This Day in Geek History: August 6
A supernova is observed by Chinese astronomers in the constellation now known as Cassiopeia, and independently observed one day later in Japan. The star will remain visible for 185 days.
Professor Georg Richmann of St. Petersburg, Moscow, is killed during an experiment with lightning, just a year after Benjamin Franklin’s own experiment involving a kite. Richmann had attached a wire to the top of his house and led it down to an iron bar suspended above “the electric needle” and a bowl of water partly filled with iron filings. Richmann was struck by lighting during a storm as he stood about a foot from the bar, closely observing the needle. “A globe of blue and whitish fire about four inches diameter from the bar struck Richmann’s forehead” with “an explosion like that of a small cannon.” His assistant, Sokolaw, who survives, is thrown to the floor, where he feels receives several blows to his back. After recovering, he finds burn marks and fragments of hot wire on the back of his clothes.
The Warner Brothers studio gives the first public exhibition of the Vitaphone system for showing talking motion pictures. The exhibition features the first Vitaphone film, the silent feature Don Juan starring John Barrymore, which features a musical score and sound effects but no dialog, as well as several talkie short subject films featuring comedians and singers, and a greeting from motion picture industry spokesman Will Hays.
The serial “Real Folks” premieres on NBC radio. It is among the first radio serials and thus one the very first regular series in the history electronic media. Radio serials will one day contribute greatly to bringing science fiction into the mainstream.
At 8:16am local time, the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay drops an atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” on Hiroshima, Japan. The bomb explodes 1,900 feet over a hospital with a force equivalent to 12,500 tons of TNT, destroying the majority of the city (roughly sixty-two thousand buildings), killing between sixty and seventy thousand of the city’s inhabitants, and injuring another 35,000.
The Soviet spacecraft Vostok 2 is launched from Gagarin’s Start at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, making cosmonaut Gherman Titov the second human being to orbit the Earth. Titov’s mission is to study the effects of prolonged weightlessness on human physiology over the course of a day in orbit. Unlike his predecessor, Yuri Gagarin, Titov’s mission isn’t wholly automated. He will take manual control of the craft for a short period. At a month shy of twenty-six, Titov is the youngest man to enter space, a record that will never be broken. By the end of the mission, he will also become the first person to spend over twenty-four hours in space, as well as the first person to orbit the Earth multiple times in a single mission.
According to Twin Galaxies, Leo Daniels scores a record-setting 295,400 points playing the Gottlieb arcade game Reactor at the Light Years Amuse arcade in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.