1718: London lawyer James Puckle was granted a patent for his ‘Defence Gun’, a rapid-fire weapon designed to protect ships from boarders.
1859: Birth in Paris of physicist Pierre Curie. In 1903 Curie, his wife Marie and Henri Becquerel were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work in the field of radiation.
1810: Retired admiral Sir Isaac Coffin patented his ‘perpetual oven’ to bake biscuits for the navy. It had an endless wire mesh belt perpetually running through the oven with the help of rollers. It has been described as a major contribution to the development of mechanised food production.
1252: The Papal Bull Ad Extirpanda authorised (but also set restrictions on) the use of torture by the Inquisition in extracting confessions from heretics.
1957: Britain exploded its first H-bomb above Christmas Island.