July 19: Rosalyn S. Yalow born, Joe Walker flies X-15 into space, Jayant Narlikar born, Alain Bombard dies

Rosalyn S. Yalow

American biophysicist Rosalyn S. Yalow, the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine, was born on 19 July 1921 (died 30 May, 2011 aged 89).

Rosalyn sussman yalow (1977)
Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1977) (Credit: Public domain)


With Andrew V. Schally and Roger Guillemin, Yalow shared the 1977 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine “for the development of radioimmuno assays (RIA) of peptide hormone”. Radioimmuno assays revolutionised biological and medical research and took diabetes research, in particular, in a new direction. She has been called the “Madame Curie of the Bronx”.


Joseph Walker and X-15 Flight 90

On 19 July, 1963 US test pilot Joseph Walker flew the North American X-15 to a height of 106.01km, crossing the 100km Karman Line that the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale defines as the official boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space. His feat made Flight 90 the first spaceflight of a spaceplane.

Nasa test pilot joe walker beside an x-15
NASA test pilot Joe Walker beside an X-15 (Credit: NASA)


Jayant Vishnu Narlikar

Indian astrophysicist Jayant Vishnu Narlikar was born 19 July 1938. Emeritus professor at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), he developed with Sir Fred Hoyle the conformal gravity theory. Also known as the Hoyle–Narlikar theory, it originally fit into the quasi-steady state model of the universe. Stephen Hawking showed in 1965 that the theory is incompatible with an expanding universe.

Alain Bombard

We remember French biologist, physician and politician Alain Bombard, who died on 19 July, 2005 at age 80 (born 27 October, 1924). Fascinated by the problems of survival at sea, Bombard in 1952 made a single-handed voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in a 4.5m inflatable boat to test his theory that it was possible for shipwrecked mariners to survive and exist solely on the resources of the sea. The voyage was successful, and Bombard went on to conduct research on the physiopathology of sailors and marine biology.

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