On this day in science history: 29 November

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

29th November 2017
Warning label from a pharmacy bottle of 'Tincture Iodine', early twentieth century © Buyenlarge/Getty Images

Warning label from a pharmacy bottle of 'Tincture Iodine', early twentieth century © Buyenlarge/Getty Images

1813 – the discovery of iodine announced

Charles Bernard Desormes and Nicolas Clément declare the existence of a new element, iodine, at a meeting of the Imperial Institute of France. It was about two years prior to this publication that Bernard Courtois first inadvertently discovered iodine while yielding potassium nitrate from the ashes of seaweed for the production of gunpowder.

Alas, Courtois did not receive financial reward for his achievement until he had descended into poverty, and died before he could witness the impact of his breakthrough.

Now, iodine is recognised as for its numerous health benefits which include prevention of goitre, treatment of radiation exposure and female reproductive wellbeing.

1961 – launch of the first animal to orbit Earth

Enos the chimpanzee © Bettmann/Getty
Enos the chimpanzee © Bettmann/Getty

After 16 months of intensive preparation, an intrepid chimpanzee named Enos embarks on a space mission to orbit Earth. Enos became the second chimpanzee to enter space when NASA launched the Mercury Atlas 5. While aboard the orbiting aircraft, Enos completed a range of physical and psychological tasks to assess whether his mind and body remained functional in space.

Despite an electrical malfunction of the testing equipment which subjected Enos to 76 electric shocks and temperatures exceeding 35 degrees Centigrade, the determined chimp endured the ordeal, successfully completing his mission and returning to Earth alive.

Just three months after this experimental flight, John Glenn was propelled into Earth’s orbit, becoming the first American human to do so.

1972 – Atari releases Pong

An Atari Super Pong retro games console is seen at the event and entertainment area at the 2014 Gamescom gaming trade fair © Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images
An Atari Super Pong retro games console is seen at the event and entertainment area at the 2014 Gamescom gaming trade fair © Sascha Steinbach/Getty Image

Developed by Allan Alcorn, Pong was loosely based around table tennis and involved passing a virtual ball between two mobile platforms, competing against a fellow player or computerised opponent to reach 11 points and claim victory. The graphics were basic, monochrome and two-dimensional, but the game was a huge success and was later developed into various sequels. The arcade game was so popular that Atari released a household edition of Pong, selling 150,000 copies and dominating the 1975 Christmas market. Countless imitations of Pong were manufactured globally, initiating the video game industry which is currently worth in excess of a mammoth $100 billion.

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