Look well to this day. Yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day. ~Francis Gray
1784 – Friedrich Bessel, German mathematician and astronomer is born.
Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel was a German astronomer, mathematician (systematizer of the Bessel functions, which were discovered by Daniel Bernoulli). He was the first astronomer to determine the distance from the sun to another star by the method of parallax.
Although he left school at the age of 14, he was appointed in January 1810 as director of the Königsberg Observatory by King Frederick William III of Prussia. On the recommendation of fellow mathematician and physicist Carl Gauss he was awarded a honorary doctor degree from the University of Göttingen in March 1811.
Bessel won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1829 and 1841. The asteroid 1552 Bessel was named in his honour.
1894 – The first ever motor race is held in France between the cities of Paris and Rouen. The fastest finisher was the Comte Jules-Albert de Dion, but The ‘official’ victory was awarded to Albert Lemaître driving his 3 hp petrol engined Peugeot.
Paris–Rouen, Le Petit Journal Competition for Horseless Carriages (Concours du ‘Petit Journal’ Les Voitures sans Chevaux), was a pioneering city-to-city motoring competition in 1894. Some anglophone sources call it a race, a rally or a trial, and it is sometimes described as the world’s first competitive motor race although the initial announcement stated that “it will not be a race”.
The competition was organised by the newspaper Le Petit Journal and run from Paris to Rouen in France on 22 July 1894. It was preceded by four days of vehicle exhibition and qualifying events that created great crowds and excitement. The eight 50 km (31 mi) qualifying events started near the Bois de Boulogne and comprised interwoven routes around Paris to select the entrants for the 127 km (79 mi) main event.
The first driver across the finishing line at Rouen was Jules-Albert, Comte de Dion but he did not win the main prize because his steam vehicle needed a ‘stoker’ and was thus ineligible. The fastest petrol powered car was a 3 hp (2.2 kW; 3.0 PS) Peugeot driven by Albert Lemaître. The premier prize, the 5,000 franc Prix du Petit Journal, for ‘the competitor whose car comes closest to the ideal’ was shared equally by manufacturers Panhard et Levassor and The sons of Peugeot brothers, with vehicles that were ‘easy to use’.
1933 – Wiley Post becomes the first person to fly solo around the world traveling 15,596 miles (25,099 km) in 7 days, 18 hours and 45 minutes.
After the record-setting flight, Post wanted to open his own aeronautical school, but could not raise enough financial support because of doubts many had about his rural background and limited formal education. Motivated by his detractors, Post decided to attempt a solo flight around the world and to break his previous speed record. Over the next year, Post improved his aircraft by installing an autopilot device and a radio direction finder that were in their final stages of development by the Sperry Gyroscope Company and the United States Army. In 1933, he repeated his flight around the world, this time using the auto-pilot and compass in place of his navigator and becoming the first to accomplish the feat alone. He departed from Floyd Bennett Field and continued on to Berlin where repairs were attempted to his autopilot, stopped at Königsberg to replace some forgotten maps, Moscow for more repairs to his autopilot, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk for final repairs to the autopilot, Rukhlovo, Khabarovsk, Flat where his propeller had to be replaced, Fairbanks, Edmonton, and back to Floyd Bennett Field. Fifty thousand people greeted him on his return on July 22 after 7 days, 18 hours, 49 minutes – 21 hours less than his previous record, and he was given a second ticker-tape parade in New York.
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