This Day in Geek History: May 9
The first American newspaper cartoon is published in Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette. The illustration shows a snake cut into sections, each part representing an American colony. The caption reads, “Join or die.”
The nation’s first tax-supported public library is founded in Peterborough , New Hampshire.
What will one day be the oldest known recording of a human voice is recorded by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville using his phonautograph. On March 27, 2008, replayed by American researchers will use computers to recreate the sound. Prior to that demonstration, most historians will believe that Edison’s recording of an Handel oratorio on a wax cylinder is the first audio recording, but Edison’s recording won’t occur until twenty-eight years after Scott’s construction of his phonautogram. However, the phonautograph recorded sounds visually, without a means to play them back. Read more at the New York Times.
A spectrogram made by American astronomer James Keeler proves that the rings of the planet Saturn are composed of meteoric particles, as predicted by James Clerk Maxwell, who, in 1859, demonstrated that the rings could not be solid because they would become unstable and break apart. If the rings were solid, observations would show uniform rotation. However, Keeler’s spectrogram of light reflected from Saturn’s rings show a Doppler shift indicating a variation in radial velocity. Thus, particles in the inner part of a ring, closer to Saturn, move at a different rotational speed from those in more distance parts of a ring, as predicted by Kepler’s third law. Keeler will publish his conclusions, “A Spectroscopic Proof of the Meteoric Constitution of Saturn’s Rings,” in the May 1895 issue of Astrophysical Journal.
In London the first “horseless carriage” show is held. The event features an exhibit of ten models.
The Danske Statens Arkiv for Historiske Film og Stemmer (Danish State Archive for Historical Film and Sound) is established at the Royal Library in Copenhagen. It is the world’s first film archive. Its function is to collect records of significant events.
American Navy Lt. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd and pilot Floyd Bennett make the first flight over the North Pole.
A meeting held by Colonel Leslie E. Simon, director of the Ballistic Research Laboratory at Aberdeen, Professor Oswald Veblen of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and a handful of others. Their agenda is to discuss the memo sent to them by John William Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, “Describing an Electronic Difference Analyzer.” The decision will be made to back the project.
Columbia Pictures premieres the first 3-D feature released by a major studio, Man in the Dark, directed by Lew Landers. Despite reaching theaters first, House of Wax, which will open the following day, will be heavily promoted by Warner Brothers as “the first feature produced by a major studio in 3-D.”