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December 15, 2015 AT 6:00 am

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

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1791 – The United States Bill of Rights becomes law when ratified by the Virginia General Assembly.

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The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed following the often times bitter 1787–1788 battle over ratification of the Constitution, and crafted to address the objections raised by Anti-Federalists, the Bill of Rights amendments add certain safeguards of democracy—specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights; clear limitations on the government’s power in judicial and other proceedings; and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically delegated to Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people—to the Constitution. The concepts codified in these amendments are built upon those found in several earlier documents, including the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the English Bill of Rights 1689, along with earlier documents such as Magna Carta (1215).

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1832 – Gustave Eiffel, French engineer and architect, co-designed the Eiffel Tower, is born.

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Alexandre Gustave Eiffel was a French civil engineer and architect. A graduate of the prestigious École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures of France, he made his name with various bridges for the French railway network, most famously the Garabit viaduct. He is best known for the world-famous Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris, and his contribution to building the Statue of Liberty in New York. After his retirement from engineering, Eiffel concentrated his energy on research into meteorology and aerodynamics, making important contributions in both fields.

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1852 – Henri Becquerel, French physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate, is born.

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Antoine Henri Becquerel was a physicist, Nobel laureate, and the discoverer of radioactivity. For work in this field he, along with Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie, received the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics. The SI unit for radioactivity, the becquerel (Bq), is named after him.

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1861 – Charles Duryea, American engineer and businessman, co-founded the Duryea Motor Wagon Company, is born.

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Charles Edgar Duryea was the engineer of the first-ever working American gasoline-powered car and co-founder of Duryea Motor Wagon Company. He was born near Canton, Illinois, the son of George Washington Duryea and Louisa Melvina Turner and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but spent most of his life working in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was in Springfield that Charles and his brother, Frank, produced and road-tested America’s first gasoline-powered car.

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1894 – Vibert Douglas, Canadian astronomer, is born.

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Allie Vibert Douglas, OC MBE , who usually went by her middle name, was a Canadian astronomer and the first Canadian woman to become an astrophysicist….She earned her PhD in astrophysics through McGill in 1925 and was the first person to receive it from a Quebec university, and one of the first woman to accomplish this in North America.

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1916 – Maurice Wilkins, New Zealand-English physicist and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate, is born.

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Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins CBE FRS was a New Zealand-born English physicist and molecular biologist, and Nobel Laureate whose research contributed to the scientific understanding of phosphorescence, isotope separation, optical microscopy and X-ray diffraction, and to the development of radar. He is best known for his work at King’s College, London on the structure of DNA which falls into three distinct phases. The first was in 1948–50 where his initial studies produced the first clear X-ray images of DNA which he presented at a conference in Naples in 1951 attended by James Watson. During the second phase of work (1951–52) he produced clear “B form” “X” shaped images from squid sperm which he sent to James Watson and Francis Crick causing Watson to write “Wilkins… has obtained extremely excellent X-ray diffraction photographs” [of DNA]. Throughout this period Wilkins was consistent in his belief that DNA was helical even when Rosalind Franklin expressed strong views to the contrary.

In 1953 Franklin instructed Raymond Gosling to give Wilkins, without condition, a high quality image of “B” form DNA which she had unexpectedly produced months earlier but had “put it aside” to concentrate on other work. Wilkins, having checked that he was free to personally use the photograph to confirm his earlier results, showed it to Watson without the consent of Rosalind Franklin. This image, along with the knowledge that Linus Pauling had published an incorrect structure of DNA, “mobilised” Watson to restart model building efforts with Crick. Important contributions and data from Wilkins, Franklin (obtained via Max Perutz) and colleagues in Cambridge enabled Watson and Crick to propose a double-helix model for DNA. The third and longest phase of Wilkins’ work on DNA took place from 1953 onwards. Here Wilkins led a major project at King’s College, London, to test, verify and make significant corrections to the DNA model proposed by Watson and Crick and to study the structure of RNA. Wilkins, Crick and Watson were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.”

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1965 – Project Gemini: Gemini 6A, crewed by Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford, is launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida. Four orbits later, it achieves the first space rendezvous, with Gemini 7.

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Gemini 6A (officially Gemini VI-A) was a 1965 manned United States spaceflight in NASA’s Gemini program. The mission achieved the first manned rendezvous with another spacecraft, its sister Gemini 7. Although the Soviet Union had twice previously launched simultaneous pairs of Vostok spacecraft, these established radio contact with, but came no closer than several kilometers of each other, while the Gemini 6 and 7 spacecraft came as close as one foot (30 cm) and could have docked had they been so equipped.

Gemini 6A was the fifth manned Gemini flight, the 13th manned American flight, and the 21st manned spaceflight of all time (including X-15 flights over 100 kilometers (54 nautical miles)).

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1970 – Soviet spacecraft Venera 7 successfully land on Venus. It is the first successful soft landing on another planet

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The Venera 7 was a Soviet spacecraft, part of the Venera series of probes to Venus. When it landed on the Venusian surface, it became the first spacecraft to land on another planet and first to transmit data from there back to Earth.

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