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Dictionary of US History
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Leo Hendrik Baekeland (November 14, 1863 - February 23, 1944) was a Belgian-born American chemist who invented Velox photographic paper (1893) and Bakelite (1907), an inexpensive, nonflammable, versatile, and very popular plastic.
Robert Duane Ballard (June 30, 1942 - ) is an American undersea explorer, marine scientist, and US Naval officer who has been on over 65 underwater expeditions in submarines and deep diving submersibles. He found the Titanic and many other wrecks. Ballard has revolutionized undersea exploring by using remotely controlled submersible robotic devices (including Argo-Jason; Argo is a remotely controlled submersible vehicle with cameras, and Jason is carried in Argo and sent from it to collect samples and perform other functions). Ballard founded the JASON project and continues to explore the sea.
For more information on Ballard, click here.
Robert Bakker is a US paleontologist and dinosaur artist who revolutionized people's concepts of dinosaurs in the late 1960's, drawing them as active animals standing upright and not dragging their tails. He named: Chassternbergia (1988), Denversaurus (1988), Drinker (1990, with others), Edmarka (1992, with others), and Nanotyrannus (with others, 1988).
William Beebe (1877 - 1962) was an American naturalist and undersea explorer. In 1932, Beebe and Otis Barton descended 3,000 ft (914 m) in a bathysphere (a pressurized steel sphere invented by Beebe and Barton). They descended off the coast of Nonsuch Island, Bermuda, in the Atlantic Ocean. During the dive, they communicated with the surface via telephone. Beebe wrote many books detailing this and his other adventures around the world.
|Barnard, E. E.
Edward Emerson Barnard (1857-1923) was an American astronomer who discovered Barnard's star (the star system second-closest to us) in 1916, 16 comets, and Amalthea, a moon of Jupiter, in 1892.
Clara Barton (1821-1912) founded the American branch of the Red Cross. During the Civil War, Barton had been working as a clerk in the Patent Office (she was the first female clerk there) when she up an organization to supply food and medicines to wounded troops. She also nursed the wounded. On a later visit to Switzerland, Barton saw the work of the International Red Cross (which was founded in 1864) and after she returned to the US, she founded the American Red Cross (in 1881).
|Bell, Alexander Graham
Alexander Graham Bell (March 3, 1847, Edinburgh, Scotland - August 2, 1922, Baddek, Nova Scotia) invented the telephone (with Thomas Watson) in 1876. Bell also improved Thomas Edison's phonograph. Bell invented the multiple telegraph (1875), the hydroairplane, the photo-sensitive selenium cell (the photophone, a wireless phone, developed with Sumner Tainter), and new techniques for teaching the deaf to speak. In 1882, Bell and his father-in-law, Gardiner Hubbard, bought and re-organized the journal "Science." Bell, Hubbard and others founded the National Geographic Society in 1888; Bell was the President of the National Geographic Society from 1898 to 1903.
|Bering, Vitus J.
Vitus Jonassen Bering (1681-1741) was a Danish explorer and navigator who explored the seas off Alaska and northeastern Siberia. Bering was a sublieutenant in the fleet of Tsar Peter I the Great of Russia.
From 1725-1730, Bering led an expedition to determine whether or not Asia and North America were connected by a land bridge. Bering sailed through what is now known as the Bering Strait, finding a sea route around Siberia to China. He concluded that Asia and North America were not connected (although he did not actually see North America due to fog).
On a second expedition (the Great Nordic Expedition) in 1741, Bering mapped much of the Arctic coast of Siberia for the Russian Empress Anna. Bering reached North America in July 1741. After being blown off course and having both a crew and captain affected by scurvy (a lack of vitamin C), Bering's ship was wrecked on a small island near Kamchatka, Russia. Bering and his crew spent winter of 1741 on this bare bit of land, where Bering and half his crew died. This island is now called Bering Island. The remaining crew (which included the German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller) survived by eating Steller's seacows (which were given their name because they tasted like beef) and by building a boat from the wrecked ship. Only 27 years after being discovered, Steller's sea cows were hunted to extinction.
|Berson, Solomon A.
Dr. Solomon A. Berson (1919-1972) and Dr. Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921- ) co-invented the radioimmunoassay (RIA) in 1959. The radioimmunoassay is a method of chemically analyzing human blood and tissue and is used diagnose illness (like diabetes). RIA revolutionized diagnoses because it uses only a tiny sample of blood or tissue and is a relatively inexpensive and simple test to perform. Blood banks use RIA to screen blood; RIA is used to detect drug use, high blood pressure, infertility, and many other conditions and diseases. For inventing RIA, Yalow won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1977 (Yalow accepted for Berson, who died in 1972). Yalow and Berson did not patent the RIA; instead they allowed the common use of RIA to benefit human health.
|Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution. These amendments were ratified on December 15, 1791. The Bill of Rights was proposed to ensure that individuals would have civil rights and could avoid the tyranny of an overly-powerful central government, which the Colonists had experienced both before and during the US Revolution.
|Bird, Roland T.
Roland T. Bird (1899-1978) was an American fossil hunter who rode aroung the USA on a Harley Davidson motorcycle looking for dinosaur fossils for the American Museum of Natural History. His most spectacular find was the Glen RoseTrackway, a beautiful set of 105-million-year-old fossil dinosaur footprints that he found in 1938 in Texas along the Paluxy River. He and Barnum Brown were also involved in excavating the Howe Quarry in Wyoming, which contained many dinosaur fossils.
