1465 – Italian mathematician Scipione del Ferro is born.
It is suspected that this is due to the practice of mathematicians at the time of publicly challenging one another. When a mathematician accepted another’s challenge, each mathematician needed to solve the other’s problems. The loser in a challenge often lost funding or his university position. Del Ferro was fearful of being challenged and likely kept his greatest work secret so that he could use it to defend himself in the event of a challenge.
Despite this secrecy, he had a notebook where he recorded all his important discoveries. After his death in 1526, this notebook was inherited by his son-in-law Hannival Nave, who was married to del Ferro’s daughter, Filippa. Nave was also a mathematician and a former student of del Ferro’s, and he replaced del Ferro at the University of Bologna after his death.
In 1543, Gerolamo Cardano and Ludovico Ferrari (one of Cardano’s students) travelled to Bologna to meet Nave and learn about his late father-in-law’s notebook, where the solution to the depressed cubic equation appeared.
1802 – British scientist and inventor Charles Wheatstone is born.
He achieved renown by a great experiment made in 1834 – the measurement of the velocity of electricity in a wire. He cut the wire at the middle, to form a gap which a spark might leap across, and connected its ends to the poles of a Leyden jar filled with electricity. Three sparks were thus produced, one at each end of the wire, and another at the middle. He mounted a tiny mirror on the works of a watch, so that it revolved at a high velocity, and observed the reflections of his three sparks in it. The points of the wire were so arranged that if the sparks were instantaneous, their reflections would appear in one straight line; but the middle one was seen to lag behind the others, because it was an instant later. The electricity had taken a certain time to travel from the ends of the wire to the middle. This time was found by measuring the amount of lag, and comparing it with the known velocity of the mirror. Having got the time, he had only to compare that with the length of half the wire, and he could find the velocity of electricity. His results gave a calculated velocity of 288,000 miles per second, i.e. faster than what we now know to be the speed of light (299,792.458 kilometres per second (186,000 mi/s)), but were nonetheless an interesting approximation.
1913 – British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey is born.
Throughout the 1930s-50s, Mary and Louis Leakey worked at Later Stone Age, Neolithic, and Iron Age archaeological sites in central Kenya, such as Hyrax Hill and Njoro River Cave. In October 1948, Mary discovered a Proconsul africanus skull on Rusinga Island. Mary Leakey also recorded and published the Kondoa Irangi Rock Paintings in central Tanzania.
The Leakeys’ most famous research, however, was at Olduvai Gorge in the Serengeti plains of northern Tanzania. The site yielded many stone tools, from Oldowan choppers to multi-purpose hand axes. The earliest tools they dug up were likely made by Homo habilis and can be dated to over two million years ago.
1918 – British women over the age of 30 who meet minimum property qualifications, get the right to vote when Representation of the People Act 1918 is passed by Parliament.
The passage of the Representation of the People Act in 1918 only allowed certain women over the age of 30 to vote, which applied to 40% of women across the country, amounting to some 8.5 million people. Yet years of groundwork had gone into this achievement, with the power of the protest playing a crucial role.
As the 2015 film Suffragette depicts, women turned to militant-style tactics to attract attention to their cause. While the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies faction used peaceful methods, the Women’s Social and Political Union held firmly the belief in “deeds, not words.” These protest tactics were most commonly used in the years leading up to the First World War, when suffragettes went on hunger strikes, chained themselves to railings and heckled government meetings.
“There are some parallels between that period and now in the sense that women are saying ‘enough is enough,’” says Nicoletta Gullace, Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire.
1932 – François Truffaut, one of the founders of the French New Wave cinema, is born.
The 400 Blows was released in 1959 to much critical and commercial acclaim. Truffaut received a Best Director award from the Cannes Film Festival, the same festival that had banned him only one year earlier. The film follows the character of Antoine Doinel through his perilous misadventures in school, an unhappy home life and later reform school. The film is highly autobiographical. Both Truffaut and Doinel were only children of loveless marriages; they both committed petty crimes of theft and truancy from the military. Truffaut cast Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine Doinel. Léaud was seen as an ordinary boy of 14 who auditioned for the role after seeing a flyer, but interviews filmed after the film’s release (one is included on the Criterion DVD of the film) reveal Léaud’s natural sophistication and an instinctive understanding of acting for the camera. Léaud and Truffaut collaborated on several films over the years. Their most noteworthy collaboration was the continuation of the Antoine Doinel character in a series of films called “The Antoine Doinel Cycle”.
The primary focus of The 400 Blows is on the life of a young character by the name of Antoine Doinel. This film follows this character through his troubled adolescence. He is caught in between an unstable parental relationship and an isolated youth. The film focuses on the real life events of the director, François Truffaut. From birth Truffaut was thrown into an undesired situation. As he was born out of wedlock, his birth had to remain a secret because of the social stigma associated with illegitimacy. He was registered as “A child born to an unknown father” in the hospital records. He was looked after by a nurse for an extended period of time. His mother eventually married and her husband Roland gave his surname, Truffaut, to François.
1988 – Michael Jordan makes his signature slam dunk from the free throw line inspiring Air Jordan and the Jumpman logo.
In the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Michael Jordan dunked from the free-throw line, in the same manner as Julius Erving, but parted his legs making his dunk more revolutionary than Erving’s.