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January 31 Science History

Science History of January 31


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

1971 - Apollo 14 mission to Moon launched.

Apollo 14 Crew - Astronauts Roosa, Shepard, and Mitchell
NASA launched the Apollo 14 mission to the Moon. It would become their third successful mission to the Moon. The mission also was the return of America's first man in space, Alan Shepard as the commander of the mission.

1958 - United States launches first satellite.

Explorer 1 satellite, First U.S. satellite
The United States launched their first satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit. This satellite discovered Earth's Van Allen radiation belts. The Van Allen belts are a distribution of high energy ions held in place by Earth's magnetic field.

1950 - U.S. announces hydrogen bomb project.

The 3-1/4 mile diameter fireball from Mike was the largest ever produced.
Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Site Office
President Truman announced the program to develop the hydrogen (or fusion) bomb. The project produced bombs that use the energy produced by an atomic weapon to cause fusion of hydrogen in a second part of the bomb. This would release additional energy and make a much larger explosion. In just under three years, the United States tested their first thermonuclear device during Operation Ivy - Test Mike.

1929 - Rudolf Mössbauer was born.

Mössbauer is a German physicist who was awarded half the 1961 Nobel Prize in Physics for his research on the interactions between gamma rays and matter and the discovery of the Mössbauer effect. the Mössbauer effect describes the recoil-free absorption and transmission of gamma rays by atoms in solids.

1881 - Irving Langmuir was born.

Irving Langmuir (1881 - 1957)
Nobel Prize Foundation
Langmuir was an American chemist who was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Dr. Katherine B. Blodgett. He was the first non-academic chemist to be awarded the prize. The work was primarily about monolayers and surface absorption and created an entirely new discipline of thin film chemistry. He also contributed to atomic theory by proposing that atoms try to complete their outer shells with eight electrons (the octet rule).

1868 - Theodore William Richards was born.

Theodore William Richards (1868 - 1928)
Nobel Prize Foundation
Richards was an American chemist who determined accurate measurements of elemental atomic weights suggesting the existence of isotopes. He was awarded the 1914 Nobel Prize in recognition of his work in this area.

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