View our new "On this day" sections for September.


1 September 

  • 1859 The Carrington Event, the most powerful solar storm ever recorded, occurs

  • 1974 A record flight time for travel between London and New York is set by a SR-71 Blackbird spyplane, at under 1 hour 55 minutes
  • 1979 Pioneer 11 becomes the first spacecraft to visit Saturn

2 September 

  • 1850 Birth of Woldemar Voigt, discoverer of magnetic double refraction of light, now known as the Voigt effect

3 September 

  • 1803 John Dalton begins using symbols to represent different elements

  • 1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell become the first person to drive a car at more than 300 mph
  • 1905 Birth of Carl David Anderson, the discoverer of the muon and of the positron, for which he was awarded the 1936 Nobel Prize

4 September 

5 September 

  • 1977 The Voyager 1 space probe is launched, aimed at studying the outer solar system planets and then interstellar space

6 September 

  • 1766 Birth of John Dalton, known for his work on early atomic theory

  • 1892 Birth of Arthur Appleton, winner of the 1947 Nobel Prize for contributions to the understanding of the Earth’s ionosphere

7 September 

  • 1909 The first fatal crash of a heavier-than-air powered aeroplane occurs, killing test pilot Eugene Lefebvre

  • 1836 Birth of August Toepler, known for his work on electrostatics

8 September 

  • 2004 The Genesis spacecraft crash lands back on Earth while attempting to deliver a sample of solar wind material

  • 1588 Birth of Marin Mersenne, the mathematician considered to be the father of acoustics

9 September 

  • 1737 Birth of Luigi Galvani, after whom the metallic coating process galvanisation is named

  • 1922 Birth of Hans Georg Dehmelt, the inventor of the ion trap, for which he and Wolfgang Pauli shared one half of the 1989 Nobel Prize (the remaining half being awarded to Norman Foster Ramsey for an invention used in the construction of atomic clocks)

10 September 

  • 2008 The Large Hadron Collider is switched on
  • 1892 Birth of Arthur Compton, winner of the 1927 Nobel Prize for his discovery of what is now known as Compton scattering, a demonstration that electromagnetic waves sometimes behave like particles

11 September 

  • 1877 Birth of James Hopwood Jeans, known for the development, along with Lord Rayleigh, of the relation for the spectral brightness of a blackbody, the Rayleigh-Jeans law

12 September 

  • 1933 Leó Szilárd comes up with the idea of the nuclear chain reaction, which is required for nuclear power and nuclear weapons

  • 1958 The first integrated circuit is demonstrated by Texas Instruments’ Jack Kilby
  • 1897 Birth of Irène Joliot-Curie, awarded the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery of artificial radioactivity

13 September 

  • 1987 A radiotherapy source is stolen from an abandoned hospital in Goiânia, Brazil, leading to widespread radiation sickness, and four deaths, in the following weeks

  • 1948 Birth of Dimitri Nanopolous, the string theorist who developed one model for a Grand Unified Theory and who is one of the most commonly cited researchers in the world

14 September 

  • 1959 Luna 2 becomes the first man-made object to reach the surface of the moon when it crash lands

15 September 

  • 1830 The Liverpool–Manchester railway opens

  • 1929 Birth of Murray Gell-Mann, the particle physicist and pioneer of quantum chromodynamics, awarded the Nobel Prize in 1969

16 September 

  • 1987 The Montreal Protocol is signed in an attempt to protect the ozone layer

17 September 

  • 1976 NASA unveils the first Space Shuttle

  • 1857 Birth of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the pioneering rocket scientist

18 September 

  • 1977 The first photograph of the Earth and moon together in space is taken by Voyager 1

  • 1819 Birth of Léon Foucault, known for his pendulum that demonstrates the rotation of the Earth

19 September 

  • 1926 Birth of Masatoshi Koshiba, winner of a share of the 2002 Nobel Prize, for his detection of cosmic neutrinos

