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July 9 : On this day

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1595 : Kepler Published the “Mystery of the Cosmos”

Johannes Kepler was a German astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer

In 1595, Johannes Kepler published Mysterium Cosmographicum (Mystery of the Cosmos). He described an invisible underlying structure determining the orbits of the six planets known at that time. Using his mathematical analogy, he devised a structure based on only five convex regular solids. The paths of each planet lay on a sphere separated from its neighbours by touching an inscribed polyhedron. An inscribed cube separated the spheres of the outermost planets, Saturn and Jupiter. Inside the path of Jupiter, an inscribed tetrahedron contained the sphere of Mars. Spheres for the Earth, Venus and Mercury were respectively nested within a regular dodecahedron, icosohedron, and regular octahedron. The orbital data fitted this model surprisingly well. Nevertheless, it wasn’t correct.

kepler's platonic model
Johann Kepler discovered in 1596 that the ratios of the orbits of the six planets known in his day were the same as the ratios between nested Platonic solids.

1808 : Leather Splitting Machine was Patented

leather splitting machine
Leather splitting machine

On this day in 1808, Samuel Parker of Billerca, MA. patented the leather splitting machine.

1815 : First U.S Natural Gas Well Discovered

The first developed natural gas well in the U.S. was discovered accidentally at Burning Springs during the digging of a salt brine well near Charleston, West Virginia. In the U.S., natural seepage had been observed centuries earlier in various places, but here, there was development and use of the natural gas and oil.

In 1921, Fredonia, New York, the first gas well dug specifically for natural gas was drilled to 27 feet by gunsmith, William Hart to develop the seepage seen on the banks of the Canadaway Creek. Early use was limited.

The first industrial use of natural gas in the U.S. was to evaporate brine for its salt, in 1841 by William Tompkins. Earlier manufactured gas was first used in the U.S. for street lamps in Baltimore.

natural gas well
An image of natural gas drillers with a drill near Kokomo Indiana, in1885

1872 : Doughnut Cutter was Patented

donut cutter
A donut cutter

In 1872, New England sea captain, John F. Blondel of Thomaston, Maine, patented the doughnut cutter, (but can’t take credit for the hole). The origin of the doughnut as a deep-fried egg-batter pastry was from Holland with the Dutch name of olykoeks — “oily cakes.” In 1847, another New England ship captain’s enjoyed his mother’s pastries. Made using a deep-fried spiced dough, Elizabeth Gregory put hazelnuts or walnuts in the center, where the dough might not cook through – “doughnuts.” Captain Hanson Gregory claimed credit for originating the hole in the doughnut. Originally, he cut the hole using the top of a round tin pepper box. This made more uniform frying possible with increased surface area, commemorated by a bronze plaque at his hometown, Rockport, Maine.

1878 : Improved Corncob Pipe was Patented

corncob pipe
A set of vintage corncob pipes

In 1878, an improved corncob pipe was patented by Henry Tibbe in Washington, Missouri, which he assigned to himself and Anton Tibbe, his son. (No.205,816). In 1869, Tibbe, Dutch immigrant woodworker, began manufacture of the corncob pipe, and founded what became the Missouri Meerschaum Company in 1907The pipe was made from a special type of white kernel corn with smaller kernels on the cob(the kind used to make taco and tortilla flour). Famous corncob smokers included presidents Ford and Eisenhower, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) and of course, Popeye, Mammy Yokum and Frosty the Snowman.

1893 : A Daring Heart Surgery

daniel hale williams
Daniel Hale Williams was an American general surgeon, who in 1893 performed the first documented, successful pericardium surgery in the United States to repair a wound.

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performed the suture of the pericardium(the fluid sac surrounding the heart muscle). At the Provident Hospital, Chicago, Williams operated on a 24-year old victim of a stabbing. He removed the knife operating without anesthesia, opened the thoracic cavity, then sutured the wound to the pericardium. He allowed a small (1/10″ long) nick to heal on its own. The patient recovered and lived for at least 20 years afterwards. Dr. Williams was the only African American in a group of 100 charter members of the American College of Surgeons in 1913. He founded and became the vice-president of the National Medical Association.

1902 : Patent Obtained for Barbituric Acid

Adolf Baeyer
Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer was a German chemist who synthesised indigo, developed a nomenclature for cyclic compounds.

A patent is obtained in 1902, for barbituric acid, often  considered a hope for insomniacs. In 1864 Adolf von Baeyer, assistant of Friedrich August Kekule (the discoverer of the molecular structure of benzene) in Ghent, synthesised barbituric acid, the first barbiturate.

