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November 15 Science History

Science History of November 15


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

1988 - Soviets launch their first space shuttle.

The Soviet Union launched their Buran (Snowstorm) space shuttle on its first and only flight. The shuttle was unmanned and orbitted the Earth for 206 minutes before returning to Earth for an automated landing. The Soviet shuttle program was shut down before another flight could be launched. Buran was destroyed in a hangar collapse in 2002.

1967 - Elmer Verner McCollum died.

McCollum was an American biochemist who made several contributions to the study of vitamins. He showed how rats with a diet lacking fats from butter or eggs failed to develop properly and determined butter and eggs contained a nutrient necessary for health that was soluble in fat. Casimir Funk had discovered another nutrient he called a "vital amine" that was water soluble. McCollum's nutrient was not an amine and shortened the name to vitamin. He also distinguished the difference between the vitamins with letters. Vitamin A was fat soluble, vitamin B was water soluble. He later discovered vitamin D while investigating cod liver oil and discovered the antirachitic factor of the vitamin.

1959 - Charles Thomson Rees Wilson died.

Wilson was a Scottish physicist who was awarded half the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the cloud chamber radiation detector. When charged particles would enter the chamber, vapor would condense along the path of the particle leaving small 'cloud' streaks. This device was widely used for most of early nuclear research.

1938 - André-Eugène Blondel died.

André-Eugène Blondel (1863 - 1938)
Wikimedia Commons
Blondel was a French physicist who made contributions to the study of photometry. He proposed the Violle candle unit as a measure of light intensity. The Violle was equal to the light intensity of 1 cm2 of platinum at 1042 K. This unit was later deprecated to the current unit of a candela (cd). He also introduced the unit of lumen for luminous flux which is still used. In the course of his research he invented a device called an oscillograph that was the precursor to the oscilloscope to measure the intensity of alternating currents and voltages.

1919 - Alfred Werner died.

Alfred Werner (1866 - 1919)
Nobel Prize Foundation
Alfred Werner was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work describing the linkage of complex ions around a central transition metal atom. This explained several unknown geometries of complex ions. He later used this to explain the differences between complexes with optical isomers and why they appear different from each other.

Werner was the first inorganic chemist to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The next inorganic chemist was Ernst Fischer and Geoffrey Wilkinson in 1973.

1874 - August Krogh was born.

August Krogh (1874 - 1949)
Krogh was a Danish physiologist who was awarded the 1920 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery on how the body regulates the flow of blood through capillaries in skeletal muscle tissue. He is also known for the Krogh principle that describes that for large numbers of problems, there will be some animal of choice that will make them most conveniently studied.

1819 - Daniel Rutherford died.

Daniel Rutherford (1749 - 1819)
William Ramsay/The Gases of the Atmosphere 1896
Rutherford was a Scottish chemist who discovered and isolated nitrogen gas. He kept a mouse in a container of air until it died, burned a candle until it was extinguished and finally burned phosphorus until it would not burn anymore. He passed the remaining gas through an alkaline solution to remove any carbon dioxide. Rutherford called the remaining gas "noxious air" or “phlogisticated air” because it would not support life or combustion.

1738 - Frederick William Herschel was born.

William Herschel (1738 - 1822)
Herschel was a German born British astronomer who discovered the planet Uranus and two of its moons. He also discovered infrared radiation and two moons of Saturn. He constructed over 400 telescopes over his career including a 40 foot focal length reflecting telescope that was the largest telescope in the world for nearly 50 years.

1672 - Franciscus Sylvius died.

Franciscus Sylvius - Franz de le Boë (1614 - 1672)
Sylvius was a Dutch physician and educator. He established the Sylvius Laboratory in Leiden University that was the first academic chemical laboratory. He also established the Iatrochemical School of Medicine. It was the first medical school founded on the principles of chemistry and physics instead of the metaphysical humors, phlegm and bile.

1630 - Johannes Kepler died.

Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1630)
Kepler was a German mathematician and astronomer who outlined the Kepler three laws of planetary motion. The first law says planets have elliptical orbits with the Sun at a focus. The second states a line joining the Sun and the planet sweeps out an equal area during an equal amount of time and the third law relates the orbital period of a planet and the semi-major axis of its orbit. These laws were instrumental in Newton's theory of gravitation.

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