February 11, 2014 AT 6:30 am

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

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The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot. ~Michael Althsuler


1808 – Jesse Fell burns anthracite on an open grate as an experiment in heating homes with coal.

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Anthracite was first experimentally burned as a residential heating fuel in the US on 11 February 1808, by Judge Jesse Fell in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on an open grate in a fireplace. Anthracite differs from wood in that it needs a draft from the bottom, and Judge Fell proved with his grate design that it was a viable heating fuel.

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1839 – Josiah Willard Gibbs, first American to get a doctorate in engineering, is born.

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Josiah Willard Gibbs was an American scientist who made important theoretical contributions to physics, chemistry, and mathematics. His work on the applications of thermodynamics was instrumental in transforming physical chemistry into a rigorous deductive science. Together with James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann, he created statistical mechanics (a term that he coined), explaining the laws of thermodynamics as consequences of the statistical properties of large ensembles of particles. Gibbs also worked on the application of Maxwell’s equations to problems in physical optics. As a mathematician, he invented modern vector calculus (independently of the British scientist Oliver Heaviside, who carried out similar work during the same period).

In 1863, Yale awarded Gibbs the first American doctorate in engineering. After a three-year sojourn in Europe, Gibbs spent the rest of his career at Yale, where he was professor of mathematical physics from 1871 until his death. Working in relative isolation, he became the earliest theoretical scientist in the United States to earn an international reputation and was praised by Albert Einstein as “the greatest mind in American history”. In 1901 Gibbs received what was then considered the highest honor awarded by the international scientific community, the Copley Medal of the Royal Society of London, “for his contributions to mathematical physics”.

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1847 – American inventor and businessman Thomas Alva Edison is born.

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Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed “The Wizard of Menlo Park”, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and because of that, he is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.

Edison was a prolific inventor, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. More significant than the number of Edison’s patents, are the impacts of his inventions, because Edison not only invented things, his inventions established major new industries world-wide, notably, electric light and power utilities, sound recording and motion pictures. Edison’s inventions contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures.

His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison developed a system of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world. His first power station was on Pearl Street in Manhattan, New York.

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1898 – Leó Szilárd, Hungarian-American physicist is born.

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Leó Szilárd was a Hungarian-American physicist and inventor. He conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi, and in late 1939 wrote the letter for Albert Einstein’s signature that resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb. He also conceived the electron microscope, the linear accelerator (1928, not knowing Gustav Ising’s 1924 journal article and Rolf Widerøe’s operational device) and the cyclotron. Szilárd himself did not build all of these devices, or publish these ideas in scientific journals, and so credit for them often went to others. As a result, Szilárd never received the Nobel Prize, but others were awarded the Prize as a result of their work on two of his inventions.

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1938 – BBC Television produces the world’s first ever science fiction television program, an adaptation of a section of the Karel Čapek play R.U.R., that coined the term “robot”.

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Science fiction first appeared on a television program during the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Special effects and other production techniques allow creators to present a living visual image of an imaginary world not limited by the constraints of reality; this makes television an excellent medium for science fiction, which in turn contributes to its popularity in this form…

In February 1938, a thirty-five minute adaptation of a section of the play was broadcast on BBC Television – the first piece of television science-fiction ever to be broadcast.

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2010 – 130,000 Arduinos sold.

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Tom Igoe, speaking at #ixd …… Arduino is one of (if not the) most successful completely open source hardware projects…

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