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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 urgentissue ”
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JUNE 15 – BIRTHS – Scientists born on June 15th
  Herbert Alexander Simon
Thumbnail - Herbert Alexander Simon
 Born 15 Jun 1916; died 9 Feb 2001 at age 84.   quotes
American social scientist who was a pioneer of the development of computer artificial intelligence. In 1956, with his long-time colleague Allen Newell, Simon produced the computer program, The Logic Theorist, a computer program that could discover proofs of geometric theorems. It was the first computer program capable of thinking, and marked the beginning of what would become known as artificial intelligence. It proved many of the theorems of symbolic logic in Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica. He is further known for his contributions in fields including psychology, mathematics, statistics, and operations research, all of which he synthesized in a key theory for which he won the 1978 Nobel Prize for economics.
The Sciences of the Artificial, by Herbert Alexander Simon. - book suggestion.
  Thomas H. Weller
 Born 15 Jun 1915; died 23 Aug 2008 at age 93.
Thomas Huckle Weller was an American physician, microbiologist and virologist who was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1954 (which shared with John Enders and Frederick Robbins) for the successful cultivation of poliomyelitis virus in tissue cultures. This made it possible to study the virus “in the test tube,” a procedure that led to the development of polio vaccines.
Growing Pathogens in Tissue Cultures: Fifty Years in Academic Tropical Medicine..., by Thomas Huckle Weller. - book suggestion.
  Erik H. Erikson
 Born 15 Jun 1902; died 12 May 1994 at age 91.   quotes
Erik Homberger Erikson was a German-American psychoanalyst who trained under Anna Freud (192733), specializing in child psychology, then emigrated to the U.S. He taught at Harvard, engaged in a variety of clinical work, and widened the scope of psychoanalytic theory to take greater account of social, cultural, and other environmental factors. In 1950, he profoundly influenced the study of human development with the publication of Childhood and Society, in which he divided human development, from infancy to old age, into a life cycle of eight stages. His later works dealt with ethical concerns in the modern world.
The Erik Erikson Reader, by Erik Erikson, et al. - book suggestion.
  Hubertus Strughold
 Born 15 Jun 1898; died 1987 .   quotes
German-American physiologist, known as the "father of space medicine." In the late 1920's, he began investigaing the physiological aspects of what he called the "vertical frontier" in Germany, when even simple aeromedicine was considered far-fetched. After WW II, the United States Air Force School of Aviation Medicine moved* Strughold to America. to join their staff. Among the fundamental studies initiated were those in acceleration, noise and vibration, atmospheric control, weightlessness and nutrition. He invented the space cabin simulator for testing human reactions in a manned satellite, and contributed enormously to such space-travel problems as weightlessness, visual disturbances, and disruption of normal time cycles. *The United States used Nazi scientists during the Cold War to beat the Russians in the space race. For that help, some Nazis avoided war crimes trials. During WW II, Strughold was the Nazi director of medical research for aviation, in Germany, and is said to have experimented on, tortured and killed Jews and Gypsies at the Dachau concentration camp. Prisoners were frozen to near death and rewarmed to see how quickly they would recover.
  Georg Wst
 Born 15 Jun 1890; died 8 Nov 1977 at age 87.
Georg Adolf Otto Wüst was a German oceanographer who, by collecting and analyzing many systematic observations, developed the first essentially complete understanding of the physical structure and deep circulation of the Atlantic Ocean. He used the distribution of ocean properties to obtain clues about motions within the ocean. Wüst also invented the concept of the “core layer,” the layer of water within the ocean that has the most extreme values with respect to one or more properties and therefore is the least mixed and thus shows the path of motion.
Encyclopedia of the Sea, by Richard Ellis. - book suggestion.
