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On This Date In History

Today is Monday, October 27, 2008.

On this date in history…

1838 – Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issues The Extermination Order, which orders all Mormons to leave the state or be exterminated.

We at The Skeptics Guide have been critical of Mormons when they have acted badly by either attacking science or indoctrinating people into their cult-like sects. But can you imagine a time in US history when the governor of a state could issue an extermination order against any person or a group of people? Well, it seems the Mormons have been getting in to lots of different kinds of trouble for a long time. This story involves bigotry, intolerance, hate mongering, brawls, murders, political intrigue, religious zealotry, military trials, and prison escapes. Give it a read.

1961 – NASA launched the first Saturn I rocket in Mission Saturn-Apollo 1.

This was the first flight of the Saturn I booster, the first in the Saturn family, and a huge increase in size and power over anything launched before it. It was three times taller, required six times more fuel and produced ten times more thrust than the Jupiter-C rocket that had launched the first American satellite, Explorer 1 into orbit in 1958. The entire mission duration was 15 minutes, and the rocket traveled about 206 miles. Until the Space Shuttle program launched in 1981, the Saturn class rocket was the accelerator of choice for the US space program’s most important missions for 20 years.

People celebrating birthdays, or would otherwise be celebrating their birthdays on this day are:

1728 – Captain James Cook – was an English seaman who was the first of the scientific navigators. Captain Cook spent several years surveying the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland. He observed a solar eclipse on August 5, 1766 near Cape Ray, Newfoundland. On the first of three expeditions into the Pacific (1768) he took Joseph Banks as the ship’s botanist to study the flora and fauna discovered. (This practice of carrying a naturalist took place some 75 years before Charles Darwin’s famous voyage.) Cook observed the transit of Venus on this voyage from the island of Tahiti on June 3, 1769. This would help scientists plot the distance between the Sun to the earth. His geographical discoveries made him the most famous navigator since Magellan.

1806 – Alphonse Pyrame de Candolle – was a Swiss botanist who began new methods of investigation and analysis in phytogeography (the geographic distribution of plants). His father, Augustin Pyrame de Candolle had developed a general scheme of plant classification, for which he coined the word taxonomy (1813). This was to dominate plant classification for 50 years. Augustin used his scheme in a major series of volumes on botany. Alphonse de Candolle, completed this series, and is mainly responsible for continuing the great work Prodromus Systematis Naturalis regni vegetablis, published over a number of years, following the original lines laid down by his father. His own Origin of Cultivated Plants was published in 1882

1811 – Isaac Singer – was the English inventor of the continuous-stitch sewing machine in 1851. Singer was an itinerant machinist until 1851 when he designed an effective sewing machine using the basic features found on modern machines. A patent infringement settled with Elias Howe, another sewing machine inventor, did nothing to deter Singer. The company he founded was, within the decade, the world’s largest sewing machine manufacturer. Singer gained 20 additional patents, but his biggest invention was the new way of marketing to consumers.

1827 – Pierre-Eugène Marcellin Berthelot – was a French organic and physical chemist, science historian, and government official whose creative thought and work significantly influenced the development of chemistry in the late 19th century. He helped to found the study of thermochemistry, introduced a standard method for determining the latent heat of steam, measured hundreds of heats of reactions and coined the words exothermic and endothermic. Berthelot systematically synthesized organic compounds, including some not found in nature. His syntheses of many fundamental organic compounds helped to destroy the classical division between organic and inorganic compounds.

1855 – Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin – was a Russian horticulturist, of little education, who crossbred over 300 new types of fruit trees and berries, some able to survive the winters of Central Russia, and was praised by Soviet officials. His theory of hybridization held the fanciful the idea that acquired characteristics were inheritable. His private orchard at Koslov, became a state institution, and in 1932 the city known as Kozlov for four centuries became Michurinsk. When Mendelian genetics came under attack in the Soviet Union, Michurin’s controversial theory became state doctrine. It was elaborated by Trofim D. Lysenko, a Bolshevik bureaucrat, as a uniquely communist approach to agriculture, despite the nearly universal rejection of this doctrine by the world’s scientists.

1925 – Albert Medwin – is an American inventor who holds several US patents, including ones in the field of electronic encoders. Albert was involved in the early development of integrated circuits while working at RCA in Somerville, New Jersey. In the 1960′s he led the engineering group that developed the world’s first low power CMOS chips.

1951 – Carlos Frenk – is a world-famous Mexican-British cosmologist who has given invited lectures at major international conferences throughout the world. His main interests lie in the field of cosmology, galaxy formation and computer simulations of cosmic structure formation.

And some notable names that perished on this date include:

1449 – Ulugh Beg, Timurid ruler and astronomer (b.1394) was a Timurid ruler as well as an astronomer, mathematician and sultan. His commonly known name is not truly a personal name, but rather a moniker, which can be loosely translated as “Great Ruler” or “Patriarch Ruler”. Ulugh Beg was notable for his work in astronomy-related mathematics, such as trigonometry and spherical geometry.

1968 – Lise Meitner, German physicist (b.1878) Lise Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize. Meitner is often mentioned as one of the most glaring examples of scientific achievement overlooked by the Nobel committee. A 1997 Physics Today study concluded that Meitner’s omission was “a rare instance in which personal negative opinions apparently led to the exclusion of a deserving scientist” from the Nobel. In 1917, she and chemist Otto Hahn discovered the first long-lived isotope of the element protactinium. In 1923, she discovered the cause, known as the Auger effect, of the emission from surfaces of electrons with ‘signature’ energies. Meitner was one of the first scientists to articulate a theory of how the nucleus of an atom could be split into smaller parts. She (along with fellow scientist Otto Frisch) had discovered the reason that no stable elements beyond uranium (in atomic number) existed naturally; the electrical repulsion of so many protons overcame the “strong” nuclear force. Meitner also first realized that Einstein’s famous equation, E = mc2, explained the source of the tremendous releases of energy seen in atomic decay, by the conversion of the mass-defect into energy. (Wow!)

1980 – John Hasbrouck van Vleck, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b.1899) was an American physicist, co-awarded the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physics, for his contributions to the understanding of electrons in magnetic solids. Van Vleck participated in the Manhattan Project by serving on the Los Alamos Review committee in 1943. (He was also a native of Connecticut.)

1992 – David Bohm, American-born physicist, philosopher, and neuropsychologist (b. 1917) an American-born quantum physicist who made significant contributions in the fields of theoretical physics, philosophy and neuropsychology, and to the Manhattan Project. Bohm’s approach to philosophy and physics receive expression in his 1980 book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, and in his 1987 book Science, Order and Creativity. Bohm also made significant theoretical contributions to neuropsychology and the development of the holonomic model of the functioning of the brain. Bohm helped establish the foundation for Pribram’s theory that the brain operates in a manner similar to a hologram, in accordance with quantum mathematical principles and the characteristics of wave patterns.

1999 – Robert Mills, American physicist (b. 1927) was a physicist, specializing in quantum field theory, the theory of alloys, and many-body theory. While sharing an office at Brookhaven National Laboratory, in 1954, Chen Ning Yang and Mills proposed a tensor equation for what are now called Yang-Mills fields

And finally, on October 27, 2001, I married my wife, Jennifer. Happy seventh wedding anniversary dear!

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