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February 21 Science History

Science History of February 21

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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.

1999 - Gertrude Belle Elion died.

Elion was an American biochemist who shares the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine with James Black and George Hitchings for their work in developing drugs for a multitude of diseases and pathogens. Elion and Hitchings designed pharmaceuticals that relied on subtle biochemical differences between healthy cells and the pathogens that affect these cells. The drugs would target the difference and stop or kill the pathogen without harming the healthy cells.

1968 - Howard Walter Florey died.

Florey was an Australian pathologist who shared the 1945 Nobel Prize in Medicine with Ernst Boris Chain and Walter Fleming for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effects on various diseases. Florey and Chain discovered a method to isolate and purify penicillin for clinical use.

1947 - Polaroid debutes "instant photography"

The Polaroid Land camera made it's public debut. Edwin Land demonstrated his camera to that would allow people to produce a black and white photograph in about sixty seconds. The film contained the necessary chemicals to develop and fix the image directly on the photographic paper.

1941 - Frederick Grant Banting died.

Frederick Banting (1891 - 1941)
Arthur S. Goss / Library and Archives Canada
Banting was a Canadian physician who shares the 1923 Nobel Prize in Medicine with John James Richard Macleod for their parts in the discovery of insulin. He shared his prize money with his assistant Charles Best since they both worked on the extraction of insulin and discovering its role in the treatment of diabetes in dogs.

1938 - George Ellery Hale died.

George Ellery Hale (1868 - 1938)
Hale was an American astronomer who invented the spectroheliograph which allowed him to take photographs of the sun. He discovered the 22 year cycle of sunspot activity. He also founded the Mount Wilson observatory in southern California to study the sun. The 200 inch telescope at the Palomar Mountain Observatory was paid for by funds raised by him and ultimately was named the Hale telescope after his death.

1926 - Heike Kamerlingh Onnes died.

Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (1853 - 1926)
Nobel Prize Foundation
Onnes was a Dutch physicist who was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in low temperature physics and creating liquid helium. He also investigated the electrical properties of materials near absolute zero and discovered their electrical resistance nearly disappeared. He discovered mercury entered a state of superconductivity at 4.2 K.

1895 - Carl Peter Henrik Dam was born.

Vitamin K3 (Menadione)
Todd Helmenstine
Dam was a Danish biochemist who was awarded half the 1943 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of vitamin K. He discovered the nutrient after discovering that chickens would begin hemorrhaging and bleeding uncontrollably weeks after beginning a cholesterol-free diet. He isolated the vitamin needed to produce blood clotting and named it the "koagulation vitamin" or vitamin K.

1554 - Hieronymus Bock (Jerome Boch) died.

Hieronymus Bock (1498 - 1554)
Bock was a German physician and botanist who one of the earliest published botanists. He classified and arranged many German plants by their physical properties. His book "Kreuter Büch" (plant book) contained 700 different German plants with information on their characteristics and medicinal uses.

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