  Comte de Antoine Francois Fourcroy
 Born 15 Jun 1755; died 16 Dec 1809 at age 54.   quotes
French chemist who contributed to a major revision of chemical nomenclature. He collaborated with Antoine Lavoisier, Guyton de Morveau, and Claude Berthollet to publish Méthode de nomenclature chimique (1787). His education had included medicine, to which he applied chemistry in the study of various fluids and solids the bodies of humans and animals. Fourcroy showed that there was a greater proportion of nitrogen in muscle fiber than in any other part of the body, which was true for either carnivores or herbivores. By 1789, he had found nitrogen in many vegetables, indicating the presence of nitrogen in all animals came from food, rather than air. With Vauquelin, he investigated urine, and characterized urea (1799), which name they coined.«
Fourcroy: Chemist and Revolutionary, 1755-1809, by W.A. Smeaton. - book suggestion.
  Juan Jos D'Elhuyar
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 Born 15 Jun 1754; died 20 Sep 1796 at age 42.
Spanish chemist and mineralogist who, assisted his younger brother Faustus, separated tungsten metal from its wolframite ore (1783). Two years earlier, Swedish chemist Carl Scheele discovered tungstic acid, though did not isolate the elemental form, from a mineral known since about 1758 as tung sten (Swedish, heavy stone; which is now known as scheelite). The Elhuyar brothers, working at the Seminary of Bergara, succeeded in extracting the metal by reducing tungstic acid with charcoal. For the first time, Basque scientists entered the history of science. Each became a director of a school of mines, but in different countries. Although Juan José discovered tungsten metal, Fausto became better known.« [Image right: wolframite]
The Life and Times of Juan Jos D'Elhuyar: Discoverer of Tungsten in 18th-century New Granada, by Bernardo J Caycedo. - book suggestion.

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-positivethese 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 15 – DEATHS – Scientists died on June 15th
  Arthur W. Galston
 Died 15 Jun 2008 at age 88 (born 21 Apr 1920).   quotes
Arthur William Galston was an American biologist, plant physiologist and bioethicist whose work with herbicides led to the development by others of Agent Orange. It was extensively used by the American military as a defoliant during the Vietnam war. The purpose was to expose Viet Cong positions and movement when viewed from the air. Galston's warnings had been ignored about the high toxicity of the chemical to both animal and human life, and also destructiveness to the land and waterways. The substance had potential persistence for an unknown time, perhaps decades. When toxicological studies determined that compounds in Agent Orange caused birth defects in laboratory rats, Galston lobbied with other scientists, and eventually President Nixon ordered an immediate halt to spraying. Galston continued to strongly promote bioethics.«
  John Atanasoff
Thumbnail - John Atanasoff
c. 1984
 Died 15 Jun 1995 at age 91 (born 4 Oct 1903).
John Vincent Atanasoff was an American physicist who was belatedly credited (1973) with developing the first electronic digital computer. Built in 1937-42 at Iowa State University by Atanasoff and a graduate student, Clifford Berry, it introduced the ideas of binary arithmetic, regenerative memory, and logic circuits. These ideas were communicated from Atanasoff to John Mauchly, who used them in the design of the better-known ENIAC built and patented several years later. On 19 Oct 1973, a US Federal Judge signed his decision following a lengthy court trial which declared the ENIAC patent invalid and named Atanasoff the original inventor of the electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff- Berry Computer or the ABC.
The First Electronic Computer: The Atanasoff Story, by Alice R. Burks, Arthur W. Burks. - book suggestion.
  Wendell Meredith Stanley
 Died 15 Jun 1971 at age 66 (born 16 Aug 1904).
American biochemist who in 1946 received (with John Northrop and James Sumner) the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work in the purification and crystallization of viruses, thus demonstrating their molecular structure. Impressed by John Northrop's success in crystallizing proteins, Stanley applied those techniques to his extracts of the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). By 1935, he had obtained thin rodlike crystals of the virus and demonstrated that TMV still retained its infectivity after crystallization, the first such purification of a virus. At first, some scientists were skeptical - thinking that viruses, being similar to conventional living organisms could not exist in crystalline form. Stanley then believed, incorrectly, that protein was the active agent of the virus. During WW II, he worked on isolating the influenza virus and prepared a vaccine against it. By 1936 he isolated nucleic acids from the tobacco mosaic virus, which were later found (1955) to cause the viral activity.
The Life of a Virus: Tobacco Mosaic Virus as an Experimental Model, by Angela N. H. Creager. - book suggestion.
  Eduardo Torroja (y Miret)
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 Died 15 Jun 1961 at age 61 (born 27 Aug 1899).
Spanish engineer who pioneered the architectural use of concrete-shell structures. With Jos Maria Aguirre he founded (1934) an institute to "encourage progress in all areas of construction, sponsoring and disseminating scientific research and studying methods to improve construction techniques in whatsoever respect." He developed new uses and building techniques for reinforced concrete. Examples of his designs include the 156-ft (48 m) diameter shell of the Algeciras market (1933), and the 73-ft (22-m) cantilevered roof of the Madrid hippodrome (1935). From the 1920s to the 1960s, he designed some of Spain's finest bridges, aqueducts, churches and stadiums. [Image right: cantilevered roof of the Madrid hippodrome]
Philosophy of Structures, by Eduardo Torroja Miret. - book suggestion.
  George W. Fuller
 Died 15 Jun 1934 at age 65 (born 21 Dec 1868).
George Warren Fuller was an American engineer who was an industry pioneer in the purification of water for drinking, and the treatment of sewage. While training at M.I.T., (influenced by such people as Ellen H. Swallow Richards, William T. Sedgwich and Hiram F. Mills) he became interested in the new science of public health. His five years working for the Massachusetts board of health, including some time in charge of the Lawrence Experiment Station, recognized as a leading center of research in civil water supplies. In 1895, he spent time at the Experiment Station, Louisville Kentucky, studying rapid filration. While there, he conducted the first tests in America of water disinfection using chlorine gas to purify the Ohio River water supply. Shortly after, he began decades as a consulting sanitary engineer, skilled in pursuation, who advised more than 150 cities, commissions and corporations throughout America, and also in Canada and China.«
Sewage Disposal, by George Warren Fuller. - book suggestion.
  Charles Francis Brush
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Brush arc lamp
 Died 15 Jun 1929 at age 80 (born 17 Mar 1849).
American inventor and industrialist who devised an electric arc lamp and a generator that produced a variable voltage controlled by the load and a constant current. It was adopted throughout the United States and abroad during the 1880's. The arc light preceded Edison's incandescent light bulb in commercial use and was suited to applications where a bright light was needed, such as street lights and lighting in commercial and public buildings. He assembled his first dynamo in the summer of 1876, resulting in a patent for his Improvement in Magneto-Electric Machines, issued 24 Apr 1877 (US No. 189997). He then developed an arc light that was regulated by a combination of electrical and mechanical means limited by a “ring clutch.” His system was used by the  California Electric Light Co. for the first U.S. central generating station (1879).
  William Le Baron Jenney
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 Died 15 Jun 1907 at age 74 (born 25 Sep 1832).
American civil engineer and architect whose technical innovations were of primary importance in the development of the skyscraper. During the Civil War he served as an engineering officer. By 1868 he was a practicing architect who had designed a Swiss Chalet style home with an innovative open floor plan, years before Frank Lloyd Wright worked with the concept. He also made a name for himself as a town planner. However, Jenney's greatest fame came from his large commercial buildings. His Home Insurance Building [above] in Chicago was one of the first buildings to use a metal skeleton for support, which became the standard for American skyscraper design. [Image right: (source]
The Sky's the Limit: A Century of Chicago Skyscrapers, by Pauline A. Saliga (Ed.). - book suggestion.
  Carl Wernicke
 Died 15 Jun 1905 at age 57 (born 15 May 1848).
