Google+ Followers

Monday, 30 June 2014

Father of the modern day hot air balloon!!!

Paul Edward Yost (June 30, 1919 – May 27, 2007) was the American inventor of the modern hot air balloon and is referred to as the "Father of the Modern Day Hot-Air Balloon." He worked for a high altitude research division of General Mills when he helped establish Raven Industries in 1956.


Born on a farm 7 miles south of Bristow, Iowa, Yost first became involved in lighter-than-air ballooning when he leased his single-engine plane to General Mills to track their gas balloons. He became a senior engineer in the development of high-altitude research balloons. In the 1950s, Yost's own interests turned toward reviving the lost practice of manned hot-air ballooning. 

This technology had first been invented in France by in the late 18th century by pioneers led by the Montgolfier brothers, but under the Montgolfier system the balloon's air was heated by a ground fire prior to the balloon being released. The inherent danger of this type of balloon flight led to the system being abandoned when hydrogen and later helium became available.

One of Yost's key engineering insights was that a hot-air balloon could be made to carry its own fuel. The invention of relatively light burners fueled by bottled propane made it possible for the balloonist to re-heat the air inside the balloon for a longer flight. Yost’s invention improved modern hot-air balloons into semi-maneuverable aircraft. 

Yost's other hot-air balloon patents included nonporous synthetic fabrics, maneuvering vents, and deflation systems for landing. Yost also designed the distinctive “teardrop” shape of the hot air balloon envelope itself. This hot-air balloon image has become an icon, used for example on the standard license plate of motor vehicles registered in New Mexico.

In October 1955, Yost developed and flew the first prototype of the modern hot air balloon in a tethered flight. The envelope was plastic film, and heat was provided by burning kerosene. This prototype flight uncovered conceptual flaws that Yost worked to overcome.


On October 22, 1960, Yost made the first-ever free flight of a modern hot air balloon from Bruning, Nebraska. His balloon flew untethered for 1 hour and 35 minutes (1:35) with the aid of heat generated by a propane burner. The balloon's 40-foot (12 m) envelope was sewn from heat-resistant fabric especially selected by Yost for this purpose. After further refining and improving on this designs and materials, in 1963 Yost piloted the first modern balloon flight across the English Channel with crew member Don Piccard in a balloon later named the “Channel Champ.”


In 1976, Yost set 13 aviation world’s records for distance traveled and amount of time aloft in his attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean —solo— by balloon. He designed and built his balloon, the “Silver Fox," himself, partly in his home garage. It featured a gondola that was shaped like a boat in the event that he would be forced down at sea — which is precisely what occurred. Although he had traveled far in excess of the distance needed to reach Europe from his launch point off the coast of Maine — his flight path began to point South rather than the hoped-for East direction due to inaccurate weather forecasting. The dream was achieved two years later with Yost’s assistance in a Yost-built balloon,Double Eagle II.

Yost also contributed to the advancement of the sport of ballooning and lighter-than-air flight. He helped to found the Balloon Federation of America (BFA) and assisted in the organization of the first U.S. National Ballooning Championship at Indianola, Iowa. Yost founded the Balloon Historical Society (BHS) in 2002, which dedicated four monuments on the rim of the Stratobowl on July 28, 2004 to memorialize the Stratobowl projects in the 1930s as well as the second flight of a modern hot air balloon. On May 27, 2007, Yost died of a heart attack at the age of 87 at his home in Vadito, near Taos, New Mexico. He was buried in the Allison cemetery in AllisonIowa.


The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is part of a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in ParisFrance, the first untethered manned flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air balloon created on December 14, 1782 by the Montgolfier brothers. Hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than just being pushed along by the wind are known as airships or, more specifically, thermal airships.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Had trouble reading till he was 12, ended up with 128 patents to his name!!!

Alan Dower Blumlein (29 June 1903 – 7 June 1942) was an English electronics engineer, notable for his many inventions in telecommunications, sound recording, stereo, television and radar. He received 128 patents and was considered as one of the most significant engineers and inventors of his time. He died during World War II on 7 June 1942, aged 38, during the secret trial of an H2S airborne radar system then under development, when all on board the Halifax bomber he was flying in were killed when it crashed at Welsh Bicknor in Herefordshire.

Alan Dower Blumlein was born on 29 June 1903 in Hampstead, London to Semmy Blumlein, a German-born naturalised British subject. His future career seems to have been determined by the age of seven, when he presented his father with an invoice for repairing the doorbell, signed "Alan Blumlein, Electrical Engineer" (with "paid" scrawled in pencil). His sister claimed that he could not read proficiently until he was 12. He replied "no, but I knew a lot of quadratic equations!"

