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Who said: “Environmental extremists ... wouldn’t let you build a house unless it looked like a bird’s nest.”
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< 25 Apr | 27 Apr >
APRIL 26 – BIRTHS – Scientists born on April 26th
  Arno Penzias
baby icon  Born 26 Apr 1933.
Arno Allan Penzias is a German-American astrophysicist who shared one-half of the 1978 Nobel Prize for Physics with Robert Woodrow Wilson for their discovery of a faint electromagnetic radiation throughout the universe. Their detection of this radiation lent strong support to the big-bang model of cosmic evolution. (The other half of the prize was awarded to Pyotr Kapitsa for unrelated research.)
  Michael Smith
baby icon  Born 26 Apr 1932; died 4 Oct 2000 at age 68.
British-born Canadian biochemist who won (with Kary B. Mullis) the 1993 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his development of a technique called oligonucleotide-based site-directed mutagenesis, which enabled researchers to introduce specific mutations into genes and, thus, to the proteins that they encode. The prize recognized his groundbreaking work in reprogramming segments of DNA, the building blocks of life. His work launched a new era in genetics research.
  Charles Richter
baby icon  Born 26 Apr 1900; died 30 Sep 1985 at age 85.  quotes button quotes
Charles Francis Richter was an American seismologist who devised the Richter Scale that measures earthquake magnitudes which he developed with his colleague, Beno Gutenberg, in the early 1930s. The scale assigns numerical ratings to the energy released by earthquakes. Richter used a seismograph to record actual earth motion during an earthquake. That is an instrument generally consisting of a constantly unwinding roll of paper, anchored to a fixed place, and a pendulum or magnet suspended with a marking device above the roll. The scale takes into account the instrument's distance from the epicenter. Gutenberg suggested that the scale be logarithmic so, for example, a quake of magnitude 7 would be ten times stronger than a 6. He wrote the article on Earthquakes for the 1974 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica.
book icon Richter's Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man, by Susan Hough. - book suggestion.
  Sir Owen Willans Richardson
baby icon  Born 26 Apr 1879; died 15 Feb 1959 at age 79.
English physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1928 for “his work on the thermionic phenomenon [electron emission by hot metals] and especially for the discovery of the law named after him.”This effect is why a heated filament in a vacuum tube releases a current of electrons to travel an anode, which was essential for the development of such applications as radio amplifiers or a TV cathode ray tube. Richardson's law mathematically relates how the electron emission increases as the absolute temperature of the metal surface is raised. He also conducted research on photoelectric effects, the gyromagnetic effect, the emission of electrons by chemical reactions, soft X-rays, and the spectrum of hydrogen.«
  Sir Alliott Verdon Roe
baby icon  Born 26 Apr 1877; died 4 Jan 1958 at age 80.
English aviator who was the first in Britain to construct and fly his own airplane. Having heard of the success of the brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright, Roe set out to build his own plane. On 8 Jun 1908, he flew his biplane a distance of 75 feet (23 m).
  Erminnie Adele Smith
baby icon  Born 26 Apr 1836; died 9 Jun 1886 at age 50.
Erminnie Adele Platt Smith was an American anthropologist (née Platt) was the first woman to specialize in ethnographic field work. At first, her interest was as a geologist, studying mineralogy and crystallography. By about age 40, she founded the Aesthetic Society and held parlor meetings at her home about science, literature, and art. When these grew to a crowd of up to 500 members, she moved the meetings to a church hall. Speakers included eminent persons, such as Thomas Edison and Oscar Wilde. After hearing of the emerging field of anthropology, she took to it with a passion for documenting legends and language of the Iroquis Indians. Her work and scientific papers were of the highest quality, and she managed to preserve much information on the Iroquois culture. Of her books, the best known is Myths of the Iroquois (1883). She died when 50 years old.«
  Theodor Billroth
baby icon  Born 26 Apr 1829; died 6 Feb 1894 at age 64.  quotes button quotes
Christian Albert Theodor Billroth was a German surgeon, generally considered to be the founder of modern abdominal surgery. He was a friend and colleague of Halsted. Billroth was a pioneer abdominal surgeon, and perfected many procedures, including gastric resections still used daily in general surgery. He helped establish the foundations of academic training and university direction of surgical sciences.
  Alfred Krupp
baby icon  Born 26 Apr 1812; died 14 Jul 1887 at age 75.
German manufacturer of steel and armaments who was known as “The Cannon King.” At an early age, in 1826, he inherited his father's small cast-steel works at Essen, which he expanded by 1843 to 100 workers making steel springs and machine parts. In 1859, he won a Prussian government contract to make 312 cannon. Developing this line of business, he became the largest steel maker in Europe. In 1862, he began making steel with the Bessemer process. His cannon were used in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. After this, he acquired control of the supply of German coal and Spanish iron-ore. His artillery business grew to 21,000 employees. His descendants continued the business and armed the Germans in WW II.«
book icon The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty that Armed Germany at War, by William Manchester. - book suggestion.
