Jane Goodall commences her life’s work
Today in 1960 English primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall arrived at Gombe Stream National Park in present-day Tanzania to begin studying the Kasakela chimpanzee community.
Goodall eventually found that similarities between humans and chimpanzees exist in more than genes alone and can be seen in emotion, intelligence, and family and social relationships. Perhaps best-known among her findings was that chimpanzees construct and use tools, challenging a long-standing belief that it was solely a human trait.
This day marks the passing of Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani (born 3 May 1977, died 14 July 2017), the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Fields Medal “for her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces”. (Thankfully, in 2022, Ukrainian mathematician Maryna Viazovska became the second woman to win the Fields Medal.)
As a teenager, Mirzakhani had won gold medals in the 1994 and 1995 International Mathematical Olympiads, and went on to obtain her degree in mathematics in Tehran. Mirzakhani then moved to the USA and earned her PhD from Harvard.
Mariner 4 reaches Mars
On this day in 1964 NASA’s Mariner 4 space probe conducted a fly-by of Mars and took the first close-up photos of another planet.
New Horizons reaches Pluto
On this day in 2015 NASA’s New Horizons probe performed the first fly-by and took the first close-up photos of Pluto, completing humanity’s initial survey of the Solar System.
José Hernández-Rebollar (born 14 July 1969) is a Mexican electrical engineer and inventor. His major contribution to date has been the creation of the AcceleGlove, a device that translates sign language into written words for the deaf. The device can translate more than 300 signs from the American sign language (ASL) into spoken words and sentences in English or Spanish. It uses accelerometer sensors that transmit the movements into a micro-controller computer.
The world’s last telegram
It was the death of an old technology on this day in 2013 when the world’s last telegram was sent in India. The country was the last to shut down the service – Great Britain had ceased in 2008 and the US in 2006. The first ever telegram was sent by Samuel Morse on 24 May 1844 from Washington to Baltimore, in the US.
Simon Garlick is a consultant to the Royal Institution of Australia.
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