Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Geek Dates

We're looking for some geek dates.

No, not dinner and a movie with a guy/ gal who has an impressive collection of 1987 synthesizers (though that might be cool too). We're looking for momentous dates in geek history to include in the calendar. A lot of calendars mark significant saints days, but the Libel Reform team pointed out Geek Calendar should be a bit different, with notes relating to science and technology instead. We agreed and decided we need about three "geeky dates" for each month. Our calendar's going to have two Decembers and two Janurarys, so we need double for those months.

This is what we have so far. What else should be there? Maybe we should replace some of the ones we have? Let us know what you think - here or on twitter.

December 10 Ada Lovelace born (1815)
December 17 Humphry Davy born (1778)

January 8 Alfred Russel Wallace born (1823)
January 12 HAL9000's birthday

February 11 Palindrome day (at least in UK, it'll be 11/2/2111 whoops obviously we mean 11/02/2011...)
February 12 Charles Darwin born (1809)

March 16 Caroline Herschel born (1750)
March 3 Alexander Graham Bell born (1847)
March 25 Themes tunnel opened (1853)

April 25 Publication of double helix DNA structure (1953)
April 30 Publication of Einstein's thesis (1905)

May 4 Star Wars day (May the 4th/ force...)
May 11 Richard Feynman born (1918)
May 25 Towel day

June 6 playable version of Tetris completed (1984)

July 5 Dolly the Sheep born (1996)

August 1 Discovery of Oxygen (1774)
August 6 First website goes online at CERN (1991)
August 4 John Venn born (1834)

September 10 Large Hadron Collider fired its first protons (2008)
September 28 mold that became penicillin discovered (1928)

October 9 Check the time/ date at 6:07am and 8 seconds...
October 21 Edison tests incandescent electric light bulb (1879)

November 4 First edition of Nature published (1869)
November 24 Publication of Origin of the Species (1859)
November 27 Signing of will of Alfred Nobel (1895)

December 9 Smallpox eradication (1977)
December 24 Newton's birthday (1642)

January 4 Newton's birthday (1642, it depends on what calendar you use...)
January 26 first demonstration of television (1926)

... and if it was a date with a geek you were after, last week's Times Eureka magazine had a few tips. They suggested you take geeky-dates to the Science Museum, but note that trips to the Jenner statue in Kensington Gardens tend to be less successful. We're not sure how you can get the geek to go on a date with you in the first place though. This video might provide some hints:


  1. Where to begin? A couple that pop to mind:

    3 Jan (2011), Earth's perihelion. Also 4 July is Aphelion (http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/data-services/earth-seasons

    8 Feb, Daniel Bernouilli's birthday

  2. Off the top of my head:
    14th March - Pi Day
    1st June - Colossus Mk2 Activated
    23rd June - Alan Turing Born
    26th December - Charles Babbage Born

  3. Almost forgot:
    10th January - Donald Knuth born

  4. Ada Lovelace day is 24th March

  5. 22 September 1791 - Mciahel Faraday's birthday

  6. 13th March 1781 - William Herschel discovers Uranus
    23rd September 1846 - Neptune discovered by MATHEMATICAL PREDICTION!
    18th February 1930 - Pluto discovered
    24th August 2006 - Pluto's planetary status revoked by the International Astronomical Union (IAU)

  7. 22nd July - Pi Approximation day (22/7)

    29th August - Skynet becomes self aware (1997)

  8. 31st October 1992 - Pope John Paul II issued a declaration acknowledging that they handled the Galileo thing pretty badly
    5th July 1687 - First edition of Isaac Newton's Principia published, arguably the most important book in modern mathematics
    6th January 1912 - Alfred Wegener presented his theory of continental drift. Everyone else thought he was crazy until the advent of palaeomagnetism in the 50's

  9. 7 March 1799 - Royal Institution founded
    17 December 1778 - Humphry Davy born

  10. 22 August 2001 - Trojan Room Coffee Pot webcam, the world's first webcam, which was set up in 1991 and predated the worldwide web, was finally switched off.

  11. phiday, June 18th (618 in USA)?

  12. if you check the bottom of the article you linked it says Newton was born on December 25th not the 24th :)

  13. John D. Carmack http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Carmack

  14. Oopps, John D. Carmack, 20 August 1970 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Carmack

  15. Isaac Asimov, 2nd Jan 1920, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov

  16. Depends how many you want. If you're doing birthdays you could end up with hundreds!

    A couple to add to those already listed:

    Leonhard Euler 15 April 1707
    James Clerk Maxwell 13 June 1831

    May be better to do significant achievements; for example things like:

    8 December 1864 - James Clerk Maxwell presents to the Royal Society his essay "A dynamical theory of the electromagnetic field" - Maxwell's equations & proposal of light is an electromagnetic wave

    21 June 1993 - First of three lectures by Andrew Wiles on his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem (actually at this point the proof was flawed, so could be 6 October 1994, when he sent a revised, completed version to colleagues)

    17 Jul 2003 - third of three papers in which Grigori Perelman presents his proof of the Poincaré conjecture.

    Of course, you go back a certain time and it's hard to get dates, e.g. I'm not sure if we know when Fibonacci's Liber Abaci was published in 1202 and we don't even know what year Euclid's Elements was published - but perhaps there are dates for publishing famous translations (e.g. do we know a date for Byrne's 1847 version of the Elements, from which we get the pro-teaching quote: "The arts and sciences have become so extensive, that to facilitate their acquirement is of as much importance as to extend their boundaries").

    Or use commemorative dates to reach further back, for example:

    September 6 1983 - date chosen to commemorate the 1200th birthday of Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī - mathematician from who we get the terms "algebra" and "algorithm".



  17. Oh, if you want some more pop culture ones, how about:

    8 March 1978: date of broadcast of Fit the First, the first episode of the radio programme The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    14 October 2155: date taken by Dave Lister as his birthday (he was found at 6 weeks old so doesn't know the exact day) in Red Dwarf.

    23 November 1963: date of broadcast of first part of An Unearthly Child, first Doctor Who serial.

  18. I agree with Peter Rowlett that you should go with key events rather than birthdays. They're way more interesting!

    The first message transmitted over ARPANET was 'lo' sent at 10:30 p.m, on October 29, 1969. Should have been the word "login" but the system crashed after first two chars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET#ARPA_deployed)

    "EDSAC ran its first programs on 6 May 1949, when it calculated a table of squares and a list of prime numbers." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EDSAC and see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EDSAC#Historical_perspective)

    A couple of slightly frivolous ones:

    "HAL became operational on 12 January 1997 ... at the HAL Laboratories in Urbana, Illinois as production number 3." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HAL_9000)

    "Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug." (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103064/quotes)

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