The French explorer Jacques – Yves Cousteau was born on June 11, 1910. He invented the Aqualung diving apparatus, along with Emile Gagnan. Cousteau was introduced to Gagnan by his father, who worked for a company in Paris, specialising in compressed gases. Gagnan, an engineer, had been working on valve designs.
Before the aqualung, divers used a diving suit and a helmet, which were heavy and required a hose that was attached to an air compressor on the land or a boat. This had been in use for the last 100 years before Cousteau and Gagnan invented the Aqualung.
The Aqualung uses a regulator or a demand valve. It allows the person to breathe in and out through the same mouthpiece. The regulator is connected to a tank of compressed gas, which is attached to the vest worn by the diver. This equipment helps people to go deep down under the water and stay put for a longer time. It has made underwater study and exploration of marine life easy.
Today we know Aqualung by the name of SCUBA, which is an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.
Apart from being an explorer, Jacques Cousteau has written many books, made films on marine conservation. His TV show, ‘The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau’ brought the oceans into the people’s living room.
Other important events that took place on June 11 the world over are:
1184 BC: According to the calculations by the famous Greek mathematician, Eratosthenes, Troy is sacked and burnt on this day, during the famous Trojan war.
1742: Benjamin Franklin invents his famous Franklin stove.
1770: British explorer, Captain James Cook, discovers the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia when his ship runs aground.
1891: The Puerto Rican flag was adopted on this day.
1892: The world’s first film studios, The Limelight Department is officially established in Melbourne, Australia.
1927: Aviator Charles Lindbergh is awarded the first Distinguished Flying Cross.
1928: The famous Alfred Hitchcock movie, ‘Case of Jonathan Drew’ or ‘The Lodger’ is released.
1935: The first public demo of FM broadcasting is given by inventor Edwin Armstrong, in the United States, at Alpine in New Jersey.
1951: Mozambique became an oversea province of Portugal on this day.
1955: The first magnesium jet aeroplane takes flight.
1985: The Russian space probe Vega I lands on Venus on this day.
1987: Margaret Thatcher becomes the first British PM in 160 years to win a third consecutive term.
2002: The United State Congress recognises Antonio Meucci as the first inventor of the telephone.
2004: Ronald Reagan’s funeral was held at Washington National Cathedral on this day.
2012: The Nobel Prize money is reduced by 20% to prevent any future undermining of the capital.
Text by Tasneem Dhinojwala