Science

Jonas Salk’s 100th Birthday

Written by  on October 26, 2014

The History of Polio is forever and inextricably linked with  Jonas Salk . Salk’s eagerly anticipated achievement of inoculation against the much feared polio virus was made public on April 12, 1955

Not long after the announcement of the success of the Salk Vaccine , Jonas appeared in what would become a well-known television interview with Edward R. Murrow. When Murrow asked why he did not obtain a patent on his medical discovery, Salk famously said in response, “Would you patent the sun?” His response left the impression that it was a morally motivated decline on Salk’s part that resulted in an unpatented invention. But there are other details that point to the possibility of an altogether different reason having less to do with Salk and more to do with other factors  apart from Salk’s refusal to apply for a patent.

October 28, 1914 marks the 100th anniversary of Jonas Salk’s birthday.

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IBM Introduces the System/360

Written by  on April 7, 2014

May the computers unite and with that revolutionary concept the IBM System/360 was born. Before the uniting of computers into a network of systems, each was its own creation uniquely customized for each of IBM’s clients.

It has been 50 years since the 360 mainframe was introduced in 1964. It boasted the first mainframe computers that IBM customers could optimize from a lower cost model to something upgraded in power. ABC News

 

 

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The History of DNA

Written by  on February 28, 2013

On Saturday, Feb. 28, 1953, New York Times, in an ironically understated setting for such an ultimately world reknown and Nobel Prize winning reveal, scientists Watson and Crick announced during lunch at the English pub the Eagle, that they had discovered the secret of life. However, the necessary foundation had long been established, before the scientific work on the structural properties of the double helix brought DNA to the spotlight of the mainstream.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was discovered in the late 1860s by Friedrich Miescher. It probably comes as a surprise to most, that it was Swiss chemist Miescher who first identified the ingredients for human life. Most people associate the momentous finding with the famous American biologist and English physicist, James Watson and Francis Crick, mistakenly giving them credit for DNA’s discovery; but their contribution didn’t arrive on the scientific scene until decades later.

In 1869 Miescher discovered DNA, which he initially named nuclein. With an astute, scientifically trained eye, while attempting to investigate the chemical makeup of white blood cells , he noticed something significant. It was a unique substance that did not resemble previously examined protiens.

Miescher’s unique substance that he called nuclein received little notice over the years except by scientists studying the molecule and subsequently adding further knowledge to the initial find.

Learn more about James Watson and Francis Crick’s contribution to the DNA story

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Einstein’s God Letter

Written by  on October 9, 2012

Below is an excerpt from the letter Einstein wrote in German in the year 1954. This letter, coined the “God Letter” by a Los Angeles-based auction agency, is up for auction on Ebay with a starting bid of $3 million.

The World renown physicist wrote the letter to Jewish philosopher Eric Gutkind a year before his death. The letter sheds some light on the religious views he held towards the end of his 76 years of life.

“For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups … I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”

Access original on Ebay

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Neil Armstrong’s Death at 82

Written by  on August 25, 2012

I am very saddened to learn of the passing of Neil Armstrong today. Neil and I trained together as technical partners but were also good friends who will always be connected through our participation in the mission of Apollo 11. Whenever I look at the moon it reminds me of the moment over four decades ago when I realized that even though we were farther away from earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone.

Virtually the entire world took that memorable journey with us. I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew. My friend Neil took the small step but giant leap that changed the world and will forever be remembered as a landmark moment in human history. I had truly hoped that in 2019, we would be standing together along with our colleague Mike Collins to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of our moon landing. Regrettably, this is not to be. Neil will most certainly be there with us in spirit.

On behalf of the Aldrin family, we extend our deepest condolences to Carol and the entire Armstrong family. I will miss my friend Neil as I know our fellow citizens and people around world will miss this foremost aviation and space pioneer.

May he Rest in Peace

BUZZ ALDRIN

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Information Innovation in History

Written by  on August 23, 2012

“But this is not another rant against email. Email is magic. It enables abundant, free communication. Consider how far we have come in less than a century: In 1915 — the year my grandfather was born — Alexander Graham Bell picked up a telephone in New York and made the country’s first transcontinental call to San Francisco. Adjusting for inflation, the price of a 3-minute call back then was $440. Today, I video chat through my Gmail account with friends in Budapest or Tokyo — for free. Seriously, magic.” Tech Fortune

  • Four basic periods Characterized by a principal technology used to solve the input, processing, output and communication problemsof the time:

