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August 28

1963 The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge officially opened. It is the longest floating pontoon bridge in the world, connecting Seattle and Bellevue in Washington State.

1913 Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands officially opened the Peace Palace in The Hague. The Peace Palace is considered the seat of international law, housing the International Court of Justice (the principal judicial body of the United Nations), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library.

1867 Captain William Reynolds of the USS Lackawanna formally took possession of Midway Atoll (aka Midway Island) for the United States. The atoll was first sighted on July 5, 1859 by Captain N.C. Middlebrooks of the sealing ship Gambia.

1845 Scientific American published its first issue, making it the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States. It was founded by American painter and inventor Rufus Porter.

1828 Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy was born in Yasnaya Polyana. He is considered one of the greatest novelists of all time. Some of his more famous works are War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

1789 British astronomer William Herschel discovered Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn, during the first use of his new 1.2 m telescope, then the largest in the world.

August 27

1962 NASA’s unmanned space probe Mariner 2 was launched on a mission to explore Venus.

1939 The world’s first jet aircraft, the Heinkel He 178, was flown for the first time, piloted by Erich Warsitz. The plane was a private venture by the German Heinkel company.

1874 German chemist and engineer Carl Bosch was born in Cologne, Germany. In 1925, he helped found and was the first head of IG Farben, which would for a time be the world’s largest chemical company, and in 1931 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He developed the Haber-Bosch Process for producing fertilizer which led to a huge increase in food production throughout the world.

1498 Michelangelo was formally commissioned by Cardinal Jean Bilheres de Lagraulas, the French king’s envoy to the pope, to do a life size sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding her son in her arms. The resulting sculpture was the Pietà, which sits in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

August 26

1865 Scottish electrical engineer and inventor Arthur James Arnot was born in Hamilton, Scotland. He patented the world’s first electric drill in 1889, and later designed the Spencer Street Power Station in Melbourne, Australia.

1789 The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was approved by the National Assembly at the Palace of Versailles. The Declaration was a fundamental document of the French Revolution, establishing fundamental rights for French citizens and all men without exception.

1743 Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, a French noble prominent in the histories of chemistry and biology, was born in Paris. He stated the first version of the law of conservation of mass, recognized and named oxygen in 1778 and hydrogen in 1783, helped construct the metric system, and wrote the first modern chemical textbook which formed the basis for the modern periodic table of the elements.

August 25

1916 American pediatrician and virologist Frederick Chapman Robbins was born in Auburn, Alabama. Robbins received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1954 for his breakthrough work in isolation and growth of the polio virus, paving the way for the development of the polio vaccine.

1860 The Victoria Bridge, the first to span the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, was officially inaugurated by Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales.

1841 Swiss physician and medical researcher Emil Theodor Kocher was born in Berne, Switzerland. Kocher would be best known for his pioneering work in thyroid surgery, and would win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1909. The money from this prize was used to start the Kocher Institute in Berne, which conducts research on the topics of immune cell migration, vascular morphogenesis and platelet biology.

1768 Captain James Cook left Plymouth, England on his first voyage to the South Pacific aboard HMS Endeavour. The expedition crossed the Atlantic, rounded Cape Horn, then set sail into the largely uncharted ocean to the south, stopping at the Pacific islands of Huahine, Borabora and Raiatea to claim them for Great Britain. Cook charted the New Zealand coast and became the first to reach the east coast of Australia.

1609 Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher Galileo Galilei demonstrated his first telescope in Venice. Telescopes had been invented the previous year in the Netherlands, but Galileo made significant improvements in their design and had a profitable side business in selling them.

August 24

2000 The discovery of Argon fluorohydride, the first Argon compound ever known, was announced in the journal Nature by Finnish scientists at the University of Helsinki. The team was led by Markku Räsänen.

1963 The 200-metre freestyle was swum in less than 2 minutes for the first time by American Don Schollander (1:58). He would go on to win four gold medals and set three world records at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

1932 Amelia Earhart took off from Los Angeles on the first non-stop flight by a woman across the United States. She landed the next day in Newark, New Jersey after flying 2,447.8 miles in 19 hours and 5 minutes.

1875 Captain Matthew Webb dove into the English Channel from the Admiralty Pier at Dover. 22 hours later he arrived near Calais, France, thereby becoming the first person to swim across the channel.

1815 King William I of the Netherlands issued the first version of the current constitution of the Netherlands, the Grondwet voor het Koningrijk der Nederlanden or Loi fondamentale du Royaume des Pays-Bas, establishing the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

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