Photo Credit: TRF_Mr_Hydecc
On January 30, 1950, the development of the hydrogen fusion bomb was ordered by President Harry Truman. This new type of thermonuclear device was far more powerful than the fission bombs used against Japan in WWII.
On February 1st, 101 years ago, fingerprints were used for the first time in the US to convict a person in a court of law. Thomas Jennings was sentenced to death and hanged in Cook County, Illinois for the murder of Clarence Hiller.
Photo credit: BBC Hulton Picture Library
Crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale was born 110 years ago yesterday. She developed new x-ray technology in order to study crystal structures. Her work, though seemingly esoteric, had an enormous impact on organic chemistry. She was the first woman to be elected (1945) to the Royal Society of London. Born into an Irish middle class family of ten at a time when it was rare for women to even attend college, she went on to become a tenured professor at University College London and the first woman president of the Union of Crystallography.
The first commercially viable “mechanical calculating machine” was patented to a William Seward Burroughs, born January 28, 1855. The patent was submitted in 1885 and he formed his company, the American Arithmometer Company, shortly after, in 1886 (we kind of wish there were still companies around with names like that…) The wealth built by his invention enabled his grandson, William S. Burroughs II, to become a member of the beat generation instead of a banker. You could say his poetry was built partly by a calculator…
Photo Credit: Cecil Sanders via cc
(Not specific to January, but sort of feels that way after last week…)
In 1400, and a few centuries before and after, it was significantly colder across the globe than normally… the world was in the midst of the Little Ice Age. Average temperatures across the globe plunged and stunted human population growth and agricultural potential for much of the (normally) temperate world. The Norse colonies in Greenland starved and vanished and the population of Iceland was halved. Certain agricultural products were abandoned because of changing rain patterns…orange crops in southern China failed and the Thames River in London froze. The Little Ice Age only ended about one hundred years ago, at the end of the 19th century or the early 20th century, bringing about another re-adjustment in agriculture and population (ahem, Great Plains).
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Development of a thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb began during the the Manhattan project and a great deal of work had been done *before* Truman’s directive in 1950. It was in no small part this work done at Los Alamos that prompted the directive in the first place: