This Day in Geek History: July 9
Johannes Kepler publishes Mysterium cosmographicum (Mystery of the Cosmos) in which he describes an invisible underlying structure determining the six known planets’ orbits. His model is based on five convex regular solids. The path of each planet lays on a sphere separated from its neighbors by touching an inscribed polyhedron. An inscribed cube separates the spheres of the outermost planets, Saturn and Jupiter. Inside the path of Jupiter, an inscribed tetrahedron contains the sphere for Mars. Spheres for the Earth, Venus, and Mercury are respectively nested within a regular dodecahedron, icosohedron, and regular octahedron. Later, more scientifically complete orbital data will fit Kepler’s model surprisingly well.
Inventor Alexander Graham Bell, lawyer and financier Greene Hubbard, and wealthy leather merchant Thomas Sanders, whose deaf son studied with Bell, sign a deed of trust forming the Bell Telephone Company in Antwerp, Belgium.
The second English electronic computer conference is held in Manchester to inaugurate the world’s first commercially available general-purpose electronic computer, the Ferranti Mark 1. At the conference, which runs through July 12, Bertram V. Bowden, England’s first computer salesman, delivers an address on “The application of calculating machines to business and commerce.” The address is the first of its kind to be published in England.
The world’s first helicopter passenger service is launched in New York City.
The Russell-Einstein Manifesto is released by philosopher Bertrand Russell in London, England. The documents decries the dangers of a nuclear arsenals and urges world leaders to seek peaceful resolutions to international conflicts, especially the Cold War. The Manifesto is endorsed by eleven globally-recognized intellectual authorities, most notably renowned physicist Albert Einstein. Read the full text of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto.
The U.S. detonates a nuclear bomb in a weapons test at an altitude of two hundred mile above the Pacific Ocean. As a result of the detonation, the Electromagnetic pulse (eMP) is discovered.
The NASA spacecraft Voyager 2 passes within 350,000 miles (570,000 km) of Jupiter’s cloud deck. It is one of a pair of probes launched in 1977. Although Voyage 2 was launched first, on August 20th, it was designed to travel slower than its counterpart, Voyager 1, in order to make a pass of all the giant planets. It discovers a few rings around Jupiter, as well as volcanic activity on the moon Io, marking the first time an active volcano is ever observed on another celestial body. Visit the official NASA Voyager website.
Buena Vista Pictures releases the sci-fi film Tron, directed by Steven Lisberger and starring Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, and Barnard Hughes, to 1,091 U.S. theaters. The film is notable for being the earliest film with a plot centering around computers and for being one of the first film to make extensive use of computer graphics. Pixar, a division of Industrial Light and Magic, contributed to the film’s special effects. Produced on a budget of US$17 million, the film will gross US$4,761,795 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG) Running Time: 1 hr 36 mins
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