1718 – Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Italian mathematician and philosopher is born.
Maria Gaetana Agnesi was an Italian mathematician, philosopher, theologian and humanitarian. She was the first woman to write a mathematics handbook and the first woman appointed as a Mathematics Professor at a university.
She is credited with writing the first book discussing both differential and integral calculus and was a member of the faculty at the University of Bologna, although she never served.
She devoted the last four decades of her life to studying theology (especially patristics) and to charitable work and serving the poor. This extended to helping the sick by allowing them entrance into her home where she set up a hospital. She was a devout Catholic and wrote extensively on the marriage between intellectual pursuit and mystical contemplation, most notably in her essay Il cielo mistico (The Mystic Heaven). She saw the rational contemplation of God as a complement to prayer and contemplation of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1804 – Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, American educator who founded the first U.S. kindergarten is born.
Elizabeth Palmer Peabody was an American educator who opened the first English-language kindergarten in the United States. Long before most educators, Peabody embraced the premise that children’s play has intrinsic developmental and educational value.
Peabody also served as the translator for the first English version of a Buddhist scripture which was published in 1844.
1831 – David Edward Hughes, Welsh-American physicist, co-invented the microphone, is born.
David Edward Hughes, was a British-American inventor, practical experimenter, and professor of music known for his work on the printing telegraph and the microphone. He is generally considered to have been born in London but his family moved around that time so he may have been born in Corwen, Wales. His family moved to the U.S. while he was a child and he became a professor of music in Kentucky. In 1855 he patented a printing telegraph. He moved back to London in 1857 and further pursued experimentation and invention, coming up with an improved carbon microphone in 1878. In 1879 he identified what seemed to be a new phenomenon during his experiments: sparking in one device could be heard in a separate portable microphone apparatus he had set up. It was most probably radio transmissions but this was nine years before electromagnetic radiation was a proven concept and Hughes was convinced by others that his discovery was simply electromagnetic induction.
1888 – Nikola Tesla delivers a lecture describing the equipment which will allow efficient generation and use of alternating currents to transmit electric power over long distances.
In 1887, Tesla developed an induction motor that ran on alternating current, a power system format that was rapidly expanding in Europe and the United States because of its advantages in long-distance, high-voltage transmission. The motor used polyphase current, which generated a rotating magnetic field to turn the motor (a principle that Tesla claimed to have conceived in 1882). This innovative electric motor, patented in May 1888, was a simple self-starting design that did not need a commutator, thus avoiding sparking and the high maintenance of constantly servicing and replacing mechanical brushes.
Along with getting the motor patented, Peck and Brown arranged to get the motor publicized, starting with independent testing to verify it was a functional improvement, followed by press releases sent to technical publications for articles to run concurrent with the issue of the patent. Physicist William Arnold Anthony (who tested the motor) and Electrical World magazine editor Thomas Commerford Martin arranged for Tesla to demonstrate his alternating current motor on 16 May 1888 at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Engineers working for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company reported to George Westinghouse that Tesla had a viable AC motor and related power system — something Westinghouse needed for the alternating current system he was already marketing. Westinghouse looked into getting a patent on a similar commutator-less, rotating magnetic field-based induction motor developed in 1885 and presented in a paper in March 1888 by Italian physicist Galileo Ferraris, but decided that Tesla’s patent would probably control the market.
1891 – The International Electrotechnical Exhibition opens in Frankfurt, Germany, and will feature the world’s first long distance transmission of high-power, three-phase electric current (the most common form today).
Prompted by the Paris “Exposition Universelle” (World Fair) of 1889, Leopold Sonnemann, publisher of the Frankfurter Zeitung newspaper, interested the Electrotechnical Society in the idea of an exhibition. The Society expressed an interest and started preparations in the same year. However, there was another consideration apart from the setting up of an international exhibition – Frankfurt had an urgent problem to solve. The construction of a central power station had been under discussion in the city’s political and technical committees since 1886. However, agreement had still to be reached over the type of current, and opinions were divided between direct current, alternating current and three-phase current. It fell to the exhibition to demonstrate a commercially viable method for the transmission of electricity. Three-phase current with a minimal loss of 25% would be transmitted at high voltage from Lauffen am Neckar to Frankfurt. This took centre stage at the exhibition and was evidenced in the large three-section entrance gate. The central section took the form of an arch bearing the inscription “Power Transmission Lauffen–Frankfurt 175 km.” Rectangular panels flanked the arch: the one to the right carrying the name of the “Allgemeine Electricitätsgesellschaft” (“AEG” – General Electricity Company), which had been founded in 1887; the left-hand panel displayed the name of the “Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon” (Oerlikon Engineering Works). The entire entrance was illuminated with 1000 light bulbs and an electrically powered waterfall provided a further attraction. With 1,200,000 visitors from all over the world, the exhibition was an out-and-out success. The cost of a one-day entry ticket for an adult amounted to a considerable 15 marks.
