Stories tagged On this day

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

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Google Doodle for 7/20/2011: In honor of Gregor Mendel, father of genetics.
Google Doodle for 7/20/2011: In honor of Gregor Mendel, father of genetics.Courtesy Google

Today is the 189th anniversary of Gregor Mendel's birth. You can learn all you need to know about him from this great little Washington Post animation.

Neptune Anniversary Images
Neptune Anniversary ImagesCourtesy NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Neptune arrived today at the same location in space where it was discovered nearly 165 years ago. To commemorate the event, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took these "anniversary pictures" of the blue-green giant planet.

Neptune is the most distant major planet in our solar system (alas, poor Pluto). German astronomer Johann Galle discovered the planet on September 23, 1846. The planet is 2.8 billion miles (4.5 billion kilometers) from the Sun. Under the Sun's weak pull at that distance, Neptune plods along in its huge orbit, slowly completing one revolution approximately every 165 years. Due to this slow orbit, each of Neptune's "seasons" lasts for about 40 years.

The four Hubble images of Neptune were taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 on June 25-26, during the planet's 16-hour rotation. The snapshots were taken at roughly four-hour intervals, offering a full view of the planet. The images reveal high-altitude clouds in the northern and southern hemispheres. The clouds are composed of methane ice crystals.

Birth of Nikola Tesla

by Anonymous on Jul. 10th, 2011

We've written about Nikola Tesla before. You can also read more about him here. He was born this day in 1856 in Croatia, so here's a short film capsule of his life. Happy birthday, Mr. Tesla!

Via Pharyngula.

The first two of Belinda's five eggs hatched early this morning. (Belinda is the resident peregrine falcon in the nest box at the King power plant in Bayport, MN.)

Chicks 1 and 2: Baby peregrines are helpless at first, and are cared for by both parents. But they grow at an astonishing rate, and should be ready to leave the nest for the first time by the end of June or the beginning of July.
Chicks 1 and 2: Baby peregrines are helpless at first, and are cared for by both parents. But they grow at an astonishing rate, and should be ready to leave the nest for the first time by the end of June or the beginning of July.Courtesy Xcel Energy/Raptor Resource Project

The other eggs, if they hatch at all, should follow in the next few days.

For more on peregrine falcons, visit our 2011 peregrine cam page.

Hatch today?

by Liza on May. 19th, 2011

Well, it's May 19, the estimated hatch date for the peregrine falcon chicks in the nest box at the King power plant in Bayport. Haven't seen any chicks yet, but Belinda's made a little moat of pebbles around the eggs -- the folks on the Raptor Resource forum say that's something she always does right before hatching. Stay tuned...

Birth of Thomas Huxley

by Anonymous on May. 04th, 2011
Thomas Henry Huxley: Darwin's Bulldog at age 21.
Thomas Henry Huxley: Darwin's Bulldog at age 21.Courtesy Public domain (via Wikipedia)
Born in 1825, Thomas Henry Huxley became an advocate and fierce defender of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Known as Darwin's Bulldog, the British biologist often debated publicly with anti-evolutionists, most notably Archbishop Samuel Wilberforce in 1860. Huxley's book Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863) dealt with human evolution from a common ancestor with apes, and he was also an early proponent of the idea that birds descended from dinosaurs. Read more about Thomas Huxley.

Sometime tonight the US Army Corps of Engineers will blow up a levee at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

All that rain that fell in April has both rivers swollen WAY past flood stage. (Water levels outside Cairo, Illinois, were at 61.4' this afternoon; "flood stage" begins at 40'.)

Major General Michael Walsh, head of the Mississippi River Commission,

"...ordered the intentional breach to alleviate pressure in the river system and to protect Cairo, even though it may lead to the flooding of 130,000 acres of mostly farmland in Missouri."

More later.

Twenty-five years ago today, during a routine electrical power test at the Chernobyl Atomic Power Station,

"an uncontrollable power surge occurred, sparking two explosions in the reactor and the ejection of deadly radioactive material into the air."

Dozens died from acute radiation syndrome (ARS) and hundreds have died over the last quarter century from chronic exposure to elevated radiations levels.

The Telegraph has a well-written brief summary and links to related articles for further reading. Of course, has some powerful photographs as well.

Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear, Earth Day. Happy birthday to you!
Stop it!: You are making Earth blush.
Stop it!: You are making Earth blush.Courtesy NASA

Today Earth Day turns 41 years young. Earth day was born in Wisconsin to loving "father" Senator Gaylord Nelson on Wednesday, April 22, 1970. Twenty million Americans left school and work to welcome Earth Day into the world and to protest the country's lack of environmental policy.

As a result, in December of 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established, and the 70s and 80s saw the birth of dozens of important environmental policies like the Clear Air and Water Acts.

If you want to learn more about Earth Day, check out the EPA's Earth Day page or this manuscript by Gaylord Nelson himself.

One (short!) year ago today, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded 42 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Eleven families lost loved ones on that day, but the social, economic, and environmental damage had only begun.

Oil slick
Oil slickCourtesy U.S. Coast Gaurd

By April 22, 2010 the $560 million rig sunk, leaving oil spewing from the seabed into the Gulf of Mexico. On the 29th, the state of Louisiana declared a state of emergency due to the threat posed to natural resources, and U.S. President Barack Obama stated that BP was responsible for the cleanup.

Hopeful in those first days, remote underwater vehicles were sent to activate the blowout preventer, but the effort failed. In the following weeks that turned into months, controlled burns, booms, skimmers, and dispersants were used to cleanup oil as efforts to stop the oil flow were underway. The Justice Department launched a criminal and civil investigation, a moratorium on oil drilling was enacted and later rescinded, and the no-fishing zone grew to 37% of American Gulf waters. After 5 months, 8 days, and roughly 5 million barrels of spilled oil, a pressure test finally determined that a relief well had successfully stopped the oil flow. The spill was the world’s largest accidental release of oil into a marine environment.

The BBC wrote an article to commemorate the event and bring readers up to speed on the status of the Gulf today. National Geographic also has some neat zoomable maps.