1768 – The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica is published.
In the first era (1st–6th editions, 1768–1826), the Britannica was managed and published by its founders, Colin Macfarquhar and Andrew Bell, by Archibald Constable, and by others. The Britannica was first published between 1768 and 1771 in Edinburgh as the Encyclopædia Britannica, or, A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, compiled upon a New Plan. In part, it was conceived in reaction to the French Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert (published 1751–72), which had been inspired by Chambers’s Cyclopaedia (first edition 1728).
The Britannica of this period was primarily a Scottish enterprise, and it is one of the most enduring legacies of the Scottish Enlightenment. In this era, the Britannica moved from being a three-volume set (1st edition) compiled by one young editor—William Smellie—to a 20-volume set written by numerous authorities. Several other encyclopaedias competed throughout this period, among them editions of Abraham Rees’s Cyclopædia and Coleridge’s Encyclopædia Metropolitana and David Brewster’s Edinburgh Encyclopædia.
1863 – Charles Martin Hall, American chemist and engineer, is born.
Charles Martin Hall \was an American inventor, businessman, and chemist. He is best known for his invention in 1886 of an inexpensive method for producing aluminum, which became the first metal to attain widespread use since the prehistoric discovery of iron. He was one of the founders of ALCOA. Alfred E. Hunt, together with Charles Hall and a group of five other individuals including his partner at the Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory, George Hubbard Clapp, his chief chemist, W.S. Sample, Howard Lash, head of the Carbon Steel Company, Millard Hunsiker, sales manager for the Carbon Steel Company, and Robert Scott, a mill superintendent for the Carnegie Steel Company, Hunt raised $20,000 to launch the Pittsburgh Reduction Company which was later renamed Aluminum Company of America and shortened to Alcoa.
1865 – The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, banning slavery.
The Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII) to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. In Congress, it was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and by the House on January 31, 1865. The amendment was ratified by the required number of states on December 6, 1865. On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed its adoption. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War.
Since the American Revolution, states had divided into states that allowed and states that prohibited slavery. Slavery had been tacitly enshrined in the original Constitution through provisions such as Article I, Section 2, Clause 3, commonly known as the Three-Fifths Compromise, which detailed how each slave state’s enslaved population would be factored into its total population count for the purposes of apportioning seats in the United States House of Representatives and direct taxes among the states. Though many slaves had been declared free by President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, their post-war status was uncertain. On April 8, 1864, the Senate passed an amendment to abolish slavery. After one unsuccessful vote and extensive legislative maneuvering by the Lincoln administration, the House followed suit on January 31, 1865. The measure was swiftly ratified by nearly all Northern states, along with a sufficient number of border and “reconstructed” Southern states, to cause it to be adopted before the end of the year.
Though the amendment formally abolished slavery throughout the United States, factors such as Black Codes, white supremacist violence, and selective enforcement of statutes continued to subject some black Americans to involuntary labor, particularly in the South. In contrast to the other Reconstruction Amendments, the Thirteenth Amendment was rarely cited in later case law, but has been used to strike down peonage and some race-based discrimination as “badges and incidents of slavery”. The Thirteenth Amendment applies to the actions of private citizens, while the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments apply only to state actors. The amendment also enables Congress to pass laws against sex trafficking and other modern forms of slavery.
1884 – The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., is completed.
The Washington Monument is an obelisk on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate George Washington, once commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first American president. Located almost due east of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial, the monument, made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss, is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk, standing 554 feet 7 11⁄32 inches (169.046 m) tall according to the National Geodetic Survey (measured 2013–14) or 555 feet 5 1⁄8 inches (169.294 m) tall according to the National Park Service (measured 1884). In 1975, a ramp covered a step at the entrance to the monument, so the ground next to the ramp was raised to match its height, reducing the remaining height to the monument’s apex. The obelisk was originally intended by its designer to stand 600 feet (183 m) tall, but questions regarding the design of the foundations caused the height to be set lower by the time the building was eventually completed. It is the tallest monumental column in the world if all are measured above their pedestrian entrances, but two are taller when measured above ground, though they are neither all stone nor true obelisks.
