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This Month in Physics History

Astin upheld his agency’s rigorous consumer testing results — and was fired for it. Then the nation’s scientists found out.
April 20, 1972: George Carruthers’ Ultraviolet Telescope Lands on the Moon
March 27, 1800: William Herschel Proposes the Existence of Invisible Light
February 1907: Bertram Boltwood Estimates Earth is at Least 2.2 Billion Years Old
December 1934: Emil Rupp’s Research, Which Fooled Even Einstein, is Exposed as Fraud
November 29, 1887: Granville Woods Patents the Induction Telegraph
October 1998: Trespasser Makes History As The First Video Game to Incorporate a Complete “Physics Engine” — And Flops
September 1936: Seismologist Inge Lehmann Concludes That Earth Has an Inner Core
August 1856: Eunice Foote Concludes That Carbon Dioxide Could Warm the Atmosphere, Three Years Before John Tyndall Did
June 1980: Vera Rubin Publishes Paper Hinting at Dark Matter
May 1962: James West and Gerhard Sessler Patent the Electret Microphone
April 1986: Bednorz and Müller Trigger Avalanche of High-Temperature Superconductivity Research
March 1966: The First Human-Made Object Makes Impact With Another Planet
February 1947: The First Animals, Fruit Flies, Rocket Into Space and Return to Earth
January 1976: From the “Oops-Leon” to the Upsilon Particle
December 1945: The ENIAC Computer Runs its First, Top-Secret Program
November 1964: John S. Bell Quietly Rings in New Era of Quantum Theory
October 1956: Lee and Yang Crack the Mirror of Parity
September 2002: Schön Scandal Report is Released
Science communicators had a field day with the 2012 Higgs discovery.
July 1887: James Blyth Harnesses the Wind for Electricity.
June 15, 1917: Death of Kristian Birkeland, King of the Northern Lights
April 24, 1990: Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope
Black History Month: Otis Boykin and the Cold War-Era Resistor
January 7, 1939: Marguerite Perey and the Ten Tons of Uranium Ore
December 1945: Introduction of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946
November 23, 1837: Birth of Johannes van der Waals, a Self-Made Man and the Father of Modern Molecular Science
October 1972: Publication Discovery of Superfluid Helium-3
May 1931: Publication of the Creation of the First Aerogel
April 6, 1938: Discovery of Teflon
February 5, 1963: Maarten Schmidt Discovers First Known Quasar
January 1965: Roger Penrose’s Seminal Proof of Blackholes
December 1934: Discovery of Cherenkov Radiation
November 28, 1680: Death of Athanasius Kircher
October 14, 1947: Chuck Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier
September 23, 1846: Neptune’s Existence Observationally Confirmed
July 21, 1620: Birth of Jean-Félix Picard, founder of French modern astronomy
June 16, 1874: Opening of the Cavendish Laboratory
May 1664: Hooke vs. Cassini: Who Discovered Jupiter’s Red Spot?
April 13, 1942: Death of Annie Jump Cannon
March 15, 1883: Osborne Reynolds Proposes the Reynolds Number
February 8, 1967: Joseph Weber submits first gravitational wave paper to PRL
January 29, 1700: Birth of Daniel Bernoulli
November 11, 1572: Tycho Brahe Spots a Supernova
October 1842: William Grove’s letter to Faraday Describing a Fuel Cell
September 15, 1910: Theodor Wulf Publishes First Evidence of Cosmic Radiation
July 1915: William Lawrence Bragg Works on Sound Ranging for Artillery Detection
June 15, 2013: Death of Kenneth Wilson
May 1618: Kepler’s Discovery of Solar System Harmonics
April 14, 1932: Cockcroft and Walton Split the Atom
March 29, 1959: Lyman Briggs Publishes Research Results on Spin of a Baseball.
