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January 8 Science History

Science History of January 8


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

2002 - Alexander Mikhaylovich Prokhorov died.

Prokhorov was a Russian physicist who shares half the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics with Nicolay Gennadiyevich Basov for their development of quantum electronics and the invention of the maser. A maser is a device that creates coherent microwave radiation. Maser stands for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation and is the forerunner of the laser.

1997 - Melvin Calvin died.

Melvin Calvin (1911 - 1997)
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/DOE
Calvin was an American chemist who was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize in Chemistry his discovery of the Calvin cycle. The Calvin cycle is a series of reactions that describe carbon fixing in plants. It is a light-independent reaction and sometimes referred to as a dark reaction.

1980 - John William Mauchly died.

Mauchly was an American engineer who, with J. Presper Eckert, invented the first general purpose telectronic computer ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer). The computer was built for the United States Army to calculate ballistic trajectories.

1942 - Stephen W. Hawking was born.

Stephen Hawking
Hawking is a British physicist who has made several contributions to cosmology and quantum effects of gravity. His work with gravitational singularities (black holes) predicts energy should be emitted from within black holes. This energy, known as Bekenstein-Hawking radiation, is caused by quantum effects of gravity and predicts how black holes could lose mass and disappear over time.

1891 - Walther Bothe was born.

Bothe was a German physicist who shared the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physics with Max Born for his work on coincidence or how a particle can act as a wave. He detected electrons passing through two adjacent Geiger tubes at almost the same time to show momentum and energy are conserved at the atomic level. He later used this 'coincident method' to determine cosmic rays where really massive particles rather than photons.

1642 - Galileo Galilei died.

Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642)
Giusto Sustermans
Galileo was an Italian natural philosopher who is considered the Father of observational science. He developed several laws of kinetics through careful and repeated experimentation of falling bodies. He was also one of the first to utilize a telescope to observe lunar craters and discovered four moons of the planet Jupiter. He published a defense of Copernicus' theory where the Earth revolves around the Sun that caused conflict with the Catholic Church who denounced and convicted him of heresy and spent the last part of his life under house arrest.

1587 - Johannes Fabricius was born.

Fabricius was a German astronomer and son of astronomer David Fabricius who was the first to observe sunspots. He was using his father's telescope to observe the Sun as the sun rose in the morning and observed several dark spots on the face of the Sun. In order to preserve their eyesight and still observe the phenomenon, the pair invented the process of camera obscura observation. Camera obscura passes the telescope's light onto a screen in a darkened box or room and is a common method today to observe the sun during solar eclipses.
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