August marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. Before you head back to school, end the break with some fun math facts about the month of August. Spark Math is continuing our series, “This Month in Math History: August.” From the birth of a scientist who saved billions of lives to an adventure in a balloon, here’s how math helped affect history in August!
August 6, 1881, The Scientist Who Discovered Penicillin (and saved countless lives) is Born
Alexander Fleming was born in August of 1. He helped create one of the most powerful discoveries of all time, the antibiotic known as penicillin. This accidental discovery happened when some mold grew on a staphylococcus culture, destroying it. Using his skills as a medical professional and problem solver this medical discovery became his new passion. Fleming worked to find the best way to use penicillin, and other antibiotics, to help people fight infections.
The discovery not only helped people fight infections like bronchitis, but it helped make surgery more survivable. Between Dr. Fleming’s discovery in 1928 and 1952 over 150,000 lives were saved, in The U.S. alone. This critical discovery helped save lives during some of the toughest times in the country’s history, the Great Depression and WW2..
With this discovery, scientists used other molds to create stronger and longer-lasting antibiotics. Creating new medications is done through a ton of experimentation and data analysis. Some of the biggest discoveries and inventions still rely on simple math to keep track of their successes, helping future researchers use that data to help more people. We all owe Alexander Fleming for taking an accident and turning it into a live-saving discovery.
August 24th 79 A.D. The Eruption of Vesuvius by the Numbers
Over 2000 years ago in Naples, Italy, one of the most powerful volcanoes unexpectedly erupted. The forces were so powerful they covered the local town of Pompei With tons of debris and ash, perfectly preserving it in a tomb of lava.. This town wasn’t discovered until the 1800s. Here are some facts about this volcano that’s still active today.
- Mount Vesuvius is connected to another volcano, Monte Somma.
- Before the eruption, there wasn’t a name for Volcano, it was named after the Roman god Vulcan.
- The eruption was 100,000 times stronger than the first atomic bombs
- As of April 2023, the height is 4,203 feet (1,281 meters). That size changes after every eruption.
- The volcano is still active and hasn’t erupted since 1944.
August 17, 1978 A Trip from New Mexico to France in a Balloon
Three Americans, Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman rode in a helium balloon named Double Eagle II from new Mexico to 60 miles outside of France. While this feat had already been accomplished via plane, these adventurers used only science and math to make it such a long distance in 137 hours. This trip took years of engineering, math skills, trials, and failures to happen.
Even though hot air and helium balloons existed before airplanes, they weren’t able to be as easily controlled as airplanes. This means that the first time a balloon crossed the Atlantic Ocean was over 50 years after the first plane flight, and it was a lot harder and more dangerous.
August shows that with a little luck, good or bad, anything is possible. With math, you can learn how to take advantage of an accident and save millions of lives, prepare for a natural disaster, or have an adventure with friends. You never know how math helps create and explain some of the greatest moments in history.
Want to create math history? Start a journey to being a math all-star with Spark Math. Spark Math is an education program perfect for helping kids use the skill they learned all year in fun and engaging ways. Available for students from Pre-k to 6th grade, Spark Math’s online program features online classes, gamified lessons, and a real experienced teacher. Try it for yourself by signing up to try a free demo class today!
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