Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions. ~John Randolph
1452 – Leonardo da Vinci, Italian painter, sculptor, and architect is born.
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. His genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived. According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and “his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote”. Marco Rosci states that while there is much speculation about Leonardo, his vision of the world is essentially logical rather than mysterious, and that the empirical methods he employed were unusual for his time.
Leonardo was, and is, renowned primarily as a painter. Among his works, the Mona Lisa is the most famous and most parodied portrait and The Last Supper the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. Leonardo’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also regarded as a cultural icon, being reproduced on items as varied as the euro coin, textbooks, and T-shirts. Perhaps fifteen of his paintings have survived, the small number because of his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination. Nevertheless, these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, compose a contribution to later generations of artists rivalled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.
Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised flying machines, a tank, concentrated solar power, an adding machine, and the double hull, also outlining a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded. He made important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had no direct influence on later science.
1707 – Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician and physicist is born.
Leonhard Euler was a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist. He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. He also introduced much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis, such as the notion of a mathematical function. He is also renowned for his work in mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics, astronomy, and music theory.
Euler is considered to be the pre-eminent mathematician of the 18th century and one of the greatest mathematicians to have ever lived. He is also one of the most prolific mathematicians; his collected works fill 60–80 quarto volumes. He spent most of his adult life in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in Berlin, Prussia.
A statement attributed to Pierre-Simon Laplace expresses Euler’s influence on mathematics: “Read Euler, read Euler, he is the master of us all.”
1755 – Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language is published in London.
Published on 15 April 1755 and written by Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, sometimes published as Johnson’s Dictionary, is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language.
There was dissatisfaction with the dictionaries of the period, so in June 1746 a group of London booksellers contracted Johnson to write a dictionary for the sum of 1,500 guineas (£1,575), equivalent to about £210,000 as of 2014. Johnson took nearly nine years to complete the work, although he had claimed he could finish it in three. Remarkably, he did so single-handedly, with only clerical assistance to copy out the illustrative quotations that he had marked in books. Johnson produced several revised editions during his life.
Until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 173 years later, Johnson’s was viewed as the pre-eminent English dictionary. According to Walter Jackson Bate, the Dictionary “easily ranks as one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship, and probably the greatest ever performed by one individual who labored under anything like the disadvantages in a comparable length of time”.
1865 – Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the previous evening by actor John Wilkes Booth.
Lincoln’s bodyguard, John Parker, left Ford’s Theater during intermission to join Lincoln’s coachman for drinks in the Star Saloon next door. The now unguarded President sat in his state box in the balcony. Seizing the opportunity, Booth crept up from behind and at about 10:13 pm, aimed at the back of Lincoln’s head and fired at point-blank range, mortally wounding the President. Major Henry Rathbone momentarily grappled with Booth, but Booth stabbed him and escaped.
After being on the run for 10 days, Booth was tracked down and found on a farm in Virginia, some 70 miles (110 km) south of Washington, D.C. After a brief fight with Union troops, Booth was killed by Sergeant Boston Corbett on April 26.
An Army surgeon, Doctor Charles Leale, was sitting nearby at the theater and immediately assisted the President. He found the President unresponsive, barely breathing and with no detectable pulse. Having determined that the President had been shot in the head, and not stabbed in the shoulder as originally thought, he made an attempt to clear the blood clot, after which the President began to breathe more naturally. The dying President was taken across the street to Petersen House. After remaining in a coma for nine hours, Lincoln died at 7:22 am on April 15. Presbyterian minister Phineas Densmore Gurley, then present, was asked to offer a prayer, after which Secretary of War Stanton saluted and said, “Now he belongs to the ages.”
Lincoln’s flag-enfolded body was then escorted in the rain to the White House by bareheaded Union officers, while the city’s church bells rang. President Johnson was sworn in at 10:00 am, less than 3 hours after Lincoln’s death. The late President lay in state in the East Room, and then in the Capitol Rotunda from April 19 through April 21. For his final journey with his son Willie, both caskets were transported in the executive coach “United States” and for three weeks the Lincoln Special funeral train decorated in black bunting bore Lincoln’s remains on a slow circuitous waypoint journey from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois stopping at many cities across the North for large-scale memorials attended by hundreds of thousands, as well as many people who gathered in informal trackside tributes with bands, bonfires and hymn singing or silent reverence with hat in hand as the railway procession slowly passed by.
1892 – The General Electric Company is formed.
General Electric, or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York, and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, in the United States. The company operates through the following segments: Energy [2013 inactive], Technology Infrastructure, Capital Finance as well as Consumer and Industrial.
