Little Bits of History

August 28

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2017

1898: Caleb Bradham renames Brad’s Drink. He was born in 1867 in Cinquapin, North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a member of the Philanthropic Society, their oldest student organization given to debating. He then enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Medicine but had to drop out after his father’s business went bankrupt. Bradham taught for a year before opening up his own drug store and as was the custom of the time, it had a soda fountain. In 1893, he invented his own concoction to serve, a mixture of kola nut, vanilla, and “rare oils” were served from his shop. On this day, he renamed his product Pepsi-Cola.

Even though no pepsin was included in the recipe, the drink did seem to aid in digestion, something pepsin was used for. Bradham selected Pepsi as a nod to that benefit and Cola from the kola nut actually included. James Henry King, his assistant, was the first to taste the new drink. The Pepsi-Cola Company was incorporated in North Carolina on Christmas Eve in 1902. Bradham was the president; the first trademark wasn’t registered until June 16, 1903. Also, during that year, production of the beverage moved out of the shop and into a rented nearby building. All that was made was the syrup but in 1905, that changed and the drink was packaged in six ounce bottles for the first time.

Not busy enough with running his store and his new company, Bradham was also the president of the People’s Bank of New Bern and chairman of the Craven County Board of Commissioners. He was an officer in the naval reserves and retired after 25 years as a rear admiral. At the peak of its success, the Pepsi-Cola Company had franchises in 24 states. On May 31, 1923, Bradham and Pepsi-Cola Company declared bankruptcy, secondary to the escalating price of sugar after the end of World War I. (Before the war sugar was three cents a pound and after, it was 28 cents.) The assets of the company were sold to Craven Holding company for $35,000 or about $500,000 today. The company changed hands a few times until Charles Guth of Loft, Inc. purchased it.

Between 1922 and 1933, Coca-Cola Company was offered the chance to purchase Pepsi three times and declined on each occasion. Today, Pepsi is manufactured by PepsiCo which is now headquartered in Purchase, New York. Pepsi remains their best selling product but is only one in an extremely long list of subsidiaries and products. PepsiCo’s revenues for 2016 were $62.8 billion with a net income of $6.3 billion. They have about 264,000 employees. Even so, Coke outsells Pepsi by about $2 billion per year. Coke has 17% market share in the US with 9.4% going to second place Diet Coke. Pepsi comes in third with 8.9% share. In blind taste tests, Pepsi wins, but regardless of this fact, Coke sells more bottles/cans.

There’s not a man, woman or child on the face of the earth who doesn’t enjoy a tasty beverage. – David Letterman

Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage. – Woody Allen

A few decades ago, many people didn’t drink water outside of a meal. Then beverage companies started bottling the production of far-off springs, and now office workers unthinkingly sip bottled water all day long. – Charles Duhigg

Pepsi is the second-most-recognized beverage brand in the world after Coke, and eighteen of PepsiCo’s other brands, which include Tropicana, Gatorade, and Quaker Oats, are billion-dollar businesses in their own right. – John Seabrook



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Tom Thumb

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2015
Tom Thumb replica

Tom Thumb replica

August 28, 1830: Tom Thumb races a horse-drawn carriage. And lost. Tom Thumb was the first American-built steam locomotive used on a common-carrier railroad. The steam train was designed and built by Peter Cooper. His hope was to convince the owners of the newly formed Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) to use steam engines for their enterprise. When first built, railroads were simply tracks on roads which made it easier for horses to pull wagons and carriages if their wheels were modified to run on the tracks. Steam locomotives were first built in England and the early steam engines used in America had to be imported from there. Cooper hoped to offer the new railroad American built engines.

His design was a four wheeled locomotive with a vertical boiler which was mounted on cylinders which drove the wheels on their axels. There were many improvisations included in the original model. Boiler tubes were made from rifle barrels and a blower was placed in the stack which was driven by a belt from the powered axel. The fuel of choice was anthracite coal, abundant in the region. Cooper’s motivation was not entirely due to his love of the railroads. He was a land speculator and had made a sizable real estate investment in what is today the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore. He hoped that a successful rail system would increase the value of the real estate.

The engine was built in the machine shop owned by George Johnson and had James Millholland, then 18 years old, apprenticed there. Millholland would later become a prominent locomotive designer. The B&O railroad owned tracks between Baltimore and Ellicott Mills. There were two tracks side by side. On this day, a horse-drawn carriage loaded with passengers was sitting next to Tom Thumb. The driver of the carriage challenged the train to race and the train accepted the challenge. Tom Thumb easily pulled away from the carriage. But then disaster struck and the belt slipped off the blower pulley. Without the blower, the boiler did not draw properly and the train lost power allowing the horse to pass it and win the race.

