- Nesting pairs of the Bermuda petrel, thought to have been extinct for more than 300 years, are found.
- Niko Tinbergen publishes The Study of Instinct.
- May 28 – Oliver H. Lowry submits his Lowry protein assay procedure for publication.
- October 15 – The progestin norethisterone, significant in creation of the combined oral contraceptive pill, is synthesized by Carl Djerassi, Luis E. Miramontes and George Rosenkranz at Syntex in Mexico City.
- February – Ferranti deliver their first Mark 1 computer to the University of Manchester (UK). It is the world's first commercially available general-purpose electronic computer.
- March 30 – Remington Rand delivers the first UNIVAC I computer to the United States Census Bureau. It is inaugurated on June 14.
- May 5 – The Ferranti NIMROD computer is presented at the Science Museum (London) during the Festival of Britain. It is designed exclusively to play Nim, using panels of lights, the first instance of a digital computer designed specifically to play a game.
- July – Maurice Wilkes introduces the concept of microprogramming.
- November 29 – LEO becomes the first computer to run a full commercial business application, for the British bakers J. Lyons and Co.
- EDVAC binary electronic stored program computer incorporating high speed delay line memory begins operation at the United States Army's Ballistics Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
- Publication of Sancti Thomae Aquinatis hymnorum ritualium varia specimina concordantiarum ... A first example of word index automatically compiled and printed by IBM punched card machines, a concordance to work by Thomas Aquinas produced by IBM under the direction of Roberto Busa, an early instance of the use of data processing machinery in humanities research.
History of science and technology
- July – The term "Industrial archaeology" is first used in print in Britain.
- Karl Huber's biography of Leibniz is published posthumously.
- Hans Reichenbach's book The Rise of Scientific Philosophy is published.
- August 15 – 1951 Pont-Saint-Esprit mass poisoning, a fatal outbreak, probably of ergotism, in southern France.
- Richard Asher describes Münchausen syndrome.
- Edward Teller and Stanislaw Ulam, working for the United States, develop the first thermonuclear bomb.
- Solomon Asch begins publication of his conformity experiments showing how group pressure can persuade an individual to conform to an obviously wrong opinion.
- The World Health Organization's report on maternal deprivation, Maternal Care and Mental Health, written by English psychologist John Bowlby, is published.
- May – Carl A. Wiley publishes the concept of the solar sail.
- June – Carl A. Wiley invents synthetic aperture radar.
- July 4 – William Shockley announces invention of the junction transistor.
- George Downing builds "The Rocket", the first surfboard with a removable fin.
- August 18 – Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur inaugurated in West Bengal as the first of the Indian Institutes of Technology.
- c. September – James Watson joins Francis Crick under Max Perutz in the UK Medical Research Council's Unit for Research on the Molecular Structure of Biological Systems at the Cavendish Laboratory in the University of Cambridge led by Sir Lawrence Bragg.
- Nobel Prizes
- Copley Medal: David Keilin
- Wollaston Medal for Geology – Olaf Holtedahl
- January 1 – Radia Perlman, American computer software designer and network engineer.
- April 14 – Greg Winter, English biochemist, recipient of Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018.
- May – Chen Saijuan, Chinese molecular biologist.
- May 18 – Ben Feringa, Dutch organic chemist, recipient of Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016.
- May 26 – Sally Ride (died 2012), American physicist and astronaut.
- July 1 – Niels Krabbe, Danish ornithologist.
- September 14 – Duncan Haldane, English-born condensed-matter physicist, recipient of Nobel Prize in Physics 2016.
- September 18 – John Clark (died 2004), English molecular biologist.
- September 30 – Barry Marshall, Australian physician, recipient of Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2005.
- October 27 – Carlos Frenk, Mexican cosmologist.
- January 13 – Dorothea Bate (born 1878), British paleozoologist.
- April 6 – Robert Broom (born 1866), Scottish-born South African paleontologist.
- April 9 – Vilhelm Bjerknes (born 1862), Norwegian physicist and meteorologist.
- April 22 – Horace Donisthorpe (born 1870), English entomologist.
- October 4 – Henrietta Lacks (born 1921), African American source of the HeLa cell line.
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- Lavington, Simon Hugh; Society, British Computer (1998). A History of Manchester Computers. British Computer Society. ISBN 978-1-902505-01-5.
- "50th anniversary of the UNIVAC I". CNN. 2001-06-14. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "Welcome to Nimrod!". Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-21.
- Wilkes, Maurice (1951). "The Best Way to Design an Automatic Computing Machine". Report of Manchester University Computer Inaugural Conference. pp. 16–18.
- Wilkes, M. V.; Wheeler, D. J.; Gill, S. (1951). The preparation of programs for an electronic digital computer, with special reference to the EDSAC and the use of a library of subroutines. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Press.
- Wilkes, M. V. (1969). "The Growth of Interest in Microprogramming: A Literature Survey". ACM Computing Surveys. 1 (3): 139–145. doi:10.1145/356551.356553..
- Ferry, Georgina (2004). "4". A Computer Called LEO: Lyons Tea Shops and the World's First Office Computer. London: Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-1-84115-186-1.
- Wilkes, M. V. (1956). Automatic Digital Computers. New York: Wiley.
- Rix, Michael (July 1951). "Birmingham". History Today. 1 (7): 59.
- University of California Press.
- Asher, Richard (10 February 1951). "Munchausen's Syndrome". The Lancet. 1 (6650): 339–341. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(51)92313-6. PMID 14805062.
- Bretherton, I. (1992). "The Origins of Attachment Theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth". Developmental Psychology. 28 (5): 759–775. doi:10.1037/0012-16184.108.40.2069.
- Writing as "Russel Saunders" in a fictional story "Are the Clipper Ships gone forever?" in Astounding Science-Fiction. Love, Allan W. (June 1985). "In Memory of Carl A. Wiley". Antennas and Propagation Society Newsletter. 27 (3): 17–18. doi:10.1109/MAP.1985.27810.
- Wiley, C. A. (May 1985). "Synthetic Aperture Radars: A Paradigm for Technology Evolution". IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems. AES-21 (3): 440–443. Bibcode:1985ITAES..21..440W. doi:10.1109/taes.1985.310578.
- "1951 – First Grown-Junction Transistors Fabricated". Computer History Museum. 2007. Archived from the original on 2012-09-29. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
- Howard, Jake (2018). "Saying Goodbye To The First Surfer To Turn A Board". stabmag.com. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
- Marcus, Ben (2013-11-15). 365 Surfboards: The Coolest, Raddest, Most Innovative Boards from Around the World. Voyageur Press. p. 93. ISBN 9781610588553. Retrieved 2019-12-30.