After matriculating at Highgate School in 1921, he studied at City and Guilds College (part of Imperial College). He won a Governor's scholarship and joined the second year of the course. He graduated with a First-Class Honours BSc two years later. In mid-1930, Blumlein met Doreen Lane, a Preparatory school teacher five years his junior. After two-and-a-half years of courtship the two were married in 1933.

In 1924 Blumlein started his first job at International Western Electric, a division of the Western Electric Company. The company subsequently became International Standard Electric Corporation and then, later on, Standard Telephones and Cables (STC). During his time there, he measured the amplitude/frequency response of human ears, and used the results to design the first weighting networks. In 1924 he published (with Professor Edward Mallett) the first of his only two IEE papers, on high-frequency resistance measurement. This won him the IEE's Premium award for innovation. 


The following year he wrote (with Norman Kipping) a series of seven articles for Wireless World. In 1925 and 1926, Blumlein and John Percy Johns designed an improved form of loading coil which reduced loss and crosstalk in long-distance telephone lines. These were used until the end of the analogue telephony era. The same duo also invented an improved form of AC measurement bridge which became known as the Blumlein Bridge. These two inventions were the basis for Blumlein's first two patents. His inventions while working at STC resulted in another five patents, which were not awarded until after he left the company in 1929.

In 1929 Blumlein handed in his notice at STC and joined the Columbia Graphophone Company, where he reported directly to general manager Isaac Shoenberg. His first project was to find a method of disc cutting that circumvented a Bell patent in the Western Electric moving-iron cutting head then used, and on which substantial royalties had to be paid. He invented the moving-coil disc cutting head, which not only got around the patent but offered greatly improved sound quality.

He led a small team which developed the concept into a practical cutter. The other principal team members were Herbert Holman and Henry "Ham" Clark. Their work resulted in several patents. Early in 1931, the Columbia Graphophone Company and the Gramophone Company merged and became EMI. New joint research laboratories were set up at Hayes and Blumlein was officially transferred there on 1 November the same year. During the early 1930s Blumlein and Herbert Holman developed a series of moving-coil microphones, which were used in EMI recording studios and by the BBC at Alexandra Palace.

In June 1937, Blumlein patented one of his most important audio inventions, the Ultra-Linear amplifier (Patent 496,883, dated 5 June 1937). A deceptively simple design, the circuit provided a tap on the primary winding of the output transformer to provide feedback to the second grid, which improved the amplifier's linearity. With the tap placed at the anode end of the primary winding, the tube (valve) could be connected as a triode, and if the tap was at the supply end, it could be connected as a pure pentode. Blumlein discovered that if the tap was placed at a distance 15–20% down from the supply end of the output transformer, the tube or valve would combine the positive features of both the triode and the pentode design.


In 1931, Blumlein developed what he called "binaural sound", now known as stereophonic sound (stereo). In early 1931, Blumlein and his wife were at a local cinema. The sound reproduction systems of the early "talkies" invariably only had a single set of speakers – which could lead to the somewhat disconcerting effect of the actor being on one side of the screen whilst his voice appeared to come from the other. Blumlein declared to his wife that he had found a way to make the sound follow the actor across the screen.

The genesis of these ideas is uncertain, but he explained them to Isaac Shoenberg in the late summer of 1931. His earliest notes on the subject are dated 25 September 1931, and his patent had the title "Improvements in and relating to Sound-transmission, Sound-recording and Sound-reproducing Systems". The application was dated 14 December 1931, and was accepted on 14 June 1933 as UK patent number 394,325.

Binaural experiments began in early 1933, and the first stereo discs were cut later the same year. Much of the development work on this system for cinematic use did not reach completion until 1935. In a few short test films (most notably, "Trains at Hayes Station" and, "The Walking & Talking Film"), Blumlein's original intent of having the sound follow the actor was fully realised.

Television was developed by many individuals and companies throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Blumlein's contributions, as a member of the EMI team, started in earnest in 1933 when his boss, Isaac Shoenberg, assigned him full-time to TV research.

Blumlein was also largely responsible for the development of the waveform structure used in the 405-line Marconi-EMI system – developed for the UK's BBC Television Service at Alexandra Palace, the world's first scheduled "high definition" (240 lines or better) television service – which was later adopted as the CCIR System A.


