Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2011

Albert Einstein

June 30, 1905: “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” is put forth by Albert Einstein. The paper would be published on September 26. This was his third paper published in 1905 and reconciled Maxwell’s equations for electricity and magnetism with the laws of mechanics. It introduced major changes to mechanics close to the speed of light and became known as the special theory of relativity. His next paper, received on September 27 and published on November 21, was the paper where E=mc2 was first written. This is probably the most recognized formula in physics.

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879. At the time of his birth, Ulm was in the Kingdom of Württemberg, part of the German Empire. The family moved to Munich where Einstein senior opened a company manufacturing electronic equipment. Although Jewish, Albert started his schooling at a Catholic elementary school where he excelled. His education continued through a variety of schools. He was ever curious and although the family moved around frequently, he continued to seek out learning opportunities.

Einstein hoped to teach after graduation and spent years seeking out a position. He worked in the Bern, Switzerland patent office where he was passed over for promotion until he “fully mastered machine technology.” On April 30, 1905 he completed his thesis dissertation entitle “A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions” and was granted a PhD by the University of Zurich. In that same year, he published four groundbreaking papers as listed above. He was on his way.

He traveled abroad, lecturing around the globe. In 1921 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics. He was visiting in the US when Hitler came to power and opted to stay in the States. He became a citizen in 1940 and began his teaching career at Princeton. He was a pacifist who became involved in the Manhattan Project. He was also a civil rights proponent. He pursued many topics from zero-point energy to wormholes; from unified field theory to wave-particle duality. He went to the hospital on April 17, 1955 with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. The defect had been repaired once seven years earlier. Einstein refused further surgery and died the next day. He was 76 years old.

“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.”

“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”

“A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be. Information is not knowledge.”

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – all from Albert Einstein

Also on this day:
What Was That? – In 1908, the Tunguska event occurs.
Tight Rope – In 1859, Charles Blondin crossed the Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

Pygmy Mammoth

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 29, 2011

Pygmy Mammoth compared to a Mammoth and an Elephant (photo by Travis S.)

June 29, 1994: The first near-complete fossil of a pygmy mammoth skeleton is found on Santa Rosa Island, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of California. The sea cliff were eroding away and exposed the skeleton, which remains the only full sized skeleton of the pygmy mammoth ever recovered. The fossil was also the first to be dated. Radiocarbon dating showed the skeleton to be 12,840 years old.

Mammuthus exilis lived only on three islands: San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz. The beasts measured between 4.5 and 7 feet tall and weighed about 2,000 pounds. Full sized mammoths were about 14 feet tall and weighed about 20,000 pounds. Mammoths lived during the Pleistocene era and were a distant relative to the modern day elephant.

Mammoths ranged across Europe, Asia, and North America. On the west coast area of modern day California, mammoths over grazed the land. It was an Ice Age and the water level was about 300 feet lower than today. The hungry mammoths could smell the sweet vegetation on a single island off the coast – about 6 miles away. The beasts swam the short distance and had a new food supply.

The Ice Age came to an end, the ice melted, the water level rose, and the mammoths were trapped on what became three islands. While their population had boomed, the food supply became increasingly limited. Over time, the mammoths became smaller and eventually formed their own species. For about 200,000 years, the mammoths were one of the dominant species on the planet. About 20,000 years ago, the mammoths along with many other large mammals became extinct. The reason for this remains an enigma.

“99 percent of species put on this list are not extinct. That is not a failure; that’s an enormous success.” – Norm Dicks

“I don’t think we should knowingly allow any species to go extinct if we can prevent it.” – Jeff McNeely

” If you whack a population and whack it again and again, it’ll go extinct in that area. If it’s widely distributed, it might be able to bounce back. If it’s isolated in a narrow stretch of habitat, it may be more vulnerable.” – Jessica Hellmann

” I am sorry to say that there is too much point to the wisecrack that life is extinct on other planets because their scientists were more advanced than ours.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Also on this day:
I Love You Lighthouse – In 1860, the last stone to the I Love You lighthouse was placed.
Sound Recording – In 1888, a wax cylinder was used to record music.

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Conformation Dog Show

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 28, 2011

What the judges are looking at.

June 28, 1859:  The first conformation dog show is held. This type of dog show is also referred to as breed shows and are shows where only specific breeds are evaluated. It is a method of seeing which of the purebred specimens conform best to the established breed type as laid down in the accepted breed standards. Judges are certified to evaluate only specific breeds, usually all in the same Group. There are a very few “All Breed” judges, as well. This first show only included pointers and setters and was held at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England.

While this type of dog show originated in England, there are now shows held around the globe. The UK began this tradition on this date. The US, Canada, Australia, and Colombia also participate in these types of shows. The Kennel Club sponsors many of these shows, often holding several competitions each year. There are competitions for adults dogs as well as puppies. Puppies are dogs under 6 months old while older dogs can be subcategorized into junior or limit [intermediate] classifications. There is also distinction between male and female dogs.

There are some prestigious shows with one of the most famous probably being the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. This was established in 1877 and is held yearly at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Crufts is held in the United Kingdom and began in 1891. It is the world’s largest and most prestigious show, according to the Guinness Book of Records. The four-day event is held at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham. The World Dog Show is sponsored by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale and the location moves from year to year. In 2008 it was held in Sweden, in 2009 the event was held in Slovakia, and in 2010 it was held in Denmark. This year’s host will be France and the show runs from July 7 through 10.

The practice of breeding dogs for conformation has been hotly debated. It is said to be a type of eugenics and the breeds are being refined solely on the basis of appearance. Some working dog breed organizations have struggled to keep their breeds from being listed in the AKC due to their fears that the dogs’ characteristics which make them wonderful work animals will be bred out of the line. They also fear that too many of the breed will be siphoned off as show dogs and they will not have enough dogs to do the work they were meant for. There are also health issue concerns with this interbreeding practice.

“Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot little puppies.” – Gene Hill

“A really companionable and indispensable dog is an accident of nature. You can’t get it by breeding for it, and you can’t buy it with money. It just happens along.” – E B White

“Even the tiniest Poodle or Chihuahua is still a wolf at heart.” – Dorothy Hinshaw

“I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.” – John Steinbeck

Also on this day:
The Kelly Gang – In 1880, Ned Kelly was captured.
Going Home – In 2000, Elián González was sent back to Cuba.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 27, 2011

Automatic Teller Machine

June 27, 1967: The world’s first ATM is installed at Barclay’s, a bank in Enfield, London. A New York City bank had a similar machine installed back in 1939, but it was pulled after six months because no one would use it. A quarter-century later, John Shepherd-Barron was frustrated when he couldn’t access his accounts on weekends. He was a managing director at De La Rue Instruments and devised a machine that would allow him better access to his money. He created an “auto-teller.”

The De La Rue Automatic Cash System worked with chemically coated cheques that were purchased in advance and could then be used when the bank itself was closed. Reg Varney, a British television personality was the first person to use the new machine. By the early 2000s, there were over 800,000 machines worldwide. Diebold, NCR, and Wincor Nixdorf are the top three manufacturers, but De La Rue still holds 20% market share.

ATM stands for Automatic Teller Machine and so when calling them an ATM machine, it is rather redundant. Other fun names for the ubiquitous helper are Drink-Link [Ireland], Hole-in-the-Wall [New Zealand, Australia, UK], and Bancomat [Europe and Russia].

Today’s machines accept plastic cards with a magnetic stripe or smartcards with a chip. The magnetic stripe or chip contains information regarding accounts and data associated with them. Access is made after confirmation by entering your Personal Identification Number [PIN] into the machine. Some fees may apply when using an ATM, especially if you are outside your banking institution’s network. Security and safety are issues as well. Software solutions are updated regularly and location issues are dealt with by teaching customers routine safety precautions. Security cameras are often utilized and there is spacing etiquette while others are using a machine. There are also maximum amounts of cash that can be withdrawn.

“ATM machines are all over the place. They’re in Croatia. They’re in Hungary. It’s the way people operate all over Europe.” – Carol Mickelsen

“Eighty-six percent of institutions will charge you for using a different bank’s ATM.” – Greg McBride

“With the branches that remain open, there will be longer lines. Sometimes a bank will basically close the larger branches and push people onto ATMs or even supermarket branches.” -Kenneth Thomas

“ATMs are the black hole of finance.” – Dee Lee

Also on this day:
The Oscar of the Children’s Library – In 1922, the Newbery Medal was first awarded.
Collinswood – In 1966, Dark Shadows premiered.

