Dates in red are from the basic timeline of events related to "The Great Magnet, the Earth". |
Dates in black are from the history of society, science and technology, and are meant to provide a broader context for the dates of the basic list.
For a timeline of the exploration of the distant magnetic environment
of the Earth, Sun and Planets, see here.
1000 (approx) Chinese discover that lodestone floating on "boat" prefers south-north direction.
- 13000-11000 BC---Estimated arrival of humans in America (probably aided by clothing and fire, if they came via Alaska).
- 10000 BC---approximate end of last ice age.
- 3000 BC--beginning of the bronze age, named for the first useful metal alloy.
- 2700-2300 BC---Pyramids built in Egypt. First large states and cultures thrive in the river valleys of the Nile, Euphrates and Indus.
Egyptians invent hieroglyph writing, use papyrus (crude paper).
Euphrates cultures write on wet clay (afterwards dried), using marks from the end of a dowel.
- 1400 BC (approx)---Iron first produced by Hittites, in what is now Turkey.
- 1200 BC (approx)--- Trojan war. "Iliad" and "Odyssey" probably written in the century that followed.
- 1000-586 BC---Biblical kingdom of Judah
- 431-404 BC---Peloponnesian war between the Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta, and their allies. Extensive battles involving long-range oar-driven warships.
- 333 BC---Alexander the Great, of northern Greece, defeats Persia's army at Issus, goes on to conquer the lands from Egypt to India. He founds numerous cities named Alexandria, including one in Egypt (still existing) which becomes a great center of learning and site of a large library.
- c. 270 BC---Aristarchus of Samos estimates the distance and size
of the Sun, proposes Earth goes around it.
- c. 250 BC---Eratosthenes (276-192 BC) estimates size of the Earth.
- 200 BC (approx)---Parchment developed in the city of Pergamum (now in Turkey), a superior writing material made of animal skin. Pergamum's library rivals Alexandria's.
- 146 BC---Rome defeats and razes its main rival, Carthago (near today's Tunis). It then begins building an empire which ultimately covers much of Europe and North Africa. Roman culture spreads and extends Greek culture. Romans (or rather, their slaves) build water conduits, bridges and thousands of miles of paved roads, causing cities to flourish.
- 48 BC---Julius Caesar seizes control of Rome. After him Rome is ruled by a long line of emperors.
- 30 to 36---estimated date of the crucifixion.
- c. 140 ---Claudius Ptolmaeus (Ptolemy) writes "He Mathematike Syntaxis" (known 1000 years later as "Almagest"), proposing his world system.
- 313---The Roman Emperor Constantinus adops Christianity; in 330 he builds new capital and names it Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). Roman empire gradually divides into western and eastern parts ("Byzantine Empire"), with capitals at Rome and Constantinople.
- 410---Alaric, leader of the Visigoths, captures and sacks Rome. Decline of Rome: Attila king of the Huns devastates much of its empire, reaches the gates of Constantinople and later (452) of Rome.
Beginning of Europe's "dark ages" which continue to the Renaissance (see below): cities decay, trade, shipping, literacy, scholarship and life expectancy all decline.
- 622---Mohammed flees to the city of Medina, marking the beginning of Islam (and the starting date of the Moslem calendar). His followers conquer the Near East, North Africa and Spain.
1187 Alexander Neckham describes pivoted compass.
- 1000-1400 Age of feudal lords in Europe: castles, knights, religious fervor, only very rudimentary science and technology. Also age of Vikings, some of whom sailed as far as Greenland and America. Mongols overrun and subjugate southern Russia.
- 1095-1291 Crusades
1269 Letter by Petrus Peregerinus describes properties of magnets.
1492 Columbus sails west from Spain, notes declination changes in mid-ocean from easterly to westerly.
- 1460 Johann Gutenberg invents the printing press with movable type. Combined with paper (a Chinese invention which gradually reached Europe and displaced parchement), the printed book is the major force behind a cultural and technical growth spurt, the Renaissance (French for "rebirth").
