1774 – British scientist Joseph Priestley discovers oxygen gas, corroborating the prior discovery of this element by German-Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele.
Oxygen was first discovered by Swedish pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. He had produced oxygen gas by heating mercuric oxide and various nitrates in 1771–2. Scheele called the gas “fire air” because it was the only known supporter of combustion, and wrote an account of this discovery in a manuscript he titled Treatise on Air and Fire, which he sent to his publisher in 1775. That document was published in 1777.
In the meantime, on August 1, 1774, an experiment conducted by the British clergyman Joseph Priestley focused sunlight on mercuric oxide (HgO) inside a glass tube, which liberated a gas he named “dephlogisticated air”. He noted that candles burned brighter in the gas and that a mouse was more active and lived longer while breathing it. After breathing the gas himself, he wrote: “The feeling of it to my lungs was not sensibly different from that of common air, but I fancied that my breast felt peculiarly light and easy for some time afterwards.” Priestley published his findings in 1775 in a paper titled “An Account of Further Discoveries in Air” which was included in the second volume of his book titled Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air. Because he published his findings first, Priestley is usually given priority in the discovery.
1818 – Maria Mitchell, American astronomer and academic is born.
Maria Mitchell was an American astronomer who, in 1847, by using a telescope, discovered a comet which as a result became known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”. She won a gold medal prize for her discovery which was presented to her by King Frederick VI of Denmark. On the medal was inscribed “Non Frustra Signorum Obitus Speculamur et Ortus” in Latin (taken from Georgics by Virgil (Book I, line 257) (English: “Not in vain do we watch the setting and rising of the stars”). Mitchell was the first American woman to work as a professional astronomer.
1905 – Helen Sawyer Hogg, American-Canadian astronomer and academic is born.
Helen Battles Sawyer Hogg, CC was an astronomer noted for pioneering research into globular clusters and variable stars. She was the first female president of several astronomical organizations and a notable woman of science in a time when many universities would not award scientific degrees to women. Her scientific advocacy and journalism included astronomy columns in the Toronto Star (“With the Stars”, 1951–81) and the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (“Out of Old Books”, 1946–65). She was considered a “great scientist and a gracious person” over a career of sixty years.
1911 – Harriet Quimby takes her pilot’s test and becomes the first U.S. woman to earn an Aero Club of America aviator’s certificate.
Harriet Quimby was an early American aviator and a movie screenwriter. In 1911, she was awarded a U.S. pilot’s certificate by the Aero Club of America, becoming the first woman to gain a pilot’s license in the United States. In 1912, she became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Although Quimby lived only to the age of thirty-seven, she had a major influence upon the role of women in aviation.
1963 – Koichi Wakata, Japanese astronaut and engineer is born.
Koichi Wakata is a Japanese engineer and a JAXA astronaut. Wakata is a veteran of four NASA Space Shuttle missions, a Russian Soyuz mission and a long-duration stay on the International Space Station. During a nearly two decade career in spaceflight he has logged more than eleven months in space. During Expedition 39, he became the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station. Wakata flew on the Soyuz TMA-11M/Expedition 38/Expedition 39 long duration spaceflight, from 7 November 2013 to 13 May 2014. During this spaceflight he was accompanied by Kirobo, the first humanoid robot astronaut.
1981 – MTV begins broadcasting in the United States and airs its first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
On Saturday, August 1, 1981, at 12:01 am Eastern Time, MTV launched with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” spoken by John Lack and played over footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown of Columbia (which took place earlier that year) and of the launch of Apollo 11. Those words were immediately followed by the original MTV theme song, a crunching rock tune composed by Jonathan Elias and John Petersen, playing over the American flag changed to show MTV’s logo changing into various textures and designs. MTV producers Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert used this public domain footage as a concept; Seibert said that they had originally planned to use Neil Armstrong’s “One small step” quote, but lawyers said that Armstrong owned his name and likeness and that he had refused, so the quote was replaced with a beeping sound. A shortened version of the shuttle launch ID ran at the top of every hour in various forms, from MTV’s first day until it was pulled in early 1986 in the wake of the Challenger disaster.
The first music video shown on MTV was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”, originally only available to homes in New Jersey. This was followed by the video for Pat Benatar’s “You Better Run”. Sporadically, the screen would go black when an employee at MTV inserted a tape into a VCR. MTV’s lower third graphics that appeared near the beginning and end of music videos would eventually use the recognizable Kabel typeface for about 25 years. But these graphics differed on MTV’s first day of broadcast; they were set in a different typeface and included information such as the year and record label name.