When Halley’s comet returns to our quarter of the universe this year, the great 200-inch Hale Telescope, perched high on Palomar Mountain in California, will follow it across the sky. In fact, the 200-inch, the world’s largest telescope for a full three decades after its dedication in 1948, was the first telescope to detect the comet during its current return, back in 1982. We can always expect the phenomenal from the 200-inch.
A major advance in the history of computing occurred at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946 when engineers put the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) into operation. Designed and constructed at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering under a U. S. Army contract during World War II, the ENIAC established the practicality of large scale, electronic digital computers and strongly influenced the development of the modern, stored-program, general-purpose computer.
The 1.5 mile Lacey V. Murrow Bridge was the largest floating structure in the world and the first to be built of reinforced concrete when completed in 1940. The bridge consisted of typically 300-foot long pontoons floated to site and rigidly connected to form a continuous structure and incorporated a unique floating concrete draw-span to allow for passage of marine traffic. The original floating structure, constructed by Pontoon Bridge Builders, was accidentally sunk in 1990 during a major renovation effort and was replaced by 1993.
On Colorado Blvd in Pasadena in 1942, the Aerojet Engineering Company founded the first manufacturing facility for the production of rocket propulsion systems. This site was selected to be honored by AIAA because of its significance as one of the first production sites for rocket motors, laying part of the foundation for the rocket business. Production was done under the leadership of Aerojet's first president, Dr. Theodore von Karman, world-renowned scientist and engineer from the California Institute of Technology. The plant remained here until 1945.
The convenient dry-copying process for printed pages is among the truly revolutionary inventions of the century. In 1937 Chester Carlson, a New York patent attorney, developed the concept of applying an electrostatic charge on a plate coated with a photoconductive material. On November 22, 1938, Carlson dusted powder dyed with evergreen spores across an exposed plate and transferred the imprint to the surface of a paper.
Tracing its history to the earliest days of powered flight – to the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss – the site began as the research laboratory of the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Company. After World War II, it was donated to Cornell University, and in January 1946 opened its doors as the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory. Nearly every military aircraft and space vehicle developed in the United States from the end of World War II until the present day has been tested at the facility, now known as Calspan.
Vandenberg Air Force Base was the nation’s first space and ballistic missile operational and training base. Beginning with its first launch, a Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) on December 16, 1958, it has been the launch site of many of America’s military satellites and polar-orbiting satellites.
In 1930, the U.S. Corps of Engineers was directed to complete an engineering survey of the Tennessee River to determine the feasibility of establishing complete river navigability. The resulting report recommended a series of nine main river dams and several tributary dams to allow for a minimum eight foot channel (standard for barge navigation) from Knoxville to Paducah.
The SS Jeremiah O'Brien, an emergency cargo vessel of the type EC2-S-C1 better known as Liberty Ships, is one of two operative survivors of 2,751 ships, the largest fleet of single class ever built. The other is the SS John W. Brown, now in Baltimore (not operative at the time of the landmark designation). Between March 1941 and November 1945, eighteen US shipyards produced 2,751 ships. The design stressed minimum cost, rapidity of construction, and simplicity of operation. The original design and configuration have not been altered.
Conceived in the early years of World War II as a plan to bury four fuel containers horizontally in a hillside at the U.S. Navy facility at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility ultimately encompassed the design and construction of 20 vertical storage tanks - each large enough to contain a 20-story building - buried in the volcanic hillside and connected by tunnels to a harbor-side pumping station more than two-and-a-half miles away.