Historic Moments in History: The ‘Eureka!’ Moment, the First ‘Light’ Moment, and the First ‘Text’ Moment

Fareeha Arshad

Statue of Archimedes in HaifaWikimedia Commons

1. The ‘Eureka!’ moment

Archimedes was undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest scientists. His best discovery was that of the principle of buoyancy. He is known as the man who ran down the streets of the Greek city of Syracuse, naked, yelling “Eureka!” translating “I got it!”

A Roman architect, Vitruvius, first recorded the reason behind his behaviour. The king of Syracuse had gotten himself a new crown made of gold. However, the goldsmith was dissatisfied with the material of the crown. He claimed that the gold was mixed with elements and was not pure gold. This led the king to call for Archimedes to solve this issue.

After giving it a lot of thought, Archimedes could not find any solution towards proving that the crown was or not made up of pure gold. While stepping inside the bathtub, he noticed that water spilt out as he put his body inside the water. The realization that the water equivalent to his weight was spilt outside the tub hit him like lightning. He understood that gold was the heavier metal, the scientist devised a method to calculate the number of other metals used along with gold to make the crown.

After the realization hit him, Archimedes pushed himself outside the tub. Without wearing any towel, he ran across the streets towards the king’s palace, yelling, “Eureka!” Though Archimedes worked on this problem for a long time, the solution hit him instantaneously.

2. The first ‘light’ moment

Edison’s light bulbs at the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)Wikimedia Commons

Humphry Davy discovered the first electric light in 1802. He even gave rise to glowing carbons that temporarily produced and emitted light. The next seven decades saw several struggles towards the same end— developing a permanent and practical light source. It was only in 1879 that Thomas Alva Edison began some backbreaking work towards developing light bulbs.

By 1879, he had managed to develop a carbon filament using cotton and linen thread, wood splints, papers coiled in various ways. Not much later, he discovered that a bamboo filament with carbon film could function for more than a thousand hours. Edison turned on a switch that caused the first bulb to be lit on the last day of that year. Since then, billions of lightbulbs have been lit in households across the globe.

3. The first ‘wireless’ moment

The Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi was the first person to send radio signals across the Atlantic ocean — from England to Canada. However, the message was quite simple: the Samuel Morse code for the letter s. Back then, scientists were of the firm belief that any transmission signal could not be carried for distances beyond 200 miles.

In 1901, the radio signals that Marconi sent from England were reflected by the ionosphere towards Canada. The equipment used during the whole process was relatively basic and included a telegraph, cells, and wires. It is worth remembering that the laws of electromagnetic signals and the role that the atmosphere played in the transfer of the signals were not well-established. The moment of the Morse code’s instantaneous transfer was the starting point of the wireless networks and devices that we have today.

4. The first ‘text’ moment

The IMP log — The first message sent on the internetWikimedia Commons

In 1969, scientists at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) managed to send the first message to multiple computers simultaneously, using the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). This experimental connection was set up to transfer a specific password for the system: LOGIN. However, the system broke down after a couple of letters and was only capable of sending ‘LO.’

At around the same time, an interface message processor was installed in Stanford, just like the one in UCLA, and a connection was made between the two. Through this connection, anybody could access resources from the other school’s resources through one school’s computer. The ARPANET would take one second to transfer fifty kilobits of information. That was the first instance of information transfer via the primitive form of the internet.

Now, check the speed of the internet you use. We have systems that transfer information in 10,000ths of a second!

What are some of the other such historic moments in history? Do let us know in the comments section.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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