January 21


1525: The Swiss Anabaptist Movement was founded, breaking a thousand-year tradition of church-state union. (Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites are direct descendents of this movement.)

1977: President Jimmy Carter pardoned nearly all American Vietnam War draft evaders, some of whom had emigrated to Canada.

1981: Production of the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 sports car began in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.

1997: The U.S. House of Representatives voted 395–28 to reprimand Newt Gingrich for ethics violations, making him the first Speaker of the House so disciplined.


January 22


1506: The first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrived at the Vatican.

1889: Columbia Phonograph (later Columbia Records) was formed in Washington, D.C.

1946: The Central Intelligence Group, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, was founded.

later that day.

1990: Robert Tappan Morris Jr. was convicted of releasing the 1988 internet computer worm.

2006: Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers scored the second highest total in NBA history, 81 points, in game versus the Toronto Raptors.


January 23


1719: The Principality of Liechtenstein was created within the Holy Roman Empire.

1789: The first Catholic university in the United States, Georgetown College, was founded in Georgetown, Md. (now a part of Washington, D.C.)

1849: Elizabeth Blackwell was granted a medical degree from Geneva College in New York (now known as Hobart College), becoming the first woman in U.S. history to be officially recognized as a physician.

1855: The first bridge over the Mississippi River opened in what is now Minneapolis, Minn., a crossing made today by the Hennepin Avenue Bridge.

January 24


1848: The California Gold Rush began when James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento.

1908: The Boy Scouts movement began in England with the publication of the first installment of Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys.

1916: In Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., the U.S. Supreme Court declared the federal income tax constitutional.

1935: The first canned beer, Kreuger’s, was test marketed in Richmond, Va.

January 25


1759: Scottish poet Robert Burns was born. (Burns is best known today as the author of the New Year’s anthem, “Auld Lang Syne.”)

1890: New York World reporter Nellie Bly completed her round-the-world journey in 72 days.

1915: Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.

1924: The first Winter Olympics opened at Chamonix in the French Alps.

1947: Thomas Goldsmith Jr. (1910-2009) filed a patent for a “Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device,” the first ever electronic game.

1949: The first Emmy Awards were presented at the Hollywood Athletic Club.

1960: The National Association of Broadcasters reacted to the “payola” scandal by threatening fines for any disc jockeys who accepted money for playing particular records.

1962: Montana Gov. Donald Nutter, two aides and three National Guard crewmen were killed when their plane crashed near Wolf Creek, en route to Cut Bank.

1968: The Israeli submarine Dakar, carrying 69 sailors, disappeared and was never seen again. The exact fate of this vessel remains a mystery.


January 26

1500: Vicente Yáñez Pinzón became the first European to set foot on Brazil.

1788: The British First Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip, sailed into Port Jackson (now Sydney Harbour) to establish Sydney, the first permanent European settlement on the Australian continent. (Now commemorated as Australia Day.)



1808: The Rum Rebellion took place, becoming the only successful (albeit short-lived) armed takeover of the government in Australia.

1837: Michigan was admitted as the 26th U.S. state.

2005: President George W. Bush appointed Condoleezza Rice secretary of state, making her the highest ranking African-American woman ever to serve in a presidential cabinet.

2015: Libby Lane (born 1966) became the first woman ordained a bishop of the Church of England.


January 27

98: Trajan succeeded his adoptive father Nerva as Roman emperor. (Under Trajan’s rule, the Roman Empire reached its maximum size.)

1880: Thomas Edison (1847-1931) received the patent for his incandescent lamp.

1888: The National Geographic Society was founded in Washington, D.C.

1926: John Logie Baird, a Scottish inventor, gave the first public demonstration of a true television system in London, England.

Meanwhile, Making Montana History:

MSU students build device to help NASA study clogged pipes on space station

By Marshall Swearingen, MSU News Service


BOZEMAN — When Montana State University researcher Stephan Warnat wanted to help solve a longstanding problem on the International Space Station, he turned to a group of four mechanical engineering majors.

During a recent Montana Biofilm Meeting hosted by MSU’s Center for Biofilm Engineering, Warnat learned from NASA scientists that microbial buildup sometimes clogs the space station’s water pipes — a demanding challenge for astronauts to fix. A specialist in tiny sensors used to measure, among other things, water quality, Warnat wanted to study how the microbes grow. He just needed a research device that could simulate the microgravity of low Earth orbit.

That’s where the students came in. Working as a team over two semesters, they designed and built a working prototype of the device as their “capstone” project, the task that all engineering seniors must complete in order to graduate. The team included four seniors in mechanical engineering: Spencer Ball, Ryan Davis, Haley Ketteler and Connor Tappe. Ball, Davis and Tappe graduated in November.

Like a small rock tumbler, the tool they made consists of a section of pipe that slowly rotates to prevent microbes from settling with gravity. Fluid is passed through the pipe, and embedded sensors measure biofilm behavior.

“It’s really, really cool,” said Warnat, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering in MSU’s Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering.

The students presented the device to Warnat’s collaborators at NASA in the fall. NASA is very pleased with the design and will use the device in future research efforts, Warnat said. In the meantime, NASA issued Warnat’s research team a $100,000 grant that will support using the device to develop sensors for detecting biofilm growth in the space station’s plumbing. Warnat will lead the project with MSU’s Christine Foreman, professor in Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Warnat said he wasn’t surprised by the project’s success because he had previously worked with MSU engineering students on four other capstone projects. The projects are structured around design challenges posed by private industry, national labs, organized events like the RoboSub competition and by university faculty.

“What I like is getting a group of young engineers who actually have a lot of experience but who have no idea about my research and come with open eyes to develop something new,” Warnat said. “I actually had something completely different in mind for this device, but what they made is perfect.”

MSU’s engineering seniors have the technical expertise to construct things that faculty wouldn’t be able to make themselves and that would be prohibitively expensive to purchase, according to Warnat. “Our students are well trained in our machine shop,” which includes state-of-the-art, precision tools for cutting and shaping metal and other materials, he said.

For capstone team member Davis, the project was valuable experience with seeing a months-long, intensive design task through to the end.

“It put to work a lot of what we’ve learned in our classes,” said Davis, who machined some of the components on a lathe and now works at a local manufacturing design business. Warnat “did a good job of presenting the project as something that was really worthwhile to him and other people, so we were motivated to work on it,” he said.

Ketteler said the project harnessed her passion for space engineering and dovetailed with a virtual summer internship with NASA’s Langley Research Center.

“It really challenged our thinking,” said Ketteler, who handled all the electronics for the device. Warnat “gave us a starting point with an idea of what he wanted, but said, from then on, we had to design it and make the final decisions.”

Working with a capstone team is a great opportunity for MSU faculty to advance a research idea and get it to a point where they can secure grant funding, according to Warnat, an associate faculty member of the Center for Biofilm Engineering. “This was a really good group,” he said. “They didn’t need a lot from me.”

According to Robb Larson, associate professor of mechanical engineering and a coordinator for capstone projects, there’s always a need for new capstone sponsors, and anyone interested in sponsoring a project can contact him.


This story is available with photos  on the Web at: