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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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AUGUST 26 – BIRTHS – Scientists born on August 26th
  Edward Witten
 Born 26 Aug 1951.
American mathematical physicist whose work in superstring theory made him the first physicist to be recognized with the Fields Medal in 1990, when he was 39 and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. The Fields Medal is regarded as having the status of a Nobel Prize for mathematicians. Witten was already known for his contributions in elementary particle theory, especially quantum field theory and string theory, and their mathematical implications, when in 1998 he received the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics. This award from the American Physical Society was given for “advances in elucidating the dynamics of strongly coupled supersymmetric field and string theories” in which he exploited “the deep physical and mathematical consequences of the electric-magnetic duality.”«
  Albert Bruce Sabin
 Born 26 Aug 1906; died 3 Mar 1993 at age 86.
Polish-American physician and microbiologist best known for developing the first oral polio vaccine (1955), which was administered to millions of children in Europe, Africa, and the Americas beginning in the late 1950s. He was also known for his research in the fields of human viral diseases, toxoplasmosis, and cancer.
  Hedley Marston
 Born 26 Aug 1900; died 1965 .
Hedley Ralph Marston was an Australian biohemist who spent three decades with his colleagues researching the role of cobalt and other trace elements in animal and plant nutrition. He is remembered for announcing at the 1935 meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science that a wasting malady of sheep in certain coastal regions was caused by a lack of sufficient of cobalt in their diet. This resulted from a deficiency of the trace element in those region's soils, but dramatic recovery of ailing sheep resulted when given cobalt salt supplements.
  Jerome C. Hunsaker
 Born 26 Aug 1886; died 10 Sep 1984 at age 98.
American aeronautical engineer who made major innovations in the design of aircraft and lighter-than-air ships, seaplanes, and carrier-based aircraft. His career had spanned the entire existence of the aerospace industry, from the very beginnings of aeronautics to exploration of the solar system. He received his master's degree in naval architecture from M.I.T. in 1912. At about the same time seeing a flight by Bleriot around Boston harbour attracted him to the fledgling field of aeronautics. By 1916, he became MIT's first Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering. He designed the NC (Navy Curtiss) flying boat with the capability of crossing the Atlantic. It was the largest aircraft in the world at the time, with four engines and a crew of six.
  James Franck
 Born 26 Aug 1882; died 21 May 1964 at age 81.   quotes
German-American physicist who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1925 with Gustav Hertz for research on the excitation and ionization of atoms by electron bombardment that verified the quantized nature of energy transfer.
  Lee De Forest
 Born 26 Aug 1873; died 30 Jun 1961 at age 87.   quotes
American inventor of the Audion vacuum tube, which made possible live radio broadcasting and became the key component of all radio, telephone, radar, television, and computer systems before the invention of the transistor in 1947. He held 300 patents.
  Charles Richet
 Born 26 Aug 1850; died 3 Dec 1935 at age 85.   quotes
French physiologist, bacteriologist and pathologist who was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. He coined (1902) the term "anaphylaxis" meaning "against protection" to describe the subject of his research, when he found a second vaccinating dose of sea anemone toxin caused a dog's death. Instead of producing protection, as expected in the normal response to vaccination, the first dose had produced a life-threatening sensitivity. This led to an understanding a variety of allergic reactions, hay-fever and asthma. His other interests included aviation: attracted by Marey's experiments on bird flight, Richet participated in the design and construction of one of the first airplanes to leave the ground under its own power.« [DSB and obituary in NYT both give date of death as 3 Dec 1935. EB and other sources give 4 Dec 1935.]
  Félix-Archimède Pouchet
 Born 26 Aug 1800; died 6 Dec 1872 at age 72.
French naturalist who was a leading advocate of the idea of the spontaneous generation of life from nonliving matter.
  Stephen McCormick
 Born 26 Aug 1784; died 28 Aug 1875 at age 91.
American inventor and manufacturer of a practical cast iron plow with detachable components. His early achievement, while a youth, was to increase the productivity of a water-powered grist-mill by improving the shape of its nether millstone (the lower of the two millstones) used to grind flour. Though his father desired that he should make law his profession, he flatly refused. He was more interested by invention. By 1816, he had invented a cast-iron plough superior to Charles Newbold's earlier design. McCormick's first of several patents was issued on on 3 Feb 1819. His cast-iron mould board had an adjustable wrought-iron point mounted beneath, able to decrease the draft, while deepening the furrow, and breaking up the soil more effectively. Standardization of the replaceable parts led to the development of improved manufacturing processes.«   more
  Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
Thumbnail - Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
 Born 26 Aug 1743; died 8 May 1794 at age 50.   quotes
French chemist, the “father of modern chemistry,” was a brilliant experimenter also active in public affairs. An aristocrat, he invested in a private company hired by the government to collect taxes. With his wealth he built a large laboratory. In 1778, he found that air consists of a mixture of two gases which he called oxygen and nitrogen. By studying the role of oxygen in combustion, he replaced the phlogiston theory. Lavoisier also discovered the law of conservation of mass and devised the modern method of naming compounds, which replaced the older nonsystematic method. During the French Revolution, for his involvement with tax-collecting, he was guillotined.
Torch and Crucible: The Life and Death of Antoine Lavoisier, by Sidney J. French. - book suggestion.
Booklist for Antoine Lavoisier.
  Joseph-Michel Montgolfier
Thumbnail - Joseph-Michel Montgolfier
 Born 26 Aug 1740; died 26 Jun 1810 at age 69.   quotes
French inventor and balloonist who with his younger brother, Étienne conducted an initial experiment with a balloon of taffeta filled with hot smoke was given a public demonstration on 5 Jun 1783. This pioneering work was followed by a flight carrying three animals as passengers on 19 Sep 1783, shown in Paris and witnessed by King Louis XVI. On 21 Nov 1783, their balloon carried the first two men on an untethered flight. In the span of one year after releasing their test balloon, the Montgolfier brothers had enabled the first manned balloon flight in the world. [DSB gives that he was baptised Michel Joseph, but was generally known as Joseph Michel.]   more
  Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de l’lsle
 Born 26 Aug 1736; died 3 Jul 1790 at age 53.   quotes
French crystallographer who, with his Essai de Cristallographie (1772), confirmed Nicolas Steno’s observation that the angles between corresponding faces of quartz crystals are always the same, although various samples of quartz crystals may differ in appearance. Further, Romé showed that different crystal substances have their own characteristic angles. For example diamond crystals appear with an octahedral form, whereas pyrite crystals are based on the cube. In his first book, he had 100+ descriptions of crystal forms, which he expanded to 450 by 1784. Romé thus formulated the Law of Constancy of Interfacial Angles suggested by Steno in 1669; used it to identify different minerals; and firmly established modern crystallography.« [Name also written as Romé Delisle.]
  Johann Heinrich Lambert
 Born 26 Aug 1728; died 25 Sep 1777 at age 49.   quotes
Swiss-German mathematician, astronomer, physicist, and philosopher who provided the first rigorous proof that pi is irrational (cannot be expressed as the quotient of two integers). In 1766, Lambert wrote Theorie der Parallellinien, a study of the parallel postulate. By assuming that the parallel postulate was false, he deduced many non-euclidean results. He noticed that in this new geometry the sum of the angles of a triangle increases as its area decreases. Lambert conjectured that e and p are transcendental, though this was not proved for another century. He is responsible for many innovations in the study of heat and light, devised a method of measuring light intensity, as well as working on the theory of probability.

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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AUGUST 26 – DEATHS – Scientists died on August 26th
  Frederick Reines
 Died 26 Aug 1998 at age 80 (born 16 Mar 1918).
American physicist who was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize for Physics for his detection in 1956 of neutrinos, working with his colleague Clyde L. Cowan, Jr. The neutrino is a subatomic particle, a tiny lepton with little or no mass and a neutral charge which had been postulated by Wolfgang Pauli in the early 1930s but had previously remained undiscovered. (Reines shared the Nobel Prize with physicist Martin Lewis Perl, who discovered the tau lepton.)
  Robert Joseph Huebner
 Died 26 Aug 1998 at age 84 (born 23 Feb 1914).
American virologist whose theory that certain genes, which he called oncogenes, are involved in cancer focused researchers' attention on finding them. His investigations paved the way for the discovery of viral causes of cancers and several other serious diseases and for the development of a number of vaccines and treatments
  Georg Wittig
 Died 26 Aug 1987 at age 90 (born 16 Jun 1897).
German chemist whose studies of organic phosphorus compounds won him a share (with Herbert C. Brown) of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1979. In 1953, he discovered how a family of organic compounds called ylides could form the basis of the Wittig reaction, which easily and predictably joins two carbon atoms from different molecules to form a double bond. The Wittig reaction's reliability enabled other chemists to pursue and publish findings on thousands of applications for linking large carbon molecules. The process was used for synthesizing complex compounds such as vitamin A, vitamin D derivatives, steroids, and biological pesticides. Because of the Wittig reaction, such compounds can now routinely be synthesized.
  Charles A. Lindbergh
Thumbnail - Charles A. Lindbergh
 Died 26 Aug 1974 at age 72 (born 4 Feb 1902).   quotes
Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator who is famous for making the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic (1927). He first served as an apprentice to a barnstormer, performing as a wingwalker and parachute jumper. Then, he purchasing a war surplus Jenny trainer, made his first solo flight and barnstormed himself for about a year. Later, he became the first air mail pilot between Chicago, Ill., and St, Louis, Mo. On 20 May 1927, Lindbergh left New York for Paris, carrying sandwiches and water. He decided against carrying a parachute and radio in favor of more gasoline. He fought fog, icing and drowsiness, and landed in Paris on 21 May, after 33½ hours on his 3,600 mile flight.«   more
The Spirit of St. Louis, by Charles A. Lindbergh. - book suggestion.
Booklist for Charles Lindbergh.
  Ransom Eli Olds
Thumbnail - Ransom Eli Olds
 Died 26 Aug 1950 at age 86 (born 3 Jun 1864).
American inventor and automobile manufacturer, designer of the three-horsepower, curved-dash Oldsmobile, the first commercially successful American-made automobile and the first to use a progressive assembly system, which foreshadowed modern mass-production methods. When young, he worked in his father's machine and repair shop, in Lansing, Mich., where he experimented with small steam engines. In 1887, for a distance of one block, Olds drove Lansing's first automobile, an experimental steam vehicle. He continued to work with steam, gasoline and electric power. Eventually he produced a gasoline-powered vehicle that seated four persons and could do 18 miles per hour on level ground.
  John North Willys
 Died 26 Aug 1935 at age 61 (born 25 Oct 1873).
American industrialist who developed early automotive production. In 1912-18, Willys' output ranked second only to Ford. Willys first saw an early automobile in 1899, realized its potential, and came a car salesman. By 1907, his sales out-stripped his supplier's ability to produce, so he stepped in and reorganized the faltering Overland Company in Indianapolis. He successfully increased production, and expanded the Willys-Overland plant into a larger factory in Toledo, Ohio. During WW I, Willys-Overland became a major producer of trucks, airplanes and airplane engines. After his death, the Willys-Overland company pioneered the WW II Jeep, a rugged off-road vehicle. In 1970, the company was bought by American Motors Corporation.«
  William Hood
 Died 26 Aug 1926 at age 80 (born 4 Feb 1846).   quotes
American civil engineer who invented California’s Tehachapi Loop, an elegant 0.73-mile railroad spiral. Called one of the seven wonders of the railroad world, it is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It is part of 28 miles of railroad snaking through the Tehachapi Pass between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Hood designed a remarkable series of horseshoe and S-curves to traverse the lofty peaks and ridges along the way. The spiral ascends at a 2-percent grade for an elevation of 77 feet. A train longer than 4,000 feet (about 85 cars) passes over itself as it travels around the loop. He retired as chief engineer of the Southern Pacific Company. His career spanned 54 years (3 May 1867- 3 May 1921), in which time some 11,000 miles of track were laid.«
  Hertha Marks Ayrton
 Died 26 Aug 1923 at age 69 (born 28 Apr 1854).   quotes
Phoebe Sarah Hertha Marks Ayrton was an English electrical engineer, inventor and mathematician (née Phoebe Sarah Marks) who during her education showed an aptitude for science and mathematics. She invented a sphygmograph (a device that charts pulse beats, but was not the first to do so), and a line divider (a drafting instrument to divide a line into any given number of equal parts). She began working with William Ayrton, whom she subsequently married (1885). Hertha took up her huband’s interest in electric arc experiments. Her design improvements made arc lights quieter and more reliable. She published a book on The Electric Arc (1902). As a woman she was denied a degree from Cambridge, and at first refused membership in the Royal Society (1902). She invented an anti-gas fan (flapper) used during WWI.« [EB gives date of death as 26 Aug 1923; some sources state 23 Aug.]