In 1903, The German chemist Emil Fischer and his collaborator Joseph von Mering modified a class of drugs originally synthesised in 1864 in a way that made them effective as sedatives and hypnotics. Fischer and Mering realised that their new drug, “diethyl barbituric acid” or barbital, was a sedative. It improved vastly upon the congeries of previous sedatives by not tasting unpleasant, by having few side effects, and by acting at therapeutic levels far beneath the toxic dose (unlike potassium bromide, which tasted awful and had a therapeutic level close to the toxic dose). Diallyl barbituric acid is a colourless crystalline organic compound used in medicine as a soporific (a drug or substance that induces drowsiness).

1933 : Construction of Oakland Bay Bridge Began

oakland bay bridge
Oakland Bay Bridge construction

In 1933, the construction of the Oakland Bay Bridge, California, U.S. began. The bridge was built to be a  toll bridge across the San Fransisco Bay linking Oakland and San Fransisco. The Oakland Bay Bridge effectively is two bridges connecting a central island, Yerba and Buena Island, with each shore. From San Fransisco, two suspension bridges end-to,end with a central anchirage reach to the island. The traffic continues to Oakland over a truss causeway of five medium-span truss bridges and a double-tower cantilever span. The bridges were designed by Ralph Modjeski. It was opened for traffic on November 12, 1939. At that time the Oakland Bay Bridge made two world records – the longest suspended-deck bridge and the longest cantilever bridge.

1957 : Nobelium was Announced

Nobelium is made by bombarding curium with carbon in a device called a cyclotron.

In 1957, an announcement was made of the discovery of element 102, and the name of nobelium proposed, for an isotope believed found with a half-life of 10 minutes at 8.5 MeV. Later tests showed that no isotopes of nobelium have this half-life. Nobelium was truly discovered by Albert Ghiorso, T. Sikkeland, J.R. Walton, and Glenn T. Seaborg in Apr 1958. However, IUPAC accepted the name Nobelium given to the prematurely discovered element. Ten isotopes of nobelium are known to exist, with No-255 having the longest half-life of 3 minutes. Nobelium is an artificially made, radioactive, “rare earth metal” named after Alfred Nobel who discovered dynamite.

1960 : First U.S. Nuclear-powered Attack Submarine was Launched

uss thresher
The second USS Thresher (SSN-593) was the lead boat of her class of nuclear-powered attack submarines in the United States Navy. She was the U.S. Navy’s second submarine to be named after the thresher shark.

In 1960, Thresher was launched, the first of a class of U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarines. During sea trials after commissioning it sank in Apt 1963. With 129 persons on board, it was the worst loss in submarine history. It was armed with Subroc antisubmarine missiles that could be fitted with either high explosives of a nuclear warhead. The wreckage was observed from the bathyscaphe Trieste at a depth of about 8,500-ft.


1979 : Voyager 2 Passes by Jupiter

Voyager 2
Artist’s concept of Voyager 2 with 9 facts listed around it. Image Credit: NASA

In 1979, Voyager 2, passed by Jupiter. It was one of a pair of unmanned U.S. interplanetary probes launched in 1977. Although it was launched first (20 Aug), followed by the launch of Voyager 1 (5 Sep), Voyager 2 was designed to travel more slowly, and pass all the giant planets. Voyager 1 visited Jupiter (Mar 1979) and Saturn (Nov 1980) then to leave the Solar System. Voyager 2 passed Saturn (25 Aug 1981), but continued on to Uranus (24 Jan 1986) and Neptune (24 Aug 1989). Data from the two probes included photographs of Jupiter showing a variety of cloud forms around Jupiter, and volcanic activity on its moon, Io.


1992 : Tzar’s DNA was Identified

tsar nicholas II with family
Tsar Nicholas II with his family

In 1993, British and Russian scientists using DNA genetic fingerprinting tests, identified the bone fragments discovered in Ekaterinburg in 1979 to be those of the Russian Tzar Nicholas II and members of his family executed on 17 July 1918. This was work done by Dr.Peter Gill and Kevin Sullivan of the British Forensic Science Service in Birmingham. However, a slight ambiguity remained for the identification of the Tzar until a heteroplasmy was confirmed. Additional mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) testing was carried in 1995 out by the US Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) who identified the Tzar using sequence analysis and comparison of the profiles with remains of Georgij Romanov, the Tzar’s younger brother, exhumed in 1994. They shared the same rare genetic partial mutation called heteroplasmy. Together with with other physical and circumstantial data, this provided indisputable evidence for identification of the Tzar.

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