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Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “The Superfund legislation... may prove to be as far-reaching and important as any accomplishment of my administration. The reduction of the threat to America's health and safety from thousands of toxic-waste sites will continue to be an urgent…issue …”
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JUNE 17 – BIRTHS – Scientists born on June 17th
  Frederick Vine
 Born 17 Jun 1939.
Frederick John Vine is an English marine geologist and geophysicist whose postgraduate research (working with Drummond Hoyle Matthews) was into the magnetic properties of the crustal rocks on the ocean floor. This led to studying the variation in the polarity in the rocks at different distances from a mid-ocean ridge. Because they could identify symmetrical distribution of magnetic reversals on each side of the ridge, they helped confirm the theory of sea floor spreading caused by separating tectonic plates. “Magnetic Anomalies Over Ocean Ridges,” published in Nature (1963), gave results of their magnetic survey of the Carlsberg Ridge in the Indian Ocean.«
  François Jacob
 Born 17 Jun 1920; died 19 Apr 2013 at age 92.   quotes
French biologist who, (with André Lwoff and Jacques Monod), was awarded the 1965 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discoveries concerning in molecular genetics that showed how the production of protiens from DNA is regulated. Through experiments with the bacterium Escherichia coli cultured in various media, it was possible to discover the effect of the medium on enzyme production. Jacob and his team found that a regulator (R-gene) produces a repressor substance that prevents an operator (O-gene) from providing messenger RNA, blocking production of protein.
  William K. Estes
 Born 17 Jun 1919; died 17 Aug 2011 at age 92.
William Kaye Estes was an American psychologist who was a leader in bringing mathematical methods into psychological research. In 1977, he was awarded the National Medal of Science for “his fundamental theories of cognition and learning that transformed the field of experimental psychology. His pioneering methods of quantitative modeling and an insistence on rigor and precision established the standard for modern psychological science.” In his early professional research he partnered with another pioneering psychologist B. F. Skinner in studying animal learning and behavior. The quantitative method they devised to measure emotional reactions is still widely used today. From 1979, Estes focussed on investigating human memory and classification learning.
  Edward Anthony Spitzka
 Born 17 Jun 1876; died 4 Sep 1922 at age 46.   quotes
American anatomist and brain morphologist who assisted at the autopsy (29 Oct 1901) of the brain of Leon Franz Czolgosz, the assassin of U.S. president William McKinley. At the time, he had just published an exhaustive series of eight papers on the human brain, but was only in the fourth year of his medical training. Although he detected a few very minor variations in gyri and sulci patterns in the brain of Czolgosz, he reported in the New York Medical Journal (1902) that “nothing has been found in the brain of this assassin that would condone his crime.” He became editor of, and revised, American editions of Gray's Anatomy. Throughout his career he studied the brain morphology of groups of famous people, different races, and criminals, thought ultimately he was unable to link traits to brain structure.«   more
  George Cormack
 Born 17 Jun 1870; died Sep 1953 .
Co-inventor of Wheaties cereal. In 1921, a health clinician in Minneapolis, while mixing a batch of bran gruel for his patients, spilled some of the mix on a hot stove where it sizzled into a crisp flake. After tasting the very first Wheaties prototype, he took the idea to the Washburn Crosby Company, where the head miller, George Cormack, took on the task of trying to strengthen the flakes to keep them from turning to dust inside a cereal box. Cormack tested 36 varieties of wheat before he developed the perfect flake. It was introduced in test marketing in Nov 1924. The name Wheaties was chosen by a company wide contest won by Jane Bausman, the wife of the export manager. Numerous other entries included Nutties and Gold Medal Wheat Flakes. *
  John Robert Gregg
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Examples of Gregg alphabet.
 Born 17 Jun 1867; died 23 Feb 1948 at age 80.
Irish-American inventor of a popular shorthand system named for him. He first introduced his system in 1888 in the pamphlet Light-Line Phonography published in Liverpool, England. By 1893, he had published Gregg Shorthand in America where it was soon taught in public schools throughout the U.S., and adapted to several languages. The Gregg system modeled the mechanics and positioning of traditional writing. He published dozens of textbooks on the subject from 1880-1920.
  Walter Le Conte Stevens
 Born 17 Jun 1847; died 28 Dec 1927 at age 80.
