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The 10 best scientific anniversaries to celebrate in 2021


For centuries, 2021 will be celebrated as a most notable anniversary year for getting rid of 2020. It will be less remembered as a year featuring a diverse list of scientific anniversaries, ranging from the 1300th anniversary of a prolific writer to the 25th anniversary of a sheep. famous.

However, before too much of 2021 passes, it’s time to name the top 10 worthy anniversaries to celebrate this year – some dark, some pretty famous, and some that had an unfair advantage in helping to become No. 1.

10. Elizabeth Blackwell, 200th birthday

Born in England in 1821, Blackwell moved with his family to New York in 1832 and a few years later to Ohio, where he became a boarding school teacher. After the death of a close friend, she began applying to medical school, acquiring a lot of rejections until the Geneva school sent her a letter of acceptance (apparently the teacher requested the entrance of the students of the school and voted to accept it as a joke). But he showed up and the college honored his agreement; she became the first licensed medical woman in the United States. She went to Europe for two years for advanced medical training and returned to the United States and opened a clinic in New York City to care for poor women and children. Eventually, she set up a women’s specific medical school before returning to England to practice medicine there. He died in 1910.

9. Jabir Ibn Hayyan, 1,300th anniversary

Okay, this is a bit shaky, because 721 is just the best internet guess for Jabir’s year of birth. Furthermore, there is some doubt in the science history literature as to whether this type even existed. However, he is quite famous, supposedly authoring thousands of books, focusing on alchemy but also exploring astronomy and astrology, medicine, cosmology and many other fields of early medieval science. He developed many useful chemical processes for metallurgy, dyes, glassmaking, and medicine, among other applications.

Experts agree that Jabir could not write all the books attributed to him; some in fact appear to have been written much later than the time of his death around 815. It may even have been a collective group of authors who chose to write under a single name. And his Latinized name, Geber, has been a source of some confusion since a thirteenth-century writer chose him as a pseudonym for writing alchemical treatises.

In any case, the original Jabir, if he existed, was undoubtedly one of the brightest minds of his age. He is considered by some to be the father of chemistry (at least in the Arabic-speaking world) and also the founder of modern pharmacy. Because one of his books was written with an incomprehensible code, some thought the word gafo was derived from Jabir. But modern language experts say the idea that the bastard comes from Jabir is balderdash.

8. Rosalyn Yalow, 100th birthday

Yalow, born Rosalyn Sussman, described herself as a "stubborn and determined boy" and an avid reader who developed an interest in mathematics and chemistry. In college she was captivated by physics and earned a doctorate. in nuclear physics in 1945. After a time of teaching, he directed his research, developing the use of radioactive isotopes for accurate measurements of biological chemicals in the body, from hormones and enzymes to vitamins and viruses. That work earned her a share of the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The previous year she was awarded the Lasker Prize for Medical Research, the first nuclear physicist to receive that honor. He died in 2011.

7. Wilhelm von Waldeyer-Hartz, centenary of his death

Waldeyer-Hartz, born in 1836, was a German anatomist, famous in his day as a prominent professor and lecturer. He made numerous contributions to the understanding of human anatomy and the terminology for describing it (although some of his anatomical conclusions proved erroneous).

Its most notable coins were the chromosome, for structures containing DNA in the cell nucleus, and the neuron for nerve cells. It was called a chromosome in 1888, before its exact nature was known. Similarly, he introduced the term neuron before scientists came to an agreement on whether those cells existed. Around the end of the nineteenth century, various studies on nerve tissue had provided clues about its structure; Waldeyer-Hartz summarized the evidence that his building blocks were in fact discrete individual cells, neurons.

6. Dolly the Sheep, 25th birthday

No sheep reached larger holdings than Dolly the Sheep, when scientists announced its existence in February 1997. (Born July 5, 1996.) Before Dolly, most scientists doubted that a mammal could be cloned. of an adult cell, although some cases of cloning from embryonic cells have been reported. But Dolly was cloned by scientists at Edinburgh's Roslin Institute using an adult sheep's breast cell implanted in an egg from a black-faced sheep.

Dolly’s birth made the movie Jurassic Park look more realistic and increased the spectrum of human cloning, increasing the VHS rental of The Boys from Brazil. Dolly appeared to be a perfectly typical sheep (although the telomeres that covered the ends of her chromosomes were a little shorter than usual) and had several offspring of her own. According to the Roslin Institute, he lived a normal life (except for a few media appearances) until he became infected with a cancer-causing virus during an outbreak in the laboratory, which killed him at the age of 6 in 2003.

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5. Ernest Rutherford, 150th birthday

Born in New Zealand in 1871, Rutherford attended Cambridge University and soon became the world's first experimental physicist (SN: 22/04/11). His early work at McGill University in Montreal established the basic principles of the newly discovered phenomenon of radioactivity. In 1911, at the University of Manchester in England, he deduced the existence of the atomic nucleus by analyzing the results of the experiments of his assistants Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden. It was one of the most striking and significant ideas about the ultimate architecture of a microscopic nature since the Greeks proposed the idea of ​​atoms.

