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Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.”
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FEBRUARY 26 – BIRTHS – Scientists born on February 26th
  Giulio Natta
 Born 26 Feb 1903; died 2 May 1979 at age 76.
Italian chemist who contributed to the development of high polymers useful in the manufacture of films, plastics, fibres, and synthetic rubber. Along with Karl Ziegler of Germany, he was honoured in 1963 with the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the development of Ziegler-Natta catalysts. Natta found that certain types of Ziegler catalysts lead to macromolecules with a spatially uniform structure, called isotactic chains. Whereas ordinary hydrocarbon chains are zigzaged, isotactic chains form helices with the side groups pointing outwards. Such polymers give rise to novel synthetic products. Examples are light but strong fabrics, and ropes which float on the water.
  Herbert Henry Dow
 Born 26 Feb 1866; died 15 Oct 1930 at age 64.
[mp] who was a pioneer in the American chemical industry and founded the Dow Chemical Company (1896). Dow developed and patented an entirely new electrolytic method for extracting bromine from the prehistoric brine trapped underground at Midland, Mich. and in 1890 organized the Midland Chemical Company. The Dow process was remarkable in that it did not result in a salt by-product, that it operated on comparatively little fuel and it was the first commercially successful use of the direct-current generator in the American chemical industry. He next developed the electrolysis of sodium chloride in order to yield sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and chlorine for bleaching powder. In 1916, Dow extracted magnesium, a very lightweight metal from brine, and quickly saw its importance as a structural metal. His first patent was issued in 1889. By 1933 he had over 90 patents. His diverse inventions included electric light carbons, steam and internal combustion engines, automatic furnace controls, and water seals, though most of his inventions were chemical in nature.
Herbert H. Dow: Pioneer in Creative Chemistry, by Murray Campbell. - book suggestion.
  John Evershed
Thumbnail - John Evershed
 Born 26 Feb 1864; died 17 Nov 1956 at age 92.   quotes
English astronomer who discovered (1909) the Evershed effect - the horizontal motion of gases outward from the centres of sunspots. While photographing solar prominences and sunspot spectra, he noticed that many of the Fraunhofer lines in the sunspot spectra were shifted to the red. By showing that these were Doppler shifts, he proved the motion of the source gases. This discovery came to be known as the Evershed effect. He also gave his name to a spectroheliograph, the Evershed spectroscope. He had been introduced to workshop skills in his youth by his elder brother, Sydney Evershed. John made optical instruments reflecting his budding interest in astronomy. Sydney went on to a career with electrical devices.
  Émile Coué
 Born 26 Feb 1857; died 2 Jul 1926 at age 69.
French pharmacist and advocate of optimistic autosuggestion. He was not trained in medicine or psychology, but in 1920 at his clinic in Nancy, Coué introduced a method of psychotherapy characterized by frequent repetition of the formula, je vais de mieux en mieux, "Every day, and in every way, I am becoming better and better." He counseled people to repeat this 15 to 20 times, morning and evening. This method of autosuggestion came to be called Couéism, and was very popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Rev. Charles Inge (1868-1957) expressed this simplistic method in this limerick (1928): "This very remarkable man / Commends a most practical plan: / You can do what you want / If you don't think you can't, / So don't think you can't think you can."
  John Harvey Kellogg
 Born 26 Feb 1852; died 14 Dec 1943 at age 91.   quotes
American physician and health-food pioneer whose development of dry breakfast cereals was largely responsible for the creation of the flaked-cereal industry. In 1876, at age 24, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg became the staff physician at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, a position he would hold for 62 years. His surgical skill was admired by the Doctors Mayo. A vegetarian, he advocated low calorie diets and developed peanut butter, granola, and toasted flakes. He warned that smoking caused lung cancer decades before this link was studied. Kellogg was an early advocate of exercise. It was his brother, William K. Kellogg who sweetened the flakes with malt, and began commercial production as the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company (1906).