Blumlein was so central to the development of the H2S airborne radar system (to aid bomb targeting), that after his death in June 1942, many believed that the project would fail. However it survived and was a factor in shortening the Second World War. Blumlein's role in the project was a closely guarded secret at the time and consequently only a brief announcement of his death was made some two years later, to avoid providing solace to Hitler. His invention of the line type pulse modulator, (ref vol 5 of MIT Radiation Laboratory series) was a major contribution to high powered pulse radars, not just the H2S's system, and continues to be used today.

Blumlein was killed in the crash of a Handley Page Halifax bomber while making a test flight for the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) on 7 June 1942. During the flight from RAF Defford, whilst at an altitude of 500 ft the Halifax developed an engine fire which rapidly grew out of control. The aircraft was seen to lose altitude, then rolled inverted and struck the ground. The crash occurred near the village of Welsh Bicknor in Herefordshire. In the interests of wartime secrecy, the announcement of Blumlein's death was not made for another three years.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

This surgeon paved the way for transplanting the organs!!!

Alexis Carrel (28 June 1873 – 5 November 1944) was a French surgeon and biologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1912 for pioneering vascular suturing techniques. He invented the first perfusion pump with Charles A. Lindbergh opening the way to organ transplantation. He faced constant media attacks towards the end of his life over his alleged involvement with the Nazis.
A prominent Nobel Prize laureate in 1912, Alexis Carrel was also elected twice, in 1924 and 1927, as an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

Born in Sainte-Foy-lès-LyonRhône, Carrel was raised in a devout Catholic family and was educated by Jesuits, though he had become an agnostic by the time he became a university student. He was a pioneer in transplantology and thoracic surgery. Alexis Carrel was also a member of learned societies in the U.S., Spain, Russia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Vatican City, Germany, Italy and Greece and received honorary doctorates from Queen's University of BelfastPrinceton University, California, New York, Brown University and Columbia University.

In 1902 he witnessed the miraculous cure of Marie Bailly at Lourdes, made famous in part because she named Carrel as a witness of her cure. After the fame surrounding the event, Carrel could not obtain a hospital appointment because of the pervasive anticlericalism in the French university system at the time. 

In 1903 he emigrated to Montreal, Canada, but soon relocated to Chicago, Illinois to work for Hull Laboratory. While there he collaborated with American physician Charles Claude Guthrie in work on vascular suture and the transplantation of blood vessels and organs as well as the head, and Carrel was awarded the 1912 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for these efforts.

In 1906 he joined the newly formed Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research in New York where he spent the rest of his career. In the 1930s, Carrel and Charles Lindbergh became close friends not only because of the years they worked together but also because they shared personal, political, and social views. Lindbergh initially sought out Carrel to see if his sister-in-law's heart, damaged by rheumatic fever, could be repaired. 


When Lindbergh saw the crudeness of Carrel's machinery, he offered to build new equipment for the scientist. Eventually they built the first perfusion pump, an invention instrumental to the development of organ transplantation and open heart surgery. Lindbergh considered Carrel his closest friend, and said he would preserve and promote Carrel's ideals after his death.


Carrel was a young surgeon in 1894 when the French president Sadi Carnot was assassinated with a knife. His large abdominal veins had been severed, and surgeons who treated the president felt that such veins were too large to be successfully reconnected. This left a deep impression on Carrel, and he set about developing new techniques for suturing blood vessels. 

The technique of "triangulation", which was inspired by sewing lessons he took from an embroideress, is still used today. Julius Comroe wrote: "Between 1901 and 1910, Alexis Carrel, using experimental animals, performed every feat and developed every technique known to vascular surgery today." He had great success in reconnecting arteries and veins, and performing surgical grafts, and this led to his Nobel Prize in 1912.


During World War I (1914–1918), Carrel and the English chemist Henry Drysdale Dakin developed the Carrel–Dakin method of treating wounds based on chlorine (Dakin's solution) which, preceding the development of antibiotics, was a major medical advance in the care of traumatic wounds. For this, Carrel was awarded the Légion d'honneur.

Carrel co-authored a book with famed pilot Charles A. LindberghThe Culture of Organs, and worked with Lindbergh in the mid-1930s to create the "perfusion pump," which allowed living organs to exist outside the body during surgery. The advance is said to have been a crucial step in the development of open-heart surgery and organ transplants, and to have laid the groundwork for the artificial heart, which became a reality decades later. 

