On this day:
1791 – Congress passes a law admitting the state of Vermont to the Union, effective 4 March 1791, after that state had existed for 14 years as a de facto independent largely unrecognized state. Admission to the Union
Admission to the Union
Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the eastern town of Windsor for 14 years. The independent state of Vermont issued its own coinage from 1785 to 1788 and operated a statewide postal service. Thomas Chittenden was the Governor in 1778–89 and in 1790–91.
Because the state of New York continued to assert a disputed claim that Vermont was a part of New York, Vermont could not be admitted to the Union under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution until the legislature of New York consented. On March 6, 1790, the legislature made its consent contingent upon a negotiated agreement on the precise boundary between the two states. When commissioners from New York and Vermont met to decide on the boundary, Vermont’s negotiators insisted on also settling the property ownership disputes with New Yorkers, rather than leaving that to be decided later in a federal court. The negotiations were successfully concluded in October 1790 with an agreement that Vermont would pay $30,000 to New York to be distributed among New Yorkers who claimed land in Vermont under New York land patents. In January 1791, a convention in Vermont voted 105–4 to petition Congress to become a state in the federal union. Congress acted on February 18, 1791 to admit Vermont to the Union as the 14th state as of March 4, 1791. Vermont became the first to enter the Union after the original 13 states.
1911 – The first official flight with airmail takes place from Allahabad, United Provinces, British India (now India), when Henri Pequet, a 23-year-old pilot, delivers 6,500 letters to Naini, about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away.
Starting in 1903 the introduction of the airplane generated immediate interest in using them for mail transport. An unofficial airmail flight was conducted by Fred Wiseman, who carried three letters between Petaluma and Santa Rosa, California, on February 17, 1911.
Allahabad cover flown on the world’s first aerial post in 1911
The world’s first official airmail flight came the next day, at a large exhibition in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, British India. The organizer of the aviation display, Sir Walter Windham, was able to secure permission from the postmaster general in India to operate an airmail service in order to generate publicity for the exhibition and to raise money for charity. Mail from people across the region was gathered in at Holy Trinity Church and the first airmail flight was piloted by Henri Pequet, who flew 6,500 letters a distance of 13 km (8.1 mi) from Allahabad to Naini – the nearest station on the Bombay-Calcutta line to the exhibition. The letters bore an official frank “First Aerial Post, U.P. Exhibition, Allahabad. 1911”. The aircraft used was a Humber-Sommer biplane, and it made the journey in thirteen minutes.
The first official American airmail delivery was made on September 23, 1911 by pilot Earle Ovington under the authority of the United States Post Office Department. The first official air mail in Australia was carried by French pilot Maurice Guillaux. On July 16–18, 1914, he flew his Blériot XI aircraft from Melbourne to Sydney, a distance of 584 miles (940 km), carrying 1785 specially printed postcards, some Lipton’s Tea and some O.T. Lemon juice. At the time, this was the longest such flight in the world.
Henri Pequet (1 February 1888 – 13 March 1974) was a pilot in the first official airmail flight on February 18, 1911. The 23-year-old Frenchman, in India for an airshow, delivered about 6,500 letters when he flew from Allahabad Airport to Naini, about 10 kilometers away. He flew a Humber-Sommer biplane with about fifty horsepower (37 kW), and made the journey in thirteen minutes.
The letters were marked “First Aerial Post, U.P. Exhibition Allahabad 1911.”
1972 – The California Supreme Court in the case of People v. Anderson, (6 Cal.3d 628) invalidates the state’s death penalty and commutes the sentences of all death row inmates to life imprisonment.
The People of the State of California v. Robert Page Anderson, 493 P.2d 880, 6 Cal. 3d 628 (Cal. 1972), was a landmark case in the state of California that outlawed the use of capital punishment. It was subsequently overruled by a state constitutional amendment, called Proposition 17.
The case was an automatic appeal to the court under California Penal Code § 1239b, which provides that in the case of a death sentence, the case is automatically appealed to the State Supreme Court.
Robert Page Anderson was convicted of first degree murder, attempted murder of three men, and first degree robbery. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the lower court in People v. Anderson 64 Cal.2d 633 [51 Cal.Rptr. 238, 414 P.2d 366] (1966), but reversed its decision with respect to the sentence of the death penalty In re Anderson, 69 Cal.2d 613 (1968) following the landmark case, Witherspoon v. Illinois (1968), which decided that it is illegal to remove as challenges for cause a juror who simply disagrees with the death penalty, unless the juror adamantly would not follow the law under any circumstances. The case was retried on the issue of the defendant’s penalty, and the jury again returned a verdict of death.
