This week in history: The Bard and the Richter Scale namesake are born and Newton presents his Laws of Motion. Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.
April 23, 1564 – William Shakespeare is Born
Learn more about Shakespeare and his works in Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies
April 26, 1900 – Charles Francis Richter is Born
Charles Francis Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, was born on this day in 1900 in Overpeck, Ohio. First developed in 1935, the Richter Scale was used to measure the magnitude of earthquakes by using a seismograph to record the motion of the earth as the earthquake was occurring. The magnitude of a quake refers to its intensity, and is determined by using a base-10 logarithmic scale; the higher the number, the more devastating the earthquake. Earthquakes that register as 2.5 or less on the Richter Scale occur frequently, but are usually imperceptible to humans. Large-scale damaging earthquakes, such as the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, California (magnitude 6.9) or the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake (magnitude 9.1) are thankfully rare. The Richter Scale was used in the United States until the 1970s, at which point it was replaced by the Moment Magnitude Scale, which is still in wide use today.
Learn more about earthquakes and their devastating effects in Nature of Earth: An Introduction to Geology
April 28, 1686 – Isaac Newton Presents his Laws of Motion
According to legend, Sir Isaac Newton first observed the force of gravity when an apple fell from a tree and landed on his head. While it’s unlikely that this happened exactly as in the story, Newton’s three laws of motion would revolutionize the study of physics and create the foundation of classical mechanics. And as if ground-breaking scientific discoveries weren’t enough, Newton would also develop a new branch of mathematics -what we call calculus today- to help prove his findings. These three innovative laws, all published in the first volume of his masterwork Philsofiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, would be presented to the Royal Society in London on this day in 1686.