Browsing: Science & Technology

A Brief History On December 10, 2013, Mary Barra became the first woman appointed head of an automobile company when she became CEO of General Motors Corporation.  GM is a giant company with a convoluted bureaucracy that has taken it from being the biggest, most important company in the world to being a blundering corporate joke that needed a government bailout to survive. Digging Deeper From 1931 to 2007, GM led the world in auto sales.  In the meantime, Toyota of Japan has dethroned GM as the biggest producer of motor vehicles.  GM is still right near the top though, but its market…

A Brief History On December 9, 1979, history was made when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the smallpox virus in nature had been made extinct.  Only samples in labs for scientific purposes remained. Digging Deeper Smallpox is the first and so far only (major) human disease to be totally eradicated by the efforts of human science and medicine.   A terrible disease, smallpox may have first shown up in humans anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 years ago and regularly killed millions of people each year.  Many historical figures died of the disease, and the mummy of the Pharaoh Ramses V of Egypt even…

A Brief History On December 5, 1952, the people of London, England found out the hard way that smog is no joke.  Air pollution, cold weather, fog, lack of wind and a phenomenon known as an anticyclone combined in such a manner that huge quantities of smoke from factories and furnaces, largely from the burning of coal, was left lingering over the city. Digging Deeper The noxious smoke, at first believed to not be dangerous, even penetrated buildings, causing people respiratory distress.  Londoners called the episode, which lasted until December 9 when the weather finally cleared, “The Great Smog of 1952,” or…

A Brief History On December 21, 1898, the chemical element radium (Ra) was discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie who had isolated it from uranium. Digging Deeper When radium decays, it produces ionizing radiation that causes radioluminescence, in other words, it glows in the dark.  This characteristic led to the use of radium-laced paint for measuring devices such as watches, clocks, aircraft switches and instrument dials, so that they could be used at night.  Due to their smaller hands being able to do extra fine craftsmanship, women were employed by factories to apply the self-luminous paint to the aforementioned products.  The women would routinely…

A Brief History On November 23, 1992, society took another giant step forward with the introduction of the IBM Simon Personal Communicator, the world’s first “smart phone.”   In 1994 and 1995, IBM sold 50,000 of these handheld mobile devices that combined a touchscreen cellular phone with a personal digital assistant (PDA). Digging Deeper Are you too young to remember a time without cell phones?  If you are, then this will not seem like such a big deal, but in reality, the first smart phone was an enormous leap toward what is so common today that it is taken for granted.  Like many so-called…

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