German neurologist who related nerve diseases to specific areas of the brain. Interested in psychiatry, traditionally he studied anatomy initially and neuropathology later. He published a small volume on aphasias (disorders interfering with the ability to communicate in speech or writing) which vaulted him into international fame. In it was precise pathoanatomic analysis paralleling the clinical picture. He is best known for his work on sensory aphasia and poliomyelitis hemorrhagia superior. Both of these descriptions bear his name, as well as a form of encephalopathy induced by thiamine deficiency. He wrote books on the disorders of the internal capsule and textbooks on diseases of the nervous system. Wernicke died in a road accident.
  William Muir
 Died 15 Jun 1888 at age 82 (born 17 Jan 1806).
Scottish mechanical engineer and inventor, whose father was a cousin of William Murdoch, inventor of gas lighting. After apprenticeship, young Muir learned more mechanical skills in a job making cotton spinning machinery. Next he worked for Henry Maudslay where he built a steam carriage (1831). By 1840, Muir joined Joseph Whitworth’s company, where he helped in the design of a standard “Whitworth pitch.” Within a couple of years, he had established his own workshop, and his business thrived and grew. He produced railway ticket printing and dating machines for Thomas Edmonson. Muir provided machinery for the Woolwich Arsenal to make interchangeable rifle sights. He continued inventing machines and machine tools.«
  Joseph Dixon
 Died 15 Jun 1869 at age 70 (born 18 Jan 1799).
American inventor and manufacturer who pioneered the industrial use of graphite and many other innovations. As a printer and a photographer, he designed a mirror into a camera that was the forerunner of the viewfinder, patented a double-crank steam engine, evolved a method of printing banknotes to foil counterfeiters, and patented a new method for tunneling under water. As a manufacturer and entrepreneur, Joseph Dixon produced the first pencil made in the U.S., 2 Apr 1827, and was responsible for the development of the graphite industry there. When he died, the Joseph Dixon Crucible Company was the largest manufacturer of graphite products in the world. His friends included the American inventors Fulton, Morse, and Bell.
The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance, by Henry Petroski. - book suggestion.
  Jean-Franois Piltre de Rozier
 Died 15 Jun 1785 at age 31 (baptized 30 Mar 1754).
French physicist and aeronaut who, with Marquis Francois Laurant d'Arlandes, became the first men to fly. Their hot-air balloon, built by the Montgolfier brothers, lifted off from La Muettte, a royal palace in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris. They flew nearly 6 miles in 25 mins, reaching an altitude of around 300-ft. King Louis XVI, who offered to send two prisoners for the test flight, but Rozier wanted to deny criminals the glory of being the first men to go into the atmosphere. Rozier died in attempt to cross English Channel in an apparatus composed of two balloons, one filled with hydrogen and the other with warm air. Thus, he was also the first man to die in an air crash.«

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JUNE 15 – EVENTS – Science events on June 15th
  In 1990, the first use of bioremediation in open waters was to treat an oil slick from the supertanker Mega Borg following an explosion and fire on 8 Jun 1990. The incident occurred 60 nautical miles south-southeast of Galveston, releasing 5.1 million gallons of oil, during "lightering" operations. "Lightering" transfers a portion of a ship's petroleum cargo to smaller, shallower draft ships for transport into shallow water ports. The bioremediation tests were conducted on Jun 15 and 18 with the distribution of 100-lbAE BioSea Process, developed by Alpha Environmental, Inc. which contained oil-metabolizing bacteria and nutrients. The results of the tests were inconclusive.
  Transatlantic plane flight
  In 1919, Capt. John Alcock (pilot) and Lt. Arthur W. Brown (navigator) successfully completed the first, non-stop, transatlantic, airplane flight. They flew from Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland in 16 hr 12 min and won the prize offered by the London Daily Mail. Their aircraft was a Vickers Vimy (which was originally designed as a bomber to be used during WW I.) They faced many problems. Their radio broke down shortly after take off. Fog and drizzle prevented the fliers from seeing anything for much of the journey. They aimed to land in a green field but instead it turned out to be a bog. The plane suffered some damage when it hit the ground and sank into the bog. Both Alcock and Brown came away unhurt.