Anderson’s sentence was later commuted, and, in 1976, he was paroled and moved to Seattle.
People v. Anderson (1968)
People v. Anderson, 70 Cal.2d 15, 447 P.2d 942 (1968), is a California criminal case involving evidentiary criteria for the element of premeditation in a first degree murder prosecution, to be sufficient to go to the jury. The case sets forth three categories of evidentiary factors necessary for evidence to be sufficient to support a jury verdict of first degree murder.
The underlying case involved a man drinking, stripping the clothes off of the 10-year-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend, then stabbing the child 60 times, including after she was already dead. A question on appeal was as to whether there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find the element of premeditation.
The court wrote:
The type of evidence which this court has found sufficient to sustain a finding of premeditation and deliberation falls into three categories: (1) facts about how and what defendant did prior to the actual killing which show that the defendant was engaged in activity directed toward, and explicable as intended to result in, the killing – what may be considered as ‘planning’ activity; (2) facts about the defendant’s prior relationship and/or conduct with the victim from which the jury could reasonably infer a ‘motive’ to kill the victim, which inference of motive, together with facts of type (1) or (3), would in turn support an inference that the killing was the result of a ‘pre-existing reflection’ and ‘careful thought and weighing of considerations’ rather than ‘mere unconsidered rash impulse hastily executed’ (People v. Thomas, 25 Cal. 2d 880), (3) facts about the nature of killing from which the jury could infer that the manner of killing was so particular and exacting that the defendant must have intentionally killed according to a ‘preconceived design’ to take his victim’s life in a particular way for a ‘reason’ which the jury can reasonably infer from facts of type (1) or (2).
Analysis of the cases will show that this court sustains verdicts of first degree murder typically when there is evidence of all three types and otherwise requires at least extremely strong evidence of (1) or evidence of (2) in conjunction with either (1) or (3). [70 Cal. 3d at 27].”
Born on this day:
1745 – Alessandro Volta, Italian physicist, invented the battery (d. 1827)
Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (Italian pronunciation: [alesˈsandro ˈvɔlta]; 18 February 1745 – 5 March 1827) was an Italian physicist, chemist, and a pioneer of electricity and power, who is credited as the inventor of the electrical battery and the discoverer of methane. He invented the Voltaic pile in 1799, and reported the results of his experiments in 1800 in a two-part letter to the President of the Royal Society. With this invention Volta proved that electricity could be generated chemically and debunked the prevalent theory that electricity was generated solely by living beings. Volta’s invention sparked a great amount of scientific excitement and led others to conduct similar experiments which eventually led to the development of the field of electrochemistry.
Alessandro Volta also drew admiration from Napoleon Bonaparte for his invention, and was invited to the Institute of France to demonstrate his invention to the members of the Institute. Volta enjoyed a certain amount of closeness with the Emperor throughout his life and he was conferred numerous honours by him. Alessandro Volta held the chair of experimental physics at the University of Pavia for nearly 40 years and was widely idolised by his students.
Despite his professional success, Volta tended to be a person inclined towards domestic life and this was more apparent in his later years. At this time he tended to live secluded from public life and more for the sake of his family until his eventual death in 1827 from a series of illnesses which began in 1823. The SI unit of electric potential is named in his honour as the volt.
1838 – Ernst Mach, Austrian physicist and philosopher (d. 1916)
Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach (/ˈmɑːx/; German: [ˈɛɐ̯nst maχ]; 18 February 1838 – 19 February 1916) was an Austrian physicist and philosopher, noted for his contributions to physics such as study of shock waves. The ratio of one’s speed to that of sound is named the Mach number in his honor. As a philosopher of science, he was a major influence on logical positivism, American pragmatism and through his criticism of Newton’s theories of space and time, foreshadowing Einstein’s theory of relativity.
In 1898 Mach suffered from cardiac arrest and in 1901 retired from the University of Vienna and was appointed to the upper chamber of the Austrian parliament. On leaving Vienna in 1913 he moved to his son’s home in Vaterstetten, near Munich, where he continued writing and corresponding until his death in 1916, only one day after his 78th birthday. His current living descendant is Marilyn vos Savant ((her father was Joseph Mach).