20 September 

  • 1633 Galileo goes on trial for teaching that the Earth orbits the Sun

21 September 

  • 1853 Birth of Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize for his work in low-temperature physics

  • 1926 Birth of Donald A Glaser, winner of the 1960 Nobel Prize for his invention of the bubble chamber

22 September 

  • 1791 Birth of Michael Faraday, known for his work on electromagnetism – the unit of capacitance is named for him, as is the law of electromagnetic induction

  • 1905 Birth of Eugen Sänger, the aerospace engineer known for his contributions to the development of the ramjet and to “lifting bodies” in which the body of an aircraft, rather than wings, generates lift
  • 1907 Birth of Hermann Schlichting after whom the Tollmien-Schlichting equation describing instabilities in viscous boundary layers in fluids is named
  • 1922 Birth of Chen Ning Yang, winner of the 1957 Nobel Prize jointly with Tsung-dao Lee for their work on the nonconservation of parity in interactions mediated by the weak nuclear force

23 September 

  • 1846 Urban le Verrier and John Couch Adams discover Neptune

  • 1819 Birth of Hippolyte Fizeau, involved in the discovery of the Doppler Effect and the first to predict the redshifting of electromagnetic waves
  • 1915 Birth of Clifford Shull, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize along with Bertram Blockhouse for their development of neutron scattering in 1946 – this is the longest period between a piece of physics being done and the Nobel award being made

24 September 

  • 1979 Compu-Serve launches the first commercial online service and public email system

25 September 

  • 1956 TAT-1, a telephone cable system underneath the Atlantic Ocean, begins operating

26 September 

  • 1905 Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity is published
  • 1887 Birth of inventor Barnes Wallis, best known for the “bouncing bomb”

27 September 

  • 1825 The first passenger trains pulled by locomotive begin operating on the Darlington–Stockton railway

  • 1905 The journal Annalen der Physik published Albert Einstein’s paper on the relationship between energy and mass, from which we get his famous equation E = mc2.
  • 1918 Birth of Martin Ryle, the radio astronomer who shared the 1974 Nobel Prize with Antony Hewish for pioneering work in radio-astrophysics

28 September 

  • 1889 At the first General Conference on Weights and Measures, the metre is defined as the distance between two lines on a platinum-iridium bar

  • 1951 The first colour televisions go on sale
  • 1605 Birth of Ismaël Bullialdus, the astronomer who was the first to suggest that the force holding the solar system together must decrease inversely in proportion to the square of the distance rather than the distance itself – although he didn’t actually believe that such a force existed
  • 1860 Birth of Paul Ulrich Villard, the discoverer of gamma rays

29 September 

  • 1885 The world’s first public electric tram system opens in Blackpool

  • 1901 Birth of Enrico Fermi, who made contributions to quantum theory, nuclear physics and particle physics, was involved in the development of the first nuclear reactor, was awarded the 1939 Nobel Prize for work on induced radioactivity, and lends his name to a type of subatomic particle – the fermion
  • 1931 Birth of James Cronin, awarded the 1980 Nobel Prize along with Val Logsdon Fitch for their discovery of CP-violation, a proof that certain subatomic interactions break fundamental symmetry principles – in this case, time

30 September 

  • 1882 The first commercial hydroelectric powerplant in the world opens, on the Fox River in Wisconsin, USA
  • 1870 Birth of Jean Baptiste Perrin, who explained the Sun’s energy in terms of fusion and who was awarded the 1926 Nobel Prize for his experimental confirmation of Albert Einstein’s explanation of Brownian motion as being due to matter being composed of atoms
  • 1882 Birth of Hans Geiger, inventor of the Geiger counter and known for his experiment, along with Ernest Marsden and under the supervision of Ernest Rutherford, that discovered the atomic nucleus
  • 1905 Birth of Nevill Francis Mott, awarded a share of the 1977 Nobel Prize for work on amorphous semiconductors

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