Sunday, May 18, 2008

Today in History: May 18

  • 1048 Khorasan (northern Persian) mathematician, physicist and poet Omar Khayyám born; wrote Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra (1070), an advanced algebra text, and Explanations of the Difficulties in the Postulates of Euclid (1077). (For Heinlein buffs, this is Omar the tent-maker.)
  • 1711 Ragusan (Dalmatian) mathematician Ruggiero Boscovich born; invented the process of three-observation orbit determinationa among numerous other discoveries.
  • 1850 English physicist Oliver Heaviside born; predicted the ionosphere (also known as the Heaviside Layer), and its use for bouncing radio waves beyond the horizon.
  • 1889 American chemist Thomas Midgley Jr. born; discovered tetraethyl lead (1921) making car engines safer and more powerful; the cleaning agent carbon tetrafluoride; and Freon, dichlorofluoromethane (1930), making refrigerators safer.
  • 1897 Irish writer Bram Stoker publishes Dracula.
  • 1897 American film director Frank Capra born; It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Lost Horizon (1937), You Can't Take It with You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Meet John Doe (1941), Why We Fight (1942), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Arsenic and Old Lace(1944), Pocketful of Miracles (1961).
  • 1914 The Panama canal opens to cargo ships, greatly lowering the cost of shipping goods between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
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