Ernst Mach’s historic 1887 photograph (shadowgraph) of a bow shockwave around a supersonic bullet
Most of Mach’s initial studies in the field of experimental physics concentrated on the interference, diffraction, polarization and refraction of light in different media under external influences. From there followed important explorations in the field of supersonic fluid mechanics. Mach and physicist-photographer Peter Salcher presented their paper on this subject  in 1887; it correctly describes the sound effects observed during the supersonic motion of a projectile. They deduced and experimentally confirmed the existence of a shock wave which of conical shape, with the projectile at the apex. The ratio of the speed of a fluid to the local speed of sound vp/vs is now called the Mach number. It is a critical parameter in the description of high-speed fluid movement in aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. Mach also contributed to cosmology the hypothesis known as Mach’s principle.
Marilyn vos Savant (/ˌvɒs səˈvɑːnt/; born August 11, 1946) is an American who is known for having the highest recorded IQ according to the Guinness Book of Records, a competitive category the publication has since retired. Savant is a magazine columnist, author, lecturer, and playwright. Since 1986, she has written “Ask Marilyn”, a Parade magazine Sunday column where she solves puzzles and answers questions on various subjects, the most famous of them was the Monty Hall problem which she answered correctly in 1990.
1871 – Harry Brearley, English inventor (d. 1948)
Harry Brearley (18 February 1871 – 14 July 1948) was an English metallurgist, usually credited with the invention of “rustless steel” (later to be called “stainless steel” in the anglophone world).
In the troubled years immediately before World War I, arms manufacturing increased significantly in the UK, but practical problems were encountered due to erosion (excessive wear) of the internal surfaces of gun barrels. Brearley began to research new steels which could better resist the erosion caused by high temperatures (rather than corrosion, as is often mentioned in this regard). He began to examine the addition of chromium to steel, which was known to raise the material’s melting point, as compared to the standard carbon steels.
The research concentrated on quantifying the effects of varying the levels of carbon (C, at concentrations around 0.2 weight %) and chromium (Cr, in the range of 6 to 15 weight %).
The accidental discovery
Announcement of Brearley’s stainless steel discovery as it appeared in the 1915 New York Times.
In order to undertake metallography to study the microstructure of the experimental alloys (the main factor responsible for a steel’s mechanical properties) it was necessary to polish and etch the metallic samples produced. For a carbon steel, a dilute solution of nitric acid in alcohol is sufficient to produce the required etching, but Brearley found that the new chromium steels were very resistant to chemical attack.
It was probably Harry Brearley’s upbringing in Sheffield, a city famous for the manufacture of cutlery since the 16th century, which led him to appreciate the potential of these new steels for applications not only in high-temperature service, as originally envisioned, but also in the mass-production of food-related applications such as cutlery, saucepans and processing equipment etc. Up to that time carbon-steel knives were prone to unhygienic rusting if they were not frequently polished and only expensive sterling silver or EPNS cutlery was generally available to avoid such problems. With this in mind Brearley extended his examinations to include tests with food acids such as vinegar and lemon juice, with very promising results.
Brearley initially called the new alloy “rustless steel”; the more euphonic “stainless steel” was suggested by Ernest Stuart of R.F. Mosley’s, a local cutlery manufacturer at Portland Works, and eventually prevailed although Mosley’s used the “Rusnorstain” trademark for many years. It is reported that the first true stainless steel, a 0.24wt% C, 12.8wt% Cr ferrous alloy, was produced by Brearley in an electric furnace on 13 August 1913. He was subsequently awarded the Iron and Steel Institute’s Bessemer Gold Medal in 1920. The American Society for Metals gives the date for Brearley’s creation of casting number 1008 (12.8% chromium, 0.44% manganese, 0.2% silicon, 0.24% carbon and 85.32% iron) as 20 August 1913.
Virtually all research projects into the further development of stainless steels were interrupted by the 1914–18 War, but efforts were renewed in the 1920s. Brearley had left the Brown Firth Laboratories in 1915, following disagreements regarding patent rights, but the research continued under the direction of his successor, Dr. W. H. Hatfield. It is Hatfield who is credited with the development, in 1924, of a stainless steel which even today is probably the widest-used alloy of this type, the so-called “18/8”, which in addition to chromium, includes nickel (Ni) in its composition (18wt% Cr, 8wt% Ni).