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Encyclopedia > David Rittenhouse
David Rittenhouse

Born April 8, 1732(1732-04-08)
Paper Mill Run, Pennsylvania
Died June 26, 1796 (aged 64)
Occupation Astronomer
Inventor
Mathematician

David Rittenhouse (April 8, 1732June 26, 1796) was a renowned American astronomer, inventor, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman, and public official. Rittenhouse was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the first director of the United States Mint. Download high resolution version (794x958, 211 KB) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... April 8 is the 98th day of the year (99th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Events February 23 - First performance of Handels Orlando, in London June 9 - James Oglethorpe is granted a royal charter for the colony of Georgia. ... Paper Mill Run is a small tributary of Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. For most of its length the present-day stream flows under Lincoln Drive. ... Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  Ranked 33rd  - Total 46,055 sq mi (119,283 km²)  - Width 280 miles (455 km)  - Length 160 miles (255 km)  - % water 2. ... is the 177th day of the year (178th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1796 (MDCCXCVI) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Monday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... An astronomer or astrophysicist is a person whose area of interest is astronomy or astrophysics. ... For other uses, see Inventor (disambiguation). ... Leonhard Euler, considered one of the greatest mathematicians of all time A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study and research is the field of mathematics. ... April 8 is the 98th day of the year (99th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Events February 23 - First performance of Handels Orlando, in London June 9 - James Oglethorpe is granted a royal charter for the colony of Georgia. ... is the 177th day of the year (178th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1796 (MDCCXCVI) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Monday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... An astronomer or astrophysicist is a person whose area of interest is astronomy or astrophysics. ... For other uses, see Inventor (disambiguation). ... Leonhard Euler, considered one of the greatest mathematicians of all time A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study and research is the field of mathematics. ... Surveyor at work with a leveling instrument. ... The American Philosophical Society is a discussion group founded as the Junto in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin. ... Seal of the U.S. Mint The United States Mint primarily produces circulating coinage for the United States to conduct its trade and commerce. ...

Contents

Biography

Rittenhouse was born near Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a small village called Paper Mill Run, located along a stream of the same name, the stream itself a tiny tributary of the Wissahickon Creek. He was self-taught and from a young age showed great ability in science and mathematics. At nineteen years old, he started a scientific instrument shop at his father's farm in West Norriton Township, Pennsylvania. His skill with instruments, particularly clocks, led him to construct two orreries, one of which is currently in the library of the University of Pennsylvania and the other is at Peyton Hall of Princeton University. Rittenhouse was one of the first to build a telescope used in the United States. Germantown was originally the Borough of Germantown, a town in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania and is today a neighborhood in Philadelphia, about six miles northwest from the center of the city. ... Paper Mill Run is a small tributary of Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. For most of its length the present-day stream flows under Lincoln Drive. ... Wissahickon Creek is a stream in southeastern Pennsylvania. ... Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) is self-education or self-directed learning. ... Part of a scientific laboratory at the University of Cologne. ... Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, as imagined by by Raphael in this detail from The School of Athens. ... West Norriton Township is a census-designated place and township located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. ... A small orrery showing earth and the inner planets An orrery is a mechanical device that illustrates the relative positions and motions of the planets and moons in the solar system in heliocentric model. ... The University of Pennsylvania (also known as Penn[3][4]) is a private, coeducational research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... Princeton University is a private coeducational research university located in Princeton, New Jersey. ...


His telescope, which utilized natural spider webbing to form the reticle, he used to observe and record part of the transit of Venus across the sun on 1769-06-03, as well as the planet's atmosphere. This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... As used in photolithography, a photomask is typically an optically transparent fused quartz blank imprinted with a pattern defined with chrome metal. ... The 2004 transit of Venus A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, obscuring a small portion of the Suns disk. ...


In 1784, David Rittenhouse and surveyor Andrew Ellicott and their crew completed the unfinished survey of the Mason Dixon line to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, five degrees of longitude from the Delaware River. The Mason-Dixon Line Literally, the Mason-Dixon Line (or Mason and Dixons Line) demarcated state boundaries between the Province of Pennsylvania, the Province of Maryland, Delaware Colony and parts of Virginia Colony in colonial North America and between their successor-state members of the United States. ...


