On this day:
1939 – The erroneous word “dord” is discovered in the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, prompting an investigation
The word dord is a notable error in lexicography, an accidental creation, or ghost word, of the G. and C. Merriam Company’s staff in the second (1934) edition of its New International Dictionary, in which the term is defined as “density”.
Philip Babcock Gove, an editor at Merriam-Webster who became editor-in-chief of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, wrote a letter to the journal American Speech, fifteen years after the error was caught, in which he explained why “dord” was included in that dictionary.
On July 31, 1931, Austin M. Patterson, Webster’s chemistry editor, sent in a slip reading “D or d, cont./density.” This was intended to add “density” to the existing list of words that the letter “D” can abbreviate. The slip somehow went astray, and the phrase “D or d” was misinterpreted as a single, run-together word: Dord (This was a plausible mistake because headwords on slips were typed with spaces between the letters, making “D or d” look very much like “D o r d”). A new slip was prepared for the printer and a part of speech assigned along with a pronunciation. The would-be word got past proofreaders and appeared on page 771 of the dictionary around 1934.
On February 28, 1939, an editor noticed “dord” lacked an etymology and investigated. Soon an order was sent to the printer marked “plate change/imperative/urgent”. In 1940, bound books began appearing without the ghost word but with a new abbreviation (although inspection of printed copies well into the 1940s show “dord” still present). The non-word “dord” was excised, and the definition of the adjacent entry “Doré furnace” was expanded from “A furnace for refining dore bullion” to “a furnace in which dore bullion is refined” to close up the space. Gove wrote that this was “probably too bad, for why shouldn’t dord mean ‘density’?” The entry “dord” was not removed until 1947.
Born on this day:
1896 – Philip Showalter Hench, American physician and endocrinologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
Philip Showalter Hench (February 28, 1896 – March 30, 1965) was an American physician. Hench, along with his Mayo Clinic co-worker Edward Calvin Kendall and Swiss chemist Tadeus Reichstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1950 for the discovery of the hormone cortisone, and its application for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The Nobel Committee bestowed the award for the trio’s “discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects.”
Hench received his undergraduate education at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, and received his medical training at the United States Army Medical Corps and the University of Pittsburgh. He began working at Mayo Clinic in 1923, later serving as the head of the Department of Rheumatology. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Hench received many other awards and honors throughout his career. He also had a lifelong interest in the history and discovery of yellow fever.
Early life and education
He attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in 1916. After serving in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army and the reserve corps to finish his medical training, he was awarded a doctorate in medicine from the University of Pittsburgh in 1920. Immediately after finishing his medical degree, Hench spent a year as an intern at St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh, and then he subsequently became a Fellow of the Mayo Foundation.
In 1928 and 1929, Hench furthered his education at Freiburg University and the von Müller Clinic in Munich.
Hench started his career at Mayo Clinic in 1923, working in the Department of Rheumatic Diseases. In 1926, he became the head of the department. While at Mayo Clinic, Hench focused his work on arthritic diseases, where his observations led him to hypothesize that steroids alleviated pain associated with the disease. During this same time, biochemist Edward Calvin Kendall has isolated several steroids from the adrenal gland cortex. After several years of work, the duo decided to try one of these steroids (dubbed Compound E at the time, later to become known as cortisone) on patients afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis. Testing of the hypothesis was delayed because the synthesis of Compound E was costly and time-consuming, and Hench served in the military during World War II. The tests were conducted successfully in 1948 and 1949.
Hench, Kendall and Swiss chemist Tadeus Reichstein were awarded the 1950 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects.” As of the 2010 prizes, Hench and Kendall are the only two Nobel laureates affiliated with Mayo Clinic. Hench’s Nobel Lecture was directly related to the research he was honored for, and titled “The Reversibility of Certain Rheumatic and Non-Rheumatic Conditions by the Use of Cortisone Or of the Pituitary Adrenocorticotropic Hormone”. His speech at the banquet during the award ceremony acknowledged the connections between the study of medicine and chemistry, saying of his co-winners “Perhaps the ratio of one physician to two chemists is symbolic, since medicine is so firmly linked to chemistry by a double bond.”
During his career, Hench was one of the founding members of the American Rheumatism Association, and served as its president in 1940 and 1941. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Hench has been awarded the Heberdeen Medal (1942), the Lasker Award (1949), the Passano Foundation Award (1950), and the Criss Award. Lafayette College, Washington and Jefferson College, Western Reserve University, the National University of Ireland and the University of Pittsburgh awarded Hench honorary doctorates.
In addition to his work with cortisone, Hench had a career long interest in yellow fever. Starting in 1937, Hench began to document the history behind the discovery of yellow fever. His collection of documents on this subject are at the University of Virginia in the Philip S. Hench Walter Reed Yellow Fever Collection. His wife donated the collection to the university after his death.