Some critics of Lindbergh claimed that Carrel overstated Lindbergh's role to gain media attention, but other sources say Lindbergh played an important role in developing the device. Both Lindbergh and Carrel appeared on the cover of Time magazine on June 13, 1938.

Carrel was also interested in the phenomenon of senescence, or aging. He claimed incorrectly that all cells continued to grow indefinitely, and this became a dominant view in the early 20th century. Carrel started an experiment on January 17, 1912 where he placed tissue cultured from an embryonic chicken heart in a stoppered Pyrex flask of his own design. 

He maintained the living culture for over 20 years with regular supplies of nutrient. This was longer than a chicken's normal lifespan. The experiment, which was conducted at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, attracted considerable popular and scientific attention. Carrel's experiment was never successfully replicated, and in the 1960s Leonard Hayflick and Paul Moorhead proposed that differentiated cells can undergo only a limited number of divisions before dying. This is known as the Hayflick limit, and is now a pillar of biology.

It is not certain how Carrel obtained his anomalous results. Leonard Hayflick suggests that the daily feeding of nutrient was continually introducing new living cells to the alleged immortal culture. J. A. Witkowski has argued that, while "immortal" strains of visibly mutated cells have been obtained by other experimenters, a more likely explanation is deliberate introduction of new cells into the culture, possibly without Carrel's knowledge.

Friday, 27 June 2014

This unfortunate wealthy wanderer made a virtual mark in United states by huge donations and studied Tabasheer from India

James Smithson(1765 – 27 June 1829) was an English chemist and mineralogist. He was the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution.
Smithson was the illegitimate child of the 1st Duke of Northumberland, and was born secretly in Paris, as James Lewis Macie. Eventually he was naturalized in England and he attended college, studying chemistry and mineralogy. At the age of twenty-two, he changed his surname from Macie to Smithson, his father's surname. Smithson traveled extensively throughout Europe publishing papers about his findings. Smithson became the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; however he never visited the United States.

Smithson was nomadic in his lifestyle, traveling throughout Europe. As a student, in 1784, he participated in a geological expedition with Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-FondWilliam Thornton and Paolo Andreani of Scotland and the Hebrides. He was in Paris during the French Revolution.


Smithson's research work was eclectic. He studied subjects ranging from coffee making to the use of calamine in making brass, which would eventually be called smithsonite. He also studied the chemistry of human tearssnake venom and other natural occurrences. Smithson would publish twenty-seven papers. He was nominated to the Royal Society of London. Smithson socialized and worked with scientists Joseph PriestleySir Joseph BanksAntoine Lavoisier, and Richard Kirwan.


His first paper was presented at the Royal Society on July 7, 1791, "An Account of Some Chemical Experiments on Tabasheer." Tabasheer is a substance used in traditional Indian medicine and derived from material collected insides bamboo culms. The samples that Macie analyzed had been sent by Patrick Russell, physician-naturalist in India. 

In 1802 he read his second paper, "A Chemical Analysis of Some Calamines," at the Royal Society. In the paper, Smithson challenges the idea that the mineral calamine is an oxide of zinc. His discoveries made calamine a "true mineral." He explored and examined Kirkdale Cave and published about his findings in 1824. His findings successfully challenged previous beliefs that the fossils within the formations at the cave were from the Great Flood. Smithson is credited with first using the word "silicates".

Smithson died in Genoa, Italy on June 27, 1829. He was buried in Sampierdarena in a Protestant cemetery. It was not until 1835 that the United States government was informed about the bequest. A committee was organized and the Smithsonian Institution was founded. Smithson's estate was sent to the United States, accompanied by Richard RushThe estate arrived as gold sovereigns in eleven boxes. Smithson's personal items, scientific notes, minerals, and library also traveled with Rush. This final amount totaled $54,165.38.

Tabasheer or Banslochan, also spelt as Tabachir or Tabashir, is a translucent white substance, composed mainly of silica and water with traces of lime and potash, obtained from the nodal joints of some species of bamboo. It is part of the pharmacology of the traditional Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine of the Indian subcontinent. It is also an ingredient in many traditional Chinese medicines.

Tabasheer is referred to as Tvaksheera in Sanskrit, which means bark milk. Other Sanskrit-derived names have been applied to tabasheer as well, including bamboo sugar (vans-sharkar), bamboo camphor (vans karpoor) and bamboo manna. It is called Tian Zhu Huang in Mandarin, which means "heavenly bamboo yellow."

