January 28, 2014 AT 10:00 am

Time travel Tuesday #timetravel a look back at the Adafruit, maker, science, technology and engineering world

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1841 – Welsh-American explorer and journalist Henry Morton Stanley is born

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Expolorer Henry Morton Stanley was sent on a journey to find the Scottist missionary and explorer David Livingstone and found him after a long and hard 700 mile journey.

Stanley travelled to Zanzibar in March 1871 and outfitted an expedition with the best of everything, requiring no fewer than 200 porters. This 700 mile expedition through the tropical forest became a nightmare. His thoroughbred stallion died within a few days after a bite from a tsetse fly, many of his carriers deserted, and the rest were decimated by tropical diseases.

Stanley found Livingstone on 10 November 1871, in Ujiji near Lake Tanganyika in present-day Tanzania, and may have greeted him with the now-famous, “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?”

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1885 – A locomotive on the Panama Canal Railway runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

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On a rainy midnight on January 27, 1855, lit by sputtering whale oil lamps, the last rail was set in place on pine crossties. The final spike was held in position, and chief engineer George Totten, in pouring rain with a nine-pound maul, drove the spike that completed the railroad. The next day the first locomotive with freight and passenger cars passed from sea to sea. The massive project was completed.

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1864 – Herbert Akroyd Stuart, English inventor of the hot bulb engine or heavy oil engine is born.

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In 1885, Akroyd Stuart accidentally spilt paraffin oil (kerosene) into a pot of molten tin. The paraffin oil vaporized and caught fire when in contact with a paraffin lamp. This gave him an idea to pursue the possibility of using paraffin oil (very similar to modern-day diesel) for an engine, which unlike petrol would be difficult to be vaporized in a carburetor as its volatility is not sufficient to allow this.

Hot bulb engines were produced until the late 1920s, often being called “semi-diesels”, even though they were not as efficient as compression ignition engines. They had the advantage of comparative simplicity, since they did not require the air compressor used by early Diesel engines; fuel was injected mechanically (solid injection) near the start of the compression stroke, at a much lower pressure than that of Diesel engines

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1886 – Hidetsugu Yagi, inventor of the Yagi antenna is born.

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The Yagi antenna, patented in 1926, allows directional communication using electromagnetic waves, and is now installed on millions of houses throughout the world for radio and television reception.

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1922 – Robert W. Holley, American Biochemist and Nobel Prize laureate is born.

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Holley’s research on RNA focused first on isolating transfer RNA (tRNA), and later on determining the sequence and structure of alanine tRNA, the molecule that incorporates the amino acid alanine into proteins. Holley’s team of researchers determined the tRNA’s structure by using two ribonucleases to split the tRNA molecule into pieces. Each enzyme split the molecule at location points for specific nucleotides. By a process of “puzzling out” the structure of the pieces split by the two different enzymes, then comparing the pieces from both enzyme splits, the team eventually determined the entire structure of the molecule.
The structure was completed in 1964, and was a key discovery in explaining the synthesis of proteins from messenger RNA. It was also the first nucleotide sequence of a ribonucleic acid ever determined. Holley was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 for this discovery, and Har Gobind Khorana and Marshall W. Nirenberg were also awarded the prize that year for contributions to the understanding of protein synthesis.

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1958 – The Lego company patents the design of its Lego bricks, still compatible with bricks produced today.

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Legos were patented 56 years ago to this day!

In 1958, the modern brick design was developed, and it took another five years to find the right material for it, ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) polymer. The modern Lego brick was patented on 28 January 1958, and bricks from that year are still compatible with current bricks.


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