On this day in science history: 2 June

From the days of ancient technology to modern science - find out what happened on this day in the history of science.

2nd June 2017
Bank note engraving of Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Bank note engraving of Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1875 – Alexander Graham Bell makes first sound transmission

The potential for voice transmission is discovered by accident whilst working on telegraph improvements.

Bell and his assistant Watson were working on their idea of a ‘harmonic telegraph’, which would transmit multiple messages simultaneously if each used a different pitch. Instead, as Watson worked on their experimental device in the transmitter room to free a reed too tightly wound to the pole of its electromagnet, he plucked the reed, producing a twang, which Bell heard on another device in the receiving room. Bell was inspired to turn his focus to voice transmissions, leading to the first telephone call less than a year later.

1954 – First test of VTOL plane

Convair XFY-1 Pogo american plane with vertical take off, used from 1954 © Apic/Getty Images
Convair XFY-1 Pogo american plane with vertical take off, used from 1954 © Apic/Getty Images

The Convair XFY-1 Pogo demonstrates vertical take-off and landing.

The aircraft was ‘tail sitter’, meaning it sat upright on its tail, before taking off upwards using massive propellers on its nose. The project lasted only a little over a year, due to the impracticalities of flying the aircraft, especially landing, which required the pilot to peer over his shoulder whilst controlling the throttle. The Pogo made its last flight in November 1956, and now resides in the National Air and Space Museum, Maryland, US.

Convair XFY-1 Pogo Takeoff & Landing Test May 18, 1955 US Navy (Jeff Quitney/YouTube)

2004 – 2.75m sturgeon caught in Swansea Bay

An enormous sturgeon weighing 120kg is caught off the coast of Wales.

The fish, caught by Robert Davies, is incredibly rare in British waters, and is classified as a royal fish, meaning the catch must first be offered to the Crown. Sturgeons’ eggs are used to produce caviar, making them extremely valuable. When the Palace told Mr Davies to “dispose of it as he saw fit”, he planned to sell the fish at Plymouth fish market, but it was later impounded when wildlife officers claimed it was a crime to sell a protected species. The specimen was eventually donated to the Natural History Museum in London.

Watch: NHM fish specialist describes how he helped solve stolen sturgeon mystery

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