1581 Robert Norman publishes "The Newe Attractive", announcing the discovery of magnetic dip (inclination).
- 1492 Columbus discovers America, followed by Spanish (and some Portugese) explorers. The main powers in Europe are Spain, France, England, Turkey and a confederation of German princes ("Holy Roman Empire.")
- 1543---Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) publishes his theory of the solar system.
1600 William Gilbert's "De Magnete": Earth itself is a great magnet.
- 1582---Pope Gregory the 13th reforms the calendar.
- 1588 The "Spanish Armada," a fleet attacking Britain, is destroyed by the British navy and by storms. For the first time Britain is able to claim part of the American continent.
- Europe and Asia are introduced to American crops--potatoes, tomatoes, corn. Europe´s diet is also gradually enriched by sugar, oranges and pepper, originating in India.
1610 (approx) Sunspots and their rotation with the Sun were discovered independently by Galileo Galilei, Johann Fabricius (Holland) and Christopher Scheiner.
- 1609---Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) builds the first astronomical telescope and observes for the first time craters on the Moon, satellites around Jupiter, and the way Venus goes through phases like the Moon (crescent, etc.) .
All used the recently-invented telescope, and Scheiner apparently introduced the safe method of projecting the Sun's image on a flat surface.1634 Henry Gellibrand discovers the secular variation of declination.
- ---Johann Kepler (1571-1630), using Tycho's observations, formulates his first two laws of planetary motion.
- After a failed attempt (1586) to establish a colony on Roanoke Island, Virginia (now part of N. Carolina), Jamestown is founded in Virginia in 1607, and the first English settlers land in Massachussetts Bay in 1620 (the "Pilgrims").
- 1618-1648---The 30 years' war. A century after Martin Luther broke away from the Roman church, a great religious war sweeps Europe, devastates Germany and establishes Sweden as a major military power. In the civil war in England, parliament suspends monarchy 1645-1660, king beheaded 1649.
1699 Edmond Halley conducts the first magnetic survey.
- 1683---TheTurkish army reaches Vienna but is repelled; among the booty the victors discover coffee, develop a taste for it. Englishmen begin smoking tobacco, an American plant.
- 1686---Isaac Newton (1642-1727) publishes "Philosophie Naturalis Principia Mathematica," outlining laws of mechanics and law of gravity
1722 George Graham discovers diurnal variation of declination.
- 1708---Abraham Darby begins extensive iron production in England, based on roasted coal (coke). As firewood gets scarce, coal becomes England's choice fuel and coke replaces charcoal in iron production. To run the pumps that keep coal mines dry, Newcomen in 1712 invents a crude steam engine.
- 1712---Russia's king (czar) Peter the Great "opens a window to the West" by founding a new capital, which he names St. Petersburg and which becomes Russia's main port on the Baltic sea.
1741 Graham in London and Celsius in Sweden observe simultaneous magnetic perturbations due to the polar aurora.
1777 Coulomb introduces his torsion balance, later shows magnetic forces (electric ones, too) obey an inverse squares law.
- 1769---James Watt (1736-1819) devises the modern steam engine.
- 1775-83---US War of Independence. Britain's colonies in America achieve a growing degree of self-sufficiency. Benjamin Franklin prints books in Philadelphia, also demonstrates (1749) that lightning is an electrical phenomenon. Later (1775-1783) the colonies rebel against Britain, win their independence and form a confederation. In 1787 they write a constitution and form a federal republic.
1801 Alessandro Volta demonstrates his "voltaic pile," the first battery.
- 1781---William Herschel, a German musician settled in Britain, discovers the planet Uranus with a mirror telescope he had constructed.
- 1783---The Montgolfière brothers in France, owners of a paper factory, build the first hot air balloons; balloons lifted by hydrogen follow.
- 1789---The French Revolution: France rebels against its king, who is later deposed and executed. The French follow the US example and set up a republic, but a military officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, gradually gains power. From 1798 to 1815 France under Napoleon fights a series of wars and for a while rules or controls most of the European continent.
- 1793---Alexander Mackenzie crosses Canada from coast to coast.
- 1796---Edward Jenner in Britain introduces vaccination against smallpox.
- 1798---Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) first measures the force of gravity between two objects in his laboratory.
1820 Oersted discovers magnetism due to electric currents.
1820 Ampere explains magnetism in terms of forces between electric currents.
- 1803---US purchases Louisiana from Napoleon. To explore the new lands and the mountains beyond, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark cross the continent from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River.
1803---John Dalton, a chemist, argues that observations in chemistry require matter to be composed of atoms.
- 1807---Robert Fulton uses steam to run the first commercial paddlewheeler on the Hudson river;
- 1807--Humphrey Davy isolates a new metal, sodium, by the action of an electric current
- 1811---Simón Bolivar begins a series of wars to liberate Spain's colonies in South America, leading to the independence of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.
1828 Gauss is encouraged by Alexander von Humboldt to study magnetism. Later develops method to measure magnetic intensity and an electrical telegraph.
- The Industrial revolution: George Stephenson in Britain (1825) and Peter Cooper in the US (1830) found successful railroads, run by steam. Mass production of fabric and paper. Henry Bessemer in 1856 finds a way to mass-produce steel.
- 1826---crude photography by L.J.M. Daguerre, greatly improved in the decades that follow.
1831 Faraday discovers electrical induction, later introduces disk dynamo. The Rosses and Sabine reach the northern magnetic pole.
1832 Faraday tries to detect a dynamo current in water flowing in the Earth's field.
1834 Gauss founds "Göttingen Magnetic Union," later (1836-9) applies spherical harmonic analysis to the analysis of the Earth's magnetic field.
- 1833--Michael Faraday derives the laws of electrical separation of compounds (as used by Davy in 1807), suggesting that atoms contain electrical charges.
1843 Heinrich Schwabe publishes first evidence for the sunspot cycle.
- 1836---John Ericsson invents the ship's propeller.
- 1837--Samuel Morse invents his telegraph; in 1844 first commercial telegraph line opens, by 1866 undersea telegraph cables link Europe and America.
1851 Von Humboldt publishes Schwabe's work; sunspot cycle widely accepted.
1852 Sabine finds evidence that magnetic storms follow the sunspot cycle.
- 1843 James Prescott Joule (1818-89) measures the "exchange rate" between mechanical energy and heat.
- 1846---Anesthesia by ether is introduced by William T. Morton in Boston.
- 1849---California gold rush.
1859 Richard Carrington observes white-light solar flare, followed by large magnetic storm.
- 1856---Commodore Perry and a US fleet open up Japan to western culture and technology; rapid modernization follows, enabling Japan to defeat Russia in war less than 50 years later.
1864 -- James Clerk Maxwell proposes his equations of electromagnetism, unifying the theories of electricity and magnetism and suggesting that light is an electomagnetic wave.
- 1859---Charles Darwin publishes "Origin of the Species"
- 1859---Edwin Drake extracts petroleum from an oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Beginning of a world-wide effort to find and extract oil, refine it and use its constituents for light, heat and later to run gasoline and diesel engines.
- 1861---Italy unified under the king of Piedmont; 1850-70, Germany unified under Prussian leadership.
- 1860-65---US Civil War
1892--George Ellery Hale devises the "spectroheliograph" taking pictures of the Sun in the light of a single spectral color.
- 1865---Joseph Lister introduces antiseptics to surgery, cutting its risks.
- The Industrial revolution continues: bicycles are introduced (high-wheelers, then "safety models"), mass production of fabrics, also Brooklyn Bridge (1883), Statue of Liberty (1886), Eiffel Tower (1889).
- 1870---Suez Canal opens, a shortcut between Europe and Asia. Age of exploration and colonization in Africa.
- 1870---Railroad across the US. In 1891-1905, the trans-Siberian railroad is built.
- 1876---Telephone invented
- 1879---Edison invents the electric lightbulb, initially using a fragile carbon filament.
- 1882---Electric power stations in London and New York. Large scale refrigeration.
- 1885-1900---After the introduction of electric train engines, the construction of subways begins in the major cities of Europe (starting with London, then Budapest) and the US (starting with Boston, then New York).