Tabasheer is claimed to provide a variety of health benefits. It is variously regarded as an antipyreticantispasmodic,antiparalyticrestorative and aphrodisiac. Tabasheer that has a blueish tint (usually called neel or neelkanth) is considered superior to tabasheer that has the "more plain" yellow or white color. Not all bamboo stems contain tabasheer. Likely candidates are found by shaking bamboo stems, which can make the mineralized tabasheer inside produce a rattling sound. These stems are split open to extract the tabasheer.

Although a part of the ancient Ayurvedic system of medicine, it has been postulated that the use of tabasheer originated in the Adivasi aboriginal tribes of India. Tabasheer was extensively exported from India for thousands of years, including through Arab traders during the medieval period. The town of Thane, close to the west coast of India, was famous as a clearing center for tabasheer in the twelfth century CE. It was called σάκχαρον in the writings of Pedanius Dioscorides, aGreek pharmacologist who practiced in Rome in the time of Nero.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

This fellow discovered COBALT in ancient times!!!

Georg Brandt (26 June 1694 – 29 April 1768) was a Swedish chemist and mineralogist who discovered cobalt (c.1735). He was the first person to discover a metal unknown in ancient times.

Brandt was born in RiddarhyttanSkinnskatteberg parish, Västmanland to Jurgen Brandt, a mineowner and pharmacist, and Katarina Ysing. He was professor of chemistry at Uppsala University, and died in Stockholm. He was able to show that cobalt was the source of the blue color in glass, which previously had been attributed to the bismuth found with cobalt. He died on April 29, 1768 of prostate cancer.

About 1741 he wrote: "As there are six kinds of metals, so I have also shown with reliable experiments... that there are also six kinds of half-metals: a new half-metal, namely Cobalt regulus in addition to Mercury, Bismuth, Zinc, and the reguluses of Antimony andArsenic". He gave six ways to distinguish bismuth and cobalt which were typically found in the same ores:
  1. Bismuth fractures while Cobalt is more like a true metal.
  2. In fusing, they do not mingle but attach about as an almond and its stone.
  3. The regulus of Cobalt fuses with flint and fixed alkali giving a blue glass known as zaffera, sasre, or smalt. Bismuth does not.
  4. Bismuth melts easily and if kept melted, calcinates forming a yellow powder.
  5. Bismuth amalgamates with Mercury; the regulus of Cobalt does not at all.
  6. Bismuth dissolved in nitric acid and with aqua regia and gives a white precipitate when put in pure water. The regulus of Cobalt needs alkalies to precipitate, and then forms dark or black precipitates.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Finding out about electricity in human body in that era was astounding!!!

Carlo Matteucci (June 21, 1811 - June 25, 1868) was an Italian physicist and neurophysiologist who was a pioneer in the study of bioelectricity. Carlo Matteucci was born at Forlì, in the province of Romagna, to Vincenzo Matteucci, a physician, and Chiara Folfi. He studied mathematics at the University of Bologna from 1825 to 1828, receiving his doctorate in 1829. From 1829 to 1831 he studied at the École Polytechnique in ParisFrance

Upon returning to Italy, Matteucci studied at Bologna (1832), FlorenceRavenna (1837) and Pisa. He established himself as the head of the laboratory of the Hospital of Ravenna and became a professor of physics at the local college. In 1840, by recommendation of François Arago (1786–1853), his teacher at the École Polytechnique, to the Grand-Duke ofTuscany, Matteucci accepted a post of professor of physics at the University of Pisa.

Instigated by the work of Luigi Galvani (1737–1798) on bioelectricity, Matteucci began in 1830 a series of experiments which he pursued until his death in 1865. Using a sensitive galvanometer of Leopoldo Nobili, he was able to prove that injured excitable biological tissues generated direct electrical currents, and that they could be summed up by adding elements in series, like in Alessandro Volta’s (1745-1827) electric pile

Thus, Mateucci was able to develop what he called a "rheoscopic frog", by using the cutnerve of a frog’s leg and its attached muscle as a kind of sensitive electricity detector. His work in bioelectricity influenced directly the research developed by Emil du Bois-Reymond (1818–1896), a student of the great German biologist Johannes Peter Müller (1801–1858) in Berlin, who tried the duplicate Matteucci’s experiments and ended up discovering the nerve's action potential

In 1844, for these studies, Matteucci was awarded with the Copley medal by the Royal Society. From 1847 he took an active part in politics, and in 1860 was chosen an Italian senator, at the same time becoming inspector-general of the Italian telegraph lines. Two years later he was appointed Minister of Education. Matteucci died in Ardenza, near Livorno, in 1868.