1925 – Nancy Roman, American astronomer is born.
Nancy Grace Roman is an American astronomer who was one of the first female executives at NASA. She is known to many as the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. Throughout her career, Roman has also been an active public speaker and educator, and an advocate for women in the sciences.
1960 – Theodore Maiman operates the first optical laser (a ruby laser), at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California.
…As time went on, many scientists began to doubt the usefulness of any color ruby as a laser medium. Maiman, too, felt his own doubts, but, being a very “single-minded person,” he kept working on his project in secret. He searched to find a light source that would be intense enough to pump the rod, and an elliptical pumping cavity of high reflectivity, to direct the energy into the rod. He found his light source when a salesman from General Electric showed him a few xenon flashtubes, claiming that the largest could ignite steel wool if placed near the tube. Maiman realized that, with such intensity, he did not need such a highly reflective pumping cavity, and, with the helical lamp, would not need it to have an elliptical shape. Maiman constructed his ruby laser at Hughes Research Laboratories, in Malibu, California. He used a pink ruby rod, measuring 1 cm by 1.5 cm, and, on May 16, 1960, fired the device, producing the first beam of laser light.
2011 – STS-134 (ISS assembly flight ULF6), launched from the Kennedy Space Center on the 25th and final flight for Space Shuttle Endeavour.
STS-134 (ISS assembly flight ULF6) was the penultimate mission of NASA’s Space Shuttle program and the 25th and last spaceflight of Space Shuttle Endeavour. This flight delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and an ExPRESS Logistics Carrier to the International Space Station. Mark Kelly served as the mission commander. STS-134 was expected to be the final space shuttle mission if STS-135 did not receive funding from Congress. However, in February 2011, NASA stated that STS-135 would fly “regardless” of the funding situation. STS-135, flown by Atlantis, took advantage of the processing for STS-335, the Launch On Need mission that would have been necessary if the STS-134 crew became stranded in orbit.
Changes in the design of the main payload, AMS-02, as well as delays to STS-133, led to delays in the mission. The first launch attempt on 29 April 2011 was scrubbed at 12:20 pm by launch managers due to problems with two heaters on one of the orbiter’s auxiliary power units (APU). Endeavour launched successfully at 08:56:28 EDT (12:56:28 UTC) on 16 May 2011, and landed for the final time on 1 June 2011.
2015 – BIG NEWS! Adafruit is manufacturing Arduino for Arduino.cc in New York, New York, USA @arduino #TeamArduinoCC
This is our super big news folks! Today, May 16th, 2015 Massimo Banzi, CEO and co-founder of Arduino, announced at Maker Faire during the “State of Arduino” keynote that Adafruit is manufacturing Arduino’s for Arduino.cc in New York, New York, USA! We will have more details to share soon, for now – here’s a quote from our Ladyada and some about text for the press folks. Update: Here’s a post on Arduino.cc
“Adafruit and Arduino.cc have been working together on open-source software and hardware for almost 10 years in a variety of ways, this is expanded partnership and manufacturing is part of our collective goal to make the world a better place through the sharing of ideas, code and hardware with our communities. We’re currently manufacturing the ARDUINO GEMMA with Arduino.cc right here in New York City at the Adafruit factory, it instantly became a top seller and we’re looking forward to bringing our manufacturing expertise and processes to start shipping more versions and types of Arduinos right here from the USA as soon as possible!” – Limor “Ladyada” Fried.
Adafruit was founded in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor “Ladyada” Fried. Her goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Adafruit has grown to over 50 employees in the heart of NYC with a 50,000+ sq ft. factory. Adafruit has expanded offerings to include tools, equipment and electronics that Limor personally selects, tests and approves before going in to the Adafruit store. Limor was the first female engineer on the cover of WIRED magazine and was awarded Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur of the year. Ladyada was a founding member of the NYC Industrial Business Advisory Council and in 2014 Adafruit was ranked #11 in the top 20 USA manufacturing companies and #1 in New York City by Inc. Magazine’s “fastest growing private companies”.
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