Rutherford later demonstrated the transmutation from one element to another and predicted the existence of a new subatomic particle, the neutron. When he died in 1937, the great atomic physicist Niels Bohr, who studied with Rutherford in Manchester, commented that, like Galileo, Rutherford "left science in a state quite different from that which found it."

4. Published the discovery of DNA, 150th anniversary

Johann Friedrich Miescher, born in 1844 in Basel, Switzerland, went to medical school but chose a career in research and not clinical practice. Biochemistry was a new science at the time, as biologists began to understand the chemical content of a living cell and how they interacted to boost cellular activity. A leader in the new field was Felix Hoppe-Seyler at the University of Tübingen in Germany, and Miescher went to work in his laboratory in 1868.

Miescher soon began studying pus white blood cells in patients with surgery at a nearby clinic. He found that the cell nucleus contained a substance that differed drastically from the proteins and lipids of the rest of the cell. He called the new substance nuclein, later identified as DNA. Although Miescher made his discovery in 1869, Hoppe-Seyler was unconvinced and insisted on repeating the experiments himself, delaying publication until 1871.

Miescher believed that nuclein would turn out to be as important as proteins. He did not realize that DNA was the bearer of inheritance. But it has been shown to be found in the sperm cells of many animals, a clue that is not fully appreciated until 1944, a century after its birth, when it was established that DNA was the substance of genes. Miescher died in 1895.

3. Maxwell's Demo, 150th Anniversary

In 1871, in his book Theory of Heat, James Clerk Maxwell introduced the public to the idea of ​​"a being whose faculties are so sharp that it can follow every molecule in its course." This hypothetical creature, later called "Maxwell's demon" by physicist William Thomson, was imagined by Maxwell to illustrate a stranger to the second law of thermodynamics.

In a popular version of the second law, hot (fast) and cold (slow) molecules always mix to reach an intermediate temperature. But a demon capable of tracking molecular velocities could classify the speeds of the lenses and reverse the normal temperature equalization. Such a demon would soon be very rich in providing free air conditioning in the summer and free heating in the winter. Maxwell's point was not that the devil was a violator of the law, but that the second law was statistical. Its validity depended on the impossibility of tracking trillions and trillions of molecules, something no real or human demon could control.

However, the devil has haunted physicists for decades. In 1929, Leo Szilard stated that the devil could not break the second law because he needed more energy to make measurements than he could recover by classifying molecules. But decades later, IBM physicist Charles Bennett, based on the work of his IBM colleague Rolf Landauer, demonstrated that the devil could track molecular speeds with the energy he wanted; amortization occurred when the demon had to erase the data from its memory to make room for further observations. Erasing information, Landauer demonstrated, always requires a minimal amount of energy, putting the second law safely in the physics law book.

2. Hermann von Helmholtz, 200th anniversary

Born in Potsdam (in the kingdom of Prussia) in 1821, Helmholtz was one of the most versatile scientists of the 19th century; his name appears in the histories of multiple scientific fields and specialties. As a young man, he had an interest in physics, but as it seemed like an unwise financial career choice, he went to medical school and studied physiology. He drew attention to others who promoted the view that physiology should be based on the principles of chemistry and physics, not the "vital forces" that had been popularly emphasized earlier.

After earning his medical degree, Helmholtz served as an army surgeon before becoming a professor of physiology at the University of Königsberg. During that time, he played an innovative role on energy conservation. While at Königsberg, he studied the nervous system, optics, and acoustics, especially with regard to the physiology of the senses. He moved to the University of Bonn as a professor of anatomy and physiology, although he was not very good at anatomy and shifted his attention to the physics of eddies in fluids.

After spending some time at the University of Heidelberg, where he became interested in philosophy, epistemology and the foundations of geometry, in 1871 he received the chair of physics from the University of Berlin. He was finally able to focus on physics, emphasizing the importance of the principle of least action to explain physical phenomena. He also explored the ramifications of Maxwell's new theory of electromagnetism, in addition to devoting himself to chemical thermodynamics and meteorology. At this time he was recognized as one of the leading scientists in Germany until his death in 1894.

1. Science Service Foundation, centenary

A century ago, newspaper editor E.W. Scripps and biologist William Emerson Ritter perceived the need for better science journalism in the service of the American public. They joined forces to create the Science Service, which began syndicating articles on the frontiers of science to newspapers across the country.

The first weekly package of such stories, called the Science News Bulletin, was sent on April 2, 1921. Soon science enthusiasts sought personal subscriptions to the weekly Science Science Newsletter, which led to the birth of Science News-Letter (the 13th). March 1922) – a new weekly magazine available by subscription for $ 5 a year.

Today Science News-Letter is Science News and Science Service is the Society for Science, but the philosophy is the same: to provide the public with important news from the world of science in an understandable but accurate and authoritative way. Celebrating birthdays, which are not part of the original mission, is an extra.



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