  First U.S. safety razor patent
Thumbnail - First U.S. safety razor patent
  In 1880, the first U.S. patent for a safety razor was issued to brothers Frederick and Otto Kampfe of New York, who made and sold their invention (No. 228,904). Their patent described their razor to be “simple and durable in construction, of small first cost, compact in form, and adapted to be used without soiling the fingers of the user.” The design was a“hollow metallic blade holder with... handle and a flat plate..., to which the blade is attached by clips and a pivoted catch, said plate having bars or teeth at its lower edge.” Its lower plate was formed to be a receptacle for the hair and soap removed during the shaving operation. The blade was removeable and would be put in a separate holder to enable sharpening as needed. Two decades later, King Camp Gillette invented the disposable safety razor blade.«
  In 1869, John Wesley Hyatt and Isaiah Hyatt were issued a U.S. patent for the first plastic, which they called "Improved Method of Making Solid Collodion" (No. 91,341). In their method, soluble cotton, pyroxyline, or prepared cellulose was placed into a strong cylinder or suitably-shaped mold. Then "the employment of a very small quantity of ether or other appropriate solvent, and dissolving pyroxyline therewith, under a heavy pressure, so that a comparatively hard and solid product is obtained, with great economy of solvents and saving of time." A filler may be mixed with the pyroxyline such as ivory-dust, bone-dust, asbestos, flake-white, or any other desirable substance, according to the nature of the product required.«   more
  First U.S. gallstone operation
  In 1867, the first U.S. gallstone operation was performed by Dr. John Stough Bobbs, known as "the father of cholecystotomy" in Indianapolis, Indiana. While operating on his patient, Mary E. Wiggins (Mrs. Z. Burnsworth) for a suspected ovarian cyst, he found the gall bladder was inflamed and containing structures like "several solid ordinary rifle bullets." He opened the sac, removed multiple gallstones but left the gall bladder in place after closing the defect (cholecystostomy). The patient recovered and outlived Dr. Bobbs. The first account of gallstones had been given as early as 1420 by a Florentine pathologist Antonio Benevieni, in a woman who died with abdominal pain. Jean-Louis Petit performed gall bladder surgery in Europe in 1743.« *   more
  Vulcanized rubber
Thumbnail - Vulcanized rubber
  In 1844, Charles Goodyear received another patent (U.S. No. 3,633) for “An Improvement in India-Rubber Fabrics.” This way of processing india-rubber added white lead to the sulphur and heating method he patented 24 Feb 1839. He had spent several years, since going bankrupt in hardware, trying to improve natural rubber, which became sticky in summer heat and brittle in the winter. He had experimented to coat it with a powder to make it less sticky when he accidentally dropped a mixture of natural rubber and powdered sulphur on a hot stove in Woburn, Massachusetts. The heat completed the process. Despite the value of his inventions, he died in poverty in 1860. (His earliest patent, 17 Jun 1837 used metallic solutions.)
Trials of an Inventor: Life and Discoveries of Charles Goodyear, by Bradford Peirce. - book suggestion.
  Lightning experiment
Thumbnail - Lightning experiment
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  In 1752, Ben Franklin's kite-flying experiment proved lightning and electricity were related while flying a kite with a key attatched. In Sep 1752, he equipped his house with a lightning rod, connecting it to bells that ring when rod is electrified. He explained how to perform a kite experiment in the 19 Oct 1752 issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette. He had earlier proposed use of lightning rods to protect houses in a 2 Mar 1750 letter to Collinson and in the same year, on 29 Jul 1750, he devised an experiment involving a sentry-box with a pointed rod on its roof, to be erected on hilltop or in church steeple, with rod attached to a Leyden jar which would collect the electrical charge, and thus prove lightning to be a form of electricity.
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, by Walter Isaacson. - book suggestion.
Booklist for Benjamin Franklin.

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Charles Babbage
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Pierre Laplace
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