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Today in History :: Friday, 25 May 2018

1803Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, philosopher. Best known for his philosophy of Transcendentalism, first published in his 1836 essay Nature. The main tenet of transcendentalists is the desire to go beyond (transcend) the prevailing literature and philosophies of the masses in order to improve society. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
1865Pieter Zeeman, physicist. An authority on magneto-optics, he shared (with Hendrik Lorentz) the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1902 for his discovery of the Zeeman effect, the phenomena produced in spectroscopy by the splitting up of spectral lines in a magnetic field. Born in Zonnemaire, The Netherlands.
1889Igor Sikorsky, engineer, aviation pioneer. Inventor of the first practical helicopter as well as being a designer of fixed-wing aircraft. He was first to build an aeroplane with more than one engine, a four-engined aircraft named "The Grand", which also included revolutionary ideas such as an enclosed cabin, a toilet, and upholstered seating. Born in Kiev, Russia.
1901Carl Wagner, physical chemist, metallurgist. Helped advance the understanding of the chemistry of solid-state materials, especially the effects of imperfections at the atomic level on the properties of compounds such as oxides and sulphides, important to the development of semiconductor materials. Born in Leipzig, Germany.
1921Jack Steinberger, physicist. Shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1988 for the discovery of the muon neutrino. Born in Bad Kissingen, Germany.
1925John Cocke, computer scientist. Inventor of reduced instruction set computing (RISC), an innovation that boosted computer speed by simplifying instructions for frequently used functions. He was awarded the Alan M. Turing Award in 1987. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.
1926Miles Davis, jazz trumpeter. Developed or advanced several significant musical styles, including cool jazz, hard bop, orchestral jazz, modal improvisation, and rock-jazz fusion. Born in Alton, Illinois, USA.
1927Robert Ludlum, spy novelist. Known for his violent, fast-paced books, he has sold almost 300 million copies worldwide. He has been often criticised for his melodramatic style and unbelievable plots, frequently based on material from current events and international politics. Born in New York City, USA.
1939Sir Ian McKellen, actor (X-Men, Lord of the Rings). Regarded by many as one of Great Britain's greatest actors. His career began when he won a scholarship to Cambridge University at the age of 18. He became famous on stage for his controversial portrayal of King Edward II of England and went on to perform in several Broadway productions before enjoying a successful film career beginning in the 1990s. He is also well known as a campaigner for homosexual equality. He was knighted in 1990. Born in Burnley, Lancashire, England.
1958Paul Weller, musician (The Jam, Style Council). Best known as leader of late 1970s/early 1980s band The Jam, one of Great Britain's most popular bands of the time. After disolving The Jam, he founded Style Council, who enjoyed much less success, and in 1989 Polydor rejected their fifth album, leaving him without a record deal. Born in Woking, Surrey, England.
1963Mike Myers, comedian, actor (Wayne's World, Austen Powers). Born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.
1085Pope Gregory VII (b. Hildebrand), pope (1073 - 85). Best known for the part he played in the Investiture Controversy, a disagreement between himself and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, about who had power to appoint clergy. As a result, he excommunicated King Henry and absolved his subjects from the oaths they had sworn to him. Died aged 63.
1923Hans Goldschmidt, German industrial chemist. Inventor of the alumino-thermic process in 1905, sometimes called the Goldschmidt reduction process. The operation involves reactions of oxides of certain metals with aluminium to yield aluminium oxide. The free metal and has been employed to produce metals such as chromium, manganese, and cobalt from oxide ores and is also used for welding. Died in Baden-Baden, Germany, aged 61.
1935Sir Frank Dyson, English astronomer. The ninth English Astronomer Royal (1910 - 33) who directed measurements of terrestrial magnetism, latitude, and time, and initiated the radio broadcast of time. He is best remembered for directing (with Sir Arthur Eddington) the 1919 eclipse expedition which confirmed the bending of starlight by the sun's gravitational field. This bending of light, predicted by Einstein, was the much sought-after evidence supporting Einstein's general theory of relativity. He was knighted in 1915. Died at sea, en route from Australia to England, aged 71.
1974Donald Crisp (b. George William Crisp), English actor (Broken Blossoms, How Green Was My Valley, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Charge of the Light Brigade), director (The Navigator). Died of complications from a series of strokes in Van Nuys, California, USA, aged 91.
1965Sonny Boy Williamson (b. Alec Miller), American blues musician. Made his first recording in 1951, recording about 70 songs for Chess Records before touring Europe during the 1960s on the strength of the British blues explosion, recording with The Yardbirds and The Animals. He was characterised by a hip-flask of whiskey, a pistol, a knife, a foul mouth, and a short temper. He was known for songs such as "Nine Below Zero", "Don't Start Me To Talkin'", "Bye Bye Bird", and "Little Village". Died in Chicago, Illinois, USA, aged 51.
1988Ernst Ruska, German electrical engineer. Shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1986 for his invention of the electron microscope. His device had a magnifying power of about seventeen. Improvements came quickly and by 1933 the magnifying power had been increased to 7000, and by 1939, resolutions of about 250-500 were possible. Died in West Berlin, Germany, aged 81.
Events on this day:
585 BCEThe first solar eclipse to be predicted occurs.
1521The Edict of Worms condemns Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther as an outlaw and heretic.
1659Oliver Cromwell's son, Richard, resigns as lord protector of England, allowing Charles II's restoration.
1878Gilbert & Sullivan's opera HMS Pinafore premieres in London, England.
1895Oscar Wilde is convicted of "sodomy and gross indecency" and sentenced to serve two years in a London prison.
1922Babe Ruth is suspended for one day and fined $200 for throwing dirt on an umpire.
1925American school teacher John T. Scopes is indicted for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution, breaking a law forbidding the teaching of evolution in Tennessee public schools.
1927Henry Ford stops producing the Model T car and subsequently begins production of the Model A.
1935Babe Ruth hits his last home run at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, playing for the Boston Braves against The Pirates.
1935American athlete Jesse Owens equals or breaks 6 world records in one hour.
1937The first airmail letter to circle the globe returns to New York, USA.
1940The Battle of Dunkirk begins.
1948Andrew Moyer is granted a patent for a method for mass producing penicillin.
1961US President John F. Kennedy announces a goal of putting a man on the Moon before the end of decade.
1963Thirty two nations form the Organisation of African Unity with the aim of ending white rule in Africa.
1973NASA launches a mission to repair Skylab I which sustained extensive damage during its launch 11 days earlier.
1977The first of the Star Wars films "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" opens in theatres and becomes the highest grossing film of all time.
1981Al Unser becomes the first Indianapolis 500 winner to be disqualified after passing other cars in the pit lane. Mario Andretti is promoted to first.
1983"Star Wars Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" is released.
2008The Mars Phoenix lander sends back historic first pictures of an unexplored region of Mars near the planet's north pole. The main goal of the mission is to dig below the surface of Mars to look for water.
Quote of the day:
A new randomly-selected quote each day.

"The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart."
~ Robert Ingersoll

Daily Trivia
A new (mostly science-related) question each day.
Q. How many people died in the influenza pandemic of 1918?
show answer

Site of the Day:
A random site to visit each day, some of which I've found interesting, useful, humourous, provocative, etc...
NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope
The Eurpoean home page of the NASA/ESA Hubble space telescope. Contains news, images, videos related to the NASA/ESA Hubble space telescope project.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Marking 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy. Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

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