  Camille Flammarion
 Born 26 Feb 1842; died 3 Jun 1925 at age 83.   quotes
Nicolas Camille Flammarion was a French astronomer who studied double and multiple stars, the moon and Mars. He is best known as the author of popular, lavishly illustrated, books on astronomy, including Popular Astronomy (1880) and The Atmosphere (1871). In 1873, Flammarion (wrongly) attributed the red color of Mars to vegetation when he wrote “May we attribute to the color of the herbage and plants which no doubt clothe the plains of Mars, the characteristic hue of that planet...” He supported the idea of canals on Mars, and intelligent life, perhaps more advanced than earth's. Flammarion reported changes in one of the craters of the moon, which he attributed to growth of vegetation. He also wrote novels, and late in life he turned to psychic research.   more
The Flammarion Book of Astronomy, by Camille Flammarion. - book suggestion.
Booklist for Camille Flammarion.
  Levi Strauss
 Born 26 Feb 1829; died 26 Sep 1902 at age 73.
German-American inventor and manufacturer of jeans, Levi Strauss was one of the best-known beneficiaries of California's gold rush economic boom. He was born in Bavaria and trained as a tailor. One of thousands, he travelled to San Francisco in 1850, hoping to make his fortune. His original plan was to manufacture tents and wagon covers, but instead found a market using the stout canvas he had brought with him to make very durable pants for the Forty-niners. Finding that these pants sold as fast as he could make them, Strauss opened a factory, improved the design by adding copper rivets at the stress points in his pants, and adopted a heavy blue denim material called genes in France, that originated the now familiar name of "jeans".
  Joseph LeConte
 Born 26 Feb 1823; died 6 Jul 1901 at age 78.   quotes
American geologist who was a universalist in the scope of his scientific writings. As a founding member of John Muir's Sierra Club, he spoke fervently for broad preservation of California forests by government and wise use of timberlands in private enterprise. He was one of the earliest advocates of contractional theory of mountain formation. LeConte accepted the theory of evolution about 1874, becoming one of its leading proponents and a writer able to reconciler the idea with religious thought. His Sight: An Exposition of the Principles of Monocular and Binocular Vision (1881) was the first treatise on physiological optics written in the U.S. He was an ardent camper, and his death occurred during a trip in the Yosemite Valley. He was the younger brother of John LeConte.
  Benoit Clapeyron
 Born 26 Feb 1799; died 28 Jan 1864 at age 64.
French engineer who expressed Sadi Carnot's ideas on heat analytically, with the help of graphical representations. While investigating the operation of steam engines, Clapeyron found there was a relationship (1834) between the heat of vaporization of a fluid, its temperature and the increase in its volume upon vaporization. Made more general by Clausius, it is now known as the Clausius-Clapeyron formula. It provided the basis of the second law of thermodynamics. In engineering, Clayeyron designed and built locomotives and metal bridges. He also served on a committee investigating the construction of the Suez Canal and on a committee which considered how steam engines could be used in the navy.
  Franηois Arago
 Born 26 Feb 1786; died 2 Oct 1853 at age 67.   quotes
Dominique Franηois Jean Arago was a French physicist and astronomer who discovered the chromosphere of the sun (the lower atmosphere, primarily composed of hydrogen gas), and made accurate estimates of the diameters of the planets. Arago found that a rotating copper disk deflects a magnetic needle held above it showing the production of magnetism by rotation of a nonmagnetic conductor. He 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 polarization. Arago entered politics in 1848 as Minister of War and Marine and was responsible for abolishing slavery in the French colonies.

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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FEBRUARY 26 – DEATHS – Scientists died on February 26th
  Max Sterne
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B. anthracis
 Died 26 Feb 1997 at age 91 (born 1 Jun 1905).
Italian research veterinarian who developed an effective, safe, and reproducible vaccine against anthrax that succeeded in virtually eliminating the disease. Bacillus anthracis is a very large, Gram positive, sporeforming rod. The Sterne Strain of Bacillus anthracis produces sublethal amounts of the toxin that induce formation of protective antibody.
  Anthony John Arkell
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 Died 26 Feb 1980 at age 81 (born 29 Jul 1898).
