1822 – Étienne Lenoir, Belgian engineer, designed the internal combustion engine, is born.
Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir also known as Jean J. Lenoir was a Belgian engineer who developed the internal combustion engine in 1858. Prior designs for such engines were patented as early as 1807, but none were commercially successful. Lenoir’s engine was commercialized in sufficient quantities to be considered a success, a first for the internal combustion engine.
1907 – Sergei Korolev, Russian colonel and engineer is born.
Sergei Pavlovich Korolev was the lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 1960s. He is considered by many as the father of practical astronautics.
Although Korolev was trained as an aircraft designer, his greatest strengths proved to be in design integration, organization and strategic planning. Arrested for alleged mismanagement of funds (he spent the money on unsuccessful experiments with rocket devices), he was imprisoned in 1938 for almost six years, including some months in a Kolyma labour camp. Following his release, he became a recognized rocket designer and a key figure in the development of the Soviet Intercontinental ballistic missile program. He was then appointed to lead the Soviet space program, made Member of Soviet Academy of Sciences, overseeing the early successes of the Sputnik and Vostok projects that include launching Yuri Alexeevich Gagarin into orbit on 12 April 1961, the first human in space. By the time he died unexpectedly in 1966, his plans to compete with the United States to be the first nation to land a man on the Moon had begun to be implemented.
Before his death he was often referred to only as “The Chief Designer”, because the Soviet leadership feared that the United States would send agents to assassinate him. Only many years later was he publicly acknowledged as the lead man behind Soviet success in space.
1916 – Ruth R. Benerito, American chemist and inventor is born.
Ruth Rogan Benerito was an American chemist and inventor known for her work related to the textile industry, notably including the development of wash-and-wear cotton fabrics. She held 55 patents…
…Ruth Benerito is most famous for her work relating to the use of mono-basic acid chlorides in the production of cotton, with which she has 55 patents, which allows for more wrinkle-free and durable clothing. She invented these wash-and-wear cotton fabrics while working at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) laboratories in New Orleans in the 1950s. Before this innovation, a family needed considerable time to iron clothes. Benerito found a way to chemically treat the surface of cotton that led not only to wrinkle-resistant fabric but also to stain- and flame-resistant fabrics. The invention was said to have “saved the cotton industry.”
…Besides her contribution to textile industry, during the Korean War, she developed a way to give fat intravenously to patients who were too sick to eat—a method used to feed seriously wounded soldiers.
1920 – James L. Farmer, Jr., American activist; co-founded Congress of Racial Equality is born.
James Leonard Farmer, Jr. was a civil rights activist and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement “who pushed for nonviolent protest to dismantle segregation, and served alongside Martin Luther King Jr.” He was the initiator and organizer of the 1961 Freedom Ride, which eventually led to the desegregation of inter-state transportation in the United States.
In 1942, Farmer co-founded the Committee of Racial Equality in Chicago with George Houser and Bernice Fisher. It was later called the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and was dedicated to ending racial segregation in the United States through nonviolence. Farmer served as the national chairman from 1942 to 1944. He was an honorary vice chairman in the Democratic Socialists of America.
By the 1960s, Farmer was known as “one of the Big Four civil rights leaders in the 1960s, together with King, NAACP chief Roy Wilkins and Urban League head Whitney Young.”
1932 – Hattie Caraway becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate.
Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway was the first woman elected to serve a full term as a United States Senator. Senator Caraway represented Arkansas. She was the first woman to preside over the Senate. She won reelection to a full term in 1932 with the support of Senator Huey Long.
1934 – James Fergason, American inventor and entrepreneur is born.
James Lee Fergason was an American inventor and business entrepreneur. A member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Fergason is best known for his work on an improved Liquid Crystal Display, or LCD. He held over one hundred U.S. patents at the time of his death…
In June 1966, Fergason joined the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University as its associate director. Here, in 1969, he made his seminal discovery of a low-power, field-operated LC display, known as the twisted nematic cell. Also at LCI, Fergason was part of an effort to use cholesteric liquid crystals for thermal mapping, in particular, to screen for breast cancer. He participated in the discovery of smectic C liquid crystal phase.
Twisted nematic liquid crystal displays were superior to the earlier dynamic scattering displays, and soon became widespread. The technology was patented in the United States by Fergason in 1971. Fergason formed his own company, ILIXCO, in 1968 to manufacture liquid crystal displays. His first customers were the Bulova Watch Company and Gruen Watch Company which used the technology to market the first LCD watches using this technology. By the end of the decade, most of the world’s digital watches used this kind of LCD display.
1967 – Dr. James Bedford becomes the first person to be cryonically preserved with intent of future resuscitation.
James Hiram Bedford was a University of California psychology professor who wrote several books on occupational counseling. He is the first person whose body was cryopreserved after legal death, and who remains preserved at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. In the cryonics community, the anniversary of his cryopreservation is celebrated as “Bedford Day”.
2005 – Deep Impact launches from Cape Canaveral on a Delta II rocket.
Deep Impact was a NASA space probe launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 18:47 UTC on January 12, 2005. It was designed to study the interior composition of the comet Tempel 1 (9P/Tempel), by releasing an impactor into the comet. At 05:52 UTC on July 4, 2005, the impactor successfully collided with the comet’s nucleus. The impact excavated debris from the interior of the nucleus, forming an impact crater. Photographs taken by the spacecraft showed the comet to be more dusty and less icy than had been expected. The impact generated an unexpectedly large and bright dust cloud, obscuring the view of the impact crater.
Previous space missions to comets, such as Giotto and Stardust, were fly-by missions. These missions were able to photograph and examine only the surfaces of cometary nuclei, and even then from considerable distances. The Deep Impact mission was the first to eject material from a comet’s surface, and the mission garnered large publicity from the media, international scientists, and amateur astronomers.