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April 23

1967 Russia launched Soyuz 1 carrying cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. This was the first flight of the Soyuz space program. Unfortunately, it ended with tragedy, and Colonel Komarov was killed when the spacecraft crashed during its return to Earth. The flight was beset with mechanical problems and represents the first confirmed in-flight fatality in the history of spaceflight.

1858 German physicist Max Planck was born in Kiel. He is best known for originating quantum theory, an accomplishment which won him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918. This theory revolutionized our understanding of atomic and subatomic processes, and constitutes one of the fundamental theories of 20th-century physics.

1857 Italian opera composer Ruggero Leoncavallo was born in Naples. His two-act work Pagliacci remains one of the most popular works in the repertory, appearing as number 20 on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide.

1815 The Second Serbian Uprising began when the national council proclaimed a revolt in Takovo. Serbia had experienced a brief period of liberation between 1804 and 1813 until their state was crushed by the Ottoman Turks. After 2 years of high taxation, forced labor, and rape, the Serbians attempted again to free themselves from the Turkish Yoke. By the end of the year, most of contemporary Central Serbia had been liberated and Ottoman army expelled from the country. In 1817, the Principality of Serbia had been declared and Serbia enjoyed a level of semi-independence.

1775 English Romantic landscape painter, watercolourist and printmaker J. M. W. Turner was born in London. He is now regarded as the artist who made landscape painting as respectable as all other genres of painting. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is commonly known as “the painter of light” and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism.

1746 French physician and anatomist Félix Vicq-d’Azyr was born in Valognes, Normandy. He was the originator of comparative anatomy and discoverer of the theory of homology in biology (the idea that characteristics of organisms are derived from a common ancestor). As an anatomist he discovered and named different sections of the brain and was the first to use alcohol to aid dissection.

1661 Charles II was crowned King of England and Ireland at Westminster Abbey.

April 22

1969 British yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston completed the first solo non-stop circumnavigation of the world in his 32-foot sailboat Suhaili.

1889 The Oklahoma Land Run of 1889 began at high noon. An estimated 50,000 Americans lined up for their piece of the available two million acres of unassigned lands. By the end of the day, both Oklahoma City and Guthrie had established cities of around 10,000 people.

1724 German philosopher Immanuel Kant was born in Königsberg, Prussia. He was trained as a mathematician and physicist, and published his General History of Nature and theory of the Heavens in 1755 which described his Nebular hypothesis of the nature of the solar system. He also published important works on epistemology, as well as works relevant to religion, law, and history. One of his most prominent works is the Critique of Pure Reason, an investigation into the limitations and structure of reason itself. His philosophy and ideas have remained influential into the 21st century.

1658 Italian violinist and composer Giuseppe Torelli was born in Verona. He is most remembered for his contributions to the development of the instrumental concerto, especially concerti grossi and the solo concerto, for strings and continuo, as well as being the most prolific Baroque composer for trumpets.

1500 Portuguese navigator and explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral landed on the coast of Brazil, the first European to ever do so.

April 21

1882 American physicist Percy Williams Bridgman was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He won the 1946 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the physics of high pressures, and also wrote extensively on the scientific method and on other aspects of the philosophy of science.

1836 The Battle of San Jacinto: In what is considered to be the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution, the Texas Army, led by General Sam Houston, defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s Mexican forces in a fight that lasted just eighteen minutes. 700 of the Mexican soldiers were killed and 730 captured, while only nine Texans died. Santa Anna was captured the next day, and three weeks later he signed the peace treaties that dictated that the Mexican army leave the region, paving the way for the Republic of Texas to become an independent country.

1774 French physicist, astronomer, and mathematician Jean-Baptiste Biot was born in Paris. He made many contributions to the scientific community in his lifetime, especially in physics. He confirmed the existence of meteorites, proving that they were rocks that had fallen from space. He also conducted work on the polarization of light, which led to significant breakthroughs in the field of optics.

1555 Italian painter and printmaker Ludovico Carracci was born in Bologna. He was noted for his religious compositions and for the art academy he helped found in Bologna about 1585, which helped renew Italian art in the wake of Mannerism.

1519 Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés landed near the site of modern Veracruz, Mexico. Within 2 years, the Spanish forces had conquered the vast Aztec Empire and handed over the lands to Spain.

April 20

2008 American race car driver Danica Patrick won the Indy Japan 300, becoming the first woman to win an Indy Car race.

1927 Swiss physicist Karl Alexander Müller was born in Basel. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1987 with Johannes Georg Bednorz for their work on superconductivity in ceramic materials.

1864 French scientists Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard carried out the first pasteurization test. The process was originally conceived as a way of preventing wine and beer from souring, but is today widely used to reduce the number of viable pathogens in food products so they are unlikely to cause disease.

1745 French physician Philippe Pinel was born in Saint-André, Tarn, in southern France. Some consider him “the father of modern psychiatry”, having developed a more humane psychological approach to the custody and care of psychiatric patients and contributing to the classification of mental disorders.

1303 The Sapienza University of Rome, officially Sapienza – Università di Roma, was founded with the papal bull In supremae praeminentia dignitatis issued by Pope Boniface VIII. It is the largest European university and the oldest of Rome’s three state-funded universities.

April 19

1971 Russia launched Salyut 1, mankind’s first ever space station. The craft measured 20 m in length, 4 m in maximum diameter, and 99 m³ in interior space. Of its several compartments, three were pressurized and two could be entered by the crew. Salyut 1 re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on October 11, 1971.

1912 Swedish-American scientist Glenn T. Seaborg was born in Ishpeming, Michigan. From 1940 to 1958, he helped produce nine of the transuranic elements (plutonium to nobelium) by bombarding uranium and other elements with nuclei in a cyclotron. He coined the term actinide for the elements in this series. Seaborg and his early collaborator Edwin McMillan shared the 1951 Nobel Prize for chemistry, and Seaborg was chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission from 1962 to 1971. Element 106, seaborgium, was named in his honour.

1877 Norwegian-American inventor Ole Evinrude was born in Norway. At the age of five he emigrated with his family to the United States, settling in Cambridge, Wisconsin. In 1907, he invented the first practical and reliable outboard motor, built of steel and brass, and with a crank on the flywheel to start the two-cycle engine. In 1919, Evinrude invented a more efficient and lighter two-cylinder motor.

1839 The Treaty of London was signed by the European great powers, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Belgium. Under the treaty, the European powers recognised and guaranteed the independence and neutrality of Belgium and confirmed the independence of the German speaking part of Luxembourg.

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