Happy Anniversaries

by Stan Powel

2020 is an exciting year. Not only is it the start of a new decade, but it also brings with it some exciting anniversaries that might intrigue the scientifically curious. Here are some noteworthy ones.

  1. It’s the year of Roger Bacon’s 800th birthday. Roger Bacon was an interesting man. Though no one is exactly sure when he was born, there’s an increasing argument that he was born in 1220. He was a Natural Philosopher and among first people to advocate scientific experiment and investigation of nature. He believed in the ability to use mathematics to calculate and understand the world. Bacon was considered by many of his contemporaries to be a powerful wizard.

  2. Electromagnetism turns 200. The first primitive batter came about in the year 1800. It launched a flurry of investigation into the phenomena of electricity and magnetism, though not until 1820 was it discovered that they may be one and the same. Electromagnetism was discovered by Hans Christian Oerstead (not to be confused with Hans Christian Anderson, though the two were reputed to be good friends). Oerstead was also the brother of the famed Danish Jurist Andres Oerstead, one of most important Danish jurists of the 19th century. Perhaps it’s no surprise, given his connections, Hans Christian Oerstead should become famous himself.

  3. The discovery of X-Rays. 125 Years ago, a man by the name of Wilhelm Röntgen made an illuminating discovery – X-Rays. For his discovery he became the winner of the first Nobel Prize for physics and became known as the father of diagnostic radiology. After the discovery of X-Rays they were put to use almost immediately in the medical field to find bullet wounds and diagnose other injuries.

  4. Florence Nightingale – 200! Florence was born on May 12, 1820. Not only was she a remarkable figure in the medical field she was also involved in early English feminism movement, writing some 200 books and pamphlets on the subject over the course of her life. She rose to prominence during the Crimean War when she instituted a policy of sanitation to reduce the spread of disease and infection. She was a gifted mathematician as well. Florence’s early letters – which often included lists and tables of information, meticulously catalogued flower specimens, transcriptions of poems, shell and coin collections – demonstrate that she had a natural skill for classifying, analyzing and documenting data.



Born in Almira, Washington, Stan Powel has had a busy career working as a mailman, newspaper editor, science teacher, librarian, insurance salesman, and English teacher. He has always had a fascination with history and science and believes things connected with numbers are easiest to remember.

Non-fiction by Stan Powel:

"Happy Anniversaries" February 2020