But it was not a total victory for the carriage. It was evident that the steam engine provided better locomotive power and the steam engine’s day was at hand. Tom Thumb was not ever meant for revenue service, it was simply a prototype. It was not preserved. But Cooper and other early innovators left enough information and descriptive dimensions for later aficionados to be able to reverse engineer another Tom Thumb. By 1892, a wooden model was built by Major Joseph Pangborn who also made models of other early locomotives. In 1927, B&O had a centennial celebration exhibition near Baltimore and included a replica of Tom Thumb in their exhibition but based it on Pangborn’s model which was not entirely accurate. The engine remains on display at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum.

We must beware of needless innovations, especially when guided by logic. – Winston Churchill

There is no monster more destructive than the inventive mind that has outstripped philosophy. – Ellen Glasgow

An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents…. Its opponents gradually die out and the growing generation is familiar with the idea from the beginning. – Max Planck

A society made up of individuals who were all capable of original thought would probably be unendurable. – Henry Louis Mencken

Also on this day: First Tornado Photograph – In 1884, the first tornado photograph was made.
Sci Am – In 1845, Scientific American began publication.
Odds and Evens – In 888, the last date written in all even numbers for over a thousand years.
Enceladus – In 1789, William Herschel found Enceladus in the night sky.
Stunningly Beautiful – In 1859, a giant geomagnetic storm lit up the skies.

Stunningly Beautiful

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2014
Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

August 28, 1859: A great geomagnetic storm disrupts the night sky. On both this day, and on September 2, the Aurora Borealis was visible in more southern latitudes in the US, Europe, and Japan and a more northern latitude for the Aurora Australis in Australia. An aurora is a natural light display in high latitudes in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Solar wind colliding with the magnetosphere’s charged particles create a light show. This usually happens in a 3⁰ to 6⁰ wide latitude band and is usually at 10⁰ to 20⁰ from the geomagnetic poles. Although possible all year long, they are more vivid around the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. A geomagnetic storm can expand the auroral zones.

When a solar wind shock wave and/or cloud of magnetic field interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field, there is a geomagnetic storm. The increased solar wind compresses the magnetosphere and the magnetic field from the Sun interferes with the Earth’s magnetic field, transferring energy into the magnetosphere. Both of these events cause an increase in the movement of plasma through the magnetosphere as well as an increased electric current in both the magnetosphere and the ionosphere. The frequency of geomagnetic storms is directly related to the sunspot cycle on our local star.

Auroras or aurorae are classified as either diffuse or discrete. The diffuse pattern is, as the name suggests, diffused across the sky and may not be visible to the naked eye, even on the darkest night. Discrete auroras have sharply defined features and can vary to minimally visible to the naked eye to spectacular light shows. Even so, they are only visible in the night sky. Aurora comes from the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora. Borealis comes from the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas. Australis or the southern lights, can be seen in Antarctica, South America, New Zealand, and of course, Australia.

The auroras that occurred on this day and on September 2 made quite a stir in the scientifically minded period in which they took place. Balfour Stewart presented a paper to the Royal Society on November 21, 1861 describing the events as documented by a self-recording magnetograph at the Kew Observatory. With this data, Stewart was able to establish a connection between the auroral event and the Carrington-Hodgson flare event the two men had observed. The flare was observed by the scientists, but people around the world noted the disruption in the auroras and the event was described in scientific literature to be sure, but also in ship logs and daily newspapers. Elias Loomis published a series of nine papers on the Great Auroral Exhibition of 1859 in the American Journal of Science in which he collected world-wide reports about the events.

Aurora had but newly chased the night, / And purpled o’er the sky with blushing light. – John Dryden

But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn, / With rosy lustre purpled o’er the lawn. – Homer

The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night. – Haruki Murakami

Some praise the Lord for Light, / The living spark; / I thank God for the Night / The healing dark. – Robert W. Service

Also on this day: First Tornado Photograph – In 1884, the first tornado photograph is made.
Sci Am – In 1845, Scientific American began publication.
Odds and Evens – In 888, the last date written in all even numbers for over a thousand years.
Enceladus – In 1789, William Herschel found Enceladus in the night sky.

Sci Am

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2013
Scientific American

First Scientific American

August 28, 1845: Rufus Porter publishes a new magazine. Porter was a painter and inventor who was born in Massachusetts in 1792. He started school at the age of four and the family moved to Maine when he was nine. He was one of six children. In 1815 he married and moved to Connecticut. He opened a dance studio and also began to paint portraits. He traveled as far as Hawaii in 1818-19 and then returned to New England. Between 1825 and 1845 he decorated ≈ 160 houses along the East Coast becoming famous as a muralist. He had ten children with his first wife and after her death, he remarried and had six more children.

