This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

John Glenn Returns To Space

glennthen-now October 29, 1998: John Glenn Returns to Space

Almost four decades after he became the first American to orbit the Earth, John Hershel Glenn, Jr., at age 77, is launched into space again as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery. Glenn is the oldest human ever to travel in space. During the nine-day mission, he served as part of a NASA study on health problems associated with aging.

john-glen-final-new-background-crop-final

John Glenn poses in the cockpit of his

John Glenn poses in the cockpit of his “MiG Mad Marine” F-86 Sabre

Glenn, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, was among the seven men chosen by NASA in 1959 to become America’s first astronauts. He is a decorated pilot, flying nearly 150 combat missions during World War II and the Korean War. In 1957, he made the first nonstop supersonic flight across the United States, flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes.

Astronaut John Glenn relaxes aboard the USS Noa after being recovered from the Atlantic near Grand Turk Island after his historic Mercury flight

Astronaut John Glenn relaxes aboard the USS Noa after being recovered from the Atlantic near Grand Turk Island after his historic Mercury flight

On February 20, 1962, Colonel John Glenn’s spacecraft, Friendship 7, made three orbits of the Earth in five hours. Glenn was hailed as a national hero, and on February 23 President John F. Kennedy visited him at Cape Canaveral. Glenn was given a ticker-tape parade in New York City.

glenn-kennedyjIn 1974 he won the general election for the Ohio Senate, and went on to win reelection three times. In 1984, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president.

In 1998, Glenn attracted considerable media attention when he returned to space aboard the space shuttle Discovery. In 1999, he retired from his U.S. Senate seat after four consecutive terms in office, a record for the state of Ohio.

902575_10

“You know, old folks can have dreams, too, as well as young folks, and then work toward them. And to have a dream like this come true for me is just a terrific experience.” ~ John Glenn

27-2779-tontd00z

Advertisements

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Alexei A. Leonov

Alexei A. Leonov

March 18, 1965: Man Walks in Outer Space

Imagine what it would be like to float in space… tethered to your capsule… hovering in the dark over the earth below. On this day in 1965, March 18, Alexei Leonov became the first human to “walk” in space.

The Soviets stunned the world again as they had with the first satellite and first man in space by sending Leonov in his spacecraft the Voskhod 12, into orbit around planet earth.

He was outside for 12 minutes, 9 seconds connected to his spacecraft by a 5.35 meter tether (17.5 feet). When he needed to come back in he had one small problem, he couldn’t fit in the airlock. His spacesuit had inflated so much from the vacuum of space that he just couldn’t fit. He went to plan B, which was to open an air valve to bleed off some pressure to deflate the suit. He was just barely able to get back into the capsule.

i-walk-in-space
Leanov’s only means of control was to pull on his tether, claiming it was easy. But the suit had ballooned and stiffened so much he wasn’t even able to activate the shutter of his chest mounted camera.

The image is a still from the external movie camera attached to his vessel

The image is a still from the external movie camera attached to his vessel

Leonov, who is an accomplished artist, took colored pencils and paper into space, where he sketched the Earth and drew portraits of the Apollo astronauts who flew with him during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. His published books include albums of his artistic works and works he did in collaboration with his friend Andrei Sokolov.

A painting by Alexei Leonov of his own spacewalk

A painting by Alexei Leonov of his own spacewalk

Alexei Leonov, First Spacewalk

Alexei Leonov, First Spacewalk

Arthur C. Clarke wrote in his notes of 2010: Odyssey Two that after a 1968 screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Leonov pointed out to him that the alignment of the Moon, Earth, and Sun shown in the opening is essentially the same as that in Leonov’s 1967 painting, Near the Moon, although the painting’s diagonal framing of the scene was not replicated in the film. Clarke kept an autographed sketch of this painting, which Leonov made after the screening, hanging on his office wall.

tg_2001

Clarke’s Opening shot

Aleksei_Leonov_-_Near_the_Moon

Leonov’s 1967 painting, Near the Moon

In 2004, Leonov and former American astronaut David Scott began work on a dual biography / history of the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Titled Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race, it was published in 2006. Neil Armstrong and Tom Hanks both wrote introductions to the book.

9780312308667_p0_v1_s260x420

“Leonov and Scott have gone to extra lengths to explain the inexplicable in Two Sides of the Moon. And thank goodness they have. Theirs was a gamble taken voluntarily and eagerly with the single-minded pursuit of earning the assignment and then getting the job done. Sometimes they were first. Often they were best. Always they were colorful. And yet each time they returned, neither man claimed to have come back a changed man who had gone into space and seen the spirit of the universe. They came back from their missions in space having seen the spirit of themselves as even more of the human beings they were before leaving our world of air, land, and water…. Leonov, the artist and Scott, the engineer/dreamer. The two of them-the Cheaters of Death.”

– Tom Hanks, from the Introduction

New Land Speed Record

5266950150_337bed4237_n

January 12, 1904: Ford Sets Speed Record

Henry Ford flies across Lake St. Clair in his famous “999” racer, covering 1 mile in 39.4 seconds for a record speed of 91.37 mph. Faster than anyone had gone in an automobile. [above picture: Henry Ford on the “999”, 1904]

Henry Ford driving the "999" Racer, Lake St. Clair, Michigan, January 1904

Henry Ford driving the “999” Racer, Lake St. Clair, Michigan, January 1904

The new land speed record that was set on that icy cold January day stood for only a month, but was plenty of time to bring home some great publicity for Ford’s new company. An article in the Detroit Tribune of January 13, 1904 described the scene:

“As Ford flashed by it was noticed he wore no goggles or other face protection. Humped over his steering tiller, the tremendous speed throwing the machine in zig-zag fashion. Ford was taking chances that no man, not even that specialist in averted suicide, Barney Oldfield, had dared to attempt.”

Henry Ford in back and Ed ‘Spider’ Huff driving the "999", Lake St. Clair, Michigan, January 1904

Henry Ford in back with Ed ‘Spider’ Huff driving the “999”

Dan Gurney, one of America racing greats, got a chance to drive the race car. I’ll let him describe racing the car.

“It’s a fire-breathing monster!” he starts, “It’s quite a thrill. I was looking for the exhaust pipes and then I realized there are hardly any. They’re about two inches long and I could see flame coming out. The car is vibrating and everything is twisting every time it fires; you can feel everything from one end of the car to the other.”

Dan Gurney on the "999"

Dan Gurney in the “999”

“The car is a little bit deceiving because it’s so high geared, but you’re really covering the ground. It’s sort of like comparing a running elephant to a deer. The low revs of the engine are what do it, and those four big cylinders. You can feel them working. Until it’s going forty to fifty miles an hour it doesn’t really settle down, and then it hardly seems to be turning over at all. It’s just chug, chug, chug with a lot of popping, smoke and roar. All the while you’re sitting there, straddling that big engine high on the single seat and remembering to keep your feet out of the way of that exposed flywheel. It’s as big as a man-hole cover.”

No. 999 preserved on static display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, photo from 2003

The “999” at the Ford museum

The “999” was basically a frame with a monster engine attached, no body work. The motor was huge for that time, an 1156 cubic inch inline-4. They figured power anywhere from 70 to 100 horsepower. No rear suspension, no differential, no transmission. The steering was a crude pivoting metal bar. Total cost for the project was about $5000.00.

02-Ford_999-DV-08_AI_i001

The car was named “999” after the Empire State Express No. 999. Number 999 was a type 4-4-0 American steam locomotive which had famously set a world speed record of 112.5 mph on May 10, 1893, making it the first man-made vehicle to exceed 100 mph under its own propulsion.

No. 999 preserved on static display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, photo from 2003

No. 999 preserved on static display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, photo from 2003

Ford continued to build race cars over the next few years. He entered the Model T in several events winning the famous New York to Seattle race in 1909. Although he was later disqualified on a technicality the event proved great advertising for the Ford Motor Company. Eventually Ford pulled out of racing as his motor cars were a huge success.

How ‘bout we chase down a comet…

Rosetta_and_Philae_at_comet_3Remember back 10 years ago when the European Space Agency launched the Rosetta space probe? It would take a decade to catch and orbit comet 67P? Well today, Philae, Rosetta’s lander, successfully touched down on comet 67P. From Rosetta’s tweet:

ESA Rosetta Mission @ESA_Rosetta Well done my friend! RT @Philae2014: Touchdown! My new address: 67P! #CometLanding

It looks like Philae touched down almost perfectly except for an unplanned bounce… doink! The harpoons that were supposed to anchor the lander did not deploy properly. Fortunately, there was a redundant system that literally screwed the landers legs into the comet. Initial data from the spacecraft showed that it landed, lifted off again, turned and landed again coming to a rest…whew! With Rosetta in its orbit Philae with ride the comet as it races past the sun becoming more active as it warms up.

strange15 Somehow the image of Philae riding 67P reminds me of that weird screenshot from Dr. Strangelove See previous blog:

This Day in Tech History

Rosetta_orbits_comet_with_lander_on_its_surface

How about we chase down a comet for 10 years and over 6 billion kilometers, orbit it and then land on it!

OK

On August 6 of this year, the Rosetta space probe finally caught up with Comet 67P / Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Rosetta Rosetta Spacecraft

Rosetta will accompany the comet around the Sun and as it moves back out towards the orbit of Jupiter. The lander, Philae, will land on the comet’s surface in November of 2014. Oh yeah, not only did we catch this thing but we’re going to land on it. Well more like harpoon the lander to it.

Rosetta was launched on March 2, 2004 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana by the ESA (European Space Agency). To gain speed and momentum, the space craft passed Earth three times and Mars once on its quest to catch comet 67P/C-G.

Mars from Rosetta Mars from Rosetta

The spacecraft has already performed two…

View original post 398 more words

Do You Know Jack?

This Day in Tech History

Jack_Kilby

June 20, 2005:  Jack St. Clair Kilby ~ First Integrated Circuit ~ Died

From your toaster to space ships, kids games to your cell phone, all use IC’s (integrated circuts).

Jack St. Clair Kilby took part (along with Robert Noyce) in the realization of the first integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments 1958.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000.

Jack Kilby

He is also the inventor of the handheld calculator and the thermal printer.

kilby_1958_photo

Milwaukee Connection

Kilby received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is an honorary member of Acacia Fraternity.  In 1947, he received a degree in Electrical Engineering.  He obtained his master of science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Extension in Milwaukee,  which later became the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1950, while simultaneously working at Centralab in Milwaukee.

In mid-1958, Kilby was a newly employed…

View original post 332 more words

He Put the “X” in X-Rays

This Day in Tech History

10857063-male-body-under-x-rays-isolated-on-black

November 8, 1895: Röntgen Stumbles Upon X-Rays

On this day in 1895 German Physics Professor Wilhelm Röntgen stumbles upon what he would later describe as “X-rays” while experimenting with electrical discharge tubes.

In early November, Röntgen was repeating an experiment with one of Lenard’s tubes when he observed that the invisible cathode rays caused a fluorescent effect on a small cardboard screen painted with barium platinocyanide.

1350497295162

In the late afternoon of November 8th he carefully constructed a black cardboard covering and darkened the room to test the opacity of his cardboard cover. As he passed the Ruhmkorff coil charge through the tube, he determined that the cover was light-tight and turned to prepare the next step of the experiment. It was at this point that he noticed a faint shimmering from a bench a few feet away from the tube. Striking a match, he discovered the shimmering had come from the…

View original post 262 more words

How ‘bout we chase down a comet…

Rosetta_orbits_comet_with_lander_on_its_surface

How about we chase down a comet for 10 years and over 6 billion kilometers, orbit it and then land on it!

OK

On August 6 of this year, the Rosetta space probe finally caught up with Comet 67P / Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Rosetta

Rosetta Spacecraft

Rosetta will accompany the comet around the Sun and as it moves back out towards the orbit of Jupiter. The lander, Philae, will land on the comet’s surface in November of 2014. Oh yeah, not only did we catch this thing but we’re going to land on it. Well more like harpoon the lander to it.

Rosetta was launched on March 2, 2004 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana by the ESA (European Space Agency). To gain speed and momentum, the space craft passed Earth three times and Mars once on its quest to catch comet 67P/C-G.

Mars from Rosetta

Mars from Rosetta

The spacecraft has already performed two asteroid fly-by missions as well as sending pictures of Mars during a fly-by in 2007.

Rosetta went into deep-space hibernation for 31 months while it traveled the most distant part of its journey out to the orbit of Jupiter. The spacecraft was taken out of its 31-month hibernation mode on January 20 of this year (2014) and continued towards the comet. During the next few months a series of thruster burns slowed Rosetta relative to 67P/C-G, and Rosetta rendezvoused with the comet on August 6, 2014.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was imaged on 14 July 2014 by OSIRIS, Rosetta’s scientific imaging system

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was imaged on 14 July 2014 by OSIRIS, Rosetta’s scientific imaging system

Although humanity has achieved something never done before, placing a spacecraft in orbit around a comet, it isn’t stopping there. The ESA is going to land on the comet! The lander, Philae, will be delivered to the comet’s surface in November 2014. Rosetta will accompany the comet around the Sun and as it moves back out towards the orbit of Jupiter.

Rosetta_and_Philae_(crop)

rosetta-wake-up-5

Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to witness what happens to a comet up close and personal when traveling through space where radiation from the Sun increases. When the Sun heats the comet enough for it to develop a corona and tail, hopefully Rosetta will return its most interesting pictures yet.

67pcomet-640x635

While taking the above photo, the Rosetta spacecraft was just 65 miles (104 kilometers) away from the 2.5-mile-wide (four-kilometer) comet 67P. NASA points out that the comet has three zones: the head (top), neck (narrow middle part), and body (bottom). Thanks to the up-close angle of the image, you can see the variety of topography throughout each zone. The head prominently displays cliff-like structures, the neck shows a relatively smooth surface with boulders scattered about, and the body largely shows peaks and valleys spread throughout both smooth and rough terrain. Basically, big, icy space rocks are just like less icy terrestrial rocks.

Astronomers hypothesize that comets may have played an important role in distributing life throughout the solar system. Maybe even bringing water to Earth to kick start life.

rosetta2014_astrium

To explore that hypothesis, the eventual goal is for Rosetta to deliver its payload, the Philae lander. Philae will harpoon itself to the comet in order to manage the low gravity. Much like Bruce Willis, the lander will drill, but for the purpose of scientific analysis rather than to save humanity from extinction.

Click “Watch on YouTube”

Aww … Last VeeDub

67vwfloatingbeetle

I learned to drive in a VeeDub – what me and my friends affectionately called it. Actually we had a couple that I shared with my Dad. He’d use it for work, I’d use it for play 😉  On this day in 2003, the last of 21,529,464 Volkswagen Beetles (shown below at the Wolfsburg Museum) built since World War II rolls off the production line. The baby-blue vehicle was sent to a museum in Wolfsburg, Germany, where Volkswagen is headquartered.

vw_beetle_last_03_a

hitlerand-porsha

The roots of the classic Beetle stretch back to the mid-1930s, when the famed Austrian automotive engineer Dr. Ferdinand Porsche met German leader Adolf Hitler’s request for a small, affordable passenger car to satisfy the transportation needs of the German people.

1938 VW

1938 VW

The irony of it was that the Beetle was the result of a Jewish engineer, Josef Ganz, who in May 1931 created a revolutionary small car: the Maikäfer (German for May Bug). A pet project of Hitler’s, it would later be known by the name Porsche preferred: Volkswagen

a4

 For more on Ganz click here:

 

Though VW sales were initially slower in the United States compared with the rest of the world, by 1960 the Beetle was the top-selling import in America, thanks to an iconic ad campaign by the firm Doyle Dane Bernbach whose adds you see throughout this article.

volkswagen-beetle-advertisement-1961-04l7d393032554a

coca-cola_vw_volkswagen_beetle_1962

1966-beetle-wilt-chamberlain

416276175313

69vwbeetle_herbie

 

 

It became a worldwide cultural icon, featuring prominently in the hit 1969 movie “The Love Bug” (which starred a Beetle named Herbie) and on the cover of the Beatles album “Abbey Road.”

abbey-road-1

In 1977, however, the Beetle, with its rear-mounted, air-cooled-engine, was banned in America for failing to meet safety and emission standards. Worldwide sales of the car shrank by the late 1970s and by 1988, the classic Beetle was sold only in Mexico.

 

viewvwbug20

vw_ad_4

Explorer Signs Off

Explorer1

May 23, 1958: Explorer 1 Ceases Transmission

Explorer 1 was the United States’ first satellite launched into orbit. The mission followed the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 and 2, which historians see as the beginning of the Cold War Space Race.

Explorer_1.tif

Explorer 1 is mated to its booster

Explorer 1 is mated to its booster

The satellite was launched on January 31, 1958 atop the first Juno booster from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After confirming that Explorer 1 was indeed in orbit, at about 1:30 a.m. ET, a news conference was held in the Great Hall at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC to announce it to the world.

Explorer 1 atop Juno I booster

Explorer 1 atop Juno I booster

Explorer 1 was designed and built by the California Institute of Technology’s JPL under the direction of Dr. William H. Pickering. The total weight of the satellite was 30 pounds (13.37 kilograms). Data from the instruments was transmitted to the ground by two antennas.

It was the first spacecraft to detect the Van Allen radiation belt, returning data until its batteries were exhausted after nearly four months. It remained in orbit until 1970, and has been followed by more than 90 scientific spacecraft in the Explorer series.

William Hayward Pickering, James Van Allen, and Wernher von Braun display a full-scale model of Explorer 1 at a crowded news conference in Washington, DC after confirmation the satellite was in orbit.