  John James Audubon
baby icon  Born 26 Apr 1785; died 27 Jan 1851 at age 65.  quotes button quotes
John James Laforest Audubon was a French-American ornithologist, artist and naturalist known for his drawings and paintings of North American birds. He was born in Haiti, the illegitimate son of a successful merchant, planter, and slave dealer. At age 4, he was taken to France and educated among the well-to-do. By 15 he was drawing French birds. In 1803, Audubon was in Pennsylvania managing his father's estate where he began his ventures into ornithology. In 1820, he made his goal the publication of an anthology of life drawings. He traveled the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and the Great Lakes, exploring for birds. Unable to find a publisher in America he travelled to London in 1826-27 where his engravings were made. In 1831, Audubon returned to the U.S. and spent more years travelling and painting. Image right: Trumpeter swan by Audubon (1837).
book icon John James Audubon: The Making of an American, by Richard Rhodes. - book suggestion.
booklist icon Booklist for John James Audubon.
  Leopold von Buch
baby icon  Born 26 Apr 1774; died 4 Mar 1853 at age 78.  quotes button quotes
Baron Christian Leopold von Buch was a German geologist, paleontologist and geographer who took geological research trips in Europe on which he travelled as far north as Lapland. He investigated Vesuvius with his life-long friend Alexander von Humboldt, and examined the huge craters of the Canary Islands. His broad interests in geology also included the study of fossils, stratigraphy, and in particular the Jurassic system.« [EB gives birth date as 26 Apr 1774. DSB gives 25 Apr 1774.]  read more button more


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)
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< 25 Apr | 27 Apr >
APRIL 26 – DEATHS – Scientists died on April 26th
  Yuval Ne'eman
gravestone icon  Died 26 Apr 2006 at age 80 (born 14 May 1925).  quotes button quotes
Israeli theoretical physicist, who worked independently of Gell-Mann but almost simultaneously (1961) devised a method of grouping baryons in such a way that they fell into logical families. Now known as the Eightfold Way (after Buddha's Eightfold Path to Enlightenment and bliss), the scheme grouped mesons and baryons (e.g., protons and neutrons) into multiplets of 1, 8, 10, or 27 members on the basis of various properties. He had served as the head of his Israel's atomic energy commission, and  founded the country's space program.
  Torunn Garin
gravestone icon  Died 26 Apr 2002 at age 54 (born 19 Sep 1947).
Torunn Atteraas “Teri” Garin was a Norwegian chemical engineer who helped develop aspartame sweetener as a sugar substitute while working for General Foods (1971-85), where she became a senior laboratory manager. Earlier in her career, she researched ways to minimize water pollution caused by food production. She co-patented an adsoption process to extract caffeine from coffee (12 Sep 1978, No. 4,113,887) and a method to derive food dyes from natural sources to replace possibly cancer-causing synthetic dyes (11 Oct, 1983, No. 4,409,254), for example, non-toxic betanin, a natural red pigment from red beet. These U.S. patents were assigned to General Foods Corp. After attending university in Norway, she moved to the U.S. for degrees in chemical engineering (1971) and environmental engineering (1977). She died from lung cancer, age 54.«
  Arnold Sommerfeld
gravestone icon  Died 26 Apr 1951 at age 82 (born 5 Dec 1868).  quotes button quotes
Arnold (Johannes Wilhelm) Sommerfeld was a German physicist whose atomic model permitted the explanation of fine-structure spectral lines. His first work was on the theory of the gyroscope (with Klein), and then on wave spreading in wireless telegraphy. More significant was his major contribution to the development of quantum theory, generally, and in its application to spectral lines and the Bohr atomic model. He evolved also a theory of the electron in the metallic state valuable to the study of thermo-electricity.
  Carl Bosch
gravestone icon  Died 26 Apr 1940 at age 65 (born 27 Aug 1874).  quotes button quotes
German industrial chemist who at BASF directed development of the industrial scale process for production of ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen. In 1908, Fritz Haber, a professor of chemistry had suggested that nitrogen and hydrogen gases could be combined using high temperatures, high pressure and catalysts that resulted in the Haber-Bosch process. By 1910, Alwin Mittasch (1869-1953), head chemist of the BASF ammonia research laboratory identified activated iron as a suitable catalyst. Bosch supervised creation of new technical solutions for high pressure operations. He shared (with Friedrich Bergius) the 1931 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for devising chemical high-pressure methods.«
book icon Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and ... World Food Production, by Vaclav Smil. - book suggestion.
booklist icon Booklist for Carl Bosch.