Dr. Guion Stewart Bluford Jr. (November 22, 1942-) was the first African-American in space. A NASA astronaut, he flew aboard the Challenger Space Shuttle mission STS-8 as a mission specialist. The flight lasted from August 30, 1983, until September 5, 1983. Dr. Bluford is an aerospace engineer with a Ph.D from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He is also a colonel in the US Air Force. He later flew on other space missions, including STS-61A (in 1985), STS-39 (in 1991), and STS-53 (in 1992). In total, Bluford logged over 688 hours in space. Dr. Bluford became a NASA astronaut in August 1979. Dr. Bluford is married and has two children.
|Bond, William C.
William Cranch Bond (1789-1859) was an American astronomer who, with William Lassell, discovered Saturn's moon Hyperion in 1848. He was the first director of the Harvard College Observatory.
Colonel Daniel Boone (1734-1820) was an American pioneer, soldier, and explorer; he was born near Reading, Pennsylvania. Boone founded the first US settlement west of the Appalachian mountains.
A frontiersman and folk hero, Boone explored the Kentucky wilderness from 1769 to 1782. He traveled down the Ohio River, and trapped furs in the Green and Cumberland Valleys.
|Boyd, Louise A.
Louise Arner Boyd (1887-1972), known as the "ice woman," was an American who repeatedly explored and photographed the Arctic Ocean; she was also the first woman to fly over the North Pole. Born in San Rafael, California, (near San Francisco), Boyd inherited the family fortune (made by her father's investment company) when she was 33 years old (in 1920).
Barnum Brown (1873-1963) was a great US dinosaur hunter and assistant curator of the American Museum of Natural History. Brown discovered many dinosaurs, including the first T. rex specimens. He named: Anchiceratops (1914), Ankylosaurus (1908), Corythosaurus (1914), Hypacrosaurus (1913), Kritosaurus (1910), Leptoceratops (1914), Prosaurolophus (1916), Saurolophus (1912), and the family Ankylosauridae (1908). He co-named Pachycephalosaurus (1943) and Dromaeosaurus (with E. M. Schlaikjer, 1922).
|Bruce, B. K.
Blanche Kelso Bruce (March 1, 1841-1898) was the first African-American who served a full term in the U.S. Senate. Senator Bruce was born a slave on the Farmville Plantation, Virginia. He was educated by his owner's son, and he later went to Oberlin Colllege (in Ohio). Bruce was a Republican senator representing Mississippi; he served from March 5, 1875 until March 3, 1881. During his term, Bruce fought for the rights of minority groups, including African-Americans, Native Americans, and Asian immigrants. After his term as senator, Bruce was appointed registrar of the treasury. He rejected an offer of a ministerial appointment to Brazil because slavery was still legal there.
James Buchanan (April 23, 1791-June 1, 1868) was the 15th President of the USA (he was President from 1857-1861 and was a member of the Democratic party). Educated as a lawyer, Buchanan had worked as a Pennsylvania state legislator, Representative, minister to Russia, US Senator, Secretary of State (to President James K. Polk), and minister to Great Britain. After he was elected President, Buchanan fought to preserve the Union (the North and the South were heading towards war over the issue of slavery). Although he was against slavery, Buchanan let Kansas (a slave state) join the Union - this angered the anti-slavery North. Buchanan's support of the outcome of the Dred Scott court case (in which it was ruled that Scott, a black man could not obtain his freedom because he was not a US citizen) also decreased support in the North. Lincoln became President in 1861 after Buchanan left office.
Luther Burbank (1849-1926) was an American plant breeder who developed over 800 new strains of plants, including many popular varieties of potato, plums, prunes, berries, trees, and flowers. One of his greatest inventions was the Russet Burbank potato (also called the Idaho potato), which he developed in 1871. This blight-resistant potato helped Ireland recover from its devastating potato famine of 1840-60. Burbank also developed the Flaming Gold nectarine, the Santa Rosa plum, and the Shasta daisy. Burbank was raised on a farm and only went to elementary school; he was self-educated. Burbank applied the works of Charles Darwin to plants. Of Darwin's The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Burbank said, "It opened up a new world to me."
|Bush, George H. W.
George Herbert Walker Bush (June 12, 1924 - November 30, 2018) was the 41st President of the United States of America. He was President from 1989 until 1993. His Vice-President was James Danforth (Dan) Quayle.
|Bush, George W.
George Walker Bush (July 6, 1946 - ) was the 43rd President of the United States of America. He became President on January 20, 2001. His Vice-President was Richard Cheney. George W. Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut, but grew up in Texas.
The word game Scrabble® was developed by Alfred Mosher Butts in 1948. James Brunot did some rearranging of the squares and simplified the rules. A copyright was granted on December 1, 1948. Alfred Butts had been an architect, but lost his job in 1931 (during the depression). He then began developing games, including Lexico, Criss-Crosswords, and them Scrabble®. After about 4 years of paltry sales, Scrabble® became a hit.
|Byrd, Richard E.
Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd (1888-1957) was an Arctic and Antarctic explorer, pioneering aviator, and US Naval Officer. On May 9, 1926, Byrd (the navigator) and Floyd Bennett (the pilot) made what may have been the first airplane trip over the North Pole, in a 15 1/2 hour flight; they flew from King's Bay, Spitsbergen, Norway, to the North Pole and back again. There is a dispute as to whether or not they actually reached the pole. He also made many trips to Antarctica.
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