William Hayward Pickering, James Van Allen, and Wernher von Braun display a full-scale model of Explorer 1 at a crowded news conference in Washington, DC after confirmation the satellite was in orbit.

James Van Allen, whom the Van Allen radiation belt is named after, designed and built the scientific instrumentation of Explorer 1. They included:

  • Five temperature sensors; one internal, three external and one on the nose cone.
  • An acoustic detector to detect micrometeorite (cosmic dust) impacts. It responded to micrometeorite impacts on the spacecraft skin and detected 145 impacts of cosmic dust in 78,750 seconds.
  • The Anton 314 omnidirectional Geiger-Müller tube, could detect protons with E > 30 MeV and electrons with E > 3 MeV. Most of the time the instrument was saturated… and we all know what that means 😉
  • A wire grid detector, also to detect micrometeorite impacts.

ig-02-explorer-02

Mercury batteries powered the high-power transmitter for 31 days and the low-power transmitter for 105 days. Explorer 1 stopped transmission of data on May 23, 1958 when its batteries died. Explorer 1 remained in orbit for more than 12 years. It reentered the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean on March 31, 1970 after more than 58,000 orbits.

During the 1940s and 1950s, JPL used the word "computer" to refer to a person rather than a machine. The all-female computer team, many of the members recruited right out of high school, were responsible for doing all the math by hand required to plot satellite trajectories and more.

During the 1940s and 1950s, JPL used the word “computer” to refer to a person rather than a machine. The all-female computer team, many of the members recruited right out of high school, were responsible for doing all the math by hand required to plot satellite trajectories and more.

explorer1 A

$2.5 Billion is a Lot of Quarters

puckman-evildindon(20090106)_4OU

May 22, 1980: Pac-Man Released

Created by Toru Iwatani, the game has been one of the most popular in Arcades around the world. It inspired spin-offs, songs, a cartoon show and much more. Namco installed the first Pac-Man machine in a movie theater in Tokyo.

puckmanOriginally it was called ‘Puckman’ as a play on the word ‘paku-paku (パックマン) in Japanese that means something to the effect of flapping your mouth open and closed. By the time the game is released in October in the US, the name is Pac-man.

Toru Iwatani

Toru Iwatani

The U.S. distributor thought that vandals would alter the letter “P” to an “F”. While the game was not officially released until later in the year (October 10th in the US), the creators of the game consider May 22 to be Pac-Man’s birthday because it was the first time the game was shown to the general public.

download pacman flash or play online

One of the little known facts about Pac-Man is that it was specifically developed to be popular with women. Most video games of that time had a war or sports theme to them and women were generally not interested in those games. Pac-Mac would be the first game popular with both men and women and was the first video game to become a social phenomenon. Pac-Mac generated over $2.5 billion (that’s a lot of quarters) by the 1990′s, becoming one of the highest grossing video games of all time.

10 little known Pac-Man facts:

  1. The design for the iconic Pac-Man character is based on a pizza with a slice missing.torueatspizza-pre
  2. Although Pac-man’s creator, Iwatani, has stated that the character’s shape was inspired by a pizza, he admitted in a 1986 interview that this was a half-truth, and the character design also came from simplifying and rounding out the Japanese character for mouth, ’kuchi’.
  3. Pac-Man was originally named Puck-man. Fearing that American hoodlums would scratch off part of the ’P’ to make an ’F’, the manufacturers changed it to Pac-Man for North America.puck-man-300x225
  4. The ghosts that pursue Pac-Man are nicknamed Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde, and each has a distinct personality. Blinky and Pinky are the most predictable and chase Pac-Man directly, sometimes teaming up. Inky’s tactic is to ambush, while Clyde is the one to fear most because his movements are random.
  5. The arcade version of Pac-Man has a highest possible score of 3,333,360 … which has been achieved by less than 10 people ever.
  6. Pac-Man was created by Toru Iwatani to pick up girls
  7. The duo of Buckner and Garcia entered the pop charts in 1982 with a song called ‘Pac-Man Fever’. It went to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
  8. In 2005, Guinness World Records named Pac-Man the most successful coin-op ever.
  9. Guinness also named Pac-Man himself as the most recognizable video game character of all time with 94% consumer recognition.
  10. The president of NAMCO wanted all the ghosts to be one color: red. The staff convinced him to change his mind.

Warning can be addictive – Do not play at work

http://www.webpacman.com/

pacman-thumbsup

Post Navigation