837 – Halley’s Comet makes its closest approach to Earth at a distance equal to 0.0342 AU (5.1 million kilometres/3.2 million miles).
Halley was the first comet to be recognized as periodic. Until the Renaissance, the philosophical consensus on the nature of comets, promoted by Aristotle, was that they were disturbances in Earth’s atmosphere. This idea was disproved in 1577 by Tycho Brahe, who used parallax measurements to show that comets must lie beyond the Moon. Many were still unconvinced that comets orbited the Sun, and assumed instead that they must follow straight paths through the Solar System.
1866 – Henry Burgh establishes the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in NYC.
Following the creation of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in the United Kingdom in 1824 (given Royal status in 1840), Henry Bergh founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on April 10, 1866 in New York City on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans, and must be protected under the law. It is the oldest animal welfare organization in the United States. Founded in 1866, the ASPCA was the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. Buffalo’s chapter, founded in 1867, is the second oldest. ASPCA was founded to stop the injustices animals face across the United States. On February 8, 1866, Bergh pleaded on behalf of animals at a meeting at Clinton Hall in New York City. Some of the issues he discussed were cockfighting and the horrors of slaughterhouses. After getting signatures for his “Declaration of the Rights of Animals,” Bergh was given an official charter to incorporate ASPCA on April 10, 1866. On April 19, 1866, the first anti-cruelty law was passed since the founding of ASPCA, and the organization was granted the right to enforce anti-cruelty laws. At that time, there were three staff members at the ASPCA.
1900 – American inventor Arnold Orville Beckman is born.
In 1934, Millikan referred I. H. Lyons from the National Postal Meter Company to Arnold Beckman. Lyons wanted a non-clogging ink so that postage could be printed by machines, instead of having clerks lick stamps. Beckman’s solution was to make ink with butyric acid, a malodorous substance. Because of this ingredient, no manufacturer wanted to manufacture it. Beckman decided to make it himself. He started the National Inking Appliance Company, obtaining space in a garage owned by instrument maker Fred Henson and hiring two Caltech students, Robert Barton and Henry Fracker. Beckman developed and took out a couple of patents for re-inking typewriter ribbons, but marketing them was not successful. This was Beckman’s first experience at running a company and marketing a product, and while this first product failed, Beckman repurposed the company for another product.
Sunkist Growers was having problems with its own manufacturing process. Lemons that were not saleable as produce were made into pectin or citric acid, with sulfur dioxide used as a preservative. Sunkist needed to know the acidity of the product at any given time, and the colorimetric methods then in use, such as readings from litmus paper, did not work well because sulfur dioxide interfered with them. Chemist Glen Joseph at Sunkist was attempting to measure the hydrogen-ion concentration in lemon juice electrochemically, but sulfur dioxide damaged hydrogen electrodes, and non-reactive glass electrodes produced weak signals and were fragile.
1912 – The RMS Titanic sets sail from Southhamptom on its Maiden voyage across the Atlantic.
After leaving Southampton on 10 April 1912, Titanic called at Cherbourg in France and Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland before heading west to New York. On 14 April, four days into the crossing and about 375 miles (600 km) south of Newfoundland, she hit an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. ship’s time. The collision caused the hull plates to buckle inwards along her starboard (right) side and opened five of her sixteen watertight compartments to the sea; she could only survive four flooding. Meanwhile, passengers and some crew members were evacuated in lifeboats, many of which were launched only partially loaded. A disproportionate number of men were left aboard because of a “women and children first” protocol for loading lifeboats. At 2:20 a.m., she broke apart and foundered with well over one thousand people still aboard. Just under two hours after Titanic sank, the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia arrived and brought aboard an estimated 705 survivors.
1961 – British computer scientist and educator Carole Goble is born.
Her current research interests include Grid computing, the Semantic Grid, the Semantic Web, Ontologies, e-Science, medical informatics, Bioinformatics, and Research Objects. She applies advances in knowledge technologies and workflow systems to solve information management problems for life scientists and other scientific disciplines. She has successfully secured funding from the European Union, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the US and UK funding agencies including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), the Department of Health, The Open Middleware Infrastructure Institute and the Department of Trade and Industry.