He was also an inventor and produced a portable camera obscura with which he produced silhouette pictures in under 15 minutes, charging twenty cents each (≈ $10 in 2009 USD). He experimented with wind power for many domestic and agricultural uses. He invented many items without realizing much financial gain. He published four editions of A Selected Collection of Valuable and Curious Arts, and Interesting Experiments in 1825-26. In 1841 he bought into the New York mechanic and published it out of New York City for 23 weekly issue. He then moved the magazine to Boston and renamed it American mechanic. He published his plans for many innovative items before it folded after the 106th issue.

He started this new venture in 1845. The weekly broadsheet came out every Thursday and was subtitled “The Advocate of Industry and Enterprise, and Journal of Mechanical and Other Improvements.” The magazine emphasized proceedings at the US patent office as well as innovations by great thinkers of the era. Abraham Lincoln’s device for buoying vessels was featured as was an article on the universal joint – still used today in almost every car made. The magazine is one of the oldest continually published in the US – Scientific American.

Today, Scientific American is published monthly and is global in scope. Also called SciAm, it is published in fifteen foreign languages and has more than one million copies in circulation worldwide. Their contributors explore scientific theories and educate the general public concerning the latest discoveries.

“No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money changer.” – Thomas Browne

“The most remarkable discovery made by scientists is science itself.” – Gerard Piel

“But in science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs.” – Francis Darwin

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” – Isaac Asimov

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Only ten months after beginning the magazine, Porter sold it to Orson Desaix Munn I and Alfred Ely Beach. The monthly magazine is available in print and since 1996 they have maintained an online presence at Their total circulation is almost 500,000. Appointed in December 2009 as the eighth in line, Mariette DiChristina is the editor. She is the first woman to hold that post. Between 1990 and 2005, Scientific American also produced a program on PBS. There have been a few times when the magazine ran afoul. In the 1950s, they were accused of giving away classified information, but it was found to be a false accusation. They have also been criticized for articles in this century concerning the environment, war, and even their pricing structure.

Also on this day: First Tornado Photograph – In 1884, the first tornado photograph is made.
Odds and Evens – In 888, the last date written in all even numbers for over a thousand years.
Enceladus – In 1789, William Herschel found Enceladus in the night sky.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2012

William Herschel

August 28, 1789: William Herschel discovered Enceladus. It is the sixth largest moon of Saturn and was named for a mythological giant. Little was known of this moon until the two Voyager spacecraft passed near it in the early 1980s. The diameter is about 310 miles (our own moon is about 1,080 miles) and it is about 1/10 the size of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. There is water ice on the surface, making it particularly good at reflecting the sun’s light. The Voyager’s passing showed that the moon is both covered in craters from old impacts but also shows signs of tectonically deformed terrain. In 2005, Cassini showed the surface in greater detail and led scientists to determine that the moon is still geologically active.

Sir Frederick William Herschel was born in Germany on November 15, 1738. He was a musician and followed his father into the Military Band of Hanover. However, he emigrated to England when he was 19. He is known as a British astronomer and technical expert as well as a musician. He not only studied the night skies but also composed 24 symphonies. It was William’s love of music that led him to study mathematics and lenses. With this knowledge, his interest in astronomy was piqued. He met Nevil Maskelyne, an English Astronomer Royal and became even more enchanted.

William began to build his own reflecting telescopes and studied stars that were proximal in the night sky. By measuring small changes he hoped to gain a better understanding of the true position of the stars. He used a 7-foot focal length, 6.2-inch aperture telescope of his own manufacture and began a systematic search of the sky from his back yard. He found many double and multiple stars and reported to the Royal Society. His discoveries were cataloged and he continued to search, discover, and report his findings.

In March 1781, while still searching for double stars, Herschel noticed a nonstellar disk. He thought it might be a comet. He made many more observations and finally was able to chart the object’s orbit. This helped to convince him that the object was probably planetary. He named his new planet “Georgian star” for King George III which pleased the king. However the name didn’t stick. The French were particularly loathe to use the name and referred to the body as “Herschel” instead. After much debate, the planet was finally named what we now call it – Uranus.

All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more strongly the truths come from on high, and contained in the sacred writings.

The difference of the degrees in which the individuals of a great community enjoy the good things of life has been a theme of declaration and discontent in all ages.

The undevout astronomer must be mad.

