1783 – First untethered hot air balloon flight takes place in Paris.
After several tethered tests to gain some experience of controlling the balloon, de Rozier and d’Arlandes made their first untethered flight in a Montgolfier hot air balloon on 21 November 1783, taking off at around 2 p.m. from the garden of the Château de la Muette in the Bois de Boulogne, in the presence of the King. Their 25-minute flight travelled slowly about 5½ miles (some 9 km) to the southeast, attaining an altitude of 3,000 feet, before returning to the ground at the Butte-aux-Cailles, then on the outskirts of Paris.
1834 – Hetty Green, American businesswoman and Wall St. whiz, is born.
While Green’s husband Edward pursued investments as a sort of “gentleman banker”, Hetty Green began parlaying her inheritances into her own astonishing fortune. She formulated an investment strategy to which she stuck throughout her life: conservative investments, substantial cash reserves to back up any movement, and an exceedingly cool head amidst turmoil. During her time in London, most of her investment efforts focused on greenbacks, the notes printed by the U.S. government immediately after the Civil War. When more timid investors were wary of notes put forth by the still-recovering government, Hetty Green bought at full bore, claiming to have made US$1.25 million from her bond investments in one year alone. Her earnings on that front were to fund her great subsequent rail-bond purchases.
1877 – Thomas Edison announces his invention of the phonograph.
Thomas Alva Edison conceived the principle of recording and reproducing sound between May and July 1877 as a byproduct of his efforts to “play back” recorded telegraph messages and to automate speech sounds for transmission by telephone. He announced his invention of the first phonograph, a device for recording and replaying sound, on November 21, 1877 (early reports appear in Scientific American and several newspapers in the beginning of November, and an even earlier announcement of Edison working on a ‘talking-machine’ can be found in the Chicago Daily Tribune on May 9), and he demonstrated the device for the first time on November 29 (it was patented on February 19, 1878 as US Patent 200,521). “In December, 1877, a young man came into the office of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, and placed before the editors a small, simple machine about which very few preliminary remarks were offered. The visitor without any ceremony whatever turned the crank, and to the astonishment of all present the machine said: “Good morning. How do you do? How do you like the phonograph?” The machine thus spoke for itself, and made known the fact that it was the phonograph…”
1933 – American Mathmetician Etta Zuber Falconer is born. She was one of the first African-American women to receive her Ph.D in mathematics.
In 1965, Falconer embarked upon a very impressive career as faculty and educator at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, rising from the position of instructor to associate professor (1965-71), while also becoming the 11th African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics (1969). During the 1971-72 AY, she was on the mathematics faculty at Norfolk State University, Norfolk, VA; returning to the faculty of Spelman College, she served as professor and Mathematics Department chair (1972-1982); as chairperson of the Division of Natural Sciences (1982-90); as the Fuller E. Calloway Professor of mathematics and Director of Science Programs and Policy (1990); and from 1991 to present, as Fuller E. Calloway Professor of Mathematics and Associate Provost for Science Programs and Policy. This succession of promotions have permitted her to positively impact the lives of hundreds of young ladies in mathematics and the sciences as well as scores of faculty. During her approximately thirty year tenure at Spelman, Falconer has become one of American’s most productive, distinguished and influential mathematics and science educators, generously sharing her time, talents, energies, scholarly publications and presentations with thousands of persons throughout the USA. Her many professional activities included working in several capacities with the American Association for the Advancement in Science (AAAS), the American Mathematical Society (AMS), Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) – Council Member (1980-84), Mathematical Association of American (MAA) – Director of BAM (1977-88), National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) – Secretary (1970-73)/Cox-Talbot Address (1994), National Institute of Science (NIS), National Science Foundation (NSF) – Panelist/Featured in film “Science Women’s Work,” Women in Science Careers (WSC) – Director 1976/Panelist 1977-84, and Joint Committee on Women – AMS-MAA-NCTM-SIAM (1978-84). It has been a delightful privilege and the good fortune of the author to have worked with her in several capacities.
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