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.
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.
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.
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.
1966 NASA’s Lunar Orbiter 1 took the first photograph of Earth from the distance of the Moon.
1954 The Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft was flown for the first time. Capable of takeoffs and landings from unprepared runways, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport aircraft.
1873 The Albert Bridge, over the River Thames in West London, was opened.
1839 The U.K. seized Hong Kong to set up a military base. From there, they fought the First Opium War against the Qing Dynasty of China, resulting in an overwhelming victory for the British. This victory modernized China, opened the country up to Western trade, and gave the U.K. control of Hong Kong.
1595 Michael The Brave (Romanian: Mihai Viteazul, Mihai Bravu), Prince of Wallachia (southern Romania), defeated the much larger invading Ottoman army at the Battle of Călugăreni. Michael would go on to unite Wallachia, Transylvania, and Moldavia to form the precursor to modern Romania.