Tag: history

Books

There are few things I esteem more highly than books, and I’m not just saying that because I was honorary patron of Saskatchewan Library Week (October 15 to 22–and if you missed it, don’t worry; your local library will welcome you any week). Books have been my friends, companions and teachers since I learned to …

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Photography

I’ve been interested in photography ever since I bought my first camera as a kid–an all-plastic (including the lens) special that cost all of $1. Over the next couple of years, with that camera and its sequel, a $10 Instamatic, I shot lots of pictures of friends, scenery, and my cat (LOTS of pictures of …

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Hobart’s Funnies

Necessity is the mother of invention, as the old saying goes; and in warfare, necessities can be urgent indeed. As a result, many technological innovations occur during wartime. The First World War brought us huge advances in aircraft design; the Second World War brought us atomic energy. But on a less grandiose scale, technical innovations …

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May 1994 science anniversaries

“What hath God wrought?” is one of those famous quotations associated with great historical events, like Neil Armstrong’s “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” But “What had God wrought?” wasn’t spoken: it was sent as a series of dots and dashes from Baltimore to Washington over the first public telegraph …

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Three fathers of technology

This month, we celebrate the birthdays of three important scientists, each a “father” of a technology that has shaped this century. First up: April 9, the 75th birthday of John Presper Eckert, the father (well, one of the fathers) of the digital computer. While a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1940s, …

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March 1994 science anniversaries

This March seems to be a month for important scientific birthdays, beginning with March 4, the 600th birthday of Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal. Prince Henry began sending out expeditions along the Atlantic coast of Africa in 1418, motivated as much by hatred of the Muslims and a lust for gold as by a …

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Galileo

One scientific anniversary stands out above all others this month: February 15, the 430th birthday of Galileo Galilei. Born near Pisa, Italy, in 1564, Galileo entered the University of Pisa as a medical student, but found that mathematics interested him more. Though he never got a degree, he was made professor of mathematics at his …

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December 1993 science anniversaries

‘Tis the season for December’s science anniversaries, and there’s a biggy this month: the 90th anniversary of the first successful flight in a self-propelled heavier-than-air craft. But first, two other flight-related anniversaries. Twenty-five years ago, on December 21, 1968, NASA launched Apollo 8. The crew of Col. Frank Borman, Lt. Col. William A. Anders and …

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November 1993 science anniversaries

This month’s science anniversaries begin with a first that was also a last. November 4 marked the 20th anniversary of the launch of Mariner 10, the first interplanetary probe to visit Mercury — and the last of the Mariners. Mariner 10’s main purpose was to photograph Venus, which it did from 5,770 kilometres on February …

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Scientific hoaxes, Part 2

Last week’s column on Piltdown Man was supposed to be about scientific hoaxes in general, but my prolixity defeated me: I had a bunch of left-over hoaxes. In the spirit of Hollywood, therefore, I now present Scientific Hoaxes 2: Lost in My Research. Piltdown Man wasn’t the only fossil hoax. Faking fossils is a tradition …

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Scientific hoaxes, Part 1

Science progresses not only when scientists have brilliant ideas, but also when they’re wrong. A wrong idea faces testing through experiments, and those experiments sometimes not only disprove the wrong idea, they uncover the truth. Because of this, science has always been susceptible to hoaxes. A well-executed hoax appears to have solid evidence behind it, …

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Skyscrapers

  “One dark night, when we were all in bed, “Mrs. O’Leary lit a lantern in the shed, “And when the cow kicked it over, she winked her eye and said, “‘There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight. Fire! Fire! Fire!’” This famous bit of verse doesn’t mention it, and somehow I …

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