Written by Debbie Smit Sunday, 19 April 2009 00:00
April 12, 1888: A French newspaper mistakenly publishes an obituary for Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, calling him "a merchant of death". It was actually his brother Ludwig who had died, but the label he was given made Nobel realise he needed to improve his public image and prompted him to establish the Nobel prizes.
April 14, 1912: David Sarnoff, a 21-year-old telegraph operator managing a powerful Marconi radio telegraph station from the roof of Wanamaker's department store in New York, picks up a message of distress call of the Titanic relayed from ships at sea: "S.S. Titanic ran into iceberg, sinking fast." Sarnoff , who later went on to found NBC, stayed at his post for 72 hours, receiving and transmitting the first authentic information on the disaster, relaying the names of the rescued from the Carpathia telegraph operator to newsmen and the families of those on board the Titanic.
April 15, 1726: Writer William Stukeley has a conversation with Isaac Newton during which Newton makes mention of the notion of gravity. Later Stukeley recalls in his book Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life: "It was occasioned by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself. Why should it not go sideways or upwards, but constantly to the Earth's centre."
Written by Debbie Smit Sunday, 12 April 2009 00:00
April 6, 1938: Chemist Roy Plunkett accidentally discovers polytetrafluoroethylene, later known as Teflon, when a canister containing tetrafluoroethylene, a gas used in refrigeration, fails to discharge. When Plunkett opened the canister up he discovered that the gas had polymerised into a smooth, slippery white powder. Teflon is used for non-stick cookware bacause it can repel substances at high temperatures. In the 1980's it lent its name to US president Ronald Reagan, who became known as the Teflon President for his uncanny ability to avoid being tarnished by the scandals that plagued his administration.
April 10, 1633: Bananas appeared on sale in Britain for the first time, exhibited in the shop window of Thomas Johnson of Snow Hill, London. According to recent archaeological evidence, the banana was first cultivated at Kuk Swamp in the Papua New Guinean highlands at least 6,500 years ago.