Stories tagged On this day

Tell us about something that happened today in history, and make it relate to current science.

Patrick Steptoe, born June 9, 1913, pioneered the use of the laparoscope for minimally-invasive abdominal surgery and also helped perfect the human in vitro fertilization (IVF) technique. IVF has led to the births of many babies, but has also created some ethically sticky situations, including one that is the subject of our current poll.

On June 5, 1981, Dr. Michael Gottlieb briefly described the disease we now know as AIDS in the newsletter of the Centers for Disease Control. This was the first notice published on the disease. Gottlieb was a pioneer in pursuing and studying immune deficiency cases, publishing his results, and testing drugs like AZT.

French engineer and chemist Georges Claude died on May 23, 1960. In 1902, he invented the neon light (obviously near and dear to our hearts!) by applying electricity to a sealed tube of neon gas. Used to promote a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles, the first neon signs in the US cost $24,000.

Scientific names

by Liza on May. 23rd, 2006

Carolus Linnaeus, Swedish botanist and explorer, was born on May 23, 1707. What's his claim to science fame? He was the first to lay out principles for defining genera and species of organisms, and a system for naming them. His system of two-part "scientific names" (i.e. Homo sapiens or Architeuthis dux), though modified many times, is still in use today.

Engineer James B. Eads, known for his bridge over the Mississippi at St. Louis, was born on May 23, 1820. The bridge wasn't his only claim to fame, though. He also invented a boat and diving bell that allowed him to run a salvage operation and made him a fortune. He also built ironclad warships for use during the Civil War, and a year-round navigation channel for New Orleans.

Carl Ethan Akeley was born on May 19, 1864. Who was he, you wonder? He was a naturalist who developed the taxidermic method for mounting museum displays. He created anatomically correct mannikins, complete with every detail, to stretch hides over, and he mounted the animals in realistic poses. If you're at the museum, look around: there's lots of taxidermy to see, and it mostly began with the work of Carl Ethan Akeley.

No more smallpox

by Liza on May. 17th, 2006

Edward Jenner, credited with developing the vaccine for smallpox, was born on May 17, 1749. Smallpox was officially eradicated in 1980 after an aggressive worldwide vaccine campaign.

Dvorak vs. QWERTY

by Liza on May. 12th, 2006

The efficiency experts August Dvorak and William Dealey patented the Dvorak typewriter keyboard on May 12, 1936 (Patent No. 2,040,248). They tried to increase typists' speed by placing the most common letters on the home row and where the stronger fingers of the hands could do most of the work. The QWERTY keyboard, which you're probably using right now, was actually designed to slow typists down. (On old typewriters, speed would cause jammed keys.)

On May 11, 1987, doctors in Baltimore transplanted the heart and lungs of an auto accident victim to a patient who gave up his own heart to a second recipient. Clinton House, the nation's first living heart donor, died 14 months later. Want to know more about organ or body donation? Check the Buzz next week for a new feature!

First eye bank

by Liza on May. 09th, 2006
America's first eye bank opened on May 9, 1944, in New York. The eye bank was also the first organization founded to facilitate the transfer of human tissue from donor to patient. Interested in being an eye donor after your death? Try the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank.