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February 5 Science History

Science History of February 5


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

1974 - Mariner 10 arrives at Venus.

Mariner 10 Spacecraft
NASA's Mariner 10 made its closest approach to Venus and sent back the first close-up images of the planet. The probe came within 3,600 miles of the surface of Venus before continuing on to the planet Mercury.

1963 - Barnum Brown died.

Brown was an American fossil hunter who was the first to discover and collect the remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex. He was employed by the American Museum of Natural History to travel the country purchasing artifacts of scientific interest. His digs at Hell Creek, Montana produced several interesting fossils.

1915 - Robert Hofstadter was born.

Hofstadter was an American physicist who was awarded half the 1961 Nobel Prize in Physics for his studies of the structure of the nucleons using electron scattering. He discovered that both the proton and neutron have a positively charged core surrounded by a double cloud of pi-mesons. Both clouds are positively charged in the proton, but in the neutron the inner cloud is negatively charged giving a net zero charge.

1914 - Alan Lloyd Hodgkin was born.

Hodgkin was a British biophysicist who shares the 1963 Nobel Prize in Medicine with John Eccles and Andrew Huxley for their research into nerve cells. They discovered the chemical processes that dictate the passage of impulses along nerve fibers.

1897 - State of Indiana votes to set pi = 3.2.

Indiana General Assembly votes unanimously to pass a bill set the value of π equal to 3.2. The bill made it to the state senate where a professor of mathematics from Perdue University, Clarence Waldo managed to educate lawmakers in time to postpone the bill indefinitely. π is the ratio between the circumference of a circle to the diameter.

1872 - Lafayette Benedict Mendel was born.

Lafayette Mendel (1872 - 1935)
Library of Congress
Mendel was an American biochemist who, together with Thomas B. Osborne discovered vitamins A and B, lysine and tryptophan and their role in nutrition. They also studied the toxin ricin from castor beans.

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