1807 – Nicéphore Niépce is awarded a patent by Napoleon for the Pyréolophore, the world’s first internal combustion engine, after it successfully powered a boat upstream on the river Saône in France.
Nicéphore Niépce (born Joseph Niépce; 7 March 1765 – 5 July 1833) was a French inventor, now usually credited as the inventor of photography and a pioneer in that field. Niépce developed heliography, a technique he used to create the world’s oldest surviving product of a photographic process: a print made from a photoengraved printing plate in 1825. In 1826 or 1827, he used a primitive camera to produce the oldest surviving photograph of a real-world scene. Among Niépce’s other inventions was the Pyréolophore, the world’s first internal combustion engine, which he conceived, created, and developed with his older brother Claude.
Niépce was born in Chalon-sur-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, where his father was a wealthy lawyer; this caused the whole family to flee the French Revolution. His older brother Claude (1763–1828) was also his collaborator in research and invention, but died half-mad and destitute in England, having squandered the family wealth in pursuit of non-opportunities for the Pyréolophore. Niepce also had a sister and a younger brother, Bernard.
Nicéphore was baptized Joseph but adopted the name Nicéphore, in honour of Saint Nicephorus the ninth-century Patriarch of Constantinople, while studying at the Oratorian college in Angers. At the college he learned science and the experimental method, rapidly achieving success and graduating to work as a professor of the college.
Niépce served as a staff officer in the French army under Napoleon, spending a number of years in Italy and on the island of Sardinia, but ill health forced him to resign, whereupon he married Agnes Romero and became the Administrator of the district of Nice in post-revolutionary France. In 1795, Niepce resigned as administrator of Nice to pursue scientific research with his brother Claude. One source reports his resignation to have been forced due to his unpopularity.
In 1801 the brothers returned to the family’s estates in Chalon to continue their scientific research, and where they were united with their mother, their sister and their younger brother Bernard. Here they managed the family estate as independently wealthy gentlemen-farmers, raising beets and producing sugar.
In 1827 Niépce journeyed to England to visit his seriously ill elder brother Claude, who was now living in Kew, near London. Claude had descended into delirium and squandered much of the family fortune chasing inappropriate business opportunities for the Pyréolophore.
Nicéphore Niépce died of a stroke on 5 July 1833, financially ruined by the semi-delirious spending of Claude such that his grave in the cemetery of Saint-Loup de Varennes was financed by the municipality. The cemetery is near the family house where he had experimented and had made the world’s first photographic image.
His son Isidore (1805–68) formed a partnership with Daguerre after his father’s death and was granted a government pension in 1839 in return for disclosing the technical details of Nicéphore’s heliogravure process.
A cousin, Claude Félix Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor (1805–70), was a chemist and was the first to use albumen in photography. He also produced photographic engravings on steel. During 1857–1861, he discovered that uranium salts emit a form of radiation that is invisible to the human eye.
1848 – The first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, a two-day event, concludes.
The Seneca Falls Convention was the first women’s rights convention. It advertised itself as “a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman”. Held in Seneca Falls, New York, it spanned two days over July 19–20, 1848. Attracting widespread attention, it was soon followed by other women’s rights conventions, including the Rochester Women’s Rights Convention in Rochester, New York, two weeks later. In 1850 the first in a series of annual National Women’s Rights Conventions met in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Female Quakers local to the area organized the meeting along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was not a Quaker. They planned the event during a visit to the area by Philadelphia-based Lucretia Mott. Mott, a Quaker, was famous for her oratorical ability, which was rare for non-Quaker women during an era in which women were often not allowed to speak in public.
The meeting comprised six sessions including a lecture on law, a humorous presentation, and multiple discussions about the role of women in society. Stanton and the Quaker women presented two prepared documents, the Declaration of Sentiments and an accompanying list of resolutions, to be debated and modified before being put forward for signatures. A heated debate sprang up regarding women’s right to vote, with many – including Mott – urging the removal of this concept, but Frederick Douglass, who was the convention’s sole African American attendee, argued eloquently for its inclusion, and the suffrage resolution was retained. Exactly 100 of approximately 300 attendees signed the document, mostly women.
The convention was seen by some of its contemporaries, including featured speaker Mott, as one important step among many others in the continuing effort by women to gain for themselves a greater proportion of social, civil and moral rights, while it was viewed by others as a revolutionary beginning to the struggle by women for complete equality with men. Stanton considered the Seneca Falls Convention to be the beginning of the women’s rights movement, an opinion that was echoed in the History of Woman Suffrage, which Stanton co-wrote.
The convention’s Declaration of Sentiments became “the single most important factor in spreading news of the women’s rights movement around the country in 1848 and into the future”, according to Judith Wellman, a historian of the convention. By the time of the National Women’s Rights Convention of 1851, the issue of women’s right to vote had become a central tenet of the United States women’s rights movement. These conventions became annual events until the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861.
1890 – Julie Vinter Hansen, Danish-Swiss astronomer and academic (d. 1960)
Julie Marie Vinter Hansen (20 July 1890 – 27 July 1960) was a Danish astronomer.
Vinter Hansen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark.
While studying at the University of Copenhagen, she was appointed a computer at the University’s observatory in 1915. In the pre-electronic era, computers were humans that worked doing hand calculations at the direction of astronomers. She was the first woman to hold an appointment at the University. She was later appointed observatory assistant and, in 1922, observer.
Editor of Nordic Astronomy Review
She was a very energetic worker, who, along with her normal work of observing and performing mathematical reductions of observations took on the task of editing the Nordisk Astronomisk Tidsskrift (Nordic Astronomy Review).
International Astronomical Union
She later became Director of the International Astronomical Union’s telegram bureau and Editor of its Circulars.
Work as Astronomer at University of Copenhagen
By 1939, Vinter Hansen was the First Astronomer at the Observatory of the University of Copenhagen, widely known for her accurate computation of orbits of minor planets and comets.
Tagea Brandt Rejselegat Award
In that 1939 she received the Tagea Brandt Rejselegat (travel award), given to women that have made big contributions on arts or science. With the award money (DKK 10.000 or 160,000 of actual US $) undertook a tour through the United States to Japan and back. On her return trip in 1940, the outbreak of World War II restricted her homeward journey.
Work in University of California
She was awarded a Martin Kellogg Fellowship at the University of California which allowed her to work for a time in the United States. Also in 1940 she was awarded the Annie J. Cannon Award in Astronomy.
Return to Denmark
Vinter Hansen was appointed to a knight in the Order of the Dannebrog in 1956 and continued her career at the University of Copenhagen until 1960.
Julie Vinter Hansen died in 1960, from a heart-failure just days before her retirement, in her beloved vacation destination, the Swiss mountain village of Mürren, and was buried in Copenhagen. The minor planet 1544 Vinterhansenia, discovered by Finnish astronomer Liisi Oterma in the 1940s, was named in her honour.
Tagea Brandt Rejselegat Award.
Martin Kellogg Fellowship
Knight in the Order of the Dannebrog
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