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February 15 Science History

Science History of February 15


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

2002 - Yucca Mountain site approved for nuclear waste storage facility.

The US Congress approved the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada for the storage of radioactive waste materials. The site is near the Nevada Test Site where the US tested nuclear weapons. The site was never opened due to constant legal and budget issues. The funding for Yucca Mountain was removed entirely from the Federal budget in 2009.

1999 - Henry Way Kendall died.

Kendall was an American physicist who shares the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics with Jerome Isaac Friedman and Richard E. Taylor for discovering evidence proving the existence of quarks. They used high energy electron beams targetted at protons and neutrons and investigated the scattering from the collisions. They found both protons and neutrons were not solid balls of matter but made up of smaller particles.

1988 - Richard Phillips Feynman died.

Feynman was an American physicist who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering work in the field of quantum electrodynamics. He is known for his parton theory that was an early form of quark theory and the introduction of Feynman diagrams used to graphically illustrate the interactions between particles.

1959 - Owen Willans Richardson died.

Richardson a British physicist who was awarded the 1928 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on thermionic emissions where electrons flow over or off hot metal surfaces. He demonstrated an exponential relationship between current and temperature of a wire. This relationship is known as Richardson's Law that shows the amount of thermal energy required for an electron to transfer from one atom to another on a metal surface.

1873 - Hans von Euler-Chelpin was born

Hans von Euler-Chelpin (1873 - 1964)
Nobel Prize Foundation
Euler-Chelpin was a Swedish biochemist who shares the 1929 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Arthur Harden for their investigations into the process of fermentation and the actions of enzymes during fermentation. His research concerned the action of enzymes on a substrate is a bond between an acid group and a alkaline group. He isolated the cozymase, the coenzyme of the yeast enzyme zymase, and determined its structure.

1861 - Charles Édouard Guillaume was born.

Charles Edouard Guillaume (1861 - 1938)
Nobel Foundation
Guillaume was the Swiss physicist who was awarded the 1920 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with nickel steel alloys. He discovered the two alloys, invar and elinvar, each having unique physical properties. Invar has a very small coefficient of thermal expansion making it useful for precision instruments where temperature varies. Elinvar is a non-magnetic alloy with a very small thermal coefficient of the modulus of elasticity. It is used to make springs for precision instruments.

1858 - William Henry Pickering was born.

William Henry Pickering (1858 - 1938)
Library of Congress
Pickering was an American astronomer who discovered Phoebe, the ninth moon of Saturn. He believed he had discovered a tenth moon and named it Themis, but his moon turned out to be artifacts on the photographic plates. He also searched for "Planet X", a planet that he predicted to be outside the orbit of Neptune that caused perturbations in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune.

1826 - George Johnstone Stoney was born.

Stoney was an Irish physicist who was the first to suggest electric charge came in discrete units and is credited for coining the term 'electron' for the basic unit of charge. He was also one of the first to identify the vibration of individual molecules and atoms as the cause for spectral emission lines.

1564 - Galileo Galilei was born.

Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642)
Giusto Sustermans
Galileo was an Italian natural philosopher who is considered the Father of observational science. He developed several laws of kinetics through careful and repeated experimentation of falling bodies. He was also one of the first to utilize a telescope to observe lunar craters and discovered four moons of the planet Jupiter. He published a defense of Copernicus' theory where the Earth revolves around the Sun that caused conflict with the Catholic Church who denounced and convicted him of heresy and spent the last part of his life under house arrest.

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