ON THIS DAY… The black box was born

Research scientist David Warren lost his father to an airline disaster when he was a boy, then went on to revolutionise global aviation safety.
ON 17 MARCH 1953, Melbourne Aeronautical Research Laboratory scientist David Warren brought a ‘game changer’ to the aviation industry, when he invented the world’s first-ever ‘black box.’
In little more than 60 years, it has gone from a single prototype, to a mandatory piece of airline equipment – this journey experiencing a fair share of turbulence along the way.
During the 1950s, David was working on investigations into a series of fatal crashes of the world’s first jet-powered commercial aircraft, the Comet. (It must have been work that hit close to home, having lost his own father in one of Australia’s earliest air disasters in 1934 when Miss Hobart crashed in the Bass Strait).
It was during this time he had his light-bulb moment – if the final moments of the flights had been recorded, they could have provided valuable information.
“Aircraft accidents can be very difficult to investigate if there are no survivors, no eyewitnesses and the aircraft wreckage is fragmented,” explains Neil Campbell, senior transport safety investigator at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
“This is exactly the scenario in the 1950s when the British Comet aircraft was developed and had a series of accidents. The accidents were very difficult to explain without black boxes.”
1985 ABC News Interview with Dr David Warren about his 1956 invention of the Black Box Flight Recorder. ABC News: ‘Black Box Flight Recorder Inventor’ first broadcast on 29 June 1985. (Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
And so, in 1953, the first black box was born, featuring a thin metal wire that could continually store flight instrument readings and up to four hours of voice recordings before a crash.
He pitched the idea internationally, but it fell flat, and David – alongside team members Kenneth Fraser, Lane Sear and Dr Walter Boswell – spent the next few years developing the technology, producing a demonstration model in 1957.
In 1958, the idea took flight, when former British air vice-marshal Sir Robert Hardingham visited the laboratory and saw its potential and England’s Ministry of Aviation followed suit soon after.
However it wasn’t until 1960 – seven years later – that Australia caught on, when a Fokker F27 Friendship plane crash in Mackay, Queensland, killed 29 people, and the judge ordered black boxes be fitted in all future Australian aircraft.
Overnight, Australia went from taking little interest, to being the first country in the world to make cock-pit voice recording compulsory. (Courtesy Australian Geographic)
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Leap Year 2016: Why does February have 29 days every four years?

Leap Year 2016: Why does February have 29 days every four years? (The Telegraph UK.)

When is it, why does it happen and everything else you need to know about the leap year in 2016
Why do we have leap years?
A leap year, where an extra day is added to the end of February every four years, is down to the solar system’s disparity with the Gregorian calendar.
A complete orbit of the earth around the sun takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete, but the Gregorian calendar uses 365 days.
So leap seconds – and leap years – are added as means of keeping our clocks (and calendars) in sync with the Earth and its seasons.
Why does the extra day fall in February?
All the other months in the Julian calendar have 30 or 31 days, but February lost out to the ego of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.
Under his predecessor Julius Caesar, February had 30 days and the month named after him – July – had 31. August had only 29 days.
When Caesar Augustus became Emperor he added two days to ‘his’ month to make August the same as July.
So February lost out to August in the battle of the extra days. Click this link to read more.
Photo: Getty Images

Frog Leap: Getty Images

On this day in 1970 – the computer mouse was invented.

Douglas Carl Engelbart (January 30, 1925 – July 2, 2013) was an American engineer and inventor, and an early computer and Internet pioneer. He is best known for his work on the challenges of human–computer interaction, particularly while at his Augmentation Research Center Lab in SRI International, resulting in the invention of the computer mouse and the development of hypertext, networked computers, and precursors to graphical user interfaces
In the early 1950s, he decided that instead of “having a steady job” (such as his position at NASA’s Ames Research Center) he would focus on making the world a better place, especially through the use of computers. Engelbart was therefore a committed, vocal proponent of the development and use of computers and computer networks to help cope with the world’s increasingly urgent and complex problems. Engelbart embedded a set of organizing principles in his lab, which he termed “”. He designed the strategy to accelerate the rate of innovation of his lab.

