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December 24 Science History

Science History of December 24


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

1979 - First rocket of the European Space Agency launched.

Model of ESA's Ariane 1 rocket
Wikimedia Commons
The European Space Agency launched their Ariane 1 rocket. The Ariane rocket was the first to be designed by the ESA to replace their unsuccessful Europa missile technology. The Ariane 1 is the first of a family of rockets are the primary launch vehicles for the ESA and commercial satellite programs.

1968 - Apollo 8 orbits the Moon.

Apollo 8 view of Earth-rise from Moon orbit.
Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders became the first to orbit the Moon aboard Apollo 8. The mission was televised and viewers saw their first close up of the surface of the Moon. It was also the first time the dark side of the Moon was directly viewed.

1914 - John Muir died.

John Muir (1838 - 1914)
Wikipedia Commons
Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist who is considered the founder of the environmental movement. He actively sought to preserve the Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park and formed the Sierra Club, the largest environmental organization in the United States. Minor Trivia: He appears on the the California state quarter released in 2005.

1872 - William John Macquorn Rankine died.

William John Macquorn Rankine (1820 - 1872)
Miscellaneous Scientific Papers/Willaim Rankine
Rankine was a Scottish engineer and physicist who was a pioneer of thermodynamics. He developed a theory relating the pressure of steam to its temperature in a steam engine. He determined the specific heat of steam had a negative value and described the dynamics involved in a steam engine in terms of energy instead of forces and motion. The Rankine absolute temperature scale based on the Fahrenheit temperature scale is named in his honor.

1818 - James Prescott Joule was born.

James Prescott Joule (1808 - 1889)
Henry Roscoe/The Life & Experiences of Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe 1906
Joule was an English physicist who related heat energy to mechanical work leading to the conservation of energy law. He is also known for Joule's law relating the heat generated by an electrical resistor and the current passing though it. The SI unit for energy is named in his honor.

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