Light Wave


On This Day in Science - March 24

By Jake Beardslee · March 24, 2024

From revolutionary theories that challenged conventional wisdom to ingenious inventions that propelled humanity forward, each day marks a significant step in the relentless pursuit of knowledge.

Join us as we unravel the captivating stories behind these scientific milestones, celebrating the inquisitive minds and tenacious spirits that dared to push the boundaries of what was once thought impossible.

Let's explore the scientific events that occurred on this day, March 24.  Unsplash

Swine Flu Vaccination Program

On March 24, 1976, President Ford called for a nationwide $135 million program to vaccinate the entire U.S. population against swine flu, following advice from medical experts who feared a potential pandemic.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Wikimedia

MASER Patented

Charles Townes patented the "MASER" (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) on March 24, 1959, an invention that amplifies and produces electromagnetic energy from excited molecules or atoms.  Dan Rubin/Wikimedia

Offshore Oil Rig Milestone

The first seagoing oil drill rig capable of operating in over 100 feet of water was placed into service by C.G. Glasscock Drilling Co. on March 24, 1955, marking a significant advancement in offshore drilling.  ENERGY.GOV/Wikimedia

Rotary Disk Plow Invention

On March 24, 1896, Clement Hardy was issued a patent for the rotary disk plow, a revolutionary design that allowed for more efficient plowing with reduced machinery weight.  Percy Benzie Abery/Wikimedia

Tuberculosis Breakthrough

German scientist Robert Koch declared his discovery of the bacillus responsible for tuberculosis to the Berlin Physiological Society on March 24, 1882, a groundbreaking achievement that led to the development of Koch's postulates.  Wellcome Images/Wikimedia

Road Locomotive Patented

On March 24, 1802, Richard Trevithick took out his first patent for the first full-sized road locomotive, which he had successfully demonstrated to the public on December 24, 1801.  Histoire de l'automobile, Pierre Souvestre, éd. H. Dunod et E. Pinat, 1907/Wikimedia

Pioneering Astrophysicist's Birth

On March 24, 1893, Walter Baade, the German-American astronomer who proposed the existence of neutron stars and defined two stellar populations, was born, greatly expanding our understanding of the universe's scale.  NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine/Wikimedia

Birth of Fertility Doctor

American obstetrician and gynecologist John Rock, known as the "father of the birth control pill," was born on March 24, 1890, significantly contributing to the development and approval of oral contraceptives.  Internet Archive Book Images/Wikimedia

Discovery of Ruthenium

Russian chemist Karl Karlovich Klaus died on March 24, 1864, after discovering the element ruthenium in 1844, the last dense, inert, platinum-like metal to be found at the time.   Красицкий В. А. Химия и химики: цена открытий // Химия и жизнь : журнал/Wikimedia

Triads and the Periodic Table

German chemist Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner, who observed triads of elements with related properties and atomic masses, died on March 24, 1849, after paving the way for the development of the periodic table.  Carl August Schwerdgeburth, 1785-1878 (engraver), and Fritz Ries, 1826-1857 (painter)/Wikimedia

Solving the Longitude Problem

English horologist John Harrison, the inventor of the first practical marine chronometer that enabled accurate calculation of longitude at sea, died on March 24, 1776, after winning a prize for this groundbreaking achievement.  Engraved from the oil painting by Thomas King/Wikimedia

Birth of the "Father of Mineralogy"

Georgius Agricola, the German scholar known as the "father of mineralogy," who founded the natural science of minerals upon observation rather than ancient theories, was born on March 24, 1494.  Georg Agricola (Bauer) 1494-1555/Wikimedia

Pioneering Spectroscopy Work

On March 24, 1835, Josef Stefan, the Austrian physicist who proposed the law of radiation (Stefan's law) relating energy radiated by a black body to its temperature, was born, making significant contributions to the field of thermodynamics.  K. Schönbauer/Wikimedia

Exploring the Colorado River

American geologist and ethnologist John Wesley Powell, who led the first expedition down the then-unknown Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1869, was born on March 24, 1834.  Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institution/Wikimedia

Eccentric Reformer's Birth

George Francis Train, an American businessman and eccentric reformer known for establishing horse tramways in London and potentially inspiring Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days," was born on March 24, 1829.  Miscellaneous Items in High Demand, PPOC, Library of Congress/Wikimedia

Discovery of Photovoltaic Effect

On March 24, 1820, French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel, who discovered the photovoltaic effect (the basis of solar cells) in 1839, was born, paving the way for the conversion of light into electrical energy.  Nadar/Wikimedia