1788 – Francis Ronalds, British scientist, inventor and engineer is born.
Sir Francis Ronalds FRS was an English scientist and inventor, and arguably the first electrical engineer. He was knighted for creating the first working electric telegraph…
…Ronalds was conducting electrical experiments by 1810: those on atmospheric electricity were outlined in George Singer’s text Elements of Electricity and Electro-Chemistry (1814). He published his first papers in the Philosophical Magazine in 1814 on the properties of the dry pile, a form of battery that his mentor Jean-André Deluc helped to develop. The next year he described the first electric clock.
Other inventions in this early period included an electrograph to record variations in atmospheric electricity through the day; an influence machine that generated electricity with minimal manual intervention; and new forms of electrical insulation, one of which was announced by Singer. He was also already creating what would become the renowned Ronalds Library of electrical books and managing his collection with perhaps the first practical card catalogue.
His theoretical contributions included an early delineation of the parameters now known as electromotive force and current; an appreciation of the mechanism by which dry piles generated electricity; and the first description of the effects of induction in retarding electric signal transmission in insulated cables.
1924 – Thelma Estrin, American computer scientist and engineer is born.
Thelma Estrin was an American computer scientist and engineer who did pioneering work in the fields of expert systems and biomedical engineering. She was one of the first to apply computer technology to healthcare and medical research. She was Professor Emerita in the Department of Computer Science, University of California at Los Angeles.
1947 – In New York City, Edwin Land demonstrates the first “instant camera”, the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America.
Land Cameras are instant cameras with self-developing film named after their inventor, Edwin Land, while working for Research Row in Boston, Massachusetts and manufactured by Polaroid between the years of 1947 and 1983. Though Polaroid continued producing instant cameras after 1983, the name ‘Land’ was dropped from the camera name since Edwin Land retired in 1982. The first commercially available model was the Polaroid Land Camera Model 95, which produced prints in about 1 minute,and was first sold to the public in November, 1948.
The process, invented by Polaroid founder Edwin Land, was to employ diffusion transfer to move the dyes from the negative to the positive via a reagent. A negative sheet was exposed inside the camera, then lined up with a positive sheet and squeezed through a set of rollers which spread a reagent between the two layers, creating a developing film “sandwich”. The negative developed quickly, after which some of the unexposed silver halide grains (and the latent image it contained) were solubilized by the reagent and transferred by diffusion from the negative to the positive. After a minute, the back of the camera was opened and the negative peeled away to reveal the print.
1964 – Mark Kelly, American captain, pilot, and astronaut is born.
Mark Edward Kelly is a retired American astronaut, engineer and U.S. Navy Captain. He is the husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and is an author, political activist, and aerospace executive and consultant.
A naval aviator, Kelly flew combat missions during the Gulf War. He was selected to become a NASA Space Shuttle pilot in 1996 and flew his first mission in 2001 as pilot of STS-108. He piloted STS-121 in 2006 and commanded STS-124 in 2008 and STS-134 in 2011. STS-134 was his final mission and the final mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour.
His wife was the target of an attempted assassination in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011. After the shooting, in which six people were killed, both Kelly and Giffords were thrust into the media spotlight. His wife’s shooting led to a broad national conversation ranging from the duties of a husband to what is acceptable civil discourse.
Kelly’s identical twin brother, Scott Kelly, is also an astronaut. The Kelly brothers are the only known siblings to have both traveled in space. In 2015, Scott Kelly began a mission spending a year in space on the International Space Station. He returned to Earth on March 1, 2016 after 340 days in space. During and after Scott’s year-long mission, the brothers were studied to find physical differences caused by living in space versus a baseline on Earth.
1964 – Scott Kelly, American captain, pilot, and astronaut
Scott Joseph Kelly is an engineer, retired American astronaut, and a retired U.S. Navy Captain. A veteran of four space flights, Kelly commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on Expeditions 26, 45, and 46.
Kelly’s first spaceflight was as pilot of Space Shuttle Discovery, during STS-103 in December 1999. This was the third servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, and lasted for just under eight days. Kelly’s second spaceflight was as mission commander of STS-118, a 12-day Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station in August 2007. Kelly’s third spaceflight was as commander of Expedition 26 on the ISS. He arrived 9 October 2010, on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, during Expedition 25, and served as a flight engineer until it ended. He took over command of the station on 25 November 2010, at the start of Expedition 26 which began officially when the spacecraft Soyuz TMA-19 undocked, carrying the previous commander of the station, Douglas H. Wheelock. Expedition 26 ended on 16 March 2011 with the departure of Soyuz TMA-01M. This was Kelly’s first long-duration spaceflight.
In November 2012, Kelly was selected, along with Mikhail Korniyenko, for a special year-long mission to the International Space Station. Their year in space commenced 27 March 2015 with the start of Expedition 43, continued through the entirety of Expeditions 44, and 45, both of which Kelly commanded. He passed command to Timothy Kopra on 29 February 2016, when the ISS year long mission ended. He returned to Earth aboard Soyuz TMA-18M on 1 March 2016.
In October 2015, he set the record for the total accumulated number of days spent in space by an American astronaut, 382. For the ISS year long mission, Kelly spent 340 consecutive days in space. Kelly’s identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, is a former astronaut. The Kelly brothers are the only siblings to have traveled in space. On March 12, 2016, Kelly announced his retirement for April 2016.
2016 – Engineering to Express Yourself – The @newyorker Radio Hour – @WNYC @nicolatwilley @newyorkerradio
Limor Fried, who is known in tech-geek circles as Ladyada, is the founder of Adafruit, a company that creates electronics parts and kits. Part entrepreneur, part evangelist, she thinks we should all make the electronics we want in our lives, whether that’s an accessible interface for an aging parent or a computer-controlled light-up dress. She spends much of her time cultivating an online community of hobbyists, live-streaming her own projects. To Fried, engineering isn’t a job but a means of self-expression. Nicola Twilley, a contributor to newyorker.com, talks to Fried about the importance of D.I.Y. in the digital realm.