February 6, 1970: Luis Alvarez’s Paper in Science on Cosmic Rays and Pyramids
January 6, 1912: Alfred Wegener Presents His Theory of Continental Drift
December 1925: Manne Siegbahn wins Nobel Prize in Physics for x-ray spectroscopy
November 9, 1825: Public Demonstration of the Limelight
October 2006: Definitive discovery of element 118 announced
August 15, 1934: World-Record Dive in the Bathysphere by Barton and Beebe
July 2, 1698: Thomas Savery Patents an Early Steam Engine
June 30, 1908: The Tunguska Event
April 17, 1969: Robert R. Wilson’s Congressional Testimony on Founding Fermilab
March 22, 1895: Screening of the Lumière Brothers’ First Film
February 11, 1738: Jacques de Vaucanson Exhibits Flute-playing Automaton
January 1, 1995: Confirmation of the Existence of Rogue Waves
December 12, 1921: Death of Henrietta Swan Leavitt
November 1974: Discovery of the Charmed Quark
October 1910: First infrared photographs published
August 5, 1816: Sir Francis Ronalds’ telegraph design rejected
July 8, 1680: The First Experiments that Inspired 18th Century "Chladni Figures"
June 16, 1657: Christiaan Huygens Patents the First Pendulum Clock
May 7, 1959: C.P. Snow gives his "Two Cultures" lecture
March 19, 1800: Alexander von Humboldt Hunts Electric Eels
February 6, 1971: Alan Shepard Hits a Golf Ball on the Moon
January 15, 1919: Physics and the Boston Molasses Flood
December 31, 1691: Death of Robert Boyle
November 7, 1940: Collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
August 1827: Robert Brown and Molecular Motion in a Pollen-filled Puddle
July 1816: Fresnel's Evidence for the Wave Theory of Light
June 1785: Coulomb Measures the Electric Force
May 29, 1919: Eddington Observes Solar Eclipse to Test General Relativity
April 28, 1831: Birth of Peter Guthrie Tait, Pioneer of Knot Theory
March 1844: Publication of Faraday’s Letter Describing His Ice Pail Experiment
February 1811: Amadeo Avogadro Enumerated the Molecular World
January 22, 1980: Soviet Dissident Andrei Sakharov Arrested
December 1910: Neon lights debut at Paris Motor Show
November 1696: William Whiston’s Explanation for Noah’s Flood
October 8, 1945: First Patent for the Microwave
August 1620: Kepler’s Mother Imprisoned for Witchcraft
July 2, 1591: Death of Vincenzo Galilei
June 1849: James Prescott Joule and the Mechanical Equivalent of Heat
May 5, 1933: The New York Times Covers Discovery of Cosmic Radio Waves
April 28, 1926: Schroedinger Describes “Wave Mechanics” in Letter to Einstein
March 9, 1611: Dutch astronomer Johannes Fabricius observes sunspots
February 11, 1939: Meitner/Frisch paper on nuclear fission
January 1, 1925: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Day the Universe Changed
December 20, 1951: First Electricity Generated by Atomic Power
November 10, 1986: Death of Leona Woods Marshall Libby
October 13, 1967: Kastler reviews his Nobel-winning work on Hertzian resonances in Science
August 18 and October 20, 1868: Discovery of Helium
July 19, 1595: Kepler’s Insight Leading to Mysterium Cosmographicum
May 21, 1946: Louis Slotin Becomes Second Victim of “Demon Core”
April 3, 1965: Power in the Sky
March 1880: The Curie Brothers Discover Piezoelectricity
February 1932: James Chadwick’s Letter to Nature on the Neutron
January 23, 1952: Alan Turing’s house is burglarized
December: Women and the Nobel Prize in Physics
November 2002: Perelman Posts Proof of Poincaré Conjecture to arXiv
October 1993: Congress Cancels Funding for the SSC
Lord Rayleigh and the Discovery of Argon: August 13, 1894
July 21, 2004: Hawking concedes bet on black hole information loss
June 10, 1854: Riemann’s classic lecture on curved space
May 11, 1962: Feynman’s “Brownian Ratchet”
April 10, 1661: Hooke’s pamphlet on capillary action
March 23, 1882: Birth of Emmy Noether
February 26, 1870: First pneumatic powered subway line in New York City
January 2, 1839: First Daguerrotype of the Moon
December 18, 1926: Gilbert Lewis coins “photon” in letter to Nature
November 1777: Discovery of Lichtenberg Figures
October, 1644: Torricelli Demonstrates the Existence of a Vacuum: Elegant physics experiment; enduring practical invention
August 10, 1915: Henry G.J. Moseley Killed in Action
July 24, 1954: Operation Moon Bounce
June 1911: Invention of the Geiger Counter
May 29, 1948: Results of first experiment on the Casimir effect
