Saturday, May 10, 2008

Today in History: May 10

  • 1730 George Ross born; signed Declaration of Independence.
  • 1775 COL Ethan Allan's Vermont volunteers, the Green Mountain Boys, take Fort Ticonderoga and capture a number of cannon with shot and powder, which were then delivered by COL Henry Knox (as in Fort Knox) for GEN Washington's successful siege of Boston.
  • 1788 French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel born; explained the nature of interference fringes; identified light as transverse waves rather than the longitudinal waves previously assumed by Young and Huygens; invented the "flat" Fresnel lens.
  • 1899 American actor Fred Astaire born; Top Hat (1935), Shall We Dance (1937), Holiday Inn (1942), Easter Parade (1948), The Band Wagon (1953), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Funny Face (1957), Silk Stockings (1957), Finian's Rainbow (1968).
  • 1900 English-American astronomer Cecilia Payne born; discovered (1925, in her Ph.D. dissertation) that the sun's composition was 99% hydrogen and some helium and only 1% iron, contrary to the prevailing belief that it was roughly 65% iron and 35% hydrogen. Ignored at the time, it was 20 years before astronomer Fred Hoyle confirmed her analysis.
  • 1935 American surgeon John Gibbon demonstrates his invention, the first heart-lung machine, successfully on a cat; and 18 years later he demonstrated it on the first human during open-heart surgery.
  • 1940 Winston Churchill succeeds Neville Chamberlain as British Prime Minister and leads Britain's survival during WWII when Chamberlain resigns following Germany's invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium and France and the obvious failure of his policy of appeasement, which he called "Peace for Our Time".
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