On This Day
1306 – In front of the high altar of Greyfriar’s Church in Dumfries, Robert the Bruce murders John Comyn sparking revolution in the Wars of Scottish Independence
The Wars of Scottish Independence were a series of military campaigns fought between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.
The First War (1296–1328) began with the English invasion of Scotland in 1296, and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328. The Second War (1332–1357) began with the English-supported invasion by Edward Balliol and the “Disinherited” in 1332, and ended in 1357 with the signing of the Treaty of Berwick. The wars were part of a great crisis for Scotland and the period became one of the most defining times in its history. At the end of both wars, Scotland retained its status as an independent state. The wars were important for other reasons, such as the emergence of the longbow as a key weapon in medieval warfare.
Born On This Day
1902 – Walter Houser Brattain, Chinese-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1987)
Walter Houser Brattain (/ˈbrætən/; February 10, 1902 – October 13, 1987) was an American physicist at Bell Labs who, along with fellow scientists John Bardeen and William Shockley, invented the point-contact transistor in December 1947. They shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for their invention. Brattain devoted much of his life to research on surface states.
Walter Brattain was born in Xiamen, Fujian, China, to American parents Ross R. Brattain and Ottilie Houser Brattain. Ross R. Brattain was a teacher at the Ting-Wen Institute,:11 a private school for Chinese boys. Both parents were graduates of Whitman College;:71 Ottilie Houser Brattain was a gifted mathematician. Ottilie and baby Walter returned to the United States in 1903, followed by Ross.:12 The family lived for several years in Spokane, Washington, then settled on a cattle ranch near Tonasket, Washington in 1911.:12:71
Brattain attended high school in Washington, spending one year at Queen Anne High School in Seattle, two years at Tonasket High School, and one year at Moran School for Boys on Bainbridge Island. Brattain then attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where he studied with Benjamin H. Brown (physics) and Walter A. Bratton (mathematics). Brattain earned a bachelor’s degree from Whitman College in 1924, with a double major in physics and mathematics. Brattain and his classmates Walker Bleakney, Vladimir Rojansky and E. John Workman were later known as “the four horsemen of physics” because all went on to distinguished careers.:71 Brattain’s brother Robert, who followed him at Whitman College, also became a physicist.:71
Brattain earned a Master of Arts from the University of Oregon in Eugene in 1926, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1929. At Minnesota, Brattain had the opportunity to study the new field of quantum mechanics under John Hasbrouck Van Vleck. His thesis, supervised by John T. Tate, was Efficiency of Excitation by Electron Impact and Anomalous Scattering in Mercury Vapor.:72
Walter Brattain married twice. His first wife was chemist Keren Gilmore. They married in 1935 and had a son, William G. Brattain, in 1943. Keren Gilmore Brattain died April 10, 1957. Walter Brattain married Mrs. Emma Jane (Kirsch) Miller, who already had three children, in 1958.
He moved to Seattle, Washington, in the 1970s where he lived until his death. He died on October 13, 1987, in a nursing home in Seattle from Alzheimer’s Disease. He is buried in Pomeroy City Cemetery, Garfield County, Washington, USA.
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