Tell us about something that happened today in history, and make it relate to current science.
Courtesy NASA via WikipediaToday, Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the Moon, celebrates his 82nd birthday. Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio on this day in 1930. Some thirty-eight years later, in July of 1969, Armstrong and two other US astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins traveled to the Moon in the Apollo 11 spacecraft. As Collins orbited the Moon in the command service module (CSM), the other two crew members descended to the surface in the lunar module (LM). After successfully landing on the Sea of Tranquility, Armstrong climbed down the LM ladder and took his historic first step onto the surface at 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969. Aldrin joined Armstrong about 20 minutes later, and the two astronauts spent the next 2-1/2 hours of the mission investigating the lunar surface, setting up science-gathering equipment, and collecting rock and soil samples, before blasting off the surface to rejoin Collins for the return trip to Earth.
Courtesy Mark Ryan CollectionIn 1879, on the High Plains of Wyoming Territory, fieldworker William Harlow Reed discovered the first bones of a nearly complete dinosaur skeleton that Yale paleontologist Othniel Marsh would eventually name Brontosaurus excelsus. Arthur Lakes (another of Marsh's fieldworkers) made a watercolor portraying Reed (right) and helper Edward Ashley sitting among the sauropod's bones at Como Bluff's Quarry #10 (scroll to bottom of link page see the painting). More about the discovery can be found here. The mounted skeleton still stands at Yale's Peabody Museum in New Haven, Connecticut.
"The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally's family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly."
Story on MSNBC website
On this day in 1969, two American astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, became the first humans to touch down on and explore the surface the Moon. Relive the actual lunar module landing (juxtaposed with panorama imagery from LRO data) in the above video. Also, learn more about all the Apollo Program and missions leading up to and following Apollo 11's historic landing forty-three years ago.
It's taken nearly 50 years, but scientists at Europe's CERN have finally announced the detection of the Higgs boson. Earlier this week, rumors were leaking all over the place, but today the discovery has now been confirmed. Well, sort of. The new particle has Higgs-like properties, but further data analysis will be needed to determine if it actually behaves like the predicted Standard Model. Odds are it will.
In 1964, British theoretical physicist Peter Higgs and others, predicted a sub-atomic particle must exist that gives mass to all other particles. His name was tagged to the elusive particle, and ever since then physicists have sought it out, using particle accelerators at both Fermilab near Chicago, and at CERN, where today plenty of celebrating is taking place. Congratulations are in order for the thousands of scientists involved in the quest!
Courtesy USGS Preceded by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake, Washington state's Mount St. Helens explodes with a major eruption in 1980 that flattens the surrounding forest, blankets the immediate area with mud and avalanche debris, and unleashes more than 500 million tons of ash into the air that reaches as far as Oklahoma (although traces of the ash encircle the globe). Fifty-seven people lose their lives from the eruption.
"Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.“
- T. H. Huxley
Thomas Huxley bio
The space shuttle Discovery flew over Washington DC on the back of NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft before making its final landing at Dulles Airport. The shuttle will be housed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. During it's operational lifetime, Discovery flew 39 missions into space, more than any other vehicle in the fleet. Photos of Discovery, including some taken by spectators during the DC flyby can be viewed on NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery page. Kind of cool. RIP Discovery.
There were northerly winds over North Atlantic in the months prior to the RMS Titanic leaving port. These winds likely played a role in pushing icebergs farther south than normal and into the Titanic’s path.
When the Titanic left port in Queenstown, Ireland on Thursday April 11, 1912, it sailed under brisk winds from the north-northwest at 15-20 knots and a temperature of about 50 degrees. Two days earlier, well to the west in Boston, MA, a few thousand fans shivered in the cold and snow flurries as the Red Sox beat Harvard University 2-0 in the first game ever played at Fenway Park. On April 12 the winds were from the west-southwest at about 15 knots and the noon temperature was about 60 degrees. As the ship continued westward, the skies got cloudier as a weak cold front approached. The noon time temperatures on Saturday April 12 were still around 60 degrees, but another cold front (associated with the previous Fenway snow flurries) was to the west and north of the ship. As the Titanic passed through the second cold front on Sunday April 14, the winds switched to northwest at 20 knots. The noon temperature was around 50 degrees but by 7:30 pm the temperature was 39 degrees. On Sunday, nighttime temperatures dropped below freezing and the skies cleared and the winds calmed. A large Arctic air mass was now over the area, along with a clear, star lite night, subfreezing temperatures and calm winds that resulted in a sea “like glass”. Icebergs where known to be in the region, but the calm winds made spotting them difficult. To spot icebergs during the night, lookouts searched for wind driven wave breaking around their bases. The ship struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on Sunday, April 14.
On Monday morning, after the sinking, one survivor reported a breeze that came up around dawn to add to the morning chill. Photographs of the rescue that morning show small waves on the ocean surface, confirming that report.