Pacific Science Center

Bringing science to life.

Calendar Of Science – May

Every month, Pacific Science Center publishes a Calendar of Science, a compendium of science facts to add a little knowledge to your daily routine. 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 1949: Gerard Kuiper discovered Nereid, the second satellite of Neptune, outermost and the third largest of Neptune’s known satellites.
May 2 1800: William Nicholson was the first to produce a chemical reaction by electricity (electrolysis of water).
May 3 1968: Dr. Denton Cooley performed 1st heart transplant in the U.S. on Everett Thomas.
May 4 2003: The first cloned equine, a mule foal was born at the University of Idaho using a cell from a mule fetus and an egg from a horse.
May 5 1961: Alan Bartlett Shepherd, Jr. became the first American in space by making a 15 minute sub-orbital flight on Freedom 7 spacecraft.
May 6 1851: A U.S. patent was issued to John Gorrie for “Improved Process for the Artificial Production of Ice” (refrigerator).
May 7 1992: The space shuttle Endeavour blasted off on its maiden voyage carrying seven NASA astronauts.
May 8 1961: The first practical seawater conversion plant in the U.S. was opened in Texas by the U.S. Dept of the Interior.
May 9 1962: A pulse light laser beam sent by scientists from MIT successfully bounced off the moon, first lunar laser ranging experiment.
May 10 1852: The theory of valence (any atom can combine with a certain, limited number of other atoms) announced by Sir Edward Frankland.
May 11 1811: The original Siamese twins, Chang and Eng, were born of Chinese parents in Siam (Thailand).
May 12 1820: Birthday: Florence Nightingale (“The Lady With The Lamp”) who established modern nursing practice.
May 13 1890: Nikola Tesla was issued a patent for an electric generator.
May 14 1796: Edward Jenner administered the first vaccination against smallpox to an eight-year-old boy.
May 15 1953: Stanley Miller’s paper on the synthesis of amino acids under conditions that simulated primitive Earth’s atmosphere published.
May 16 1960: Physicist Theodore Maiman uses a synthetic-ruby crystal to create the first laser.
May 17 1955: The highly classified U.S. patent for the first atomic pile was finally issued, 11 years after it had been filed.
May 18 1967: The first legalization of human artificial insemination in the U.S. was enacted by the state of Oklahoma.
May 19 1896: Edward Acheson was issued a patent for an electric furnace used to produce carborundum (silicon carbide).
May 20 1990: The Hubble Space Telescope sent its first photograph from space, an image of a double star 1,260 light years away.
May 21 1873: Birthday: Hans Berger who invented of electroencephalography (EEG) (the recording of “brain waves”).
May 22 1989: First successful transfer of cells containing foreign genes into a human was performed at the National Institutes of Health.
May 23 1930: A new U.S. Plant Patent Act allowed patent protection for new and distinct varieties of asexually reproduced plants.
May 24 1892: Thomas A. Edison was issued three patents for an “Electric Locomotive” and a fourth patent relating to an “Electric Railway.”
May 25 1940: Howard Florey and Ernst Chain successfully tested penicillin in one of the most famous animal tests in medical history.
May 26 1931: A microfilm camera was patented by George L. McCarthy.
May 27 1931: The first U.S. full scale wind tunnel for testing airplanes was opened in Langley Field Research Center, Virginia.
May 28 1959: Two monkeys, Able and Baker, were fired into space becoming the first living creatures to survive a space flight.
May 29 1919: During a total solar eclipse, Sir Eddington performed the first test and proved Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
May 30 1898: Morris William Travers, while working with Sir Willam Ramsay in London, discovered the element krypton.
May 31 1852: Birthday: Richard Julius Petri, a bacteriologist who invented Petri dish.