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Dictionary of US History
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Sacajawea, also spelled Sacagawea (1788-1812) was a Shoshone Indian who guided, and acted as interpreter and negotiator for Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their exploratory expedition. She traveled with them from North Dakota to the Oregon coast and back.
For more information on Sacajawea, click here.
Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was an American astronomer who discovered that the surface of Venus was extraordinarily hot and noxious (contrary to previous models of a mild Venusian surface). Sagan also showed that the universe has many organic (carbon-based) chemicals and that life is likely to exist throughout the cosmos. He was a great popularizer of astronomy, was also involved in many NASA flights and SETI, and he pioneered the field of exobiology.
Jonas Salk (1914-1995) was a research physician who formulated a vaccine against the devastating disease polio. Poliomyelitis, also called infantile paralysis, had crippled thousands of children during an epidemic that hit the world during the 1940's and 1950's. It is estimated that one of every 5,000 people (mostly children) fell victim to polio. Some victims were totally paralyzed and need to live in "iron lungs" (a large apparatus that helped the patient breathe). Salk's developed his vaccine in 1947, while working at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. The vaccine was made from killed polio virus. In 1955, after many trials of the new vaccine, the vaccine was made public, and put an end to the polio epidemic. Salk wrote many books, including: "Man Unfolding" (1972), "The Survival of the Wisest "(1973), "World Population and Human Values: A New Reality" (1981), and "Anatomy of Reality" (1983). When Salk died, he had been working on a vaccine for the AIDS virus.
|Sandage, Allan R.
Allan Rex Sandage (1926-) is an astronomer who, in the 1950's, measured the rate of the expansion of the Universe, Hubble's constant (H), which he calculated to be 50 km/sec/mpc. From this, Sandage estimated of the age of the Universe (T) to be 19.2 billion years [T = 2/3 x (1/H) ]. These calculations have changed through the years and now, H=~ 75 (T=12.9 billion years) is more generally accepted. Sandage also discovered quasars in 1964.
Joseph Gayetty invented toilet paper in 1857. His new toilet paper was composed of flat sheets. Before Gayetty's invention, people tore pages out of mail order catalogs - before catalogs were common, leaves were used. Unfortunately, Gayetty's invention failed. Walter Alcock (of Great Britain) later developed toilet paper on a roll ( instead of in flat sheets). Again, the invention failed.
In 1867, Thomas, Edward and Clarence Scott (brothers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) were successful at marketing toilet paper that consisted of a small roll of perforated paper . They sold their new toilet paper from a push cart - this was the beginning of the Scott Paper Company.
Dred Scott (1795-1858) was a a slave who sued for his freedom in court, since he had been taken to a "free" state (Wisconsin). He lost his case in St. Louis, Missouri, but won it on appeal. His case was again appealed and Scott lost. The results of his court case led to major political upheavals in the USA and eventually, the Civil War.
|Seely, Henry W.
The electric iron was invented in 1882 by Henry W. Seeley, a New York inventor Seeley patented his "electric flatiron" on June 6, 1882 (patent no. 259,054). His iron weighed almost 15 pounds and took a long time to warm up.
Other electric irons had also been invented, including one from France (1882), but it used a carbon arc to heat the iron, a method which was dangerous.
|Sereno, Paul C.
Paul C. Sereno (1958 - ) is a US paleontologist from the University of Chicago who has worked in South America, Asia and Africa. He discovered the first complete skull of Herrerasaurus, excavated a giant Carcharodontosaurus (1996), found and named Afrovenator (with others, 1994), named the oldest-known dinosaur, Eoraptor (with others, 1993), Suchomimus, found the second oldest fossils bird, Sinornis ("Chinese bird"), in 1991, Jobaria, and Nigersaurus. Sereno named: Deltadromeus (1996) and Marasuchus (with Arcucci, 1994). He has rearranged the dinosaur family tree, reorganizing the ornithischians and naming the clade Cerapoda (1986), formed from the ornithopods and marginocephalians.
Father Junipero Serra (1713-1784) was a Spanish Franciscan priest who traveled to Mexico in 1749 to do missionary work and perform other church functions.
In 1767, Serra went north from Mexico to what is now California and continued his missionary work, converting native Americans zealously (sometimes forcibly). He founded many missions in California, including the Mission of San Diego (founded in 1769) and 8 other missions, which were often built by the forced labor of Indians who were rounded up by Spanish soldiers. The death rate of Native Americans at Serra's missions was tremendously high; many more died than were baptized. Serra also helped an expedition in locating San Francisco.
Father Serra was well-known for his acts of mortification of the flesh; he wore heavy hair shirts with sharp wires that rubbed against his skin, he whipped himself, and he burned himself with candles. Although the Catholic church bestowed sainthood on Serra in 1988 for his missionary work, his cruelty and the tremendously negative effect he had on Native Americans have made him a very controversial saint to many people.
Harlow Shapley (1885-1972) was an American astronomer who was the first person to accurately estimate the size of the Milky Way Galaxy and our position in it.
Alan B. Shepard Jr. (1923-1998) piloted America's first manned space mission. This astronaut briefly flew into space on May 5, 1961, in Freedom 7, a Mercury space capsule. The capsule splashed down at sea and was retrieved by helicopter. Shepard also piloted Apollo XIV to the moon, accompanied by Edgar D. Mitchell and Stuart A. Roosa. They took off on January 31, 1971. Shepard and Mitchell landed on the moon in the lunar module (landing near the Fra Mauro Crater) on February 5, 1971, while Roosa orbited the moon in the command module. Shepard hit golf balls on the moon during this historic trip.
Click here for a coloring page on Shepard.
