Historical Anecdotes Story Of London

Historical Anecdotes: I

Historical Anecdotes: I
by Anthony Waldstock

This is a series of articles that has grown out of the daily listings of what happened “On This Day”. Many of the events, particularly those related to science, seemed to us to need some more information than is possible in the daily listing format. Still others had amusing or informative anecdotes associated with them that we felt were worth sharing with our readers. The series is designed for browsing and dipping into and we have therefore set up a comprehensive system of links to make this as easy and as enjoyable as possible.
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Historical Anecdotes: I

by Anthony Waldstock

This series of articles will present occasional anecdotal, amusing and factual notes behind the people and events on the This Day in History digests. Entries are determined by the daily posting of events in history with the first entries appearing for March 12th and are arranged alphabetically. With the steady increase of material, each letter of the alphabet now (April 17th 2002) has its own page. People are indexed according to their family or surnames whereas kings, popes, emperors etc. are listed according to their regnal names– e.g. Charles Boycott would be found under B, Pope Gregory under G and Queen Mary Tudor under M. Other items are indexed by the most significant word in the title, for example Artificial Ice will be found under I but Sad Iron will be found under S.

Links back to the monthly digests for “This Day in History” can be found at the bottom of the introductory page but each of the entries on the other pages will have a link to take you back to the specific date with which it is associated. Note that if you have come here from the Background Briefings link on the Home page, you can go back there by clicking on the site Masthead above. When appropriate, there are additional links back to other referring pages on the site such as the People of London page.

Within the series there are two sets of links. At the top of each page there will be a table of links to the other indexing letters to allow browsing by individual pages. At the bottom of each page you will also find a set of links which will allow you to scroll backward (Previous) and forward (next) through the pages. The pages are looped so the “Previous” link from A will be to Z and the “Next” link from Z will be to A. There will also be a central link back to this introduction page whose main content is an alphabetic list of the complete set of entries. From there, you will be able to browse the titles of the individual entries and jump directly to those that interest you. By definition, the number of entries will augment on a daily basis so it is worth checking back there frequently.

Links to Entries by Index Letter


This term, now defunct, was applied to the school of medicine which related living processes to chemical reactions. It was founded in the seventeenth century by the Dutch physician, chemist and physiologist Franciscus Sylvius. Thus, Sylvius helped to move medicine away from mysticism (with its “humours” of blood, phlegm and biles) and towards an approach based in physics and chemistry. He strongly supported Harvey’s view of blood circulation, and viewed the body chemistry as a balance between base s and acids, capable of neutralizing each other. Sylvius and his followers studied the digestive juices, with which they recognized in saliva, and viewed digestion as a kind of fermenting process. He may also have organized the first university chemistry laboratory.
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Artificial Ice

Sir John Leslie (1766-1832) was a Scottish physicist and mathematician who first created artificial ice. His practical scientific investigations led to his influential book Experimental Inquiry Into the Nature and Propagation of Heat (1804). This dealt with the fundamental laws of heat radiation. He is also responsible for the first correct description of capillary action (1802). He invented many instruments, most notably an accurate differential air thermometer, a hygrometer, a photometer, and the exotic pyroscope, atmometer and aethrioscope. In 1810, he devised a method of obtaining very low temperatures, by evaporating water in a receiver evacuated with an air-pump but containing a drying agent. His mathematical works include texts on geometry, trigonometry and The Philosophy of Arithmetic.
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Infra red

Macedonio Melloni (1798-1854) was an Italian physicist who was the first to carry out extensive research into infrared radiation. After Herschel’s discovery of infrared radiation a generation before, suitable tools were lacking until the invention of a thermopile in 1830. That instrument was a series of strips of two different metals that produced an electric current when one end of it was heated. Melloni improved the thermopile and used it to detect infrared radiation. In 1846, from an observation point high on Mount Vesuvius, he measured the slight heating effect of moonlight. He also showed that rock salt, being transparent to infrared, made suitable lenses and prisms to demonstrate the reflection, refraction, polarization and interference of infrared in exactly the same manner as visible light.
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Iron Battleship

John Scott Russell (1808-1882) was the British civil engineer best known for his researches in ship design. He designed the first seagoing battleship built entirely of iron. He was the first to record an observation of a soliton, while conducting experiments to determine the most efficient design for canal boats. In August 1834, he observed the soliton, which he called the Wave of Translation a solitary wave formed in the narrow channel of a canal which continues ahead after a canal boat stops. In 1848, he also made the first experimental observation of the Doppler shift of sound frequency as a train passes. He worked with Brunel on the design of the Great Eastern which was launced from his shipyard at Millwall. It was, until 1899, the largest vessel ever built. Russell also designed the Vienna Rotunda and helped to design Britain’s first armoured warship, the Warrior.Return to This Day in History