Today In Science History – November 8 – Hermann Rorschach


What do you see in this picture?

Rorschach Blot #1

Tests show the majority of people say “A bat” or “A butterfly”. I see a fox face. Supposedly, there is no wrong answer.

Hermann Rorschach

Hermann Rorschach (1884 – 1922)

November 8 is Hermann Rorschach’s birthday. Rorschach was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who used this inkblot along with nine others for the Rorschach Test. He showed patients these images and asked what they thought the images looked like. Their answers gave insight into the workings of the patient’s thought processes. While the test is still popular, controversy exists among psychologists as to whether or not the test actually shows anything at all.

Notable Science History Events for November 8

1923 – Jack St. Clair Kilby was born.

Kilby was an American electrical engineer who was awarded half the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics for his part in the invention of the integrated circuit. An integrated circuit is a miniaturized circuit etched into a layer of semiconducting material. Nearly all modern electrical devices contain at least one integrated circuit chip. Kirby also invented the hand-held digital calculator and the thermal printer.

1922 – Christiaan Barnard was born.

Barnard was a South African cardiac surgeon who performed the first successful human to human heart transplant.

His patient, Louis Washkansky was suffering from diabetes and incurable heart disease. He received a heart from Denise Darvall, who had died the day before. Washkansky lived for another 18 days before succumbing to pneumonia.

1880 – Edwin Laurentine Drake died.

Edwin Drake

Edwin Drake (1819 – 1880)

Drake was an American oil driller and founder of the modern petroleum industry. He drilled the first oil well in 1959 near Titusville, Pennsylvania. He pioneered the drilling method that used a pipe to shore up the borehole as the hole is dug. This gave him the ability to dig down deeper for drilling without needing a wider well.

1854 – Johannes Robert Rydberg was born.

Johannes Rydberg

Johannes Rydberg (1854 – 1919)

Rydberg was a Swedish physicist who is best known for his empirical formula used to predict the wavelengths of light emitted by a hydrogen atom. This formula would later be important to the development of the Bohr model of the atom and the idea that energy of an atom was quantized.

The Rydberg constant used in atomic spectroscopy is named in his honor.

1844 – Hermann Rorschach was born.

1656 – Edmond Halley was born.

Edmond Halley

Edmond Halley (1656 – 1742)

Halley was an English natural philosopher who was the second Astronomer Royal.

Halley is best known for calculating the orbit of the comet that bears his name. He calculated the comets observed in 1456, 1531, 1607, and 1682 were all the same comet. He added this comet would return in 1758. Unfortunately for him, he did not live to see his prediction come true. 

Halley also began a catalogue of Southern Hemisphere stars to accompany his predecessor John Flamsteed’s Northern Hemisphere star catalogue.  He gathered data on 341 stars before being recalled to England.

He was also was the publisher and editor of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis.

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