On this day in science history: 31 May

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

31st May 2017
The first electric locomotive by Werner von Siemens. Berlin (1879) © Imagno/Getty Images

The first electric locomotive by Werner von Siemens. Berlin (1879) © Imagno/Getty Images

1879 – World’s first electric railway demonstrated

Werner von Siemens presents his electric railway at the Berlin Trade Fair.

The small electric locomotive, with power supplied through the rails, followed a 300m circular track around the exhibition site, pulling three carriages at a modest speed of 7km/h.

1928 – First transpacific flight takes off

Captain Charles Kingsford Smith, wearing a garland of roses and Mr Charles Ulm on arrival at Brisbane on 16 June 1928 © Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Captain Charles Kingsford Smith, wearing a garland of roses and Mr Charles Ulm on arrival at Brisbane on 16 June 1928 © Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Two Australians depart on the 11,585km journey from Oakland, USA to Brisbane, Australia.

In their aircraft Southern Cross, Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm made the trip in 83 hours flying time, with stops in Hawaii and Fiji. On arrival in Brisbane, the duo were received by a crowd of 15,000, with Smith reported to have greeted them with “Hello Aussies – my kingdom for a smoke”. Upon arrival in Sydney, an even greater crowd of 300,000 gathered to meet them, where they received a cash prize of over £20,000. The first nonstop transpacific flight would be completed in 1931.

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