American physicist.
  Sir William Crookes
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 Born 17 Jun 1832; died 4 Apr 1919 at age 86.   quotes
English physicist and chemist who discovered the element thallium and showed that cathode-rays were fast-moving, negatively-charged particles. The Crookes dark space is the dark region around a cathode making electrical discharges at low pressure. He invented the radiometer (1875) in which four vanes suspended on a needle in a vacuum with one side black and the other side white are observed to rotate by the effect of incident light. He also invented the spinthariscope (1903) which reveals alpha particles emitted by radium as light flashes when they impact a zinc sulphide screen viewed under magnification. His interests included spiritualism, but provided more practical guidance for improving sanitation and artifical fertilizers.« [Image right: radiometer]
  John Henry Pepper
 Born 17 Jun 1821; died 25 Mar 1900 at age 78.
English chemist and lecturer who invented the “Pepper’s Ghost” illusion used on stage to provide the effect of an actor appearing as a transparent image and disappearing by fading away. It used a large sheet of plate glass on stage, inclined at a 45 degree angle to the floor. The use of special lighting enabled the audience to see the reflection of an actor placed offstage, out of the direct view of the audience. Pepper first learned to use showmanship to audiences at London's Royal Polytechnic Institution to present fast-paced, amazing experimental demonstrations to increase the public’s understanding of phenomena in physics and chemistry. In the 1870s, he expanded his activities to a global audience by touring Australia, Canada, and the United States.«
The Boy's Playbook of Science, by John Henry Pepper. - book suggestion.
  E. G. Squier
 Born 17 Jun 1821; died 17 Apr 1888 at age 66.
Ephraim George Squier was an American newspaper editor, diplomat and archaeologist was a newspaper editor, diplomat, and archaeologist who, with the physician and archaeologist Edwin H. Davis, conducted the first major study of the remains of the pre-Columbian North American Mound Builders. Their book, Ancient Monuments (1848, more familiarly known as "Squire and Davis") was the undisputed primary reference source of their time on Indian mounds in the eastern US. It gave the grandest illustrations of what remained of the unbelievable civilizations that inhabited this continent. While hundreds of mounds have been plowed flat, theirs is a guide to what was lost. He also explored in Central America, Peru, and Bolivia in an effort to find the origins of the Mound Builder civilization.
Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, by E. H. Davis, E. G. Squier, Charles Sullivan.(illustrator). - book suggestion.
  William Parsons (3rd Earl of Rosse)
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 Born 17 Jun 1800; died 31 Oct 1867 at age 67.
William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse was an Irish astronomer who built the largest reflecting telescope of the 19th century. He learned to polish metal mirrors (1827) and spent the next few years building a 36-inch telescope. He later completed a giant 72-inch telescope (1845) which he named "Leviathan," It remained the largest ever built until decades after his death. He was the first to resolve the spiral shape of objects - previously seen as only clouds - which were much later identified as galaxies independent of our own Milky Way galaxy and millions of light-years away. His first such sighting was made in 1845, and by 1850 he had discovered 13 more. In 1848, he found and named the Crab Nebula (because he thought it resembled a crab), by which name it is still known.* * [Image right: people standing in front of Leviathan]
  César-François Cassini de Thury
 Born 17 Jun 1714; died 4 Sep 1784 at age 70.
French astronomer and geodesist (Cassini III), who continued surveying work he began while assisting his father, Jacques Cassini (Cassini II), resulting in the first topographical map of France produced by modern principles. His grandfather, Giovanni Domenico Cassini (Cassini I) discovered four satellites of Saturn, a band on planet's surface, and that its ring was subdivided. Cassini I was the first to assume effective direction (1671) of the new observatory established by the Académie Royale des Sciences in Paris, which his descendants in turn continued. Cassini III was the first official director of the observatory when the post was created by the king in 1771. His son was Jean-Dominique Cassini (Cassini IV).«

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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JUNE 17 – DEATHS – Scientists died on June 17th
  Donald J. Cram
 Died 17 Jun 2001 at age 82 (born 22 Apr 1919).   quotes
Donald James Cram was an American chemist who shared the 1987 Nobel Prize for Chemistry (with Charles J. Pedersen and Jean-Marie Lehn) for his creation of molecules that mimic the chemical behaviour of molecules found in living systems.
