes button quotes
English fossil collector who made her first significant discovery at the age of 11 or 12 (sources differ on the details), when she found a complete skeleton of an Ichthyosaurus, from the Jurassic period. The ten-meter (30 feet) long skeleton created a sensation and made her famous. Anning's determination and keen scientific interest in fossils derived from her father's interest in fossil hunting, and a need for the income derived from them to support her family after his death. in 1810. She sold large fossils to noted paleontologists of the day, and smaller ones to the tourist trade. In 1823, Anning made another great discovery, found the first complete Plesiosaurus. Later in her life, the Geological Society of London granted Anning an honorary membership.
book icon The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World, by Shelley Emling. - book suggestion.
  Hans Conrad Escher (von der Linth)
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1823 at age 55 (born 24 Aug 1767).
Swiss scientist and politician who was president of the Great Council of the Helvetic Republic (1798-99) and who was an outspoken opponent of federalism. He directed the canalization of the Linth River.
  Edward Daniel Clarke
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 1822 at age 52 (born 5 Jun 1769).
English mineralogist and traveller who amassed a valuable collection of minerals. In 1799, he began a 3-year tour through Asia Minor, Italy, Greece, Scandinavia and Siberia, where he also collected maps, statues and sarcophagi, manuscripts, and Greek coins. He was the first professor of mineralogy at Cambridge University (1808). In 1817 he became librarian there, until his health failed, though he continued to lecture until 1821. He had a significant impact through his teaching of minerology in terms of crystallography and the new chemistry, and through the topological geology and volcanological observations in his widely read Travels (6 vols. 1810-23). His mineral collection was bought by Cambridge at his death for 1,500 pounds.
   Albumasar
gravestone icon  Died 9 Mar 886 at age 98 (born 10 Aug 787).
Persian astrologer, a.k.a. Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi, or Ja'far ibn Muhammad, who was the leading astrologer of the Muslim world. He is known primarily for his theory that the world, created when the seven planets were in conjunction in the first degree of Aries, will come to an end at a like conjunction in the last degree of Pisces.

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< 8 Mar | 10 Mar >
MARCH 9 – EVENTS – Science events on March 9th
  Mesons
calendar icon   In 1948, the University of California at Berkeley and the Atomic Energy Commission officially announced the artificial production of mesons using the 184-inch cyclotron at the university's Radiation Laboratory. Mesons in nature had previously been seen as cloud chamber tracks by Carl Anderson, and others (formed by cosmic rays) had been detected by other scientists in photographic plates made at high altitude. Now, at the limits of energy available from the cyclotron, these short-lived particles were generated artificially by Eugene Gardner and C.M.G. Lattes, using a beam of accelerated alpha particles fired at a thin carbon target. Time reported the discovery and hinted that the study of mesons might “lead in the direction of a vastly better source of atomic energy than the fission of uranium.”« [Image: Part of a photomicrograph of the track of one of the first mesons found by Gardener and Lattes, 1948. The meson enters from the bottom of this image. The star track shows a nuclear disintegration resulting from a colliding meson.]
  Solid air
Thumbnail - Solid air
calendar icon   In 1893, Professor James Dewar communicated to the meeting of the Royal Society that he had succeeded in freezing air into a clear, transparent solid. The precise nature of this solid was not known, and needed further research. It was speculated that it may be “a jelly of solid nitrogen containing liquid oxygen, much as calves'foot jelly contains water diffused in solid gelatine. Or it may be a true ice of liquid air, in which both oxygen and nitrogen exist in the solid form.” At this time, Dewar had not been able to solidify pure oxygen, although nitrogen had been frozen with comparative ease. It also had already been proved that in the evaporation of liquid air, nitrogen boils off first.  read more button more
  Mailbox
calendar icon   In 1858, the first U.S. patent for a street mailbox was patented by Albert Potts of Philadelphia (No.19,578). It comprised a simple metal box designed to attach to a lamppost. By August, these boxes were found along the streets of Boston, Mass., and New York City, N.Y. His patent described the "object of this improvement is to afford greater facilities to the inhabitants of large cities for the depositing of letters, and to enable the carriers to collect, or the citizens to deposit therein, at any period of time." The boxes had a central hole for the shaft of a lamp post, lids covering the drop hole to exclude weather, a sight hole so a carrier could see if any letters had been deposited, and a small door secured with a lock for the carrier to empty the box.
  First U.S. patent for artificial teeth
calendar icon   In 1822, Charles M. Graham of N.Y. was issued the first U.S. patent for artificial teeth. The record, and its details, was lost in the Patent Office fire of 15 Dec 1836. Similarly lost, the patent by William R. Eagleson for setting natural and artificial teeth (4 Oct 1817). False teeth had been used since Colonial years, with various attempts to replace rotten teeth, which were extraacted to avoid illness. George Washington had at least four sets of false teeth (though none were wooden, despite a myth to that effect). His first dentures were made using human teeth set into carved ivory. In 1789, dentist John Greenwood of New York, made Washington a complete set from hippopotamus ivory, gold wire springs and brass screws holding human teeth. His one natural remaining tooth was a molar, and a hole was left for it.« [Image: Closeup of George Washington's dentures (c.1790) with human teeth and modeled teeth carved from cow teeth and elephant ivory.]
book icon The American Dentist: A Pictorial History, by Richard A. Glenner. - book suggestion.
  Sunspots
calendar icon   In 1611, Johannes Fabricius, a Dutch astronomer, observed the rising sun through his telescope, and observed several dark spots on it. This was perhaps the first ever observation of sunspots. He called his father to investigate this new phenomenon with him. The brightness of the Sun's center was very painful, and the two quickly switched to a projection method by means of a camera obscura. Johannes was the first to publish information on such observations. He did so in his Narratio de maculis in sole observatis et apparente earum cum sole conversione. ("Narration on Spots Observed on the Sun and their Apparent Rotation with the Sun"), the dedication of which was dated 13 Jun 1611.

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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton