This Week in Science History Apr. 29

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Here are some highlights from this week in science history. To learn more about these intriguing science topics, just click on the underlined words in blue print to access the library catalog. I hope they pique your interest!

Apr. 27, 1791 American inventor and artist Samuel F. B. Morse was born. Morse is famous for developing the world’s first practical telegraph system. Although the New York Herald eulogized Morse as “perhaps the most illustrious American of his age”, he felt his life was a failure. He was an artist, inventor, and art teacher who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New York City and Congress. After he developed the Morse Code and perfected the electric telegraph, he battled with domestic and foreign competitors and lawsuits.

Apr. 28, 1947 anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl led a crew of six on a voyage bound for Polynesia on a balsa-wood raft named the Kon Tiki. Heyerdahl believed that Polynesians could have originated in South American and he wanted to utilize the technology and materials of pre-Columbian times to demonstrate that the voyage across the Pacific Ocean was possible. The Kon Tiki, an old name for the Inca sun god, Viracocha, reached the Tuamotu Islands 101 days later.

Apr. 30, 1665 the Great Plague hit London. Also know as the Black Death from the telling lumps in the victim’s body and the inevitable death, the Plague was carried by fleas which lived as parasites on the Black Rats which infested the city. While the disease had existed in Britain since its appearance in 1348, this time it struck swiftly and spread at a horrifyingly fast rate. It ravaged London throughout the summer of 1665 with 8,000 people dying each week by September. It is estimated that between 75,000 and 100,000 died.

May 1, 1931 the Empire State Building was dedicated by President Herbert Hoover. Located New York City at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, the Empire State Building had 102 stories and was the first skyscraper higher than 1,250 feet. The building was completed in an unbelievably fast one year and 45 days. It was the world’s tallest skyscraper until 1954.   


The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time


Posted by Diane Randall at 04/29/2009 09:26:02 AM