Donald J. Cram: From Design to Discovery, by Donald J. Cram. - book suggestion.
  Thomas S. Kuhn
 Died 17 Jun 1996 at age 73 (born 18 Jul 1922).   quotes
Thomas Samuel Kuhn was an American science historian and science philosopher was a MIT professor, noted for his highly influential The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). He held that science was not a steady, cumulative acquisition of knowledge, but it is “a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions.” Then appears a Lavoisier or an Einstein, often a young scientist not indoctrinated in the accepted theories, to sweep the old paradigm away. Such revolutions, he said, came only after long periods of tradition-bound normal science. He pointed out that scientific research and thought are defined by “paradigms,” or trusted theories, concepts, methods and experiments. Such paradigms are accepted by scientists, who continue to extend, refine, explain and measure results until they meet an problem that cannot be resolved within the established framework. Such anomaly or contradiction eventually requires an intellectual revolution, such as the paradigm shifts from Ptolemaic cosmology to Copernican heliocentrism. “Frameworks must be lived with and explored before they can be broken.”
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas S. Kuhn. - book suggestion.
Booklist for Thomas S. Kuhn.
  Sir Arthur Harden
 Died 17 Jun 1940 at age 74 (born 12 Oct 1865).
English biochemist who shared (with Hans von Euler-Chelpin) the 1929 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for work on the fermentation of sugar and the enzyme action involved. Harden continued the work of Eduard Buchner who had discovered that such reactions can take place in the absence of living cells. Harden demonstrated that the activity of yeast enzymes included both large protein molecules and essential coenzymes - small nonprotein molecules. This was the first evidence for the existence of coenzymes. Harden also discovered that yeast enzymes are not broken down and lost with time, but that the gradual loss of activity with time can be reversed by the addition of phosphates, which are now known to play a vital part in biochemical reactions.
  Louis Bolk
 Died 17 Jun 1930 at age 63 (born 10 Dec 1866).   quotes
Dutch anatomist.
  James Starley
Thumbnail - James Starley
age 23
 Died 17 Jun 1881 at age 51 (born 21 Apr 1830).
British inventor and manufacturer, known as the father of the bicycle industry. Starley left the family farm as a teenager and after initially working as a gardener, he turned to mechanical interests. He improved the early sewing machine, and by about 1861, was in business with Josiah Turner as the Coventry Sewing Machine Company. Within a few years, their factory began producing bicycles. In 1870, he went into business for himself, producing his Europa sewing machines and Ariel bicycles, "penny-farthing" and tricycles. The Ariel, a lightweight all-metal bicycle (1871), is regarded as the first true bicycle, the first self-propelled two-wheeler to use pivot-center steering. His tangent-tension spoke wheel (1876) is still used.«   more

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JUNE 17 – EVENTS – Science events on June 17th
  Polaroid camera
  In 1970, Edwin Land patented the Polaroid camera.
  Chinese H-bomb
  In 1967, China tested its first hydrogen bomb. This was China's sixth nuclear test, and its first full scale radiation implosion (Teller-Ulam) weapon test. The device contained U-235, lithium-6 deuteride, and U-238. It was detonated at 2960 m over the Lop Nur Test Ground after being dropped from an airplane, and had a yield of 3.3 megatons. (It was conducted only 32 months after Chinas's first atomic test, 16 Oct 1964, the shortest elapsed time for any nuclear weapons state. The country's first test was an atomic bomb, a pure-fission U-235 implosion fission device named "596." That device weighed 1550 kg with a 22 kiloton yield. No plutonium was available at the time of this first bomb was tested.)
Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, by Richard Rhodes. - book suggestion.
  Kidney transplant
  In 1950, the first kidney transplant operation was undertaken at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Richard H. Lawler performed the operation in about an hour on Ruth Tucker, age 44. He decided upon the surgery because of her medical need. A kidney became available from another patient that had just died of cirrhosis of the liver. The transplanted kidney worked for at least 53 days. But at ten months, it was found to be shrunken, discolored and rejected. It was removed. Tucker died five years after the transplant of an unrelated coronary occlusion. Lawler had no further interest in becoming a transplant surgeon. It was four years before there was another successful result elsewhere.«
  Pan Am
  In 1947, the first globe-circling passenger airline was inaugurated by Pan Am Airways as it left New York. The fare to travel around the world was $1700.
