1646 – Italian philosopher Elena Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman ever to receive a Ph.D., is born.
As a young girl, Lady Elena was seen as a prodigy. By the advice from Giovanni Fabris, a priest who was a friend of the family, she began a classical education. She studied Latin and Greek under distinguished instructors, and soon became proficient in these languages at the age of seven, including French and Spanish. She also mastered Hebrew, Spanish, French and Arabic, earning the title of “Oraculum Septilingue”. Her later studies included mathematics, philosophy, and theology.
Elena came to be an expert musician. In addition to mastering the sciblis of her time—which means she mastered almost the entire body of knowledge—Elena mastered the harpsichord, the clavichord, the harp, and the violin. Her skills were shown by the music that she composed in her lifetime.
In her late teens and early twenties, she became interested in physics, astronomy, and linguistics. Carlo Rinaldini, her tutor in philosophy, and at that point the Chairman of Philosophy at the University of Padua, published a book in Latin centering on geometry. The book was dedicated to a twenty-two year old Elena in 1668. When her main tutor, Fabris, passed away, she became even closer to Rinaldini, who took over her studies.
1883 – The Orient Express makes its first departure from Paris.
The Orient Express was a long-distance passenger train service created in 1883 by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL).
The route and rolling stock of the Orient Express changed many times. Several routes in the past concurrently used the Orient Express name, or slight variations. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name became synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most prominently associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul), the original endpoints of the timetabled service. The Orient Express was a showcase of luxury and comfort at a time when travelling was still rough and dangerous.
1898 – Spanish poet Federico García Lorca is born.
García Lorca achieved international recognition as an emblematic member of the Generation of ’27, a group consisting of mostly poets who introduced the tenets of European movements (such as symbolism, futurism, and surrealism) into Spanish literature. He was executed by Nationalist forces at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. His body has never been found. In 2008, a Spanish judge opened an investigation into Lorca’s death. The García Lorca family eventually dropped objections to the excavation of a potential gravesite near Alfacar, but no human remains were found.
1900 – Hungarian-British electrical engineer and physicist Dennis Gabor is born.
He began his studies in engineering at the Technical University of Budapest in 1918, later in Germany, at the Charlottenburg Technical University in Berlin, now known as the Technical University of Berlin. At the start of his career, he analysed the properties of high voltage electric transmission lines by using cathode-beam oscillographs, which led to his interest in electron optics. Studying the fundamental processes of the oscillograph, Gabor was led to other electron-beam devices such as electron microscopes and TV tubes. He eventually wrote his PhD thesis on Recording of Transients in Electric Circuits with the Cathode Ray Oscillograph in 1927, and worked on plasma lamps.
In 1933 Gabor fled from Nazi Germany, where he was considered Jewish, and was invited to Britain to work at the development department of the British Thomson-Houston company in Rugby, Warwickshire. During his time in Rugby, he met Marjorie Louise Butler, and they married in 1936. He became a British citizen in 1946, and it was while working at British Thomson-Houston that he invented holography, in 1947. He experimented with a heavily filtered mercury arc light source. However, the earliest hologram was only realised in 1964 following the 1960 invention of the laser, the first coherent light source. After this, holography became commercially available.
2012 – American Science-Fiction Author Rad Bradbury dies.
Bradbury sold his first story, “The Lake”, for $13.75 at 22, and became a full-time writer by 24. His first collection of short stories, Dark Carnival, was published in 1947 by Arkham House, a small press in Sauk City, Wisconsin, owned by writer August Derleth. Reviewing Dark Carnival for the New York Herald Tribune, Will Cuppy proclaimed Bradbury “suitable for general consumption” and predicted that he would become a writer of the caliber of British fantasy author John Collier.
After a rejection notice from the pulp Weird Tales, Bradbury submitted “Homecoming” to Mademoiselle, which was spotted by a young editorial assistant named Truman Capote. Capote picked the Bradbury manuscript from a slush pile, which led to its publication. Homecoming won a place in the O. Henry Award Stories of 1947.
In UCLA’s Powell Library, in a study room with typewriters for rent, Bradbury wrote his classic story of a book burning future, The Fireman, which was about 25,000 words long. It was later published at about 50,000 words under the name Fahrenheit 451, for a total cost of $9.80, due to the library’s typewriter-rental fees of ten cents per half-hour.
A chance encounter in a Los Angeles bookstore with the British expatriate writer Christopher Isherwood gave Bradbury the opportunity to put The Martian Chronicles into the hands of a respected critic. Isherwood’s glowing review followed.