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August 12, 2014 AT 6:00 am

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

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It is never too late to become what you might have been. ~George Eliot


1883 – The last quagga dies at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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The quagga is an extinct subspecies of the plains zebra that lived in South Africa. It was long thought to be a distinct species, but recent genetic studies have shown it to be the southernmost subspecies of the plains zebra. It is considered particularly close to Burchell’s zebra. Its name is derived from its call, which sounds like “kwahaah”.

The quagga is believed to have been around 257 cm (8 ft 5 in) long and 125–135 cm (4 ft 1 in–4 ft 5 in) tall at the shoulder. It was distinguished from other zebras by its limited pattern of primarily brown and white stripes, mainly on the front part of the body. The rear was brown and without stripes, and therefore more horse-like. The distribution of stripes varied considerably between individuals. Little is known about its behaviour but it may have gathered into herds of 30–50 individuals. Quaggas were said to be wild and lively, yet were also considered more docile than Burchell’s zebra. They were once found in great numbers in the Karoo of Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State in South Africa.

Since Dutch settlement of South Africa began, the quagga was heavily hunted, and it competed with domesticated animals for forage. While some individuals were taken to zoos in Europe, breeding programs were not successful. The last wild population lived in the Orange Free State, and the quagga was extinct in the wild by 1878. The last captive specimen died in Amsterdam on 12 August 1883. Only one quagga was ever photographed alive and only 23 skins are preserved today. In 1984, the quagga was the first extinct animal to have its DNA analysed, and the Quagga Project is trying to recreate its pelage characteristics by selectively breeding Burchell’s zebras.

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1887 – Erwin Schrödinger, Austrian physicist, Nobel Prize laureate is born.

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Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger, a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist who developed a number of fundamental results in the field of quantum theory, which formed the basis of wave mechanics: he formulated the wave equation (stationary and time-dependent Schrödinger equation) and revealed the identity of his development of the formalism and matrix mechanics. Schrödinger proposed an original interpretation of the physical meaning of the wave function and in subsequent years repeatedly criticized the conventional Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (using e.g. the paradox of Schrödinger’s cat).

In addition, he was the author of many works in various fields of physics: statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, physics of dielectrics, color theory, electrodynamics, general relativity, and cosmology, and he made several attempts to construct a unified field theory. In his book What Is Life? Schrödinger addressed the problems of genetics, looking at the phenomenon of life from the point of view of physics. He paid great attention to the philosophical aspects of science, ancient and oriental philosophical concepts, ethics, and religion. He also wrote on philosophy and theoretical biology.

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1958 – Art Kane photographs 57 notable jazz musicians in the black and white group portrait “A Great Day in Harlem” in front of a Brownstone in New York City.

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A Great Day in Harlem or Harlem 1958 is a 1958 black and white group portrait of 57 notable jazz musicians photographed in front of a brownstone in Harlem, New York City. The photo has remained an important object in the study of the history of jazz.

Art Kane, a freelance photographer working for Esquire magazine, took the picture around 10 a.m. on August 12 in the summer of 1958. The musicians had gathered at 17 East 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues in Harlem. Esquire published the photo in its January 1959 issue. Kane calls it “the greatest picture of that era of musicians ever taken.”

Jean Bach, a radio producer of New York, recounted the story behind it in her 1994 documentary film, A Great Day in Harlem. The film was nominated in 1995 for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

As of June 2014, only two of the 57 musicians who participated are still living (Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins).

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1960 – Echo 1A, NASA’s first successful communications satellite, is launched.

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NASA’s Echo 1 satellite was built by Gilmore Schjeldahl’s G.T. Schjeldahl Company in Northfield, Minnesota. The balloon satellite functioned as a reflector, not a transceiver, so that after it was placed in a low Earth orbit, a signal would be sent to it, reflected or bounced off its surface, and then returned to Earth.

During ground inflation tests, 40,000 pounds (18,000 kg) of air was needed to fill the balloon, but while in orbit, several pounds of gas were all that was required to fill the sphere. At launch, the balloon weighed 156.995-pound (71.212 kg) which included 33.34-pound (15.12 kg) of sublimating powders of two types. The first weighing 10-pound (4.5 kg) with a very high vapor pressure, the second with a much lower vapor pressure. According to NASA, “To keep the sphere inflated in spite of meteorite punctures and skin permeability, a make-up gas system using evaporating liquid or crystals of a subliming solid were incorporated inside the satellite.”

Following the failure of the Delta rocket carrying Echo 1 on May 13, 1960, Echo 1A (commonly referred to as just Echo 1) was put successfully into a 944-to-1,048-mile (1,519 to 1,687 km) orbit by another Thor-Delta, and a microwave transmission from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, was received at Bell Laboratories in Homdel, New Jersey, on August 12, 1960.

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1981 – The IBM Personal Computer is released.

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The IBM Personal Computer, commonly known as the IBM PC, is the original version and progenitor of the IBM PC compatible hardware platform. It is IBM model number 5150, and was introduced on August 12, 1981. It was created by a team of engineers and designers under the direction of Don Estridge of the IBM Entry Systems Division in Boca Raton, Florida.

The generic term “personal computer” was in use before 1981, applied as early as 1972 to the Xerox PARC’s Alto. However, because of the success of the IBM Personal Computer, the term PC came to mean more specifically a desktop microcomputer compatible with IBM’s PC products. Within a short time of the introduction, third-party suppliers of periperhal devices, expansion cards, and software proliferated; the influence of the IBM PC on the personal computer market was substantial in standardizing a platform for personal computers.

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1990 – Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton found to date, was discovered by Sue Hendrickson in South Dakota.

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“Sue” is the nickname given to FMNH PR 2081, one of the largest, most extensive and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex specimens ever found. It has a length of 12.3 metres (40 ft), stands 4 metres (13 ft) tall at the hips, and is estimated to have weighed more than 9 short tons (8.2 t) when alive. It was discovered in the summer of 1990 by Sue Hendrickson, a paleontologist, and was named after her. After ownership disputes were settled, the fossil was auctioned in October 1997 for US $8.36 million, the highest amount ever paid for a dinosaur fossil, and is now a permanent feature at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.

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2010 – Adafruit in O’Reilly Japan – Make: Technology on Your Time Volume 10

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2011 – Adafruit RGB Strip on stage with Black Eye Peas!

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After seeing the blog post regarding ‘My Robot is Better Than Your Robot’, I wanted to take a quick moment to brag about our robot, and to say how awesome the Addressable RGB Strips are. They even made their way onto the same stage as the Black Eye Peas.

I am the Electrical Team Mentor for the FIRST Robotics Team, Wildstang (FRC-111). While planning for the World Championship competition in St. Lous in April, our team decided we needed to spice up our robot with a little flair. I found the Addressable RBG Strips at Adafruit, and knew we had to use them.

Pairing 2 meters of them with a small Arduino board, and spending a few nights staring at the bright LEDs, we were able to pull off a few different patterns of LEDs, each signifying a specific mode of the robot (various autonomous sequences, ready-to-score, launch-sequence-activated, and dance-party). Needless to say, we were impressed.

While at the Championship event, we were notified that the special guests of the weekend, the Black Eye Peas, were having concert just for the FIRST participants, and that we were given the honor of having our robot on the stage with them. We knew this was our chance to show off both the engineering of our robot, and its cool new feature!

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