On 4 June 1783, Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier captured the imagination of the world with their first balloon flight at Cordeliers Square. There were no passengers, but the Regional Council and the whole town population saw the machine go up and stay aloft at 500 meters for ten minutes. The scientific world raced to make use of the Montgolfiers’ discovery, and all accomplishments made since then by aeronauts, aviators, and astronauts can be traced directly to this site.
Frontiers of Knowledge
T.S.C. Lowe’s Observation Flight
On this site, which was the Dutch Flats Airport, Charles A. Lindbergh made the first flight of his Spirit of St. Louis airplane, constructed in 60 days by dedicated employees of Ryan Airlines, Inc. The 20-minute flight on 28 April 1927 was witnessed by those who built the aircraft. Lindbergh describes the flight:
The first company in the United States dedicated solely to the production of the liquid rocket engine, Reaction Motors, Inc. (RMI) was formed in 1941. Its four founders were rocket enthusiasts and members of the American Rocket Society. RMI developed the rocket motors that powered the first supersonic flight, that of the X-1; the retro rockets for five NASA surveyor lunar soft landers; and prepackaged liquid rocket engines for the U.S. Navy Bullpup A & B air to ground missiles, among many other pioneering programs.
Born 20 July 1873 in the state of Sao Paolo, Alberto Santos Dumont moved to Paris in 1891 but never forgot his birthplace. He soon began experimenting with flying, and designed his first balloon, the Brasil, in 1898. He later built and flew 11 dirigibles, including the prize-winning Number 6. He flew his first airplane, the 14 bis, on 23 October 1906, the first aircraft to take off and land without any external assistance. His many other contributions to aviation included his 1909 Demoiselle, the precursor to modern light airplanes.
Izaak Maurits Kolthoff (1894–1993) has been described as the father of modern analytical chemistry for his research and teaching that transformed the ways by which scientists separate, identify, and quantify chemical substances. Once a collection of empirical recipes and prescriptions, the field of analytical chemistry is today an essential branch of chemistry built upon solid theoretical principles and experimental techniques, the basis of which was formed over the course of Kolthoff’s nearly 80-year career.
Charles David Keeling of Scripps Institution of Oceanography was the leading authority in establishing the global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) record. In 1958, Keeling began measuring atmospheric CO2 concentrations from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory. Using rigorous analytical procedures, he revealed new information about natural and man-caused carbon trends.
In the years 1926 to 1956, the German chemist Hermann Staudinger carried out his pathbreaking research on macromolecular chemistry in Freiburg. His theories on the polymer structures of fibers and plastics and his later research on biological macromolecules formed the basis for countless modern developments in the fields of materials science and biosciences and supported the rapid growth of the plastics industry. For his work in the field of polymers, Staudinger was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1953.
In 1900, Moses Gomberg, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan, confirmed the existence of a stable, trivalent organic free radical: triphenylmethyl. In so doing, he challenged the then prevailing belief that carbon could have only four chemical bonds. Gomberg’s discovery made a major contribution to theoretical organic chemistry and fostered a field of research that continues to grow and expand. Today, organic free radicals are widely used in plastics and rubber manufacture, as well as medicine, agriculture and biochemistry.