    1. Premechanical,
    2. Mechanical,
    3. Electromechanical, and
    4. Electronic

A. The Premechanical Age: 3000 B.C. – 1450 A.D.

  1. Writing and Alphabets–communication.
    1. First humans communicated only through speaking and picture drawings.
    2. 3000 B.C., the Sumerians in Mesopotamia (what is today southern Iraq) devised cuniform
    3. Around 2000 B.C., Phoenicians created symbols
    4. The Greeks later adopted the Phoenician alphabet and added vowels; the Romans gave the letters Latin names to create the alphabet we use today.
  2. Paper and Pens–input technologies.
    1. Sumerians’ input technology was a stylus that could scratch marks in wet clay.
    2. About 2600 B.C., the Egyptians write on the papyrus plant
    3. around 100 A.D., the Chinese made paper from rags, on which modern-day papermaking is based.
  3. Books and Libraries: Permanent Storage Devices.
    1. Religious leaders in Mesopotamia kept the earliest “books”
    2. The Egyptians kept scrolls
    3. Around 600 B.C., the Greeks began to fold sheets of papyrus vertically into leaves and bind them together.
  4. The First Numbering Systems.
    1. Egyptian system:
      • The numbers 1-9 as vertical lines, the number 10 as a U or circle, the number 100 as a coiled rope, and the number 1,000 as a lotus blossom.
    2. The first numbering systems similar to those in use today were invented between 100 and 200 A.D. by Hindus in India who created a nine-digit numbering system.
    3. Around 875 A.D., the concept of zero was developed.
  5. The First Calculators: The Abacus. One of the very first information processors.

B. The Mechanical Age: 1450 – 1840

  1. The First Information Explosion.
    1. Johann Gutenberg (Mainz, Germany)
      • Invented the movable metal-type printing process in 1450.
    2. The development of book indexes and the widespread use of page numbers.
  2. The first general purpose “computers”
    • Actually people who held the job title “computer: one who works with numbers.”
  3. Slide Rules, the Pascaline and Leibniz’s Machine.
    • Slide Rule. Early 1600s, William Oughtred, an English clergyman, invented the slide rule
      • Early example of an analog computer.
    • The Pascaline.Invented by Blaise Pascal (1623-62). The Pascaline (front) (rear view) Diagram of interior
      • One of the first mechanical computing machines, around 1642.
    • Leibniz’s Machine. Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716), German mathematician and philosopher. The Reckoner (reconstruction)
  4. Babbage’s EnginesCharles Babbage (1792-1871), eccentric English mathematician
    • The Difference Engine.
      • Working model created in 1822.
      • The “method of differences”.
    • The Analytical Engine.Joseph Marie Jacquard’s loom.
      • Designed during the 1830s
      • Parts remarkably similar to modern-day computers.
        • The “store”
        • The “mill”
        • Punch cards.
      • Punch card idea picked up by Babbage from Joseph Marie Jacquard’s (1752-1834)loom.
        • Introduced in 1801.
        • Binary logic
        • Fixed program that would operate in real time.
    • Augusta Ada Byron (1815-52).
    • The first programmer

C. The Electromechanical Age: 1840 – 1940.

The discovery of ways to harness electricity was the key advance made during this period. Knowledge and information could now be converted into electrical impulses.

  1. The Beginnings of Telecommunication.
    1. Voltaic Battery.
      • Late 18th century.
    2. Telegraph.
      • Early 1800s.
    3. Morse Code.
      • Developed in1835 by Samuel Morse
      • Dots and dashes.
    4. Telephone and Radio.
      • Alexander Graham Bell.
      • 1876
    5. Followed by the discovery that electrical waves travel through space and can produce an effect far from the point at which they originated.
    6. These two events led to the invention of the radio
      • Guglielmo Marconi
      • 1894
  2. Electromechanical Computing
    1. Herman Hollerith and IBM.Herman Hollerith (1860-1929) in 1880. Census Machine. Early punch cards. Punch card workers.
      • By 1890
      • The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
        • Its first logo
    2. Mark 1.Paper tape stored data and program instructions.
      • Howard Aiken, a Ph.D. student at Harvard University
      • Built the Mark I
        • Completed January 1942
        • 8 feet tall, 51 feet long, 2 feet thick, weighed 5 tons, used about 750,000 parts

D. The Electronic Age: 1940 – Present.

  1. First Tries.
    • Early 1940s
    • Electronic vacuum tubes.
  2. Eckert and Mauchly.
    1. The First High-Speed, General-Purpose Computer Using Vacuum Tubes: Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)The ENIAC team (Feb 14, 1946). Left to right: J. Presper Eckert, Jr.; John Grist Brainerd; Sam Feltman; Herman H. Goldstine; John W. Mauchly; Harold Pender; Major General G. L. Barnes; Colonel Paul N. Gillon. Rear view (note vacuum tubes).
      • Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)
        • 1946.
        • Used vacuum tubes (not mechanical devices) to do its calculations.
          • Hence, first electronic computer.
        • Developers John Mauchly, a physicist, and J. Prosper Eckert, an electrical engineer
          • The Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania
        • Funded by the U.S. Army.
        • But it could not store its programs (its set of instructions)
        • Read More Here

 

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