Armstrong and Aldrin; Viking I; Mendel, Marconi, Allbutt

Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the moon

Now, in 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon.

Neil Armstrong on the surface of the moon (Credit: NASA)

“It’s a small step for (a) man, a giant leap for humanity”

Gregor Mendel

Gregor Johann Mendel, born July 20, 1822, was a biologist, meteorologist, mathematician, Augustinian friar and abbot of the Abbey of St. Thomas of Brünn (margraviate of Moravia). Although farmers had known for millennia that interbreeding animals and plants could promote certain desirable traits, Mendel’s pea plant experiments conducted between 1856 and 1863 established many rules of heredity, which are today now called the laws of Mendelian inheritance.

Viking 1 lands on Mars

Today, in 1976, NASA’s Viking 1 lander, which was launched on August 20, 1975, successfully made the first-ever landing on Mars at Chryse Planitia and began transmitting images. Later, a robot arm capable of picking up material samples and dropping them into onboard experiments searched for signs of life on Mars.

Guglielmo Marconi

We commemorate the death of Italian electrical engineer and inventor Guglielmo Marconi, who died on July 20, 1937 at the age of 63. In 1909 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with German electrical engineer Karl Ferdinand Braun. In 1894 Marconi began experimenting with “hertzian waves”, the radio waves that Heinrich Hertz had first produced in his laboratory a few years earlier. Lacking support from the Italian Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs, Marconi turned to the British post office. Cheering demonstrations in London and on Salisbury Plain followed. Marconi obtained the world’s first patent for a wireless telegraphy system in 1897 and opened the world’s first radio factory in Chelmsford, England in 1898. In 1900 he took out his famous patent No. 7777 for the ” syntonic or syntonic telegraphy”.

Sir Thomas Clifford Allbutt

We remember the birth, on July 20, 1836, of Sir Thomas Clifford Allbutt, inventor of the short medical thermometer in 1866. Sir Thomas invented the 15.2 cm (six inch) pocket medical thermometer, able to take the temperature in five minutes. Prior to its improvement, the instruments used were a foot long (30.5 cm) and took 20 minutes to measure a patient’s temperature. He also demonstrated that angina was caused by a narrowing of the coronary artery. This understanding has been an important contribution to improving treatment procedures for arterial diseases.

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