Stories tagged On this day

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

It's Pi Day - again!

by Anonymous on Mar. 14th, 2013

The symbol for pi (3.14...): and a blueberry pi at that.
The symbol for pi (3.14...): and a blueberry pi at that.Courtesy Mark Ryan
This is a repost from last year because it's once again March 14 (3/14), and that means it's once again Pi Day! That's the day set aside to recognize "the ratio of any Euclidean circle's circumference to its diameter", or in mathematical terms, it's an irrational number that begins with:

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609... and on and on and on, yadda, yadda, yadda. (It wasn't intentional but I like how the number has gone off the page toward infinity.)

Pi Day was created by a physicist named Larry Shaw (aka The Prince of Pi) back in 1988. The symbol for pi is that thing pictured above. (Yes, it's a blueberry pi - my favorite).

Official? Pi Day webpage
More pi info
The Pi Song (Thanks Pam Hamann!)

On this 204th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, U.S. Rep Rush Holt of New Jersey introduced House Resolution 41 to express support for recognition of February 12th as Darwin Day and for scientific thinking. Watch this rare and rational moment from Washington take place.

Darwin Day tomorrow at SMM

by Anonymous on Feb. 08th, 2013

Darwin Day: Come celebrate the naturalist's legacy tomorrow, February 9, 2013, from 1pm-4pm at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Darwin Day: Come celebrate the naturalist's legacy tomorrow, February 9, 2013, from 1pm-4pm at the Science Museum of Minnesota.Courtesy Mark Ryan
The Science Museum of Minnesota will offer plenty of activities throughout the museum this Saturday (February 9, 2013) in honor of Darwin Day, an international celebration of naturalist Charles Darwin's birthday held each year in February.

From 1pm-4pm, museum visitors will be able to learn about such things as mussel diversity in the Mississippi River, scientific illustration, dating fossils, and comparing differences between human and chimpanzee skulls. They'll also be able to take a virtual trip to the Galapagos Islands, and see the types of tools used on the HMS Beagle to navigate the globe back in the 19th century.

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, and published his great work On the Origin of Species fifty years later.

It's Groundhog Day!

by Anonymous on Feb. 02nd, 2013

Groundhog (Marmota monax): aka woodchuck, land-beaver, and whistle-pig. Weather records show he probably couldn't predict his way out of a paper bag.
Groundhog (Marmota monax): aka woodchuck, land-beaver, and whistle-pig. Weather records show he probably couldn't predict his way out of a paper bag.Courtesy ShutterSparks via Flickr
Today is Groundhog Day, that special day when world-renown weather prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, (a groundhog, mind you) makes an appearance in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in order to let us all know just how much more winter we'll have to suffer through. Well, this morning, Phil came out of his rodent hole at 7:25am EST, and - for whatever reason - wasn't able to see his shadow. That's good news. It means we're going to have an early spring, and I'm okay with that - I've had it with winter. But, you might wonder, just how accurate have Phil's forecasts been in the past? According to the records, Phil's been right only about 39% of the time, which probably makes him no worse than most of his colleagues in the weather forecasting game. Anyway, if you want to, you learn all about Phil and Groundhog Day at Earthsky.org. And, happy Groundhog Day!

Anniversary of Nikola Tesla's death

by Anonymous on Jan. 07th, 2013

Nikola Tesla c. 1893: The inventor and electrical engineer was born July 10, 1856 and died on January 7, 1943.
Nikola Tesla c. 1893: The inventor and electrical engineer was born July 10, 1856 and died on January 7, 1943.Courtesy Public domain photo by Napoleon Sarony via Wikipedia
Seventy years ago on January 7, 1943, inventor, physicist, and electricity wonder-kind Nikola Tesla died alone in a New York City hotel room. The Serbian-American scientist held more than 700 patents including several that made radio possible, yet he died penniless and deep in debt.

In his prime, Tesla (with investor George Westinghouse) had battled with Tesla's former employer Thomas Edison over the best method of transmitting electrical current. Edison favored direct current and won the battle, but later he admitted Tesla's alternating current was superior. It's been the standard means of transmitting electricity for more than a century (although, this could be changing).

Below are some links to more information about the remarkable Tesla.

Monument to Tesla sought
PBS show on Tesla
1899 interview with Tesla in Pearson's magazine
Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Museum

Bad call: Looks like the NFL's substitute referees weren't the only ones to make bad calls this year.
Bad call: Looks like the NFL's substitute referees weren't the only ones to make bad calls this year.Courtesy Frederick Catherwood via Mark Ryan
This is good news. The only downside is now I have to go Christmas shopping.

A total solar eclipse was visible across the extreme north of Australia yesterday giving residents, tourists, and eclipse-chasing scientists the thrill of a lifetime. Here’s a timelapse and informational video of the event. Total solar eclipses occur about twice each year but since the Earth is 70 percent water, they often happen in remote, unpopulated locations. But remember folks, in less than five years, the Moon’s shadow will sweep across the mid-section of the United States when a total solar eclipse takes place on August 21, 2017. Whatever you do, do not miss it. It is truly something amazing to witness live.

Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian skydiver attempting to break several frreefall records, has lifted off from Roswell, New Mexico and is ascending into the stratosphere and beyond as I write. The helium balloon that's lifting him upward is, right now, nearing 100,000 feet at a rate of about 15 feet/second. He hopes to reach 120,000 and then leave the capsule for about a 10 minute jump back to Earth. Half of that time will be spent in freefall. That's all I know. You can watch a delayed webcast of it at the BBC website.

The SpaceX rocket lifted off today from a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, becoming the first commercial flight to the International Space Station and marking the beginning of a new era of space exploration. Read about it here.