General Electric was formed by the 1892 merger of Edison General Electric Company of Schenectady, New York, and Thomson-Houston Electric Company of Lynn, Massachusetts, with the help of Drexel, Morgan & Co. Both plants continue to operate under the GE banner to this day. The company was incorporated in New York, with the Schenectady plant used as headquarters for many years thereafter. Around the same time, General Electric’s Canadian counterpart, Canadian General Electric, was formed.
1910 – Miguel Najdorf, Polish-Argentinian chess grandmaster is born.
Miguel Najdorf was a Polish-born Argentine chess grandmaster, famous for his Najdorf Variation.
Although not a full-time chess professional (for many years he worked in the insurance business), he was one of the world’s leading chess players in the 1950s and 1960s and he excelled in playing blindfold chess: he broke the world record twice, by playing blindfold 40 games in Rosario, 1943, and 45 in São Paulo, 1947, becoming the world blindfold chess champion.
The Najdorf Variation in the Sicilian Defense, one of the most popular openings in modern chess, is named after him.
1912 – The British passenger liner RMS Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic at 2:20 a.m., two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg. Only 710 of 2,227 passengers and crew on board survive.
RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, UK to New York City, US. The sinking of Titanic caused the deaths of more than 1,500 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history. The RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat at the time it entered service. Titanic was the second of three Olympic class ocean liners operated by the White Star Line, and was built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast with Thomas Andrews as her naval architect. Andrews was among those lost during the sinking. On her maiden voyage, she carried 2,224 passengers and crew.
1923 – Insulin becomes generally available for use by people with diabetes.
Children dying from diabetic ketoacidosis were kept in large wards, often with 50 or more patients in a ward, mostly comatose. Grieving family members were often in attendance, awaiting the (until then, inevitable) death.
In one of medicine’s more dramatic moments, Banting, Best, and Collip went from bed to bed, injecting an entire ward with the new purified extract. Before they had reached the last dying child, the first few were awakening from their coma, to the joyous exclamations of their families…
Over the spring of 1922, Best managed to improve his techniques to the point where large quantities of insulin could be extracted on demand, but the preparation remained impure. The drug firm Eli Lilly and Company had offered assistance not long after the first publications in 1921, and they took Lilly up on the offer in April. In November, Lilly made a major breakthrough and was able to produce large quantities of highly refined insulin. Insulin was offered for sale shortly thereafter.
1952 – The maiden flight of the B-52 Stratofortress
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons.
Beginning with the successful contract bid in June 1946, the B-52 design evolved from a straight-wing aircraft powered by six turboprop engines to the final prototype YB-52 with eight turbojet engines and swept wings. The B-52 took its maiden flight in April 1952. Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B-52 Stratofortress replaced the Convair B-36. A veteran of several wars, the B-52 has dropped only conventional munitions in combat…
The B-52 has been in active service with the USAF since 1955. As of 2012, 85 were in active service with nine in reserve. The bombers flew under the Strategic Air Command (SAC) until it was inactivated in 1992 and its aircraft absorbed into the Air Combat Command (ACC); in 2010 all B-52 Stratofortresses were transferred from the ACC to the new Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs have kept the B-52 in service despite the advent of later aircraft, including the canceled Mach 3 B-70 Valkyrie, the variable-geometry B-1 Lancer, and the stealth B-2 Spirit. The B-52 completed fifty years of continuous service with its original operator in 2005; after being upgraded between 2013 and 2015, it is expected to serve into the 2040s.
We are pleased to announce the Adafruit “engineering quotes” database!
What is it?
The Adafruit “engineering quotes” database will eventually be the largest and best collection of quotes about engineering (with some science mixed in) in the world. Over time we will allow anyone to contribute quotes wiki-style, but for now you can just use our contact form. With all your help we think this will be a fun resource to get inspired by and to contribute to.
How does it work?
For now we’re slowly adding quotes, each day or so (we only have a handful now). You can visit the page, subscribe to the RSS feed or just follow us on twitter, the quotes appear in all of these places in addition to being on the lower left side of the site at all times. This will also be a data-source for some future projects of ours, stay tuned – we think you’ll love it
Why are we doing this?
We can answer the “why” with one of our favorite quotes – “We are what we celebrate” -Dean Kamen (Added on:2011-04-13)
Enjoy! A feel free to post up your favorite engineering quotes in the comment of this post too!
Our SAMSUNG TECHWIN SMT SM482 pick and place machine is 1 year old today!
Adafruit’s new pick and place machine has arrived! The Samsung Techwin SMT SM482, clocking in at over 28,000 cph. Samsung here is training our team for the week, we’ll be posting up photos for our weekly feature #manufacturing and celebrating “Made in NY”. According to Samsung we are the only company in Manhattan with this pick and place machine!
Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!
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