  Friedrich Daniel von Recklinghausen
 Died 26 Aug 1910 at age 76 (born 2 Dec 1833).
German pathologist, known by descriptions of two disorders, each called Recklinghausen's disease: multiple neurofibromatosis (1882), an inheritable disease characterized by café au lait spots combined with multiple peripheral nerve tumours and a variety of others dysplastic abnormalities of the skin, nervous system, bones, endocrine organs and blood vessels; and osteitis fibrosa cystica (1891), a now mostly historical term for a generalized rarefying bone disorder with skeletal deformation, seen in advanced hyperparathyroidism. He was a traditional histopathologist of his time, resistant to changes such as the use of the microtome or the results of the new science of bacteriology. He taught and remained active as a researcher until shortly before his death.
  William James
 Died 26 Aug 1910 at age 68 (born 11 Jan 1842).   quotes
American psychologist and philosopher who was a leader of the philosophical movement of Pragmatism and of the psychological movement of functionalism. Although he first began a career as a zoologist, and traveled to Brazil on expedition with  Louis Agassiz, James moved to the medical school, and then his life's work investigating the mind. He served terms as President of the American Psychological Association and of the International Society for Psychical Research. After retiring from active teaching, he became the foremost American advocate for “pragmatism” in philosophical thought by which “that is true which works.”«
  Johann Friedrich Miescher
 Died 26 Aug 1895 at age 51 (born 13 Aug 1844).
Swiss biochemist and biologist who studied cell metabolism and discovered nucleic acids. In 1869, while working under Ernst Hoppe-Seyler at the University of Tübingen, Miescher investigated a substance containing both phosphorus and nitrogen in the nuclei of white blood cells found in pus. The substance, first named nuclein because it seemed to come from cell nuclei, became known as nucleic acid after 1874, when Miescher separated it into a protein and an acid molecule. It is now known as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
  Gustav Friedrich Klemm
 Died 26 Aug 1867 at age 64 (born 12 Nov 1802).
German anthropologist who developed the concept of three stages of cultural evolution and is thought to have influenced the prominent English anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor. Klemm spent most of his life as director of the royal library at Dresden (from 1831). He distinguishing three stages of cultural evolution (which he identified as those of savagery, domestication, and freedom). Klemm divided mankind into active and inactive races and believed that peoples differed in mentality and temperament. He wrote about this 10 volume work, Allgemeine Kulturgeschichte der Menschheit. [Death date uncertain: given by Enc. Brit. as died 25/26 Aug 1867.]
  Johann Franz Encke
 Died 26 Aug 1865 at age 73 (born 23 Sep 1791).
German astronomer who in 1819 established the period of the comet now known by as Encke's Comet. At at 3.3 years it has the shortest period of any known.
