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February 20 Science History

Science History of February 20

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

1986 - Space station Mir launched.

Space Station Mir (1998)
NASA
The Soviet Union launched the first piece of the first long-term space station. The core module would provide living quarters for the crew. Mir was continuously crewed by Soviet and later, Russian cosmonauts for 15 years. The station was opened to other international astronauts and hosted the first space tourist.

1982 - René Jules Dubos died.

Dubos was a French-American microbiologist who's antibacterial research produced many antibiotics. He also studied the social and environmental factors that affect people and was one of the earliest environmentalists. He was known for being the originator the maxim "Think Globally, Act Locally".

1972 - Maria Goeppert-Mayer died.

Maria Goeppert Mayer (1906 - 1972)
Mayer was a German-American physicist who shares half the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics with Johannes Jensen for their theories of nuclear structure. They independently proposed the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus where the protons and neutrons are ordered in concentric layers or "shells".

1965 - Ranger 8 space probe crash lands on the Moon.

Ranger 8 Spacecraft
NASA
NASA's Ranger 8 spacecraft crashed into the surface of the Moon. It was designed to enter into low Moon orbit to take and transmit photographs of the surface of the Moon to learn more about the surface conditions in preparation for an eventual landing. Ranger 8 took over 7000 photographs before the collision in Mare Tranquilitatis.

1962 - John Glenn becomes first American to orbit the Earth.

John Herschel Glenn Jr.
US Congress
NASA astronaut John Glenn became the first US astronaut to orbit the earth. He was launched as part of the Project Mercury Friendship 7 program from Cape Canaveral, Florida. He orbited the Earth three times in just under 5 hours.

1937 - Robert Huber was born.

Huber is a German biochemist who shares the 1988 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Johann Deisenhofer and Hartmut Michel for the determination of the structure of the proteins essential for photosynthesis. They isolated the protein that was important to photosynthesis in purple bacteria and used x-ray crystallography to determine its structure. This led to the discovery of similar proteins necessary for photosynthesis in other cyanobacteria.

1907 - Henri Moissan died.

Henri Moissan (1852 - 1907)
Nobel Prize Foundation
Moissan was a French chemist who was awarded the 1906 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for isolating the element fluorine. He used electrolysis on a solution of potassium hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen fluoride. When the current was applied, the hydrogen was collected on the negative electrode and the fluorine gas was produced at the positive electrode.

He died suddenly from appendicitis shortly after returning home from accepting his prize.

1901 - René Jules Dubos was born.

Dubos was a French-American microbiologist who's antibacterial research produced many antibiotics. He also studied the social and environmental factors that affect people and was one of the earliest environmentalists. He was known for being the originator the maxim "Think Globally, Act Locally".

1892 - Hermann Franz Moritz Kopp died.

Hermann Franz Moritz Kopp (1817 - 1892)
Kopp was a German chemist best known for correlating the physical properties of organic compounds to their chemical structures. He was also considered chemistry's first historian when he published the four volume Geschichte der Chemie (History of Chemistry) which chronicled the history of science, chemistry, the elements and many organic compounds.

1844 - Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann was born.

Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann (1844 - 1906)
Boltzmann was an Austrian physicist best known for his work in statistical mechanics and thermodynamics and his kinetic theory of particles in a gas. His statistical methods helped bridge the gap between the thermodynamics of a large system and the microscopic molecular level. He is also known for the law relating the energy given off by a black body object as a function of its temperature.

1841 - Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner died.

Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertuerner (1783 - 1841)
Wikimedia Commons
Sertürner was a German pharmacist who first isolated morphine from opium. It was the first alkaloid to be extracted from a plant source. Morphine would become a widely used pain killer.

1762 - Tobias Mayer died.

Tobias Mayer (1723 - 1762)
Mayer was a German astronomer who discovered the libration or 'wobble' of the moon. He was also known for his accurate tide tables which aided navigators to determine their current longitude to within half a degree.

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