To celebrate WebAssign’s 15th anniversary, each Monday we will be bringing you 15 anniversaries in science, technology, mathematics, and education that you can look forward to throughout the week. Here are some important dates in history coming up this week:
1712 – French educator Charles-Michel de l’Épée is born. After observing two deaf sisters communicating in sign language, Épée dedicates his life to learning, organizing, and teaching sign language to the deaf citizens of Paris. Épée opens the first free school for the deaf, and although he does not invent sign language, he learns from the citizens of Paris who were already communicating in sign language. Épée categorizes and improves upon the existing sign language, and makes his work publicly available for others to use. A student of Épée’s school, Laurent Clerc, will travel to America and co-found the American School for the Deaf, the first school for the deaf in the United States. American Sign Language is developed at the American School for the Deaf.
1859 – On the Origin of Species is published by English geologist and naturalist Charles Darwin. Darwin’s work forms the foundation of evolutionary biology.
1925 – Dutch-Swiss physicist Simon van der Meer is born. Van der Meer receives the Nobel prize for his discovery of the W and Z bosons at CERN. The discovery of the W and Z bosons is one of the first big successes of CERN, and confirms a prediction of the Standard Model of particle physics.
1678 – French geophysicist, astronomer, and chronobiologist Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan is born. De Mairan performs experiments on the plant mimosa pudica, and observes that the plant continued to open and close on a predictable schedule even in the absence of light. These observations lead to the discovery of circadian rhythms in organisms.
1876 – American engineer Willis Carrier is born. In order to address production problems at a publishing facility, Carrier invents a device which controls the temperature and humidity inside of the facility. Carrier’s device is the first example of the modern air conditioning system.
1898 – German chemist Karl Ziegler is born. Ziegler makes important discoveries related to free-radicals, organometallic chemistry, and polymers. Ziegler develops a catalyst that makes industrial production of polyethylene possible. Ziegler receives the Nobel prize for his work with polymers.
1701 – Swedish physicist and astronomer Anders Celsius is born. Celsius publishes observations of the aurora borealis, and is the first to suggest that the auroras are related to the Earth’s magnetic field. Celsius also creates the Celsius temperature scale.
1955 – American engineer and educator Bill Nye is born. Nye’s television show designed to teach science to preteen viewers, Bill Nye the Science Guy, wins 19 Emmy awards and runs for 5 years. Nye becomes the executive director of The Planetary Society.
2001 – The Hubble Space Telescope discovers an atmosphere composed primarily of hydrogen on the planet Osiris. This is the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet.
1772 – English meteorologist Luke Howard is born. Though others had earlier posited naming conventions for clouds, Howard utilizes the more universal language of Latin to develop a nomenclature for clouds. Howard creates names for the three primary categories of clouds: cirrus, stratus, and cumulus, as well as names for the intermediate forms, such as cirrostratus.
1964 – The Mariner 4 probe is launched toward the planet Mars by NASA. The Mariner 4 probe returns the first images of the surface of Mars, surprising much of the world by showing an inactive planet apparently devoid of life.
1825 – French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot is born. Charcot’s research forms the foundation of modern neurology. Charcot makes many new observations and categorizes and names several neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Charcot joint, and Parkinson’s disease. Many of Charcot’s students make important discoveries or contributions to neurology and psychology, such as Joseph Babinski, Sigmund Freud, William James, Pierre Janet, Albert Londe, Charles-Joseph Bouchard, Pierre Marie, Georges Gilles de la Tourette, Albert Pitres, and Alfred Binet. Charcot names Parkinson’s disease after James Parkinson, and Tourette syndrome after Charcot’s student Georges Gilles de la Tourette.
1857 – German pediatrician Theodor Escherich is born. Escherich discovers the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. Coli), and publishes his observations on the effect the bacterium has on human digestion.
1756 – German physicist Ernst Chladni is born. Chladni observes that sand on a vibrating plate will collect and form lines in the areas of the plate that are experiencing zero vibration. The designs that are created during this process are called Chladni figures, and they are still used in the production of musical instruments. Chladni publishes a paper in which he proposes that meteorites were not of a volcanic origin, which is the prevailing theory at this time, but originated from a source other than the Earth.
1889 – English electrophysiologist Edgar Adrian is born. Adrian receives the Nobel prize for his discovery of the “all-or-none law” of the electrical stimulus of muscles and nerves.