  Antonie van Leeuwenhoek
Thumbnail -
 Died 26 Aug 1723 at age 90 (born 24 Oct 1632).   quotes
Dutch biologist and microscopist who by skilled use of microscopy first discovered bacteria, protists, sperm cells, blood cells and various structures in animal and plant tissues. Published translations of his letters to the Royal Society were widely read. Researching microorganisms was a new frontier for science, that refuted the doctrine of spontaneous generation. Leeuwenhoek has been called the “Father of Microbiology.” Microscopes had been invented before he was born, but the lenses he ground were significantly better for detailed examination of microscopic life. He may have been inspired by illustrations in  Robert Hooke’s book, Micrographia. Fewer than 10 of his 500 microscopes have survived.«
Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek and His “Little Animals”, by Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. - book suggestion.
Booklist for Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek.

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AUGUST 26 – EVENTS – Science events on August 26th
  Mercury ban in flu vaccines
  In 2004, thimerosal-containing influenza vaccines were banned from use in California. The governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was reacting more to public advocacy groups than the weight of medical opinion. Thimerosal, containing an ethylmercury compound has been used in vaccines in microgram quantities to prevent life-threatening bacterial contamination. In 2004, a report by the Immunization Safety Review Committee of the Institute of Medicine stated that the benefits of vaccination are proven and the hypothesis of susceptible populations is presently speculative. After considering available medical studies from several countries, the report rejected any connection between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism. Neverthless, some lay persons convince themselves otherwise.«
Immunization Safety Review: Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, by Immunization Safety Review Committee. - book suggestion.
  Mini introduced
  In 1959, the Morris Mini-Minor was introduced by the British Motor Corporation. The car, popularly known as the Mini, remains successful over five decades later. It became a landmark in automotive design because it was only 10 ft long, yet seated four passengers, and one of the lowest priced cars on the market. Its innovative designer, Alec Issigonis, saved space by mounting the engine transversely which elimiated the interior space taken up by a transmission tunnel. Issigonis believed that “when you're designing a new car for production, never, never copy the opposition.” and created a vehicle that carried the greatest payload in the smallest practical space. It had all-independent suspension, good fuel economy, fast acceleration, maneuverability and ease of parking.«
  Tape recording
  In 1938, a tape recorder was used for the first time in the U.S. to send a radio broadcast. The sapphire stylus engraved Millertape used was invented by James Arthur Miller of the Miller Broadcasting Company. A 1,000 foot section of this tape could carry a 15-min program, which could be editted by cutting. This first program using this sound tape was transmitted by WQXR, the Interstate Broadcasting Company, in New York City from 6:30pm to 7 pm.
  Television patent
Thumbnail - Television patent
  In 1930, Philo Farnsworth patented a television system (U.S. 1,773,980). This was his first patent, with a description of his image dissector tube, which was his most important inventive contribution to the development of television. He had begun working on this concept at an early age, gained some financial support for his research, and worked in a small laboratory with limited assistance.
  Cro-Magnon man
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  In 1909, an almost perfectly preserved Cro-Magnon man skeleton was discovered by Swiss paleontologist Otto Hauser. He was one member of a party hunting fossils in the Combe-Capelle rockshelter, France. At 34,000 years old, the remains provided an example of man's development leading towards the emergence of Homo sapiens. The following year, Hauser sold this and and earlier discovery of skeletal remains from Le Moustier (1908) to the Berlin Völkerkunde-Museum. Because Hauser was debt-ridden, he demanded the extraordinary sum of 160,000 Marks as the sale price. Most of the skeleton itself is believed to have been destroyed during WW II.
  Niagara Falls
  In 1895, the large-scale production of electricity using hydropower from the Niagara Falls was commercialized. The neaby Pittsburgh Reduction Company used it for electrolytic separation of aluminium metal from its ore. Shortly after, on 15 Nov 1896, Buffalo received power for commercial use. Since 24 Oct 1893, Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., had contracted to install three 5,000-hp generators producing two-phase currents at 2,200 volts, 25 hertz. The first such tuboalternator unit was completed within 18 months. Prior capacity had been limited to generators no larger than 1,000 hp. (Earlier small-scale production of electricity with three units totalling 1,800 hp, began in 1881. The local village and park had electricity from a private plant since 1879.)« Image: Interior of Niagara Falls Power House No. 1 (1895-99)
  Typesetting machine patent
  In 1884, the first U.S. patent for the Linotype typesetting machine was issued to Ottmar Mergenthaler of Baltimore, Maryland. His patent No. 304,272 was for a “matrix making machine.” It was first used commercially on 3 Jul 1886. (An earlier U.S. design of typesetting machine that actually operated received a patent on 15 Sep 1857, though the machine invented by Timothy Alden of New York City was designed to pick up type from cells in a horizonatal rotating wheel, and drop it into a line for composition. The first U.S. patent for a typesetting machine was issued even earlier, to Adrien Delcambre and James Haddon Young of Lisle, France, on 22 Jun 1841, for a machine with piano-style keys to operate push-type levers that released type to fall by gravity.)
  In 1883, Mount Krakatoa, an island volcano in the Dutch Indies (now Indonesia) erupted with violent explosions that destroyed two thirds of the island. It produced huge tsunami waves that swept across the immediate region, killing an estimated 36,000 people. These waves were powerful enough to cross the Indian Ocean and travel beyond Cape Horn. The most powerful blast was the most violent known in human history—it  was loud enough to be heard in Australia. The shockwave was registered by barometers England. The huge amount of volcanic dust thrust high into the stratosphere eventually travelled around the world. The dust blocked sunlight causing temperature drops, highly coloured sunsets, and chaotic weather patterns for several years afterwards.«   more
  Perkin patent for aniline dye
Thumbnail - Perkin patent for aniline dye
  In 1856, William Henry Perkin, an English chemist, applied for a British patent titled "Dyeing Fabrics" for his invention of aniline dye "producing a new coloring matter for dyeing with a lilac or purple color stuffs of silk, cotton, wool or other materials." It was sealed on 20 Feb 1857. This was the first synthetic dye, which he obtained at first unintentionally from coal tar (a by-product of coal gas production) while seeking a method to prepare the anti-malarial drug quinine from that source. Perkin was just 18 years old. With help from his father and brother, he began manufacturing the dye, which he called Tyrian purple. Within a few years, he was wealthy and in in 1873 sold the business to turn to chemistry full-time.«
Thumbnail - Typewriter
  In 1843, the first U.S. design of a typewriter that successfully typed was issued a patent to Charles Thurber of Norwich, Conn. (No. 3,228) as a “machine for printing by hand by pressing upon keys which contain the type, called ‘Thurber's Patent Printer.’” He was the first to place the paper on a roller and give it longitudinal motion with provision for accurate letter and word spacing. It had a wheel carrying the keys around its circumference. A roller provided inking. However, the machine was slow to use, and only a concept model. Two years later, he patented a design for a writing (not typing) machine, which he called a Chirographer (18 Nov 1845, No. 4,271). On 27 Jun 1857, British Letters Patent were sealed (No. 1805) on Thurber's invention of “An improved caligraph.”« [Image: Thurber's Patent Printer of 1843.]   more
  Steam power patents
  In 1791, there were U.S. patents issued severally to James Rumsey, John Fitch, Nathan Read, John Stevens and Englehart Cruse for their various uses of steam power. Several of the patentees had previously obtained exclusive priviledges from some of the State Legislatures.« As the original applications had not satisfied the patent board with the precision of their descriptions of the inventions, a hearing was held with the inventors in Feb 1791. Fitch and Rumsey were in bitter dispute for priority using steam as a motive power to navigation. Jefferson said that they could make no distinction among all the patents, nor give one preference, and decided all patents should be issued on the same day.« *
  In 1346, the cannon, firing a round ball carved from rock, was first used in battle in France. Edward III of England reportedly used 22 cannon during the defeat of Philip VI of France at Crécy. The earliest cannons, having no more power than the trebuchet, could not bring down the walls by themselves. Their chief effect, in the beginning, was psychological: the burst of fire and loud noise were effective in getting the enemy's attention, making it impossible for them to forget that their lives were in danger. Their effect is recorded in a well known manuscript - Froissart's Chroniques of the battle of Crécy: "The English fired of some cannons which they had brought to the battle to frighten the Genoese." The victory is attributed to the longbowmen.

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