Archive for birthdays

Charles Babbage Day

Mathlete, genius and all-around eccentric Charles Babbage was born on this day in 1791. Best known for inventing “engines” that were the early forerunners of computers, Babbage also designed several other inventions for the day’s cutting-edge travel: the railroad. He thought up the concept of a “black box” to explain what went wrong in a crash, and invented a cow-catcher to clear  obstacles (both inert and mooing) from the front of a passing train.

A fan of lock picking, Babbage also made advances in cryptography, and his cipher-breaking ideas were used to the benefit of the British military for years.

But it was the difference and analytical engines that defined him; the first was essentially a calculator way too big for any pocket. The analytical engine was truly the great-great granddad of that iPad or laptop you’re holding. It could be programmed with punch cards, used programming functions like looping and parallel processing, and could even spit out a hard copy print out.

Celebrate Babbage’s accomplishments by doing something worthy like learning a new programming language or helping scientists unlock DNA. Or you could do what you’ve planned, and play Skyrim until the Christmas leftovers call your name.

Armin Shimerman Day

Geek world, meet your ersatz demi-god. It’s Armin Shimerman’s birthday, and he’s been in almost everything you’ve played or seen.

Warehouse 13? Yep. Batman: The Brave and the Bold? You know it. The Real Housewives of Ferengi? It’s only a matter of time.

Best known as DS9’s Quark, he’s also been a Nox in Stargate: SG-1, the school principal in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and has voiced characters in tons of games like BioShock, Mass Effect, Mass Effect 3, God of War 2, X-Men Legends 2, Diablo III and many more.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Shimerman. For the love of Odo, take a day off and enjoy a little cake.


Sigourney Weaver Day

Alien, Avatar, Ghostbusters, GalaxyQuest…is it any wonder one of our best geek movie heroines kicks awesome ass? Her characters are not only sexy but smart, too, which makes her an icon in our book. Happy Birthday! Celebrate by watching the clip above as she discusses Ripley, one of her most famous roles.

Freddie For A Day

How is the band ‘Queen’ geeky, you ask? Aside from having an electrical engineer on bass and an astrophysicist on lead guitar (take that, Neil deGrasse Tyson!) the band’s lead singer, the legendary Freddie Mercury, was immortalized as an Angry Bird for what would have been his 66th birthday today. Besides, we love Freddie Mercury, so there.

Rovio made the video above as a way to support and encourage participation in Freddie For A Day, a celebration of Mercury’s life that involves finding sponsors and dressing up as the Queen frontman to benefit the Mercury Phoenix Trust, an organization combating AIDS around the globe.

Celebrate today by donning a fake mustache, donating to the Trust, or just spreading the word and listening to Freddie’s amazing music. We suggest starting at the official Queen channel on YouTube, which also has the very cool Google Doodle from last year.

 

Alan Hazeltine Day

Without today’s birthday boy, we would have never experienced great radio shows like The Shadow, or made out in the moonlight serenaded by Duran Duran. Alan Hazeltine was born today in 1886. He was an engineer, inventor, physicist and professor, but his greatest claim to fame was the neutrodyne circuit, which squelched noise while boosting good signal. This circuit made commercial radio a viable business model in the early 1920s.

While progress would push past his circuit to better technology, he still scored a cool $3 million for his patents by the end of the decade, and did what any of us would do: go to Europe for a nice long vacation to study art, and, since he was a geek, study math too.

After his sweet vacay, Hazeltine came back to the U.S. and once again picked up his teaching job at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He consulted and also had a hand in the development of television.

He passed away in 1964, but we still want to thank him for all those great tunes and radio plays that came along because of his invention, from the country-wide freakout during the War of the Worlds broadcast to the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Then again, he also paved the way for A.M. talk radio and not-so-wacky morning DJs.

Battlespace Day

 

Today we celebrate the book birthday of the Battlespace anthology, an excellent project by our friends over at The Science Fiction Show. Jason Tudor, Keith Houin and Michael Wistock have collected 28 of the best original military science fiction stories you’ll ever encounter, and topped it off with an introduction by Stephen J. Sansweet, president & CEO of Rancho Obiwan and former director of content management and head of fan relations at Lucasfilm Ltd. That’s serious geek cred right there.

Just compiling the anthology would be enough to celebrate, but the guys did it for a special cause: proceeds from anthology sales benefit Warrior Cry, an organization that helps wounded soldiers with musical therapy.

Watch the promo trailer for the book above, buy it now on Amazon, or drop by the Battlespace website for more details!

Captain America’s Birthday

Happy Independence Day, and Happy Birthday to Captain America! Steve Rogers was born in the Marvel  Universe on this day in 1922.

He was a stringy kid who was all heart, and he was beefed up to superhero levels by an experimental drug (although today they could have just used frappuccinos and steroids) developed during the war effort. Since he hit the comics scene in his own March 1941 title, Cap has served proudly as the patriotic symbol he was meant to be: he’s even survived an assassination attempt in which the entire world believed he was dead. After his supposed 2007 demise, Captain America’s shield was given to satirist Stephen Colbert, and it hangs on the wall of his set today.

Captain America, like any good superhero, comes back when he’s needed and boy, do we need him today. Luckily we got him back on the big screen last year, guns blazing (and he had some firearms, too) in Captain America: The First Avenger, and again this year in the fanboy-wetting Whedon epic The Avengers, which conquered box offices around the world. Have a slice of cake with a sparkler, Cap, looks like you’re better than ever.

Samuel Morse Day

Morse created a communication system that drove the world dotty. And dashy.

You know him best as the inventor who made the telegraph successful throughout 19th century America, but Samuel Morse, born today in 1791, was also an artist, trained at the Royal Academy in England. His portrait work became well-known, and his attention for detail sparked an interest in inventing. He and his brother submitted three different patents before turning his attention to the telegraph, which was already in different forms of development by English, Russian and German inventors.

Morse’s idea of using electromagnetic energy to record dots and dashes revolutionized the telegraph and made it practical for everyday use. He also came up with a code of dots and dashes for communication, and even went to Congress to request money for a nationwide telegraph system. Without Morse’s dedication, you could be sending those LOLs via snail mail today.

MacGyver Day

(03/07/2012-Note: We see you out there tripping through the blog stats, RDA fans. Although usually each post expires in three days, we’ve seen enough of you come here looking for a little 70s eye candy with your fave, so this post from RDA’s birthday, Jan. 23, is going back up just for you.)

 

If you have a stick of gum, a piece of wire and a handy wisecrack, you’ll sail through MacGyver Day, also known as the birthday of Richard Dean Anderson. Before he struck it awesome with the seminal 1980s show, Anderson worked as a street mime, Marineland whale prop and soap opera hottie.

While it’s hard to forget MacGyver, the man who could make anything happen, geeks (and especially geekettes) know him as the sarcastic yet true blue Col. Jack O’Neill from Stargate SG-1. In that show, he was killed, beaten up, exploded, frozen, cloned, invaded by an alien Wikipedia and worst of all, promoted to General.

For a moment even MacGyver couldn’t get him out of, catch the video above of RDA rockin’ in the 1970s.