Hench married Mary Kahler in 1927. His father-in-law, John Henry Kahler, was a friend of Mayo Clinic founder William J. Mayo. Hench and his wife had four children, two daughters and two sons. His son, Philip Kahler Hench also studied rheumatology. Hench died of pneumonia while on vacation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in 1965.
1929 – Rangaswamy Srinivasan, Indian-American physical chemist and inventor
Rangaswamy Srinivasan (born February 28, 1929, Madras, India) is a physical chemist and inventor with a 30-year career at IBM Research. He has developed techniques for ablative photodecomposition and used them to contribute to the development of LASIK eye surgery. He received the National Medal of Technology from President Obama on February 2, 2013 for his contributions to laser eye surgery.
Srinivasan was born in India on February 28, 1929. Srinivasan received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science from the University of Madras, in 1949 and 1950. In 1953 he moved to the United States to attend graduate school. He earned a doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Southern California in 1956, studying protein chemistry with chemical kineticist Sidney W. Benson. He held postdoctoral positions at the California Institute of Technology in 1956, and at the University of Rochester from 1957 to 1961.
Srinivasan has spent a thirty-year career, from 1961 to 1990, at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. He joined the research staff in 1961, and was promoted to “manager of fundamental photochemical research” in 1963. His research group has studied ultraviolet light and its effects on organic matter.
In 1981, Srinivasan and his coworkers determined that an ultraviolet excimer laser could be used to etch designs into polymers. The technique has since been used in the computer industry to drill polymers to create computer circuit boards and ink jet printer nozzles.
Srinivasan, physicist James J. Wynne and materials scientist Samuel Blum speculated that it might also be possible to use excimer lasers on living tissue. On November 27, 1981, Srinivasan experimented with the remains of his family’s Thanksgiving turkey, and proved that it was possible to create precisely-etched patterns. An ultraviolet excimer laser pulsed at 193 nm was able to etch living tissue precisely without causing any thermal damage to surrounding area. Srinivasan named the technique Ablative Photodecomposition (APD), a type of Laser ablation.
In 1983, ophthalmic surgeon Stephen Trokel approached Srinivasan about the possibility of using APD for surgery of the cornea. The collaboration of Srinivasan, Trokel, and Bodil Braren led to development of LASIK eye surgery, a technique for reshaping the cornea to correct visual issues such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. In 1995, a commercial system for laser refractive surgery was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Srinivasan has published over 130 scientific papers and holds at least 22 US patents. A patent application filed by Stephen Trokel in 1992, claiming a LASIK surgery technique as his sole invention, was declared invalid in 2000 by an International Trade Commission ruling that found that Srinivasan should have been included as a co-author.
In 1990, Srinivasan formed a consulting company, UVTech Associates.
External video Excimer-Laser-MEL80.jpg
2013 Russ Prize, Ohio University
In 1997, Srinivasan was awarded the American Chemical Society’s Award for Creative Invention, and the ACS North East Section’s Esselen Medal.
In 1998, Srinivasan was awarded the Max Delbruck Prize in Biological Physics by the American Physical Society.
In 1999, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
In 2002, he was inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame.
In 2004, he received the Prize for Industrial Applications of Physics from the American Institute of Physics.
In 2011, Srinivasan, Wynne, and Blum received the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize from Ohio University and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for their work, “a bioengineering achievement that significantly improves the human condition.”
In 2012, Srinivasan, Wynne, and Blum were named as recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The award was presented on February 1, 2013 by President Barack Obama, to acknowledge their work with the Excimer laser, leading to the development of LASIK Surgery.
Farewell: Joseph Albert Wapner (November 15, 1919 – February 26, 2017)
Joseph Albert Wapner (November 15, 1919 – February 26, 2017) was an American judge and television personality. He was the first star of the ongoing reality courtroom series The People’s Court. The court show’s first run in syndication, with Wapner presiding as judge, lasted from 1981 to 1993, for 12 seasons and 2,484 episodes. While the show’s second run has been presided over by multiple judges, Wapner was the sole judge to preside during the court show’s first run.
Wapner’s tenure on the program made him the first jurist of arbitration-based reality court shows, what is now a most popular trend in the judicial genre. Until the summer of 2013, Wapner also held the title of longest reigning arbiter over The People’s Court. However, by completion of the court show’s 2012–2013 season, Marilyn Milian captured this title from him and became the longest-reigning judge over the series. Five years after presiding over The People’s Court, Wapner returned to television as a judge on the nontraditional courtroom series, Judge Wapner’s Animal Court, lasting for two seasons (1998–1999 and 1999–2000).