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April 8, 2014 AT 6:00 am

Time travel Tuesday #timetravel a look back at the Adafruit, maker, science, technology and engineering world

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The scenery is time bound but the seer is timeless. You are the timeless seer in the midst of time bound scenery. ~Deepak Chopra

1732 – David Rittenhouse, renowned American astronomer and mathematician is born.


David Rittenhouse was a renowned American astronomer, inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official. Rittenhouse was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the first director of the United States Mint.

In 1768 the same year that he became a member of the American Philosophical Society, Rittenhouse announced plans to observe a pending transit of Venus across the Sun from several locations. The American Philosophical Society persuaded the legislature to grant £100 towards the purchase of new telescopes, and members volunteered to man half of the 22 telescope stations when the event arrived.

The transit of Venus occurred on 3 June 1769. Rittenhouse’s great excitement at observing the infrequently occurring transit of Venus (for which he had prepared for a year) resulted in his fainting during the observation. In addition to the work involved in the preparations, he had also been ill the week before the transit. Lying on his back beneath the telescope, trained at the afternoon sun, he regained consciousness after a few minutes and continued his observations. His account of the transit, published in the American Philosophical Society’s Transactions, does not mention his fainting, though it is otherwise meticulous in its record and documented.

Rittenhouse used the observations to calculate the distance from Earth to the Sun to be 93-million miles. (This is the approximate average distance between Earth and the Sun.) The published report of the transit was hailed by European scientists, and Rittenhouse would correspond with famous contemporary astronomers, such as Jérôme Lalande and Franz Xaver von Zach.

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1904 – Longacre Square in Midtown Manhattan is renamed Times Square after The New York Times


In 1904, New York Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs moved the newspaper’s operations to a new skyscraper on 42nd Street at Longacre Square. Ochs persuaded Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. to construct a subway station there, and the area was renamed “Times Square” on April 8, 1904. Just three weeks later, the first electrified advertisement appeared on the side of a bank at the corner of 46th Street and Broadway.

The New York Times, according to Nolan, moved to more spacious offices west of the square in 1913. The old Times Building was later named the Allied Chemical Building. Now known simply as One Times Square, it is famed for the Times Square Ball drop on its roof every New Year’s Eve.

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1911 – Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovers superconductivity.


Superconductivity is a phenomenon of exactly zero electrical resistance and expulsion of magnetic fields occurring in certain materials when cooled below a characteristic critical temperature. It was discovered by Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes on April 8, 1911 in Leiden. Like ferromagnetism and atomic spectral lines, superconductivity is a quantum mechanical phenomenon. It is characterized by the Meissner effect, the complete ejection of magnetic field lines from the interior of the superconductor as it transitions into the superconducting state. The occurrence of the Meissner effect indicates that superconductivity cannot be understood simply as the idealization of perfect conductivity in classical physics.

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1911 – Melvin Calvin, American chemist and Nobel Prize laureate is born.


Calvin joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley in 1937 and was promoted to Professor of Chemistry in 1947. Using the carbon-14 isotope as a tracer, Calvin, Andrew Benson and James Bassham mapped the complete route that carbon travels through a plant during photosynthesis, starting from its absorption as atmospheric carbon dioxide to its conversion into carbohydrates and other organic compounds. In doing so, Calvin, Benson and Bassham showed that sunlight acts on the chlorophyll in a plant to fuel the manufacturing of organic compounds, rather than on carbon dioxide as was previously believed. Calvin was the sole recipient of the 1961 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for what is sometimes known as the Calvin-Benson-Bassham Cycle. Calvin wrote an autobiography three decades later titled Following the Trail of Light: A Scientific Odyssey. During the 1950s he was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research. In 1963 he was given the additional title of Professor of Molecular Biology. He was founder and Director of the Laboratory of Chemical Biodynamics and simultaneously Associate Director of Berkeley Radiation Laboratory, where he conducted much of his research until his retirement in 1980. In his final years of active research, he studied the use of oil-producing plants as renewable sources of energy. He also spent many years testing the chemical evolution of life and wrote a book on the subject that was published in 1969.

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1946 – Électricité de France, the world’s largest utility company, is formed as a result of the nationalization of a number of electricity producers, transporters and distributors.


Électricité de France S.A. (EDF; Electricity of France) is a French electric utility company, largely owned by the French government. Headquartered in Paris, France, with €65.2 billion in revenues in 2010, EDF operates a diverse portfolio of 120,000+ megawatts of generation capacity in Europe, South America, North America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

EDF is the world’s largest producer of electricity. In 2011, it produced 22% of the European Union’s electricity, primarily from nuclear power:

  • nuclear: 84.7%;
  • renewable energy: 8.3% (among which 4.6% from hydroelectric plants);
  • gas: 2.7%
  • charcoal: 2.7%
  • fuel: 1.2%
  • other: 0.4%

Its 58 active nuclear reactors (in France) are spread out over 20 sites (nuclear power plants). They comprise 34 reactors of 900 MWe, 20 reactors of 1300 MWe, and 4 reactors of 1450 MWe, all PWRs.

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1959 – A team of computer manufacturers, users, and university people led by Grace Hopper meets to discuss the creation of a new programming language that would be called COBOL.


COBOL is one of the oldest programming languages, designed in 1959 by the Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL) and largely based on previous programming language design work by Grace Hopper. The name is an acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments.

International standards have been issued for COBOL roughly every decade since its inception. The latest COBOL 2002 standard includes support for object-oriented programming and other modern language features.

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2011 – Adafruit is on PBS!

How ‘gesture technology’ like the Microsoft Kinect will change the way we live… Adafruit appears at the 2:00 minute-ish mark, great segment!

Here’s a term you may not have heard yet — but we can just about guarantee that you will. It’s called “gesture technology” — using our body movements to control a computer. No keyboard, no mouse. It may just represent a major leap in how we will communicate in digital world. It might sound like just another way to sell gaming devices, but this story is about how gaming technology is being used to change the way we live.

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