- 1884---Charles Parsons invents his steam turbine, which ultimately becomes the preferred power plant of electric power stations and ships. Diesel engine introduced in 1897 by Rudolf Diesel.
- 1886--Heinrich Hertz uses electric currents to produce low-frequency electromagnetic waves,also detects them. These are later called "radio." waves.
- The beginning of automobiles (Marcus 1864 in Austria; Benz, 1887 in Germany; Duryea, 1893 in the US).
- 1890---Nitrocellulose photographic film introduced (George Eastman of Kodak, Rochester NY), making possible the first "movies."
1895 Kristian Birkeland begins experimenting with electron beams and terrellas. Henri Poincaré calculates a simple motion of trapped particles.
1896 Pieter Zeeman discovers splitting of spectral lines emitted in magnetic field.
- 1895--Wilhelm Röntgen discovers X-rays.
- 1895--Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity.
1903 Birkeland proposes the existence of "polar magnetic storms," He also suggests aurora is caused by electron beams emitted from the sun.
- 1897--J.J. Thompson discovers theelectron.
1906 Bernard Brunhes publishes first evidence of reversely magnetized rocks.
- 1903, 17 December---First successful flight by the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
- 1905--Einstein introduces special relativity, also explains the emission of electrons by light as a quantum effect.
1908 -- George Ellery Hale uses Zeeman's discovery to show that sunspots are intensely magnetic.1909 Douglas Mawson reaches the southern magnetic pole, at the edge of Antarctica.
- 1906---Lee De Forest invents the triode--the vacuum-tube device that made possible applications of electronics such as radio and sound films.
1912 --- Arthur Schuster proposes magnetic storms are evidence for a "ring current" in space, circling the Earth.
- 1909---L.H.Baekeland introduces "bakelite", first mass-produced plastic material. It gains wide use as an electrical insulator.
- 1904-1914---Panama canal is built.
- 1911---Amundsen reaches South Pole.
1918 Alfred Wegener publishes "The Origin of the Continents and Oceans," promoting his theory of "continental drift."
- 1912---Emperor is overthrown in China and a republic is proclaimed.
- 1914-1918---World War I. The main opponents are Germany, Austria and Turkey, lined up against Russia, France, Britain, Italy. In 1917 Russia withdrew, defeated, and the Czar was overthrown by Communist workers (Russian Revolution) but the US entered to help Britain, whose side prevailed. A very large, destructive war, the first in which technology played a major role, including airplanes, tanks, machine guns, submarines and poison gas.
- 1916--- Robert H. Goddard tests rockets with De-Laval nozzles, increasing their efficiency many times over.
1919 Joseph Larmor proposes that magnetic fields of sunspots may be produced by a self-sustaining dynamo action.
1929 --- Motonori Matuyama produces evidence that reversely magnetized rocks may have originated when the Earth's magnetic polarity had reversed.
- 1922 to 1925---Fascism, the creed of a strong, all-controlling government, gains power in Italy under Benito Mussolini.
- 1924---In Russia, Communist leader V.I. Lenin, dies; after that Joseph Stalin gradually gains power, kills or exiles all his rivals and institutes a reign of terror.
- 1926, 16 March---Robert H. Goddard launches his first liquid-fuel rocket.
- 1927---Charles Lindbergh flies solo from the US to Paris.
- 1927-1930---Talking films (black and white). "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) later pioneers color movies, but more than 10 years pass before color films become prevalent.
1930 Chapman and Ferraro suggest magnetic storms are due to plasma clouds from the sun (not electron beams), enveloping the Earth's magnetic field.
- 1929---The New York stock market crashes, beginning a long economic depression, in the US and across the world.
- 1929---Edwin Hubble concludes from astronomical observations that distant galaxies recede from us in all directions, and that therefore the universe is expanding.
1930 Alfred Wegener dies in the snows of Greenland.
- 1930---In Germany, hard-hit by the economic hardships following WW-I and by the world-wide depression, the Fascist Nazi party under Adolph Hitler comes 2nd in the polls in 1930, takes power 1933.
