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May 26

1906 The Vauxhall Bridge, crossing the River Thames in London, officially opened. It connects Vauxhall on the south bank and Westminster on the north bank.

1896 The Dow Jones Industrial Average was founded by American journalist Charles Dow, representing the dollar average of 12 stocks from leading American industries.

1667 French mathematician Abraham de Moivre was born in Vitry-le-François. He is famous for de Moivre’s formula, which links complex numbers and trigonometry, and for his work on the normal distribution and probability theory.

May 25

1966 NASA launched the Explorer 32 satellite, also known as Atmosphere Explorer-B (AE-B), designed to directly measure the temperature, composition, density, and pressure of the upper atmosphere. The mission lasted 10 months.

1865 Dutch physicist Pieter Zeeman was born in Zonnemaire. He shared the 1902 Nobel Prize in Physics with Hendrik Lorentz for his discovery of the Zeeman effect, the splitting of a spectral line into several components in the presence of a static magnetic field. The crater Zeeman on the Moon is named in his honor.

1803 American essayist, philosopher, and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston. He is best remembered for leading the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century and for championing individualism.

1085 Alfonso VI of Castile took the city of Toledo back from the Moors, and ended the mediaeval Taifa’s Kingdom of Toledo. This was the first concrete step taken by the combined kingdom of Leon-Castile in the Reconquista by Christian forces.

May 24

1962 NASA launched the Mercury-Atlas 7 manned space mission, piloted by astronaut Scott Carpenter. The Mercury spacecraft was named Aurora 7 and made three earth orbits in about 5 hours.

1930 English aviation pioneer Amy Johnson landed her plane in Darwin, Australia after flying 11,000 miles. This made her the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.

1883 The Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn, officially opened to traffic after 13 years of construction. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge. It was initially designed by German-born civil engineer John Augustus Roebling (pictured below), who died before construction would begin. His son Washington Roebling and daughter-in-law Emily Warren Roebling supervised the construction of the bridge.

1844 American inventor Samuel Morse inaugurated a new telegraph line by sending the message “What hath God wrought” (quoting Numbers 23:23) from the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol in Washington to his assistant, Alfred Vail, in the old Mt. Clare Depot in Baltimore.

1830 American writer Sarah Josepha Hale first published Mary Had A Little Lamb as an original poem.

1626 Peter Minuit, the Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, purchased the island of Manhattan from the natives for 60 guilders.

May 23

1908 American physicist and electrical engineer John Bardeen was born in Madison, Wisconsin. He is the only person to have won the Nobel Prize in Physics twice: first in 1956 with William Shockley and Walter Brattain for the invention of the transistor; and again in 1972 with Leon Neil Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer for a fundamental theory of conventional superconductivity known as the BCS theory.

1891 Swedish author Pär Lagerkvist was born in Växjö. He wrote poems, plays, novels, stories, and essays of considerable expressive power and influence from his early 20s to his late 70s. Among his central themes was the fundamental question of good and evil, which he examined using well-known biblical figures. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1951.

1848 German aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal was born in Anklam, Pomerania Province, Prussia to a family of Swedish origins. He was the first person to make well-documented, repeated, successful gliding flights.

1834 Danish painter Carl Heinrich Bloch was born in Copenhagen.

1795 English architect Charles Barry was born in Westminster. He is best known for his role in the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster (also known as the Houses of Parliament) in London during the mid-19th century, but also responsible for numerous other buildings and gardens.

1729 Italian Enlightenment satirist and poet Giuseppe Parini was born in Bosisio. He is best remembered for a series of beautifully written Horatian odes and particularly for Il giorno, a satiric poem on the selfishness and superficiality of the Milanese aristocracy. Today, a statue dedicated to him occupies a place of honor in Milan’s Piazza Cordusio.

1707 Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist Carl Linnaeus was born in Råshult. He laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature, and is known as the father of modern taxonomy as well as one of the fathers of modern ecology. One of his major works as the book Systema Naturæ, published in 1735 (with several other editions being published later). It describes the “System of nature through the three kingdoms of nature, according to classes, orders, genera and species, with characters, differences, synonyms, places”.

May 22

1897 The Blackwall Tunnel, underneath the River Thames in east London, officially opened. It links the London Borough of Tower Hamlets with the London Borough of Greenwich.

1859 Scottish physician and writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh. He is best known for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered a major innovation in the field of crime fiction. He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays and romances, poetry, and non-fiction.

1826 HMS Beagle set sail from Plymouth on her first voyage, under the command of Captain Pringle Stokes. The mission was to accompany the larger ship HMS Adventure on a hydrographic survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, under the overall command of the Australian Captain Phillip Parker King, Commander and Surveyor (pictured below). Beagle would later become famous as the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his scientific voyage around the world.

1813 German composer, conductor, theatre director and essayist Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig. His operas and music had a major revolutionary influence on the course of Western music.

1783 English physicist and inventor William Sturgeon was born in Whittington, Lancashire. He is best known for inventing the first electromagnets, and the first practical English electric motor.

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