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This Month In History: July

July 16, 2021
Louis Pasteur via Public Domain

July 6th, 1885: The First Rabies Vaccine Was Administered In A Human

Talk about nerves of steel! In 1885, a mom brought her nine-year-old son, Joseph Meister, to French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, after a dog with rabies (an infectious disease) bit him. Pasteur, a pioneer in preventing infectious diseases, had two choices: let the boy die or give him the first-ever anti-rabies vaccine for humans. Pasteur chose the latter, and to everyone’s relief the vaccine worked and Meister lived. Scientists declared the experiment a success and the beginning of a new era in vaccinations against infectious diseases. As for Meister? He went on to live a healthy life and was—in fact—the caretaker to Pasteur’s grave when the microbiologist died.

Geraldine Ferraro
By John Mathew Smith from Laurel Maryland, USA – GERALDINE FERRARO, CC BY-SA 2.0

July 12th, 1984: The First Female Vice-Presidential Candidate Was Selected

When US President Joe Biden chose Kamala Harris to be his running mate in the 2020 US presidential election, it was only the third time in US history that this had happened. When was the first? In 1984, presidential hopeful Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro to be his running mate. If he had won, she would have been the first vice president of the United States. In Ferraro’s acceptance speech, she said, “The daughter of an immigrant from Italy has been chosen to run for vice president in the new land my father came to love.” Unfortunately, Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan and it would be another twenty-four years until another woman would be chosen as a presidential running mate: Sarah Palin was chosen as John McCain’s running mate in 2008.

U.S. government / Public domain

July 31st, 1790: The First U.S. Patent Was Issued

If you’re an inventor, you know about patents—the official recognition of your invention that helps protect it from others who may want to copy your idea! On July 31st, the United States issued its first patent to Samuel Hopkins for an apparatus that improved the making of ash. Since then, the office has issued more than 6.5 million patents.

NASA | Public Domain

July 20th, 1969: Humans Set Foot On The Moon For The First Time

Did you know that Apollo 11 launched on July 16th, 1969 and that 76 hours later, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins landed the spacecraft on the moon’s surface? It was a historic moment in space history, but interestingly, the original plan wasn’t to land on the surface, but merely to send a spacecraft to the moon’s orbit. While the ingenious computer systems of the 1960s that put these men in space are considered commonplace today (your laptop today is way more advanced than the technology that put Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins on the moon!), these systems were considered groundbreaking back then.

Interesting Fact: Did you know that Neil Armstrong had to take over the controls of the spacecraft in order to land it in a different location than NASA had originally planned? If he had not, they would have run out of fuel! Talk about taking control of the situation!

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