English historian and Egyptologist who was one of the pioneers of archaeological search in Sudan where, as an outstanding colonial administrator, he combined a passion for the past with a humanitarian concern for the peoples of modern Africa. After serving in the Royal Air Force, Arkell joined the Sudan Political Service (1920) and set about abolishing the slave trade between the Sudan and Ethiopia. He was appointed commissioner for archaeology and anthropology in 1938 and undertook several digs that opened up the previously unknown field of Sudanese prehistory. He returned to England in 1948, and wrote his authoritative A History of the Sudan From the Earliest Times to 1821 (1955). This book gave a comprehensive history of the Sudan running from the Stone Age to the advent of the Turks in 1821, based upon his archeological and anthropological findings. He also wrote The Prehistory of the Nile Valley.
A History of the Sudan, by Anthony John Arkell. - book suggestion.
  Otto Wallach
 Died 26 Feb 1931 at age 83 (born 27 Mar 1847).
German chemist awarded the 1910 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for identifying terpene compounds. His interest began began by analyzing fragrant essential oils - oils removed from plants by steam distillation, with industrial uses - and started research into determining their molecular structure. Wallach succeeded in determining the structure of several terpenes, including limonene, in 1894. He showed that terpenes were derived from isoprene, C5H8 - his isoprene rule (1887) - and therefore had the general formula (C5H8)n. Limonene is thus C10H16. Terpenes were of importance not only in the medicine and perfume industries, but also as a source of camphors. It was also later established that vitamins A and D are related to the terpenes.
  Mary Whiton Calkins
 Died 26 Feb 1930 at age 66 (born 30 Mar 1863).
American educator and psychologist who was the first american woman to attain distinction in these fields of study. Calkins studied psychology at Harvard as a “guest,” since women could not officially register. After completing all requirements for a doctorate at Harvard, and with the strong support of William James and her other professors, Harvard still refused to grant a degree to a woman. She established the first psychology laboratory at a women's college (Wellesley). She developed the paired-associate procedure for studying verbal memories. One of her main findings was that repeated pairings of words increased memory. Calkins was interested in a wide variety of research topics, including perception, personality, emotion, and dreaming.
  Hermann Ebbinghaus
 Died 26 Feb 1909 at age 59 (born 24 Jan 1850).   quotes
German psychologist who pioneered in the development of experimental methods for the measurement of rote learning and memory. Ebbinghaus's contributions to psychology are numerous. In addition to establishing two psychology laboratories in Germany, he also founded and edited a major journal that did much to advance psychology in its early days. His famous work, Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology (1885) set a precedent for experimental psychology with clear and precise experimental techniques. Ebbinghaus discovered that people forget 90% of what they learn in a class within thirty days, and that there occurs a very rapid forgetting in the first hour. He died in 1909 from pneumonia.
  Richard Jordan Gatling
 Died 26 Feb 1903 at age 84 (born 12 Sep 1818).   quotes
U.S. inventor, whose Gatling gun (1861) was first successful machine gun, a crank-operated, rapid-fire multibarrel design combining reliability, high firing rate and ease of loading into a single device. His father was also an inventor, and while young, Richard helped him create machines for sowing cotton seeds and thinning cotton plants. In 1839, he designed a screw propeller for steamboats, but found a similar one had been previously patented. From 1844, he continued to invent improved agricultural machines, including one to plant grains, like rice and wheat (adapted from the cotton-sowing machine); a hemp-breaking machine (1850); and a steam plow (1857). The outbreak of the American Civil War spurred him to design firearms (1861).«
Gatling: A Photographic Remembrance, by E. Frank Jr. Stephenson. - book suggestion.
  Pietro Angelo Secchi
 Died 26 Feb 1878 at age 59 (born 18 Jun 1818).