Construction of the monument began in 1848, and was halted from 1854 to 1877 due to a lack of funds, a struggle for control over the Washington National Monument Society, and the intervention of the American Civil War. Although the stone structure was completed in 1884, internal ironwork, the knoll, and other finishing touches were not completed until 1888. A difference in shading of the marble, visible approximately 150 feet (46 m) or 27% up, shows where construction was halted and later resumed with marble from a different source. The original design was by Robert Mills, but he did not include his proposed colonnade due to a lack of funds, proceeding only with a bare obelisk. Despite many proposals to embellish the obelisk, only its original flat top was altered to a pointed marble pyramidion, in 1884. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848; the first stone was laid atop the unfinished stump on August 7, 1880; the capstone was set on December 6, 1884; the completed monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885; and officially opened October 9, 1888. Upon completion, it became the world’s tallest structure, a title previously held by the Cologne Cathedral. The monument held this designation until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris, France.
1957 – Project Vanguard: A launchpad explosion of Vanguard TV3 thwarts the first United States attempt to launch a satellite into Earth orbit.
Vanguard TV3, also called Vanguard Test Vehicle Three was the first attempt of the United States to launch a satellite into orbit around the Earth. Vanguard 1A was a small satellite designed to test the launch capabilities of the three-stage Vanguard and study the effects of the environment on a satellite and its systems in Earth orbit. It was also to be used to obtain geodetic measurements through orbit analysis. Solar cells on Vanguard 1A were manufactured by Bell Laboratories.
At its launch attempt on December 6, 1957 at Cape Canaveral, the booster ignited and began to rise; but about two seconds after liftoff, after rising about four feet (1.2 m), the rocket lost thrust and began to fall back to the launch pad. As it settled the fuel tanks ruptured and exploded, destroying the rocket and severely damaging the launch pad. The Vanguard satellite was thrown clear and landed on the ground a short distance away with its transmitters still sending out a beacon signal. The satellite was damaged, however, and could not be reused. It is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
2006 – NASA reveals photographs taken by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars.
Pure liquid water cannot exist in a stable form on the surface of Mars with its present low atmospheric pressure and low temperature, except at the lowest elevations for a few hours. So, a geological mystery commenced in 2006 when observations from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter revealed gully deposits that were not there ten years prior, possibly caused by flowing liquid brine during the warmest months on Mars. The images were of two craters called Terra Sirenum and Centauri Montes that appear to show the presence of liquid water flows on Mars at some point between 1999 and 2001.
There is disagreement in the scientific community as to whether or not gullies are formed by liquid water. It is also possible that the flows that carve gullies are dry, or perhaps lubricated by carbon dioxide. Even if gullies are carved by flowing water at the surface, the exact source of the water and the mechanisms behind its motion are not well understood.
1967 – Helen Greiner, American businesswoman and engineer, is born.
Helen Greiner is a co-founder of iRobot and currently CTO of CyPhyWorks, a start-up company specializing in small multi-rotor drones for the consumer, commercial and military markets.
2010 – Adafruit Targets Tinkerers With ‘Open-Source’ Electronics Kits @ Bloomberg’s Entrepreneurs: Newsmakers section!
Adafruit Targets Tinkerers With ‘Open-Source’ Electronics Kits @ Bloomberg’s Entrepreneurs: Newsmakers section!
For each kit, the company publishes the computer-aided design files, schematics for circuit boards, and the firmware or software code that runs inside a device. Anyone can use this material under a Creative Commons license, provided they credit the source and publish any related works under a similar open- source license.
In addition to publishing designs, the company offers online tutorials, and Fried co-hosts a weekly video chat with Adafruit designer Phillip Torrone to teach lessons and answer questions. “She’s really educating people. It’s almost like she’s running a school in addition to everything else she’s doing,” says Alicia Gibb, another organizer of the Open Hardware Summit who works as “gadget wrangler” at Bug Labs, an open-source hardware company developing wireless devices.
Fried says her mission as an entrepreneur is to spread the kind of innovation that flows from opening up electronics and learning how they work. “We have so little connection to what’s in these plastic boxes,” she says. “The point of the company is to teach people and to learn. It’s not just to buy and consume.”