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October 20

1973 The Sydney Opera House was formally opened by Elizabeth II.

1891 English physicist James Chadwick was born in Cambridge. He was awarded the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society in 1932 and the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1935 for his discovery of the neutron.

1880 The Alte Oper (Old Opera), a major concert hall and former opera house in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, was inaugurated. It was designed by the Berlin architect Richard Lucae and financed by the citizens of Frankfurt. Among the invited guests at the inauguration was Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany.

1827 Battle of Navarino: a combined British, French and Russian naval force destroyed a combined Ottoman and Egyptian armada, during the Greek War of Independence. It is notable for being the last major naval battle in history to be fought entirely with sailing ships.

1616 Danish physician, mathematician, and theologian Thomas Bartholin was born. He is best known for his work in the discovery of the lymphatic system in humans and for his advancements of the theory of refrigeration anesthesia, being the first to describe it scientifically.

October 19

1916 French immunologist Jean Dausset was born in Toulouse. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1980 for the discovery and characterisation of the genes making the major histocompatibility complex. With his Nobel Prize and a grant from French Television, Dausset was able to create the Human Polymorphism Study Center (CEPH) in 1984, which soon after became Foundation Jean Dausset-CEPH.

1909 French physicist Marguerite Perey was born in Villemomble. In 1939, she discovered the element francium and in 1962 she was the first woman to be elected to the French Académie des Sciences.

1688 English surgeon William Cheselden was born in Somerby, Leicestershire. He began lecturing on anatomy at age 22. Three years after that, he published Anatomy of the Human Body (1713), written in English instead of the usual Latin. The book remained in print as a text for anatomy students for almost a century. He was the first to perform an operation for iridectomy (the removal of part of the iris to treat blindness), and invented a new technique for lateral lithotomy (removal of kidney stones).

1386 The first lecture was held at the University of Heidelberg, making it the oldest university in Germany. The university was founded at the behest of Rupert I, Count Palatine of the Rhine, in order to provide faculties for the study of philosophy, theology, jurisprudence, and medicine.

October 18

1967 Russia’s Venera 4 spacecraft landed on Venus and became the first spacecraft to measure the atmosphere of another planet. The sensors sent back data detailing the pressure, temperature and gas composition of the planet’s atmosphere.

1954 Texas Instruments introduced the world’s first transistor radio, the Regency TR-1.

1922 The British Broadcasting Company Ltd (BBC) was founded. It was the world’s first national broadcasting organisation.

1851 Moby-Dick, by American author Herman Melville, was first published by Richard Bentley in London in an expurgated three-volume edition titled The Whale. It is now often referred to as “The Great American Novel” and is considered one of the treasures of world literature.

1810 The First Oktoberfest was celebrated: The Bavarian royalty invited the citizens of Munich to join the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

October 17

1956 The first commercial nuclear power station was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II at Sellafield, in Cumbria, England.

1860 The Open Championship of golf (aka the British Open) was first held at Prestwick Golf Club, in Ayrshire, Scotland. The winner was Willie Park.

1855 English engineer and inventor Henry Bessemer patented his method for making steel. This became known as the Bessemer Process.

1577 Cristofano Allori, an Italian portrait painter of the late Florentine Mannerist school, was born in Florence. The finest of his works is his Judith with the Head of Holofernes. It exists in two copies in the Pitti Palace in Florence and in the Queen’s Gallery in London.

October 16

2001 Work began on the Viaduc de Millau, a bridge over the River Tarn in Southern France. Designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster, it is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world, has the highest pylons in the world, has the highest mast in the world, and has the highest road bridge deck in the world.

1995 The Skye Bridge, a road bridge over Loch Alsh in Scotland, was officially opened.

1908 American aviation pioneer Samuel Cody made the first powered airplane flight in England.

1846 American dentist Dr William Morton made the first public demonstration of the administration of ether anesthetic at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

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