I have looked further into space than ever human being did before me. I have observed stars of which the light, it can be proved, must take two million years to reach the earth. – all from William Herschel

Also on this day:

First Tornado Photograph – In 1884, the first tornado photograph is made.
Sci Am – In 1845, Scientific American began publication.
Odds and Evens – In 888, the last date written in all even numbers for over a thousand years.

Evens and Odds

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2011


August 28, 888: This the last date which can be expressed in all even numbers for over a thousand years. The date is 8-28-888 and the next date that can be expressed in only even numbers is 2-2-2000. A “number” can be natural, rational, or imaginary. Numbers can be real, complex, or computable. A number can be an integer, but the terms are not synonymous. An integer is a whole number, either negative or positive. It comes from the Latin and means literally “untouched” and the set of integers is composed of natural numbers, including zero. It is a subset of real numbers. Hence, 8 and -94 are integers but 5.25 and ½ are not.

Even numbers are those evenly divisible by 2. An odd number, regardless of how strange it is, is considered odd only if it is not evenly divisible by 2. There is a formula for this. It is n = 2k for even numbers and n = 2k+1 for odd numbers. In this formula, n is a number and k must always be an integer. Fractions and decimals cannot be odd or even as this concept is only used for integers or whole numbers. A prime number is a number divisible only by 1 and itself. Therefore, since every other even number is, by definition, divisible by 2, the integer 2 is the only even prime number.

The first use of numbers was probably tally marks. Bones and other artifacts have been found with these marks which seem to be counting the passage of time, either in lunar cycles or number of days passed. There was  no value system known to coincide with tally marks. They were  merely a one-to-one correspondence for what one was keeping track of. The first numbering system with a place value was found in Mesopotamia and was a base 60 system. The first base 10 system, the system we use, has been dated to ancient Egypt and 3100 BC.

The ancient Greeks argued over the concept of zero. Philosophical debate took place on “how nothing can be something” and led to the Paradoxes of Zeno of Elea. The Greeks weren’t even sure 1 was a number, lonely or not. The late Olmec people of Mexico used a true zero as early as the 4th century BC but certainly by 40 BC. Another difficult concept was the idea of negative numbers. If the ancient Greeks had issue with nothing being something, how much more difficult to comprehend negative numbers. The ancient Chinese did recognize these numbers as early as 100-50 BC.

“A mathematical truth is neither simple nor complicated in itself, it is.” – Emile Lemoine

“God made the Integers, all the rest is the work of man.” – Leopold Kronecker

“Mathematics is the handwriting on the human consciousness of the very Spirit of Life itself.” – Claude Bragdon

“Yes, yes, I know that, Sydney … Everybody knows that! … But look: Four wrongs squared, minus two wrongs to the fourth power, divided by this formula, do make a right.” – Gary Larson

Also on this day:
First Tornado Photograph – In 1884, the first tornado photograph is made.
Sci Am – In 1845, Scientific American began publication.

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First Tornado Photograph

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2010

First photograph of a tornado

August 28, 1884: Near Howard, South Dakota a tornado is photographed for the first time. The process of taking photographs came to the public in 1839 and was named as such by Sir John Herschel. The first photo was taken in 1827 by Joseph Niépce and required an exposure time of eight hours. Niépce went into partnership with Louis Daguerre and the exposure time was quickly dropped to a mere thirty minutes.

The early process allowed for only one copy of any picture to ever be made. By August 1835, a negative on paper was produced by William Fox Talbot in a process called Calotype. It allowed for many copies of the picture to be made. These first pictures were not quite as nice as Daguerreotypes. However, the less defined pictures was offset by the ability to make copies. In fifteen years, the number of photographic shops more than doubled.

By 1884, the negatives were being made on celluloid or film. Color photos were possible in 1907 when the first color film was introduced. Digital photography was introduced in 1981 when Sony first marketed a camera for the public. That camera saved images to a disk and they were displayed on television screens. The first truly digital camera arrived in 1990 from Kodak.

Warren Faidley bills himself as the first full-time professional storm chaser. Roger Jensen began chasing storms in 1951 and is generally said to be the first storm chaser ever. Storm chasers seek out all types of weather: lightning storms, thunderstorms, hurricanes, fires, blizzards, hail storms, and of course, tornadoes. There was even a movie about this, called appropriately – Twister.

“To photograph is to confer importance.” Susan Sontag

“Every day we have some weather, and yesterday was no exception.” – John Carr

“As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity. I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs.” – Sam Abell

“One of the things about a tornado, it comes so quickly you don’t have time to get in a panic. If you do, you’re probably not in one.” – Mike Huckabee

Also on this day, in 1845 Scientific American begins publication.

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