History Schmistory: January 19. Under the Neon Lights!

1915: The Neon Tube sign is patented by Georges Claude, and later exploited by Las Vegas.
-So, you might already know that neon is one of the “noble” gases of the periodic table, which glows an orangey-red color when electrons run through it. But what about all the other colors on a typical “neon” sign? Well, sorry to say, those aren’t neon. To get shades of blue, typically argon is used with a dash of mercury. Helium can be used for a nice pink glow; xenon radiates a cool purple, while krypton yields- what? Green, you say? Nope, sorry Superman, it has more of an off-white tinge. From there, certain gases can mingle to produce colors like green and yellow, or sometimes the tubes are coated with fluorescent powders to tweak the shading. But neon typically doesn’t play nicely with others, so it’s only used to produce that one color.
(Check out Vegas Vic’s scarf. There’s your neon.)

There is another noble gas that wasn’t invited to the party: Radon. That stuff is radioactive, yo.

Modern_vegas_vic_souvenirs

Vegas Vic,By  Joe Gauder [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

History Schmistory: December 12. Is anybody out there?

1901: Guglielmo Marconi receives the first transatlantic radio signal in Newfoundland. The Message? “What kind of name is gooey elbow macaroni?”

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Guglielmo,_Marchese_Marconi._Colour_lithograph_by_Sir_L._War_Wellcome_V0003849.jpg

Leslie Ward [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

History Schmistory: December 7. “We’ve been expecting you”

1995: The Galileo spacecraft arrives at Jupiter more than six years after it was launched by Space Shuttle Atlantis. Jupiter bakes a cake.

By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

History Schmistory: November 21. News from the Prince of Patents.

1877: Thomas Edison announces his latest invention, the phonograph, the first instrument able to reproduce a recorded sound, and one of the few inventions Edison might actually deserve a little credit for.

By Levin C. Handy (per http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cwpbh.04326) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Levin C. Handy (per http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cwpbh.04326) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

History Schmistory: November 17. Not your ordinary cat toy…

1970: Douglas Engelbart successfully patents the computer mouse. His patent for computer cheese is still pending.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/SRI_Douglas_Engelbart_2008.jpg

By SRI International (SRI International) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia CommonsBy SRI International (SRI International) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

History Schmistory: November 11. Coooold-snap!

1911: Apocalyptic expectations went wild the last time we saw an 11/11/11, as The Great Blue Norther, a cold snap that produced record highs and lows on the same day, barreled through the central US, leaving much of the bewildered population with contrasting habiliments.

By Adriano Agulló [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Adriano Agulló [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

History Schmistory: November 8. Rays of Hope.

1895: Wilhelm Röntgen discovers the X-Ray almost completely by accident. And that’s when the fun began!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Historical_X-ray_nci-vol-1893-300.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Historical_X-ray_nci-vol-1893-300.jpg

History Schmistory: October 13. Speaking of Galaxies…

1773: The Whirlpool Galaxy is discovered by Charles Messier (‘s awesome telescopes.)

By NASA and European Space Agency [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By NASA and European Space Agency [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

History Schmistory: October 10. What about Spaceland Security?

1967: The Outer Space Treaty, signed by over sixty nations including the US, the UK and the Soviet Union, becomes official. It serves as a binding promise to keep space open for everyone to explore, and to not use it to store and/or fire weapons of mass destruction. Many feel the agreement only makes it easier for outside forces to take advantage of the opportunity.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/Astronaut-EVA.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/Astronaut-EVA.jpg

A Name You Should Know: George Owen Squier

As an executive officer of the US Signal Corps, George Owen Squier helped the Wright brothers with their first airplane, and was even its first passenger. From there, he secured the first purchase of US military planes, launching a new ‘Aeronautical Division’ for which he was Major General during WWI. But that’s not even the coolest thing he’s done. George was also a wizard with electricity and radio technology, holding over 60 patents to his name. He invented multiplexing, which allows multiple signals to be transferred at once through a single wire, paving the way for new possibilities in telecommunication. He invented wired radio, or as he called it, “wired wireless”, as a replacement for the unreliable home radios of the era. Though it never became a household commodity in his time, (any of us with cable TV certainly owe him a tip o’ the hat) George wasn’t deterred by this minor setback. Instead he convinced businesses that piping music through their establishments would increase sales and productivity. He was right. Soon businesses across the US were playing music not through a single radio in the corner, but in several locations throughout their sotres and workshops, thanks to wired radio. His name for this new technology?

 

Muzak! That’s right, George Owen Squier is responsible for that cheesified version of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road you can never seem to get out of your head… Well he was still pretty awesome.

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