1933 Thomas Cowling proves self-sustained dynamos are never axisymmetric.
- 1932 -- James Chadwick discovers the neutron.
- 1932 --- Sulfa drugs, first new anti-bacterial weapon. Penicillin follows during World War II, and other antibiotics are developed after the war.
1936 --- The DC-3, the first modern airliner, can reach 210 mph with 21 passengers.
1939 -- Nuclear fission discovered by Hahn, Meitner and Strassmann: when a uranium nucleus absorbs a neutron, it can be shaken up to the point that it splits in two fragments of comparable size, releasing a great amount of energy.
1939-1945 World War II. A world-wide conflict is started by Hitler's Germany, whose army annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia, then attacked Poland. Germany was allied with Italy and after December 1941 with Japan, which launched its own war of expansion (it had invaded China years before that). A war with unsurpassed destruction and cruelty, including Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jewish people, of whom about 6 million were killed in a deliberate plan. Technology played an even greater role than in World War I, including long-range bombing raids, improved submarines, jet engines, radar and towards the end, large military rockets and nuclear bombs. Opposing Hitler were France (which fell to the Germans), Britain, Russia and after 1941, the United States: 1941-3 the Germans became bogged down in brutal winter fighting in Russia, in 1943 the US and its allies invaded Italy and forced its surrender, then in 1944 they invaded France and in 1945 first Germany and then Japan surrendered. In 1945 in San Francisco, the victors formed the "United Nations", an international union whose major role was to ensure peace and arbitrate conflicts.
1942, 2 December--The first nuclear reactor, designed by Enrico Fermi, is successfully operated in Chicago.
1943 --- Oswald Avery at the Rockefeller Institute in New York proves that DNA, a hitherto unexplained substance in all nuclei of living cells, carries the genetic information.
1945--The nuclear ("atomic") bomb is perfected in the US, tested in New Mexico, 16 July, dropped on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 6 and 9), leading to Japan's surrender.
1946 Walter Elsasser tries to calculate dynamo solutions. 1947 Ron Giovanelli proposes that magnetic neutral points near sunspots are the site of flare energy release.
1951 Jan Hospers publishes study of Icelandic lavas, concludes from their magnetization that reversals were real.
- 1947, 14 October---X-1 rocket plane piloted by Chuck Yaeger breaks sound barrier.
- 1947---Transistor invented, compact solid-state device that replaces the triode and is much more durable.
- 1947---India becomes independent, along with a great number of colonies (especially in Africa), as Britain and France dismantle most of their empires. Indonesia is established in 1949.
- 1948-1949---The start of the "cold war" between the western allies (Britain, France and the US) and the Soviet Union, with a blockade of Berlin by the Soviets, who try to force out the western allies. Contact is maintained by a massive airlift.
- 1949---A million TV receivers (black-and-white) in the US; two years later the number reaches 10 million.
- 1949--Britain puts the first jet airliner into service, the Comet. It is later withdrawn because of structural faults, but by 1958 the French Caravelle and the larger Boeing 707 jets enter service. Gradually jets begin dominating air transport, while travel by ocean liners declines sharply.
- 1950---The "Marshall Plan" led by US general George C. Marshall revitalizes the European economy by providing extensive but judicious aid.
- 1950---North Korea invades South Korea. The US army stops the invasion and after a while enters North Korea, but a major intervention by China's army forces a stalemate.
1952 Keith Runcorn promotes "polar wandering" to explain magnetic reversals.
- 1951--UNIVAC, first large electronic computer, built by Sperry-Rand.
1955 Franklin and Burke detect radio emissions from Jupiter. Eugene Parker proposes way for solar toroidal fields to strengthen the poloidal field.
- 1952---United States explodes "Mike", the first hydrogen bomb, perhaps 500 times more powerful than the nuclear "atomic" bomb.
- 1953---Edmund Hillary and Tenzing reach the top of Mt. Everest.
- 1954---Following a supreme court ruling, the US government outlaws Black/White segregation in public schools.
