February 11, 2005
Today in history—February 11
1650: The father of modern philosophy, René Descartes, dies at age 53.
1808: A Pennsylvania judge named Jesse Fell experiments with burning coal in his fireplace. Turns out, it works, and the Pennsylvania coal industry is born.
1809: Robert Fulton receives a patent for the steamboat.
1812: Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry announces a new redistricting plan for the state, which seems suspiciously designed to enhance the electoral chances of Jeffersonian candidates. One district looks like a salamander, or "gerrymander."
1826: University College London, the third or fourth university in the U.K. (Durham argues about the sequence) is founded.
1847: Industrialist Thomas Alva Edison, founder of several companies including General Electric, is born in Milan, Ohio.
1928: Cousins Ed Shoemaker and Edward Knabusch invent the La-Z-Boy recliner chair.
1941: Bandleader Glenn Miller receives the first "gold record" ever awarded, for his Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
1966: Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants becomes baseball’s highest-paid player, at $130,000 a year.
1994: The Monsanto Co. begins sales of the first genetically engineered growth hormone for cattle, called "Posilac."
1999: Pluto passes Neptune to become the farthest planet from the sun; Neptune had been farther since 1979.
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