All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. – Galileo Galilei
1609 – Galileo Galilei demonstrates his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers.
Based only on uncertain descriptions of the first practical telescope which Hans Lippershey tried to patent in the Netherlands in 1608, Galileo, in the following year, made a telescope with about 3x magnification. He later made improved versions with up to about 30x magnification. With a Galilean telescope, the observer could see magnified, upright images on the earth—it was what is commonly known as a terrestrial telescope or a spyglass. He could also use it to observe the sky; for a time he was one of those who could construct telescopes good enough for that purpose. On 25 August 1609, he demonstrated one of his early telescopes, with a magnification of about 8 or 9, to Venetian lawmakers. His telescopes were also a profitable sideline for Galileo, who sold them to merchants who found them useful both at sea and as items of trade. He published his initial telescopic astronomical observations in March 1610 in a brief treatise entitled Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger).
1875 – Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim across the English Channel, traveling from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in 22 hours.
On 12 August 1875, he made his first cross-Channel swimming attempt, but strong winds and poor sea conditions forced him to abandon the swim. On 24 August, he began a second swim by diving in from the Admiralty Pier at Dover. Backed by three escort boats and smeared in porpoise oil, he set off into the ebb tide at a steady breaststroke. Despite stings from jellyfish and strong currents off Cap Gris Nez which prevented him from reaching the shore for five hours, finally, after 21 hours and 45 minutes, he landed near Calais—the first successful cross-channel swim. His zig-zag course across the Channel was over 39 miles (64 km) long.
1991 – Linus Torvalds announces the first version of what will become Linux.
Linux is a Unix-like and mostly POSIX-compliant computer operating system (OS) assembled under the model of free and open-source software development and distribution. The defining component of Linux is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released on 5 October 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The Free Software Foundation uses the name GNU/Linux to describe the operating system, which has led to some controversy.
2012 – Voyager 1 spacecraft enters interstellar space becoming the first man-made object to do so.
On September 12, 2013, NASA officially confirmed that Voyager 1 had reached the interstellar medium in August 2012 as previously observed, with a generally accepted date of August 25, 2012, the date durable changes in the density of energetic particles were first detected. By this point most space scientists had abandoned the hypothesis that a change in magnetic field direction must accompany crossing of the heliopause; a new model of the heliopause predicted that no such change would be found. A key finding that persuaded many scientists that the heliopause had been crossed was an indirect measurement of an 80-fold increase in electron density, based on the frequency of plasma oscillations observed beginning on April 9, 2013, triggered by a solar outburst that had occurred in March 2012 (electron density is expected to be two orders of magnitude higher outside the heliopause than within). Weaker sets of oscillations measured in October and November 2012 provided additional data. An indirect measurement was required because Voyager 1’s plasma spectrometer had stopped working in 1980. In September 2013, NASA released audio renditions of these plasma waves. The recordings represent the first sounds to be captured in interstellar space.
2009 – Adafruit introduces The Ice Tube Clock kit – An open source Russian vacuum fluorescent tube clock it!
This is our first clock kit design, made with a retro Russian display tube!
- Cool glowing blue tube with 8 digits and alarm on/off dot
- Adjustable brightness
- Alarm with volume adjust
- Precision watch crystal keeps time with under 20ppm (0.0002%) error (
- Clear acrylic enclosure protects clock from you and you from clock
- Battery backup will let the clock keep the time for up to 2 weeks without power
- Selectable 12h or 24h display
- Displays day and date on button press
- 10 minute snooze
- Integrated boost converter so it can run off of standard DC wall adapters, works in any country regardless of mains power
- Great for desk or night table use, the clock measures 4.9″ x 2.9″ x 1.3″ (12.5cm x 7.4cm x 3.3cm)
- Completely open source hardware and software, ready to be hacked and modded!