  Armstrong demonstration of FM radio to FCC
  In 1936, Edwin H. Armstrong demonstrated his invention of FM radio in Washington D.C. to a fact-finding investigation by the Federal Communications Commission into the future of radio and TV. His method modulated the frequency of a broadcast radio wave to carry the audio signal (FM), instead of the existing amplitude modulation (AM). Armstrong's system used a higher frequency band than existing commercial radio. It eliminated all static and outside interference. Several hundred representatives of the radio industry were present. Armstrong compared the old and new methods with a series of recordings of the same program under the different conditions. FM was clear of the hissing, buzzing and crackling static noises of AM.«
  Earhart Atlantic co-flight departure
  In 1928, Amelia Earhart embarked on a trans-Atlantic flight from Newfoundland to Wales to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, though as a passenger. The plane was piloted by Wilmer Stultz and landed the next day, 18 Jun 1928, after about a 21- hour flight. Nearly four years later, on 20 May 1932, she became the first woman to fly solo across that ocean.   more
Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, by Mike Campbell. - book suggestion.
Booklist for Amelia Earhart.
  Statue of Liberty Arrival
  In 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor from France. The hand and torch of the Statue of Liberty had been displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, in Philadelphia, ten years before the rest of the statue was completed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. The engineer for the framework was Gustave Eiffel (also known for his Eiffel Tower). In 1884, work on the statue was finished, and it was displayed in Paris while the U.S. prepared the pedestal. It was then shipped, dismantled, in 214 enormous crates, on the steam-and-sail gunboat Isère to the U.S. Its reassembly took a year, and it was finally dedicated on 28 Oct 1886, by President Cleveland in the presence of its sculptor.«   more
The Statue of Liberty, by Barry Moreno. - book suggestion.
  Plow and gun
Thumbnail - Plow and gun
  In 1862, during the American Civil War period (1861-1865), W.H. Fancher and C.M. French of Waterloo, N.Y. received a U.S. patent for a combined plow and gun (No. 35,600). To the metal plow with wooden handles of ordinary construction, the inventors added the elements of light ordinance, designed for "especially when used in border localities, subject to savage fueds and guerrilla warfare." The share serves as an anchor in the ground to resist recoil, the wooden handles being used to set direction. Projectiles could be grape shot or balls of one to three pounds weight. The combination was proposed to give those in agricultural pursuits to have at hand an "efficient weapon of defense at very slight expense in addition" to that of a plow.
Thumbnail - Goodyear
  In 1837, Charles Goodyear obtained his first rubber-processing patent (U.S. No. 240). At this time, the original india-rubber would become sticky melt in the summer heat. Goodyear resolved to solve this problem. After various unsuccessful methods, he devised a process to treat the India rubber with metallic solutions such as copper nitrate and strong acid for a few minutes, followed by washing with water. Such process treated both rubber on the surface and below the surface to a useful condition. His patent explained this method, and also the use of a water paste of quicklime to bleach the rubber for which he listed various new purposes. He obtained additional patents as he continued to revised his process by using sulphur and oil of turpentine.   more
Trials of an Inventor: Life and Discoveries of Charles Goodyear, by Bradford Peirce. - book suggestion.
  City gas
  In 1816, the laying of pipes by the Gas Light Company of Baltimore was approved by the City Council in the first city ordinance of its kind in the U.S. That year, artist and entrepreneur Rembrandt Peale went to England to learn about gas lighting, then displayed his “Ring of Fire” gas-powered light in his Baltimore museum on the corner of Baltimore and Holiday Streets. Peale's successful demonstration of the power and value of gas led to a plan to light the streets of the city, and the first gas company in America was born: the Gas Light Company of Baltimore. The first public gas street lamp was lit on 7 Feb 1817. [Image: A lamp (from 1920-30s) kept burning on the site that Peale first constructed his in 1817. This site previously listed passing of ordinance on 19 Jun, but checking further sources indicated 17 Jun.]   more

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Ernest Rutherford
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William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
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Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
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Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
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Bronislaw Malinowski
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
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Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
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Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
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Lord Kelvin
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Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
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James Watson
William Shakespeare
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Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
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Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
David Hume
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Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
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Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
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Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

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