  Srinivasa Ramanujan
gravestone icon  Died 26 Apr 1920 at age 32 (born 22 Dec 1887).  quotes button quotes
Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who did notable work on hypergeometric series and continued fractions. In number theory, he discovered properties of the partition function. Although self-taught, he was one of India's greatest mathematical geniuses. He worked on elliptic functions, continued fractions, and infinite series. His remarkable familiarity with numbers, was shown by the following incident. While Ramanujan was in hospital in England, his Cambridge professor, G. H. Hardy, visited and remarked that he had taken taxi number 1729, a singularly unexceptional number. Ramanujan immediately responded that this number was actually quite remarkable: it is the smallest integer that can be represented in two ways by the sum of two cubes: 1729=13+123=93+103.«  read more button more
book icon The Man Who Knew Infinity, by Robert Kanigel. - book suggestion.
booklist icon Booklist for Srinivasa Ramanujan.
  Eduard Suess
gravestone icon  Died 26 Apr 1914 at age 82 (born 20 Aug 1831).  quotes button quotes
Austrian geologist who helped lay the basis for paleogeography and tectonics (the study of the architecture and evolution of the Earth's outer rocky shell). He was an authority on structural geology, especially of mountains, and postulated the existence of the giant land mass Gondwanaland. While he was a professor (1857–1901) at the Univ. of Vienna, he also served for more than 20 years in the Austrian parliament. His Austrian-born son, Hans Suess, became a geochemist who pioneered radiocarbon dating techniques and was a founding faculty member of the University of California, San Diego. Image from Austrian commemorative stamp of 26 Apr 1989.  read more button more
  Karl August Möbius
gravestone icon  Died 26 Apr 1908 at age 83 (born 7 Feb 1825).
German zoologist whose work in marine biology included the formation of pearls and the anatomy of the whale. He introduced the ecosystem concept of the "life community" ("Biocönose" - life having something in common) which featured in his 1877 study of oyster culture - the order, structure and function of the oyster reef as it relates to the abiotic habitat of a river mouth and the biotic associations of plants, plankton, benthic communities and fisheries in an estuary. He cofounded the Hamburg zoo and aquarium, led expeditions in the tropics, and became director of the natural history museum in Berlin (1887-1905).« [Image: oyster reef]
  Jean Franηois Fernel
gravestone icon  Died 26 Apr 1558 (born 1497).  quotes button quotes
French physician who in his historic career in medicine and physiology introduced dissection to clinical practice. He coined the terms "physiology" and "pathology," and was the first to describe appendicitis, peristalsis., systole and diastole of the heart, endocarditis, and the first description of the spinal canal. He wrote general medical texts and works of the cure of syphilis and fevers.

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< 25 Apr | 27 Apr >
APRIL 26 – EVENTS – Science events on April 26th
  Space shuttle Columbia mission
calendar icon   In 1993, space shuttle Columbia was launched on the second German sponsored D-2 Spacelab Mission lasting until 6 May. Some 88 experiments covered materials and life sciences, technology applications, Earth observations, astronomy and atmospheric physics. Some 240 tadpoles and 240 fish larvae were flown to test how their bodies adjusted to weightlessness in space; most of the specimens died in ordit. Mission specialist Dr. Bernard Harris set up the first I.V. (intravenous) line in space, injecting payload specialist Hans Schlegel with saline as part of a study to replace body fluids lost during adaptation to weightlessness. This mission brought the shuttle program's cumulative flight time to one year.
  Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion
calendar icon   In 1986, in Pripet, Russia, one of the four reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded in the world's worst civil nuclear catastrophe. It sent a cloud of radioactive dust over Europe. The cause was an experiment that went wrong, causing the fourth reactor to explode and melt down. It was not announced until two days later, on 28 Apr 1986. Thirty-one people, mostly firemen, were killed immediately after the explosion, and several thousand more - those involved in the clean-up and children - have since died from radiation-related illnesses. Ukraine says the health of millions of its people have been affected by the disaster. The final shutdown of the undamaged last  reactor on the site took place ceremoniously on 15 Dec 2000.
booklist icon Booklist for Chernobyl.
  Salk vaccine tested
Thumbnail - Salk vaccine tested
calendar icon   In 1954, mass testing of the Salk polio vaccine began, involving about 1.8 million children.
  Weather broadcast
calendar icon   In 1921, the first U.S. broadcast of the weather was made from St. Louis, Missouri, over station WEW for the federal government.
  Shapley-Curtis debate
calendar icon   In 1920, Harlow Shapley of the Mount Wilson Observatory and Heber D. Curtis of the Lick Observatory in California, two leading astronomers, debated each other at the Smithsonian Institution on the relationship of the Milky Way Galaxy to the Universe. Shapley's position was that the Milky Way is the only galaxy in the universe,.Curtis, however, argued that the Milky Way exists as just one of many “island universes” in the cosmos. Whereas both scientists provided a stimulating debate, it was Curtis who was vindicated for his opinion when the island universe theory was validated by Edwin Hubble, whose paper was read on 1 Jan 1925 to a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
book icon Edwin Hubble, The Discoverer of the Big Bang Universe, by Aleksandr Sergeevich Sharov, Igor Dmitrievich Novikov. - book suggestion.
booklist icon Booklist for Cosmology.
