Science History - 2013

September 13, 2013

100 YEARS AGO: 1913

  • Modern zipper invented: Gideon Sundback created the modern zipper in late 1913, adding the unlocking slider and the little nibs that keep the metal teeth aligned. His basic design has remained virtually unchanged a century later.

50 YEARS AGO: 1963

A banner year in physics
  • September: Construction is completed at Argonne’s new Zero Gradient Synchrotron, a proton accelerator for high energy physics. It was cutting-edge for its time, but today the Large Hadron Collider smashes protons at eight trillion electron-volts—energies more than 600 times higher!
  • December: Argonne scientist Maria Goeppert Mayer becomes the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in physics for her work on atom structure. Her discovery, a phenomenon called “spin-orbit coupling”, showed that protons and neutrons spin in their own axes while moving in a larger orbit, much like Earth rotates on its axis while spinning around the sun.

25 YEARS AGO: 1988

  • First "worm" on the Internet: Until 1988, the fledgling Internet was a friendly place, but then 21-year-old Robert Morris wrote a software “worm” that replicated itself from machine to machine—but accidentally made computers hosting it crash. A quarter century later, global cyber crimes cost more than $100 billion per year; meanwhile, Morris is now a professor at MIT.