Ötzi the Iceman is discovered
19 September 1991
The 5,300-year-old body of a man is found by two German tourists in the Ötztal Alps on the Austrian–Italian border. The body was naturally mummified by ice, so scientists were able to determine that Ötzi was a 45-year-old man, killed by an arrow which hit his left shoulder. Today, you can see Ötzi and a collection of his belongings at a museum in the city of Bolzano, Italy.
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Hyperion: Saturn’s eighth moon is found
19 September 1848
Saturn’s moon Hyperion is discovered independently by William Lassell in the UK and William Cranch Bond and George Phillips Bonds in the US. It is spongy and porous, and probably used to be part of a larger, round moon. We now know that Saturn has over 150 moons, although only 62 have confirmed orbits.
© Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA
First hot air balloon flight
19 September 1783
The first hot air balloon is launched in France, containing a duck, a sheep and a rooster. The flight, which was a demonstration for the king, lasted for eight minutes and the balloon travelled three kilometres before landing safely. The first manned flight took place a month later.
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Surveyor 2 is launched
20 September 1966
NASA launches its lunar lander Surveyor 2. Its mission was to achieve a soft landing on the Moon and photograph its surface terrain for future Apollo landings. Despite being the third of its kind, the mission sadly failed when the spacecraft crashed into the lunar surface.
Programming language Fortran is first run
20 September 1954
The first high-level programming language, an early version of Fortran, is successfully run. Before Fortran, programs had to be written in assembly code, which was difficult, time consuming and hard to debug. Fortran allowed programmers to write 500 per cent faster than before, and it’s still used in intensive applications including weather forecasting and computational chemistry and physics.
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Introduction of sterile surgery
21 September 1867
The surgeon Joseph Lister publishes his paper on using carbolic acid, or phenol, to sterilise operating theatres. He also experimented with hand washing, sterilising surgical instruments and spraying phenol in the operating theatre in an effort to reduce the death rate from infections following surgery. As a result of his work, the rate in his own surgery fell from 50 per cent to just 15 per cent.
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First flight of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress
21 September 1942
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber makes its first flight. The B-29 was the world’s heaviest production plane, equipped with the most powerful engines of the time as well as bombs and defences. It was primarily used by the United States during World War II and the Korean War, and was used to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
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David Vetter is born
21 September 1971
David Vetter is born in the U.S. with severe combined immunedeficiency disease. He lived for 12 years in a sterile plastic 'bubble' to protect him from infection, before dying of Burkitt’s lymphoma following a bone marrow transplant from his sister. Now, his blood cells have been used to develop therapies, which mean that nine out of 10 children born with the disease can live normal lives.
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First fully automated flight
22 September 1947
The Douglas C-54 Skymaster, a U.S. Air Force plane, makes the first entirely automated flight, across the Atlantic Ocean. The take off, flight and landing were all controlled by autopilot. Today, autopilot is mainly used after take off for the main body of a flight, and for landing if the visibility is below 550 metres.
© U.S. Air Force
Dead Sea Scrolls photos become available to the public
22 September 1991
Photographs and transcripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of texts discovered two kilometres from the Dead Sea, become available to researchers and the public for the first time. The Dead Sea Scrolls date from the last three centuries BC, and include some of the oldest known manuscripts of works later used in the Hebrew Bible. Today, you can visit the scrolls in Israel, or see them online (http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/).
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Michael Faraday is born
22 September 1791
Physicist and chemist Michael Faraday is born. His experiments revolutionised the understanding of electromagnetism: he discovered electromagnetic induction (which led to the development of the motor and the generation of electricity), diamagnetism, the laws of electrolysis, and the molecule benzene. The unit for electrical capacitance is named the farad in his honour.
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First Firefox release
23 September 2002
The first version of the Firefox web browser is released. It was originally called ‘Phoenix’, and was renamed to ‘Firebird’ before eventually becoming 'Firefox'. Even in the beta phase it was praised for its speed, security and add-ons. Today, Firefox is the desktop browser of choice for between nine and 16 per cent of the population, making it the second most popular browser in the world.
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Sigmund Freud dies
23 September 1939
Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud dies by morphine overdose while suffering intense pain due to jaw cancer. Freud is considered the father of psychoanalysis and is best known for his novel approach to understanding human personalities, and his belief that humans have an internal conflict between sexual and aggressive impulses. Despite many of his theories now being considered unsupported, Freud is regarded as one of the most influential and controversial scientists of the 20th Century.
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Neptune is discovered
24 September 1846
Neptune is discovered by German astronomer Johann G. Galle. The planet was only 1° away from the position that had been calculated by French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier, who asked Galle to look for the planet after predicting that it influences the irregular orbit of Uranus. Neptune was first visited and photographed by Voyager 2 in 1989.
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Largest ever ozone hole
24 September 2006
NASA records the largest ever hole in the ozone layer. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite measured the hole to be 27 million square kilometres in area. The hole is thought to have been caused by the human use of chemicals such as CFCs. Use of these chemicals is now controlled, and it is predicted that the hole will have closed by 2050.
Mars Orbiter Mission enters orbit
24 September 2014
India’s first mission to explore Mars, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), is launched into orbit by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The spacecraft has so far taken over 440 photos of the Red Planet and measured the concentrations of atmospheric gases at different heights. The MOM is still in orbit, with the ISRO looking at how to keep the spacecraft operating for as long as possible.