  African-American invention
calendar icon   In 1899, "Life Saving Guards for Street Cars" were patented by the black American inventor, J.H. Robinson (No, 623,929), who the previous month was issued a patent for life saving guards for locomotives (14 Mar 1899, No. 621,143).
book icon The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity, by Patricia Carter Sluby. - book suggestion.
  African-American patents an ironing board
calendar icon   In 1892, a U.S. patent for a specialized “Ironing Board” was issued to the black American inventor, Sarah Boone, likely a former slave (No. 473,653). Her design featured a quite narrow padded board, curved to make it easier to iron sleeves. Numerous patents were issued before hers with similar titles. The first patent designated specifically as an “Ironing Table” was issued several decades earlier, in 1858, to W. Vandenburg and J. Harvey (No. 19,390). Unpatented styles evolved from long long before that, so no single inventor can be identified for the earliest ironing board. For example, J.H. Mallory's “Ironing Table,” patented 24 Oct 1871 (No. 120,296) more closely resembles today's adjustable-height, collapsible model.«
book icon The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity, by Patricia Carter Sluby. - book suggestion.
  Early email proposal
calendar icon   In 1884, the New York Times reported that “sending mails by electricity” was to be investigated by the Post Office Committee of the U.S. House, by providing for contracts with an existing telegraph company. The proposal was that since carriage of letters by steam locomotives was already done by contract, the delivery of mails by electricity seemed analagous. Such a method would be economical, and “might speedily make the present volume of business seem infantile.” Contracting was suggested, since in 1869, an earlier report of the House Post Office Committee had been adverse to the idea of government ownership and expense of postal telegraph lines.«  read more button more
  Perpetual motion machine
calendar icon   In 1882, a perpetual motion machine was patented by John Sutliff in the U.S. (No. 257,103).
  African-American invention
Thumbnail - African-American invention
(USPTO)
(source)
calendar icon   In 1882, black American inventor, W.B. Purvis was issued a patent for a "Bag Fastener" (No. 256,856). It was designed to permit packages, especially those wrapped in paper, to be "instantly sealed or bound up without the use of cord or its equivalent." The invention was a light metallic pronged fastening device, one end of which was to be secured by a paper strip held by gum or paste to the open end of a bag. The opposite end had small barbs designed to pierce and fasten to the opposite side of the seam being closed. In later years, he also patented a hand stamp, a fountain pen, an electric railway, a magnetic car balancing device, an electric railway switch and ten paper bag machines.
book icon The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity, by Patricia Carter Sluby. - book suggestion.
  Photophone
calendar icon   In 1882, the photophone was demonstrated by Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter. In their device, a mirrored silver disc was made to vibrate by speech from a speaking tube. Light reflected off the disc was focused by a parabolic dish onto a selenium photocell. The variations in the reflected light were converted into electrical signals carried to headphones.
  Amazon exploration
Thumbnail - Amazon exploration
Wallace
(source)
Bates
Bates
(source)
calendar icon   In 1848, Welsh botanist Alfred Russel Wallace and Henry Walter Bates sailed from Liverpool for the Amazon. Their expeditions yielded insights into natural history and evolution for the both of them. Bates spent 11 years in Amazonia amassing large collections of insects that were sent back to museums and collectors in Europe. Wallace stayed a shorter time and went on to collect in the Malay Archipelago. Wallace independently reached the same conclusions as Darwin regarding natural selection and wrote a paper read to the Linnaen Society on 1st July 1858. Bates was quick to embrace Darwin's and Wallace's theory of evolution by natural selection. Bates' own theory, Batesian mimicry, provided evidence for evolution by natural selection.
book icon The Heretic in Darwin's Court: The Life of Alfred Russel Wallace, by Ross A. Slotten. - book suggestion.
booklist icon Booklist for Alfred Russel Wallace.
  First English patent in regular series
calendar icon   In 1552, the first in the regular series of English Letter Patent was granted to Henry Smthe for the making of Normandy glass. These Letter Patents were open letters expressing the monarch's wishes to anyone that might read them. These were due as any right to the recipient, but rather were privileges granted by the monarch (or one of his delegated officers) primarily for what the ruler may regard as a good purpose. The good would be on behalf of the country, or the monarch (or the officer!). Earlier - by over one hundred years - a letters patent had been granted by King Henry VI to John of Utynam dated 3 Apr 1449, in connection, in part, with skills to make coloured glass John would introduce to England, and apply in the creation of stained glass windows for the King.«

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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