1957 Sputnik 1 and 2 begin the era of spaceflight. Fred Singer proposes a ring current carried by trapped low-energy particles. 1958 Explorers 1 and 3 discover the inner radiation belt. Eugene Parker predicts the solar wind.
- 1955---Jonas Salk develops vaccine against polyomyelities, followed (1960) by Albert Sabin's oral vaccine; the disease is effectively eradicated.
- 1953-1958---Watson and Crick show that DNA is a double helix and its mode of replication is established. By 1966 the "genetic code" is revealed, by which specific proteins are created. The beginning of modern molecular biology.
- 1956--Soviet army crushes attempt of Hungary to break away from Communist block.
- 1956---First large commercial nuclear power station, at Calder Hall, opens in Britain.
1959 Tom Gold coins word "Magnetosphere." Drake proposes Jupiter has a radiation belt.
- 1958---Interstate highway network in the US started.
- 1958---NASA established by US President Eisenhower.
1961 Hess and Dietz propose Earth's crust spreads out from mid-ocean ridges. Magnetic reconnection and plasma convection in the magnetosphere proposed by Dungey, Axford and Hines. Babcock proposes empirical theory of sunspot cycle.
1962 Morley, Vine and Matthews propose that magnetic banding of the ocean floor is produced by seafloor spreading and polar reversals. Magnetopause crossed by Explorer 12. Mariner 2 maps solar wind and its streams.
- 1961, 12 April---Yuri Gagarin becomes first human to orbit Earth.
- ---25 May---US president J.F. Kennedy announces project to land human on Moon within decade.
1963 IMP 1 launched, first mapping of the Earth's magnetotail. Vanguard 3 maps the Earth's internal field from orbit.
- 1962, 20 February---John Glenn becomes first American in orbit.
1964 Akasofu, Meng et al. analyze morphology of magnetic substorms. Braginsky publishes solutions to the kinematic dynamo problem.
1965 Heirtzler produces map of symmetric magnetic banding of the ocean floor.
1966 Steenbeck at al propose the "alpha dynamo," generalizing an idea of Parker.
1969 Schields, Dessler and Freeman propose a system of "Birkeland currents" linking Earth to space.
- 1963---Nuclear test ban treaty
1971-72 Lunar magnetic field surveyed by lunar satellites from Apollo 15, 16.
1972 OGO 7 observes "coronal holes", later (1974) studied aboard "Skylab."
1974 Zmuda and Armstrong publish map of polar "Birkeland currents."
1973 Pioneer 10 crosses Jupiter magnetosphere (4 December), followed by Pioneer 11 (1974), Voyagers 1 and 2 (1979) and Galileo (enters orbit, 1995).
1974 Zmuda and Armstrong publish map of polar "Birkeland currents."
1974 Mariner 10 flies by Mercury, observes its magnetic field.
1975 Lowes and Wilkinson demonstrate dynamo action in the lab.
- 1969, 20 July---Apollo 11 astronauts land on the Moon.
- 1970, 11 February---First launch of a Japanese spacecraft, by Lambda 4S rocket.
- ---17 November---Soviet Russia lands remotely controlled vehicle (Lunokhod) on the surface of the Moon.
1981 First precision mapping of the Earth's field from space, by Magsat.
- 1975---Viet Nam war ends.
- 1975---Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak create the first personal computer, the "Apple"
- 1976, 20 July---Viking 1 soft-lands on Mars, takes pictures, searches for life.
- 1977, 5 September (August 20) ---Voyager 1 (2) launched towards Jupiter. arriving 5 March (9 July) 1979, continuing to encounter Saturn 12 November 1980 (26 August 1981) . Voyager 2 continued to Uranus (25 January 1985) and Neptune (25 August 1989).
1994 Ulysses observes fast solar wind above Sun's south pole.
1997 Mars Global Surveyor observes Mars crustal magnetization, no core field. Mapping phase, March '99--Aug 2000.
1997 Glatzmaier et al. use computer to simulate the Earth's dynamo and its reversals.
1999 "Oersted" satellite launched to map the Earth's main field.
- 1981, 12 April---First flight of the Space Shuttle.
- 1981---AIDS begins spreading in the US.