In 1785, Rittenhouse made perhaps the first diffraction grating using 50 hairs between two finely threaded screws, with an approximate spacing of about 100 lines per inch. This was roughly the same technique that Joseph von Fraunhofer used in 1821 for his wire diffraction grating. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Joseph von Fraunhofer Joseph von Fraunhofer (March 6, 1787 – June 7, 1826) was a German physicist. ...


In 1813, Rittenhouse's nephew (and American Philosophical Society member) William Barton published a biography, Memoirs of the life of David Rittenhouse. Former President of the United States Thomas Jefferson ordered six copies directly from the author. Year 1813 (MDCCCXIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar). ... William Barton (1754-1817) was a Pennsylvania lawyer, scholar, and the designer (with Charles Thomson) of the Great Seal of the United States. ... Federal courts Supreme Court Circuit Courts of Appeal District Courts Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures (List) State Courts Local Government Other countries Atlas  US Government Portal      For other uses, see President of the United States (disambiguation). ... Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 N.S.–4 July 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–09), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of Republicanism in the United States. ...


Notable events

Other notable events in Rittenhouse's life include:

  • 1763-1764 Worked on the boundary survey of Pennsylvania and Maryland
  • 1767 Granted an honorary master's degree from the College of Philadelphia (later University of Pennsylvania)
  • 1768 Discovered the atmosphere of Venus
  • 1769 Observed the transit of Venus
  • 1770 Came to Philadelphia
  • 1775 Engineer of the Committee of Safety
  • 1779-1782 Professor of Astronomy in the University of the State of Pennsylvania, now known simply as the University of Pennsylvania
    • 1780-1782 Vice-Provost
    • 1782-1796 Trustee
  • 1779-1787 Treasurer of Pennsylvania
  • 1791-1796 President of the American Philosophical Society
  • 1792-1795 First Director of the United States Mint
  • 1793 He was a founder of the Democratic-Republican Societies in Philadelphia.

Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  Ranked 33rd  - Total 46,055 sq mi (119,283 km²)  - Width 280 miles (455 km)  - Length 160 miles (255 km)  - % water 2. ... Official language(s) None (English, de facto) Capital Annapolis Largest city Baltimore Area  Ranked 42nd  - Total 12,407 sq mi (32,133 km²)  - Width 101 miles (145 km)  - Length 249 miles (400 km)  - % water 21  - Latitude 37° 53′ N to 39° 43′ N  - Longitude 75° 03′ W to 79° 29... The University of Pennsylvania (also known as Penn[3][4]) is a private, coeducational research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... (*min temperature refers to cloud tops only) Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 9. ... Look up engineer in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Astronomy (disambiguation). ... The University of Pennsylvania (also known as Penn[3][4]) is a private, coeducational research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... The American Philosophical Society is a discussion group founded as the Junto in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin. ... Democratic-Republican Societies were local political organizations formed in the United States in 1793-94 to promote republicanism and democracy and fight aristocratic tendencies. ...

Rittenhouse Square

In 1825, one of William Penn's original squares in Philadelphia, called 'Southwest Square' (being in the southwest quadrant of the original city plan) was renamed Rittenhouse Square in David Rittenhouse's honor. Further to the west on Walnut Street, University of Pennsylvania houses its Physics and Mathematics departments in the 'DRL'--David Rittenhouse Laboratory. For other uses, see William Penn (disambiguation). ... A springtime scene in the center of Rittenhouse Square, 2006. ... The University of Pennsylvania (also known as Penn[3][4]) is a private, coeducational research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ... Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, as imagined by by Raphael in this detail from The School of Athens. ...


Trivia

His great excitement at observing the infrequently-occurring transit of Venus (for which he had prepared for a year) resulted in his fainting during the observation. In addition to the work involved in the preparations, Rittenhouse had also been ill the week before the transit. Lying on his back beneath the telescope, trained at the afternoon sun, he regained consciousness after a few minutes and continued his observations. His account of the transit, published in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, does not mention his fainting, though it is otherwise meticulous in its record.


References

  • Greenslade, Thomas B., "Wire Diffraction Gratings," The Physics Teacher, February 2004. Volume 42 Issue 2, pp. 76-77. [1]

External links

Persondata
NAME Rittenhouse, David
ALTERNATIVE NAMES
SHORT DESCRIPTION =Astronomer, Inventor, Mathematician
DATE OF BIRTH April 8, 1732
PLACE OF BIRTH Paper Mill Run, Pennsylvania
DATE OF DEATH June 26, 1796
PLACE OF DEATH

 
 

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