Calendar Of Science

Every month, Pacific Science Center publishes a Calendar of Science, a compendium of science facts to add a little knowledge to your daily routine. So, read on and discover a few things you may not have known. If you would like to receive a daily dose of science, subscribe to Calendar of Science on Twitter. Have a comment or question? Please drop us a line. Remember, life's boring without discovery!


May 1 1930-Pluto officially proposed as the name for the newly discovered 9th planet based on the suggestion of an 11yo English schoolgirl.
May 2 1800-Chemist William Nicholson performed the first electrolysis of water, separating it into hydrogen and oxygen.
May 3 1764-Charles Messier discovered the globular cluster which is now called M3, leading to what is now called the Messier catalogue.
May 4 1825-Birthday of biologist Thomas Huxley, 1st to suggest that birds are descended from dinosaurs.
May 5 1961-Alan Shepard became the first American astronaut to travel into space.
May 6 1742-Birthday of botanist Jean Senebier, discovered when green plants are exposed to sunlight they take in CO2 and give off oxygen.
May 7 1909-Birthday of physicist Edwin H. Land, invented the Polaroid camera, developed the picture inside the camera in about 60 seconds.
May 8 1902-Mount Pelee erupted in the Caribbean. May have been the most powerful volcanic eruption ever recorded in W. Hemisphere.
May 9 1962-Scientists at MIT successfully bounced a laser beam off the Moon for the first time.
May 10 1930-The first planetarium in the US opened to the public, the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois.
May 11 1928-Station WGY in Schenectady, New York, began the first regularly scheduled TV broadcasts in the US.
May 12 1910-Birthday of chemist Dorothy Hodgkin, who discovered the structure of many important organic compounds, including penicillin.
May 13 1857-Birthday of bacteriologist Ronald Ross, discovered malaria is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito.
May 14 1796-Physician Edward Jenner administered the first vaccination against smallpox using live cowpox virus.
May 15 1713-Birthday of astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille, compiled 1st star catalogue of the Southern Hemisphere.
May 16 1960-Physicist Theodore Maiman built the first laser, using a ruby crystal.
May 17 1836-Birthday of astronomer Joseph Lockyer, who identified a new element in the Sun’s spectrum, which he named helium.
May 18 1980-In Washington state, the long-dormant Mount St. Helens volcano erupted, sending ash 15,000 feet into the air.
May 19 1910-Earth passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet. Closest recorded contact the Earth has had with a comet.
May 20 1978-NASA launched Pioneer Venus 1, which made the first detailed map of the surface of Venus using radar.
May 21 1965-Physicists Penzias, Wilson announced discovery of 3 degree cosmic microwave background radiation, confirmed Big Bang theory.
May 22 1783-Birthday of physicist William Sturgeon, who invented the electromagnet.
May 23 1707-Birthday of botanist Carolus Linnaeus, who invented the modern system of classifying living organisms.
May 24 1544-Birthday of William Gilbert, invented the word electric, suggested electricity, magnetism are two aspects of the same force.
May 25 1860-Birthday of Daniel Barringer, discovered large crater in Arizona caused by a meteor impact. The Great Barringer Meteor Crater.
May 26 1951-Birthday of astronaut Sally Ride, 1st American woman to travel into space.
May 27 1907-Birthday of Rachel Carson, warned of the dangers of introducing chemicals into the environment, the book Silent Spring.
May 28 1930-Birthday of astronomer Frank Drake, who carried out 1st radio search for extraterrestrial life (called Project Ozma).
May 29 1919-Astronomers observed light from distant stars being bent by the Sun during a total eclipse. Confirmed theory of relativity.
May 30 1898-Chemists William Ramsay and Morris Travers discovered the inert gas krypton.
May 31 1903-Physicist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky became 1st to propose people could travel into space using rockets.