Pietro Angelo Secchi was an Italian priest and astronomer, a Jesuit, who made the first survey of the spectra of over 4000 stars and suggested that stars be classified according to their spectral type. He studied the planets, especially Jupiter, which he discovered was composed of gasses. Secchi studied the dark lines which join the two hemispheres of Mars; he called them canals as if they where the works of living beings. (These studies were later continued by Schiaparelli.) Beyond astronomy, his interests ranged from archaeology to geodesy, from geophysics to meteorology. He also invented a meteorograph, an automated device for recording barometric pressure, temperature, wind direction and velocity, and rainfall. [DSB gives birth date 18 Jun 1818. EB gives 29 Jun 1818.]
  Eli Terry
 Died 26 Feb 1852 at age 79 (born 13 Apr 1772).
American clockmaker who was an innovator in mass production. In 1793, Eli Terry began making clocks in Plymouth, Conn. On 17 Nov 1797, he received the first U.S. clock patent In 1802, Terry introduced wooden geared clocks using the ideas of Eli Whitney's new armory practice to produce interchangeable gears that allowed mass production of very inexpensive household clocks. When the clocks didn't sell, he proved an innovator by becoming the first retailer to offer merchandise on a free-trial, no-money-down basis. Over the following years, Terry developed ways to produce wooden clock works by machine rather than by hand. He is to clocks in the United States as Henry Ford is to automobiles.
Eli Terry and the Connecticut Shelf Clock, by Kenneth D. Roberts and Snoden Taylor. - book suggestion.
  Alois Senefelder
 Died 26 Feb 1834 at age 62 (born 6 Nov 1771).
Johann Nepomuk Franz Alois Senefelder was a German inventor who developed lithography. To publish his own work, he needed a less expensive and more efficient printing alternative to relief printed hand set type or etched plates. His invention was the biggest revolution in the printing industry since Johannes Gutenberg's movable type. Today photo lithography is used to print magazines and books, but the original process of drawing by hand on litho stones still exists in the fine art world. The traditional surface for lithography is Bavarian limestone, regrained by hand for each use. The principle is simple: oil based printing ink and water repel each other. The image is drawn with greasy crayon and chemically treated. The image areas of the stone accept ink and undrawn areas will reject it.

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FEBRUARY 26 – EVENTS – Science events on February 26th
  Atomic energy reactor shut down
  In 1992, the Yankee Atomic Electric Company's nuclear reactor was permanently shut down due to reactor vessel embrittlement, after more than 31 years of service. When built, it was the third atomic reactor in the U.S., and the first for commercial production of electricity. The $57 million plant, located at Rowe, Mass., on the Deerfield River, began distributing electric power on 10 Nov 1960. The reactor achieved self-sustaining nuclear reaction on 19 Aug 1960. The pressurized light-water reactor produced 125,000 kilowatts of electricity. The company was formed by twelve New England utility companies. Decommissioning began in 1993.«
  First Saturn 1B rocket flight
  In 1966, the first Saturn 1B rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on an unmanned suborbital test flight in the Apollo moon program. The AS-201 mission demonstrated the structural integrity of the Saturn 1B rocket and the compatibility of the launch vehicle to carry Apollo loads. It successfully tested the separation of the first and second stages of the rocket and tested the operations of Saturn's propulsion, guidance and control, and electrical subsystems. There were several malfunctions, but it did fly for about 37-min travelling 5264 miles (8472 km) and reaching a sub-orbital altitude of 303 miles (488 km). The massive Saturn rocket combined five F-1 rocket engines to yield more than 7.5 million pounds of thrust.
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  In 1935, the feasibility of radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging) was demonstrated to Air Ministry officials at Daventry, England, by Robert Watson-Watt, a Scottish physicist. Earlier, while working on methods of using radio-wave detection to locate thunderstorms in order to provide warnings to airmen, he realized that it could be used to track enemy aircraft for air defense. The test showed that a RAF Heyford bomber flying in the main beam of a BBC short-wave radio transmitter gave back reflected signals to the ground on three occasions that the aircraft passed overhead. By 1939, the outbreak of WW II, the military installed a chain of radar stations along the east and south coasts of England to prevent a German invasion.