April 23, 1762: Joseph Black and Latent Heat
March 6, 1913: Bohr describes his model of atom to Rutherford
February 6, 1957: MIT introduces the first cryotron
January 19, 1894: James Dewar produces solid air
December 2, 1942: First self-sustained nuclear chain reaction
Nov. 19, 1711: Birth of Mikhail Lomonosov, Russia’s first modern scientist
October 21, 1914: Birth of Samuel W. Alderson, inventor of the crash test dummy
August 15, 1758: Death of Pierre Bouguer
July 21, 2000: Fermilab announces first direct evidence for tau neutrino
June 1941: Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil submit patent for radio frequency hopping
François-Marie Raoult and Raoult’s Law: May 23, 1887
April 16, 1901: Death of Henry Rowland
March 16, 1699: William Chaloner, counterfeiter, hanged
February 12, 1935: Patent granted for Van de Graaff generator
January 10, 1919: Death of Wallace Sabine, pioneer of architectural acoustics
December 20, 1900: Nature reports on William Duddell’s “musical arcs”
November 11, 1930: Patent granted for Einstein-Szilard Refrigerator
October 18, 1933: Louis de Broglie elected to Academy
August 1774: Priestley isolates a new “air,” leading to discovery of oxygen
July 1849: Fizeau publishes results of speed of light experiment
Circa June 1748: Publication of <em>Analytical Institutions</em>
May 16, 1960: Maiman Builds First Working Laser
April 12, 1912: Victor Hess’s balloon flight during total eclipse to measure cosmic rays
March 21, 1768: Birth of Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier
February 3, 1925: Death of Oliver Heaviside
January 15, 1955: "Characteristics of Bubble Chambers" Published in <em>Physical Review</em>
December 1840: Joule’s abstract on converting mechanical power into heat
November 27, 1783: John Michell anticipates black holes
October 22, 2004: Discovery of Graphene
September, 1911–The Sackur-Tetrode Equation: How Entropy Met Quantum Mechanics
July 1654: Pascal’s Letters to Fermat on the “Problem of Points”
June 12, 1824: Sadi Carnot publishes treatise on heat engines
May 31, 1957: DeWitt’s Letter on Everett’s “Many Worlds” Theory
April 25, 1954: Bell Labs demonstrates the first practical silicon solar cell
March 13, 1930: Clyde Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto announced
February 1928: Raman Scattering Discovered
January 1998: The accelerating expansion of the universe
December 1706: Birth of Émilie du Châtelet
November 1919: Elmer Imes publishes work in infrared spectroscopy
October 1958: Physicist Invents First Video Game
August 1948: Maria Goeppert Mayer and the Nuclear Shell Model
July 1820: Oersted and electromagnetism
June 1798: Cavendish weighs the world
May 1801: Thomas Young’s double slit experiment
April 1, 1948: The alpha beta gamma paper explains the origin of the elements
March 1, 1896: Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity
February 1927: Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
January 1925 & 1929: Edwin Hubble Expands our View of the Universe
December 1938: Discovery of nuclear fission
November 1887: Michelson and Morley report their failure to detect the luminiferous ether
October, 1957: Soviets launch first satellites into orbit
September 1904: Robert Wood debunks N-rays
July 1957: Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer submit their paper, “Theory of Superconductivity”
June 1876: Edward Bouchet becomes the first African American PhD in physics
May 1932: Chadwick reports the discovery of the neutron
April 1911: Kamerlingh Onnes Begins work on Superconductivity
March 16, 1938: Katharine Blodgett patents anti-reflective coatings
February 3, 1851: Léon Foucault demonstrates that Earth rotates
January 1925: Wolfgang Pauli announces the exclusion principle
December 23, 1750: Ben Franklin Attempts to Electrocute a Turkey
November, 1783: Intrepid physicist is first to fly
October 1847: Maria Mitchell Discovers a Comet
August 1913: Robert Millikan Reports His Oil Drop Results
July 3, 1977: MRI uses fundamental physics for clinical diagnosis
June, ca. 240 B.C. Eratosthenes Measures the Earth
May 1911: Rutherford and the Discovery of the Atomic Nucleus
April 1935: British Patent for Radar System for Air Defense Granted to Robert Watson-Watt
March 20, 1800: Volta describes the electric battery
February 1968: Discovery of pulsars announced.
