1858 – Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the diesel engine, is born.
Diesel understood thermodynamics and the theoretical and practical constraints on fuel efficiency. He knew that as much as 90% of the energy available in the fuel is wasted in a steam engine. His work in engine design was driven by the goal of much higher efficiency ratios. After experimenting with a Carnot Cycle engine, he developed his own approach. Eventually, he obtained a patent for his design for a compression-ignition engine. In his engine, fuel was injected at the end of compression and the fuel was ignited by the high temperature resulting from compression.
1937 – The human-powered aircraft, Pedaliante, flew 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) outside Milan and disputably became the first fully human powered flight.
Bossi and Bonomi enlisted Emilio Casco to pilot the Pedaliante. Casco was a major in the Italian Army and a very strong bicyclist. After several weeks of trials in early 1936, Casco took off in the Pedaliante and flew approximately 91.4 m (300 ft) completely under his own power, marking the first achievement of an aircraft obtaining and sustaining flight completely via human power. Although subsequent calculations have verified that this flight was physically possible, most agree that it was Casco’s considerable physical strength and endurance which performed the accomplishment; not a feat which could be attained by a typical person.
1965 – Cosmonaut Alexey Leonov, leaving his spacecraft Voskhod 2 for 12 minutes, became the first person to walk in space.
His walk in space was originally to have taken place on the Vostok 11 mission, but this was cancelled, and the historic event happened on the Voskhod 2 flight instead. He was outside the spacecraft for 12 minutes and nine seconds on 18 March 1965, connected to the craft by a 5.35-meter tether. At the end of the spacewalk, Leonov’s spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum of space to the point where he could not re-enter the airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit’s pressure to bleed off and was barely able to get back inside the capsule. Leonov had spent eighteen months undergoing intensive weightlessness training for the mission.
1968 – Gold standard: The U.S. Congress repealed the requirement for a gold reserve to back US currency.
As of 2013, no countries use a gold standard. From 1936 until 2000 the Swiss Franc was based on a 40% gold-reserve. Gold reserves are held in significant quantity by many nations as a means of defending their currency and hedging against the dollar, which forms the bulk of liquid currency reserves. Both gold coins and gold bars are traded in liquid markets and serve as a private store of wealth.
1990 – In the largest art theft in US history, 12 paintings, collectively worth around $300 million, were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.
In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990—as the city was preoccupied with Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations—a pair of thieves disguised as Boston police officers gained entry to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and stole thirteen works of art.
All together, the stolen pieces are estimated to be a loss of $500 million, making the robbery the largest private property theft ever. Several empty frames hang in the Dutch Room gallery, both in homage to the missing works and as placeholders for when they are returned. The stolen artworks have not yet been returned to the museum and the selection of works puzzles the experts, specifically since more valuable artworks were available.
In March 2013, the FBI said it believed it knows the identity of the thieves. They believe that the theft was carried out by a criminal organization based in the mid-Atlantic and New England, and that the stolen paintings were moved by a criminal organization through Connecticut and the Philadelphia area in the years following the theft. The FBI believes some of the art may have been sold in Philadelphia in the early 2000s.
Wow! The @Wired iPad app is out with video from Adafruit HQ. The DIY section is great, and there are all sorts of little easter eggs / animations in many of the stories, very fun to read. Available on iTunes now. Special thanks to our Adafruit team for being such a good sport with all the filming!
2013 – Adafruit releases 4 new tutorials into the Adafruit Learning System.
As Adafruit grows we keep adding more and more tutorials into our extensive learning system. On this day last year we added an Eagle tutorial (how to add a new package to a component), a tutorial for the MP006 Infrared Sensor Breakout, how to use Raspberry Pi as a media center, and how to use an IR remote with a Raspberry Pi media center. It was a very busy day! Read more.