  In 1896, Henri Becquerel stored a wrapped photographic plate in a closed desk drawer, and a phosphorescent uranium compound laid on top, awaiting a bright day to test his idea that sunlight would make the phosphorescent uranium emit rays. It remained there several days. Thus by sheer accident, he created a new experiment, for when he developed the photographic plate on 1 Mar 1896, he found a fogged image in the shape of the rocks. The material was spontaneously generating and emitting energetic rays totally without the external sunlight source. This was a landmark event. The new form of penetrating radiation was the discovery of the effect of radioactivity. He had in fact reported an earlier, related experiment to the French Academy on 24 Feb 1896, though at that time he thought phosphorescence was the cause.«.   more
Radioactivity: A History of a Mysterious Science, by Marjorie C. Malley. - book suggestion.
Booklist for History of Radioactivity.
  Glass blowing machine
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  In 1895, Michael Joseph Owens (1859-1923) of Toledo, Ohio patented a glass-blowing machine (No. 534,840) that was capable of producing five pieces at a time by placing five molds surrounding molten glass in front of a blowing pipe. Each piece was made "without seams or roughness." Owens was a co-founder of the glass industry in Toledo. In 1903, he organized the Owens Bottle Machine Co. and continued making improvements culminating with the patent of 10 May 1904 (No. 759,742) for his essentially perfected machine. Eventually, he held 45 patents. The world's first fully automatic machine he invented was a revolution in glass bottle making. [Image (top R): from patent 759,742]   more
  Microbe named
Thumbnail - Microbe named
  In 1878, the French scientist, Sédillot corresponded with Littré concerning certain micro-organisms, and a suitable word to name them. Littré replies in a letter on this date that he chooses the word "microbe," rather than "microbia," even though it was coined from two Greek words that together would mean "short-lived" rather than "small life." (Gr. bios = life, as also seen in the word "biology".)
  Pneumatic subway opened
  In 1870, New York City's first pneumatic-powered subway line was opened to the public. It was built by Alfred Ely Beach who included a waiting room 120 feet long (the entire tunnel measured 312 feet) and embellished it with a grand piano, a fountain, ornate paintings, and candelabra so customers would not feel they were entering a dank, dreary tunnel. The twenty-two-seat subway car impressed observers with its rich upholstery and spaciousness, and comfortable ride. It fitted snugly into the nine foot diameter, cylindrical tube. Propulsion was provided by a giant fan that the workers nicknamed "the Western Tornado." It was operated by a steam engine, drawing air in through a valve and blowing it forcefully into the tunnel.American inventor and editor of Scientific American magazine which reported on technology developments and patents in the 19th-century. It is still published today, one of the world's leading science magazines. Beach himself invented a tunneling shield and built the pneumatic tube subway which propelled a carriage by means of air pressure generated by huge fans. The tunnel was short—one block—so it operated as a demonstration (1870-73), with one station and train car. In 1856 he won First Prize and a gold medal at New York's Crystal Palace Exhibition. Beach had invented a typewriter for the blind, resembling the modern typewriter in the arrangement of its keys and typebars, but embossed its letters on a narrow paper strip instead of a sheet. [Image: Tunnel entrance.]   more
Labyrinths of Iron: A History of the World's Subways, by Benson Bobrick. - book suggestion.
  Galileo warning
Thumbnail - Galileo warning
  In 1616, Cardinal Bellarmine warned Galileo not to hold, teach, or defend the Copernican theory, that the Earth revolved around the Sun. A transcript filed by the 1633 Inquisition indicates he was also enjoined from either speaking or writing about his theory. Yet Galileo remained in conflict with the Church. He was eventually interrogated by the Inquisition in Apr 1633. On 22 Jun 1633, Galileo was sentenced to prison indefinitely, with seven of ten cardinals presiding at his trial affirming the sentencing order. Upon signing a formal recantation, the Pope allowed him to live instead under house-arrest. From Dec 1633 to the end of his life on 8 Jan 1641, he remained in his villa at Florence.«
Galileo: A Life, by James Reston. - book suggestion.
Booklist for Galileo Galilei.

- 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
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
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
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
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
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

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