January 1938: Discovery of Superfluidity
Einstein's quest for a unified theory
Einstein and the EPR Paradox
Einstein Lays Theoretical Foundation for BECs
Einstein predicts stimulated emission
Einstein's Biggest Blunder
Einstein's Attitudes Towards Women by guest columnist Nina Byers
Einstein and general relativity
Energy and mass are equivalent
Einstein and Special Relativity
Einstein and Brownian Motion
Einstein and The Photoelectric Effect
December 1898: The Curies Discover Radium
November 25, 1975: Patent for Full-body CAT Scan
October 1807: Invention of the camera lucida
August 1932: Discovery of the Positron
July 13, 1901: Santos-Dumont Flies Around Eiffel Tower
June 5, 1995: First Bose Einstein Condensate
May 1816: Germain Forms Theory of Elastic Surfaces
April 15, 1452: The Birth of a Visionary — Leonardo da Vinci
Lens Crafters Circa 1590:The Invention of the Microscope
February 9, 1990: Death of George de Mestral
January 1884: First U.S. Patent for a Roller Coaster
December 1958: Invention of the Laser
November 1, 1952: Teller and the Hydrogen Bomb
October 22, 1938: "Invention of Xerography"
September 1981: Invention of the scanning tunneling microscope
July 16, 1945: First nuclear bomb exploded
June 1931: Lawrence and the First Cyclotron
May 1888: Tesla Patents "Electric Transmission of Power"
April 18, 1916: Langmuir Patents the Incandescent Lamp
March 13, 1781: Herschel discovers the planet Uranus
February 1987: Discovery of Supernova 1987A
Circa January 1961: Lorenz and the Butterfly Effect
December 14, 1989: Death of Andrei Sakharov
November 1872: Death of Mary Somerville
October 1900: Max Planck's formula for black body radiation.
August 1946: The Moore School Lectures
June 1963: Discovery of the cosmic microwave background
June 1871: Maxwell and his Demon
May 24, 1844: Morse and the telegraph.
April 1995: Discovery of the top quark at Fermilab
Circa March 1935: Schroedinger's Paradoxical Cat
February 1996: Kasparov vs. Deep Blue
January 1665: Publication of Hooke's Micrographia
December 27, 1956: Fall of Parity Conservation.
November 8, 1895: Roentgen's Discovery of X-Rays
October 1871: Babbage's Successful Failure—The First Computer
September 4, 1821 and August 29, 1831: Faraday and electromagnetism.
July 20, 1969: The first manned lunar landing.
June 29, 1954: Oppenheimer's Security Clearance Revoked
May 1609: Galileo first hears about the telescope.
April 1946: First Concept of Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer
March 16, 1926: Launch of the First Liquid Fuel Rocket
February 2, 1893: Edison Records First Sneeze on Film
January 28, 1986: The Challenger Explosion
December 29, 1959: Feynman's Classic Caltech Lecture
November 17 - December 23, 1947: Invention of the First Transistor
October 1897: The Discovery of the Electron
September 1905: Einstein's Most Famous Formula
July 5, 1687: Publication of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia
June 2 - 4, 1947: The Shelter Island Conference
May 10, 1752: First experiment to draw electricity from lightning
April 26, 1920: The Shapley-Curtis Debate
March 10, 1876: The First Transmission of Speech