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January 4 Science History

Science History of January 4


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

1961 - Erwin Schrödinger died.

Erwin Schrödinger (1887 - 1971)
Wikimedia Commons
Schrödinger was an Austrian physicist who shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with Paul Dirac for his contributions to atomic theory. Schrödinger's equation shows the quantum state or wavefunction of a particle as it changes in position and time. This equation is a basic tool of quantum mechanics.

1958 - Sputnik 1 returns to Earth

Sputnik 1 - First artificial satellite
The first artificial satellite, the Soviet Sputnik 1 re-entered the atmosphere. It spent 93 days in orbit transmitting a radio signal before burning up in the atmosphere. The launch of Sputnik 1 began the technological Space Race between the United States and Soviet Union.

1945 - Richard R. Schrock was born.

Schrock is an American organic chemist who shares the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Robert H. Grubbs and Yves Chauvin for their development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis. Shrock identified structures and mechanisms of olefin metathesis catalysts. Metathesis is an organic reaction that redistributes the bonds of similar interacting chemicals so the products' bonding affiliations are identical or similar to the reactants. It is used to create pharmaceuticals and petroleum polymers with less waste and byproducts.

1940 - Brian David Josephson was born.

Brian David Josephson
PetaRZ/Creative Commons
Josephson is a Welsh physicist who was awarded half the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the Josephson effect. When two superconducting materials are connected by a a thin insulating barrier, a current tunnels through the insulator. The ability of the current to pass through the barrier of the insulator is called the Josephson effect. This effect is an important principle of quantum-electronics.

1882 - John William Draper died.

John William Draper (1811 - 1882)
Smithsonian Institution
Draper was an English/American chemist who made major contributions to photochemistry. He found light could initiate chemical reactions. He described the point where objects will start to glow red when heated as the Draper Point and noted the rise in temperature as more and more light was added to an object. He modified Daguerre's photography technique and took the first photograph of the Moon that showed features and details. He also served as the first president of the American Chemical Society.

1761 - Stephen Hales died.

Stephen Hales (1677 – 1761)
The Gases of the Atmosphere, William Ramsay 1896
Hales was an English clergyman and natural philosopher who first charted the movement of water in plants and that they absorb air. He also discovered the dangers of breathing 'stale air' and invented a ventilator to use on ships and in prisons. He invented the pneumatic trough to collect gases in the laboratory.

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