This Day in Geek History: June 8
René Descartes publishes “Discourse on Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences.” In this seminal work, Descartes expresses his disappointment with the limitations of theology. He makes it clear that his respect lies with logic, geometry, and algebra, because of the certainty which they offer. Descartes’ ideas swept aside ancient medieval traditions of philosophical methods of investigation and ushering in the “scientific revolution” that will lead to scientists of the like of Galileo and Newton. Read or download the text at Project Gutenberg.
The first commercially-made ice cream in the U.S. is advertised in New York City by Hall of 76 Chatham Street.
Herman Hollerith receives a patent for his punch card calculator.
A car is stolen for the first time anywhere in history.
Carl Laemmle, a German Jewish immigrant who settled in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, merges the Independent Moving Picture Company, which he founded, with with eight smaller companies to form the Universal Film Manufacturing Company, which would later become Universal Pictures Company, Inc. The new studio will be horizontally integrated, with both movie production and distribution capacities.
Nova Aquila, the brightest nova since Kepler’s Nova of 1604, is discovered in the constellation of Aquila the eagle. It’s a first magnitude star six degrees north of the Scutum star cloud. For the months that it will shine, it will be the brightest star in the sky, briefly half a million times brighter than the sun, but seen from 1,200 light years (70,000 trillion miles) away.
The discovery of element 93, Neptunium (symbol Np) is announced by Edwin M. McMillan and Philip H. Abelson at the University of California at Berkeley. While studying nuclear fission, McMillan discovered Neptunium as a product of Uranium-239 resulting from beta decay. They were able to prove that its chemical and nuclear properties were unique, and thus a new element. It is named Neptunium after the planet Neptune. For the discovery, McMillan will be awarded a share of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1951.
Computer pioneer Alan Mathison Turing is found dead at age 42, of an apparent suicide committed the previous day, following prosecution for alleged indecency. Turing had published his seminal paper, “On Computable Numbers,” in 1936, as well as posing significant questions about judging “human intelligence” and programming and working on the design of several computers during the course of his career. A mathematical genius, Turing proved instrumental in code-breaking efforts during World War II. His application of logic to that realm would emerge even more significantly in his development of the concept of a “universal machine.”
The first official U.S. missile mail is launched from the submarine USS Barbero about one hundred miles off the Atlantic Coast to the Mayport Auxiliary Naval Station near Jacksonville, Florida. The thirty-six foot Regulus 1 winged missile carried three thousand letters, including one from President Eisenhower, which arrived about twenty-two minutes after launch. Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield declared the experiment a success, stating that, “Before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia.”
The Chicago Syslink BBS is launched on a TRS-80 Model I with a 300bps Modem.
The first triplets resulting from in-vitro fertilization, Aaron, Jessica, and Chenara Guare, are born at the Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide, Australia.