Douglas Engelbart in 2008
Douglas Engelbart in 2008


On this day… July 1, 2004 Marlon Brando died – actor

Marlon Brando – actor.
Born April 3, 1924 – died July 1, 2004 (aged 80).
Hailed for bringing a gripping realism to film acting and is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time.
A cultural icon, he is most famous for his Oscar-winning performances as Terry Malloy in “On the Waterfront” and Vito Corleone in “The Godfather”. 
Other influential performances include in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “Viva Zapata!”, “Julius Caesar”, “The Wild One”, “Reflections in a Golden Eye”, “Last Tango in Paris” and “Apocalypse Now”.



On this day… June 15, 1996 Ella Fitzgerald died – jazz vocalist

Ella Fitzgerald, known as the “First Lady of Song” was an American jazz vocalist who interpreted much of the Great American Songbook.
Discovered in an amateur contest in 1932, she went on to became the top female jazz singer for decades. In 1958, Fitzgerald made history as the first African-American woman to win a Grammy Award. Due in no small part to her vocal quality, with lucid intonation and a broad range, the singer would go on to win 13 Grammys in total and sell more than 40 million albums. Her multi-volume “songbooks” are among jazz music’s recording treasures. She made some of her most popular albums for the Verve label, starting out with 1956’s Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book. At the very first Grammy Awards in 1958, Fitzgerald picked up her first two Grammys—and made history as the first African-American woman to win the award.A truly collaborative soul, Fitzgerald produced great recordings with such artists as Louis Armstrong and Count Basie. In 1960, Fitzgerald broke into the pop charts with her rendition of “Mack the Knife.” She was still going strong well into the ’70s, playing concerts across the globe. One especially memorable concert series from this time was a two-week engagement in New York City in 1974 with Sinatra and Basie. Fitzgerald died in California in 1996.

ella-fitzgerald-14Empowering-women-6Ella Fitzgeraldella_fitzgerald460_692768

HANDOUT PHOTO: Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington & Benny Goodman, NYC, 1948 photographed by Herman Leonard.  (Herman Leonard Photography, LLC)MANDITORY CREDIT ONE TIME USE ONLY WITH CREDIT FOR OBIT ONLY  StaffPhoto imported to Merlin on  Tue Aug 17 18:42:14 2010
PHOTO: Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington & Benny Goodman, NYC, 1948 photographed by Herman Leonard. (Herman Leonard Photography)




On this day… May 1, 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman ever to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

On this day in 1932, Amelia Earhart, possibly the most well recognised, pioneering female pilot of all time, became the first woman ever to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Amelia Earhart standing in front of the Lockheed Electra in which she disappeared in July 1937. Born in Atchison, Kansas in 1897, Amelia Earhart did not begin flying until after her move to California in 1920. After taking lessons from aviation pioneer Ne
Amelia Earhart standing in front of the Lockheed Electra in which she disappeared in July 1937. Born in Atchison, Kansas in 1897, Amelia Earhart did not begin flying until after her move to California in 1920.






On this day… May 2, 1519 Leonardo da Vinci died. Painter, sculptor, inventor

LEONARDO DA VINCI died on this day in 1519 aged 67.
Full Name: Leonardo da Vinci
Nationality: Italian
Profession: Painter, Scientist & Visionary
Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. One of the greatest painters 
of all time.
He conceptualised flying machines, a tank, concentrated solar power, an adding machine, the double hull, and a theory of plate tectonics.
Born: 15th April, 1452
Star Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vinci, Florence, Italy
1496 – Leonardo da Vinci unsuccessfully tests a flying machine.
1999 – In Milan, Italy, after 22 years of restoration work, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece “The Last Supper” is put back on display.


Some of Leonardo’s many inventions: airplane, ball bearing, parachute, motor car