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December 14 Science History

Science History of December 14


Learn about the history of science by reading about the significant scientific events that took place on this day in history.

1962 - Mariner 2 arrives at Venus

Mariner 2 Spacecraft
NASA's Mariner 2 spacecraft arrived at the planet Venus. It passed within 22,000 miles of the planet and took measurements of the atmosphere and surface. It reported the atmosphere was very hot and composed mostly of carbon dioxide. It also discovered Venus has no magnetic field or radiation belts like Earth. Mariner 2 was the first spacecraft to travel to another planet.

1922 - Nikolay Gennadiyevich Basov was born.

Basov is a Russian physicist who shares half the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics with Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prokhorov for their research into quantum electronics. Basov and Prokhorov was working to use gases to amplify electromagnetic radiation. They found that if ammonia gas was excited at a particular frequency, the molecules would resonate and cause a population inversion that creates a coherent beam of microwaves. This was the first maser, or Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, the forerunner to the laser. He has also developed lasers using semiconductors to produce the coherent light.

1914 - Solomon Spiegelman was born.

Spiegelman was an American microbiologist and geneticist who developed the technique of nucleic acid hybridization. This method allows geneticists the ability to remove specific DNA and RNA strands from cells and is the foundation of present day recombinant DNA technology. This technology is important in the manufacture of medicines, cloning, and transgenic procedures.

1909 - Edward Lawrie Tatum was born.

Tatum was an American biochemist who shares half the 1958 Nobel Prize in Medicine with George Wells Beadle for discovering how genes regulate biochemical events within cells. Their research involved mutating bread mold with x-rays and showing how these mutations changed the enzymes involved in metabolic pathways. Tatum also showed the bacteria E. coli shares genetic information through recombination.

1546 - Tycho Brahe was born.

Tycho Brahe (1546 - 1601)
Eduard Ender
Brahe was a Danish astronomer who developed instruments to measure the positions and motions of stars and planets before the invention of the telescope. He cataloged over 700 stars with a high degree of accuracy using a nine-foot armillary sphere and his fourteen-foot mural quadrant. He also measured the positions of the known planets which became the data his assistant Johannes Kepler used to determine his laws of planetary motion.

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