Today in Hazmat History – June 21

Hazmat History

By Richard T. Cartwright, PE, CHMM, (IHMM, AHMP and APICS) Fellow

The saying, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” is more than a cliché. It is a reminder that we must constantly be learning from the past. Here’s a look back at major historical events that happened today in the world of hazardous materials.

June 21, 1961

The first practical plant to convert seawater to drinking water was dedicated in Freeport, Texas. It could produce 1 million gallons of water. The large-scale evaporation method used then has now been replaced by reverse osmosis as scientific advances have produced special polymers suitable for use as filtering membranes.

June 21, 1834

Cyrus McCormick, American inventor, patented the first practical mechanical reaper. His invention allowed farmers to more than double their crop size. McCormick Harvesting Machine Company later became International Harvester Company.

June 21, 1808

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, French chemist, isolated the element boron. English chemist Humphry Davy also independently separated boron nine days later.

June 21, 1781

Siméon-Denis Poisson, French mathematician, was born. He is best known for his work on definite integrals, advances in Fourier series, electromagnetic theory and probability. The Poisson distribution describes the probability that a random event will occur in a time or space interval under the conditions that the probability of the event occurring is very small, but the number of trials is very large so that the event actually occurs a few times. His legacy includes the Poisson integral, the Poisson equation in potential theory, the Poisson brackets in differential equations, the Poisson ratio in elasticity and the Poisson constant in electricity.

June 21, 1633

Galileo Galilei, Tuscan astronomer, philosopher and physicist was forced by the Inquisition to “abjure, curse and detest” his Copernican sun-centered (heliocentric) view of the solar system. Although Galileo was a practicing Catholic, his writings on Copernican heliocentrism disturbed some in the Church who believed only in an earth-centered (geocentric) model of our solar system. Galileo is known as the father of modern astronomy, the father of modern physics and the father of the scientific method. The good news is that on October 31, 1992, the Vatican admitted it was wrong.

Historical hazardous materials management events are posted 365 days a year at this LinkedIn discussion group.

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