Today in Hazmat History – May 24

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.

May 24, 1883

The Brooklyn Bridge opened after 13 years and 27 deaths while under construction. Airtight underwater chambers called caissons were used to construct the foundations. Many of the laborers who worked in these dangerous conditions succumbed to what was then called caisson disease. With its unprecedented length and two stately towers, it was a breakthrough in suspension-bridge technology and was dubbed the “eighth wonder of the world.”

May 24, 1844

Samuel Morse inaugurated America’s telegraph industry by tapping out a Morse Code message that read, “What hath God wrought!” It was sent from Washington, DC to Baltimore, Md.

May 24, 1686

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, German physicist and scientific instruments maker, was born. He is best known for inventing alcohol and mercury thermometers and for developing the Fahrenheit temperature scale. He discovered that water could remain a liquid below its freezing point and that liquid’s boiling point varied with atmospheric pressure.

May 24, 1544

English scientist William Gilbert was born. He is best known as the father of electrical studies. He coined the names of electric attraction, electric force and magnetic pole. Noting that a compass needle not only points north and south, but also dips downward, he thought Earth acts like a bar magnet. Like Copernicus, he believed the Earth rotated on its axis and that the “fixed stars” were not all the same distance from Earth. Gilbert thought it was a form of magnetism that held planets in their orbits.

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

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