Tour du Jour, 26 Dec 10

Ngram du Jour

Googol vs Google

Google Ngram Viewer

In about 1938, American mathematician Edward Kasner asked his 9 year old nephew Milton what would be a good name for a very large number.  Milton suggested “googol.” Kasner then used that as a name for 10 ^ 100, a very large number indeed, and popularized it in his book, Mathematics and the Imagination, from 1940, which I read and loved a dozen years later in high school. “Google” derives from “googol.”

Today in History:

1606: King Lear performed at court.

1776: Washington wins our first major victory at Trenton, just across the Delaware.

1865: First patent for a coffee percolator issued to James Mason of Massachusetts, bless his caffein-spiked heart.

1878: First electric lights in an American store are switched on, at the “Grand Depot” in Philadelphia.

1898: Marie Curie discovers radium. It took another four years to refine and isolate 1/10 of a gram of radium from about 3 tons of pitchblende.

1906: First showing of a full-length film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, in Melbourne, Australia. Only fragments survive. Of the film, not Melbourne.

1944: “Nuts” justified. Patton relieves Bastogne.

1966: The first Kwanzaa.

1973: The Exorcist opens. Pea soup market crashes.

1982: Time names the computer as “Man of the Year.” Non-humans everywhere gratified at this first recognition of their manly status.

2004: Death from the Sea: A 9.3 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra generates a tsunami which kills at least 230,000 people, one of the ten greatest human disasters of all time. Excellent summary at This Day in History

Happy Birthday to:

1791: Charles Babbage, English mathematician, pioneer in mechanical computation, father of the Difference Engine.

1891: Henry Miller.

1893: Mao Tse-tung. Skip the “happy” part.


This Day in History — — What Happened Today in History

December 24 – Today in Science History

This entry was posted in American History, Cultural Comment, Etymology, History, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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