The first typewriter was invented in 1867 by the American printer and editor Christopher Latham Sholes (Feb. 14, 1819 - Feb. 17, 1890). Sholes' prototype had the user hit a key (for each letter and number), which struck upward onto a flat plate, producing a carbon impression of the letter or number on the paper. He made the prototype using the key of an old telegraph transmitter. There was no way of spacing the letters, no carriage return, and no shift keys; these features would be added to later models.
Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soulé also worked in the Kleinstuber Machine Shop with Sholes, and they helped with his inventions. Their first patent was obtained on June 23, 1868. Sholes and Glidden sold the rights to their invention to the investor James Densmore, who eventually had the machine commercially manufactured. Their first commercial model was called the "Sholes & Glidden Type Writer," and was later called the Remington typewriter. It was produced by the gunmakers E. Remington & Sons in Ilion, NY, from 1874-1878. The first author to submit a typed book manuscript was Mark Twain. Sholes' typewriter was the beginning of a revolution in communication.
Sitting Bull, Tatanka-Iyotanka (1831-1890) was a great Sioux (Hunkpapa Lakota) Indian chief and the last chief to surrender to the U.S. government.
Jedediah Smith (1798-1831) was an American mountain man, hunter, trapper, and explorer. Smith was from New York and was the first European American to reach California overland from the east (though the Rocky Mountains and the Mojave Desert). He was also the first European American to cross the Great Basin Desert via the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Great Salt Lake (on his return from California). During this trip, the heat was so unbearable that Smith and his men resorted to burying themselves in the sand during the hottest parts of the day. Smith was killed by Comanche Indians on the Santa Fe Trail near the Cimarron River in 1831. His body was never found. Smith never published an account of his travels, so little is known about them.
John Smith (January 9, 1580 - June, 1631) was an English adventurer and soldier, and one of the founders and leaders of the Jamestown, Virginia, settlement. Smith also led expeditions exploring Chesapeake Bay and the New England coast.
Smith was one of 105 settlers who sailed from England on December 19, 1606, and landed in Virginia on April 26, 1607. When they reached North America, the group opened sealed instructions and found that Smith was chosen as one of the seven leaders of the new colony.
|Sternberg, Charles H.
A fossil hunter who found many dinosaurs for E.D. Cope, mostly in Alberta, Canada from 1912-1917. He worked with his sons Charles M., George, and Levi.
|Sternberg, Charles M.
Charles M. Sternberg (son of Charles H. Sternberg, who collected fossils for E. D. Cope, working mostly in Alberta, Canada from 1912-1917) was a US fossil hunter who named the following dinosaurs: Brachylophosaurus (1953), Edmontonia (1928), Macrophalangia (1932), Montanoceratops (1951), the Pachycephalosaurid family (1945), Pachyrhinosaurus (1950), Parksosaurus (1937), and Stenonychosaurus (1932).
Levi Strauss (1829-1902) was an entrepreneur who invented and marketed blue jeans. Trained as a tailor in Buttenheim, Bavaria, Germany, Strauss went to San Francisco, USA from New York in 1853. Strauss sold dry goods, including tents and linens to the 49ers (the people who came to the California gold rush, which began in 1849). In 1873, Strauss and Jacob Davis, a Nevada tailor, patented the idea (devised by Davis) of using copper rivets at the stress points of sturdy work pants. Early levis, called "waist overalls," came in a brown canvas duck fabric and a heavy blue denim fabric. The duck fabric pants were not very successful, so were dropped early on. His business became extremely successful (and still is), revolutionizing the apparel industry.
Peter Stuyvesant (1592-1672) was a Dutch colonial governor of New Amsterdam (now called New York City). Stuyvesant was born in Holland and began working for the Dutch West India Company in 1632. In 1643, Stuyvesant was appointed the director of Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire (islands in the Caribbean). Fighting against the Portuguese in the Caribbean, Stuyvesant lost his right leg when it was crushed by a cannonball, and thereafter walked on a silver-tipped wooden leg.
In 1645, Stuyvesant became the director general of the extensive Dutch lands in North America, including islands in the Caribbean. He went to New Amsterdam (New York City, New York) as governor in 1647, succeeding Willem Kieft. Stuyvesant ruled the chaotic colony in a harsh, despotic manner that was often resented by the colonists. After the colonists demanded self-governance, Stuyvesant appointed a 9-man advisory board based on a model of Dutch government (this was the first municipal government in New Amsterdam), but Stuyvesant was still in charge. In a boundary dispute, Stuyvesant gave up a large tract of land between New Netherland and Connecticut in 1650. He also conquered New Sweden, driving Swedish colonists from their land along the Delaware River.
Stuyvesant lost New Amsterdam to the British in 1664, when the colonists decided to surrender to the British without a fight (against Stuyvesant's wishes). New Amsterdam was renamed New York, and the British Captain Richard Nicholls became governor. Stuyvesant later retired to his 62-acre farm on Manhattan, called the Great Bouwerie. (Bouwerie is the old Dutch word for farm, from which the modern-day Bowery gets its name.) Stuyvesant died in August, 1672.
Tea bags were invented by Thomas Sullivan around 1908. The first bags were made from silk. Sullivan was a tea and coffee merchant in New York who began packaging tea sample in tiny silk bags, but many customers brewed the tea in them (the tea-filled bag was placed directly into the boiling water where the tea brewed, instead of the traditional way of brewing loose tea in a teapot). Later tea bags were made of thin paper.
The zipper was improved by the Swedish-American engineer, Gideon Sundbach, in 1913. Sundbach was also successful at selling his "Hookless 2." Sundbach sold these fasteners to the US Army, who put zippers on soldiers' clothing and gear during World War I.
The word zipper was coined by B.F. Goodrich in 1923, whose company sold rubber galoshes equipped with zippers. Goodrich is said to have named them zippers because he liked the zipping sound they made when opened and closed.
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