Science History - 2012

July 1, 2012

100 YEARS AGO: 1912

  • Hot Peppers: Wilbur Scoville invents a test to measure the hotness of peppers. The human tongue was still a much more accurate detector than any lab technique at the time, so his test measures how much a pepper has to be diluted before it can’t be tasted anymore. Your tongue can detect 1 particle of capsaicin in a million. The test has since been replaced with more precise lab techniques, but pepper heat is still often rated in Scoville units.

66 YEARS AGO: 1946

  • Happy Birthday Argonne: Argonne was chartered as the first national lab in 1946. Its mission: harness the power of the atom for peaceful energy generation. Today the lab conducts science and engineering research to solve problems in energy, environment, and national security.

50 YEARS AGO: 1962

  • A New Bond: Argonne scientists announce that they have created a compound with xenon, one of the noble and “inert” gases once thought too stable to form any compound. The creation opened a new era for the study of chemical bonds.

20 YEARS AGO: 1992

  • A Planet Far, Far Away: The first planets ever discovered in another solar system are found by astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail. The planets orbit a neutron star in the constellation Virgo, roughly 2000 light-years from our sun. Today scientists have identified more than 700 extrasolar planets.


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