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Pied Piper

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 26, 2011

Oldest surviving picture of the Pied Piper, painted in 1592

June 26, 1284: The Pied Piper leads 130 children away from Hamelin, Germany. This is the traditional date given the legendary tale. According to the story, Hamelin was inundated with rats when fortuitously, a man dressed in multi-colored [pied] clothing appeared. He said he was a rat catcher and promised to rid the town of rats for a fee. The man played a musical pipe and led the rats to the Weser River, where all but one of the rats drowned. At that point, the townspeople were rid of the rats and so refused to pay the piper.

Infuriated and seeking revenge, the Pied Piper waited for Saint John and Paul’s day or June 26. While the adults were in church, the Piper all dressed in green, began to play his pipe. The 130 boys and girls of the town followed the man out of town and into a cave and they were never seen again. One poor lame child could not keep up and was saved. A deaf child could not hear the music and was saved. A blind child could not see where everyone was going and was saved. These three children told the adults what had happened. There are different ending, depending on the version. In some, the children are returned after payment is met and in some the children are not.

The earliest evidence of this tale is found in a stained glass window placed in the Church of Hamelin around 1300. The window was destroyed in 1660, but we have records of what was depicted. The window is said to have been created in memory of the tragic event. There is no record, other than the window, telling of actual events. Modern day scholars have tried to make sense of the story. They believe it may be allegorical in nature. A plague of some sort carried off the children and the Pied Piper is simply Death.

Another theory is the “emigration” theory. This is widely held and seems supported by outside sources. In the Middle Ages, older children would willingly abandon their parents and move away and found their own village. This was especially true in Eastern Europe. Several villages are known to have been founded in this manner. In this case, the Piper would be the leader of the children. It is also possible that the village of Hamelin was depopulated as destitute or greedy parents sold their children to a recruiter who took the children elsewhere. Orphans and illegitimate children could be off-loaded in this manner.

“Among the various interpretations, reference to the colonization of East Europe starting from Low Germany is the most plausible one: The ‘Children of Hameln’ would have been in those days citizens willing to emigrate being recruited by landowners to settle in Moravia, East Prussia, Pomerania or in the Teutonic Land. It is assumed that in past times all people of a town were referred to as ‘children of the town’ or ‘town children’ as is frequently done today. The ‘Legend of the children’s Exodus’ was later connected to the ‘Legend of expelling the rats’. This most certainly refers to the rat plagues being a great threat in the medieval milling town and the more or less successful professional rat catchers.” – from the official website for the town of Hameln

“Pied Piper: As a rule / I refrain from calling any man a fool. Heed me now. / I’ll wait until yon clock strikes the hour. / Don’t let me go away / Without my pay.” – from The Pied Piper of Hamelin [1957  TV show]

Pied Piper: [speaking of the plague of rats] Leaders of virtue; character builders, / To rid your town of this verminous pox, / My fee is fifty thousand guilders.
First Counselor: Fifty thousand guilders?
Second Counselor: You’ve lost your mind! – from The Pied Piper of Hamelin [1957  TV show]

Mayor of Hamelin: You have an invention?
Pied Piper: I attract attention/ Chiefly with a secret charm/ On creatures that do people harm;/ The mole, the toad, the newt and viper./
Pied Piper: Who doesn’t know of the Pied Piper? – from The Pied Piper of Hamelin [1957  TV show]

Also on this day:
Helicopters – In 1934, the FW-61 helicopter is flown for the first time.
Cyclone – In 1927, Coney Island opened a new ride.

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Last Stand

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 25, 2011

General George Armstrong Custer

June 25, 1876: George Armstrong Custer leads the United States Army 7th Cavalry to defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn or Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse lead combined forces of the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne nations to a stunning victory at the Battle of the Greasy Grass. Custer’s forces numbered about 650 officers, troops, civilians, and scouts. The combined Indian forces came from 949 lodges and numbered between 950 and 1,200 men.

After forced marches on June 24-25, Custer’s Crow scouts told him that there were large encampments of Indians in the area. Custer divided his troops into four detachments. The largest of them was led by Custer himself and there were 13 officers and nearly 200 men, three of them civilians [one news reporter and two scouts]. The second detachment led by Major Reno consisted of 11 officers and 131 troops while the third detachment led by Captain Benteen had 5 officers and 110 troops. The fourth detachment was the pack train with 2 officers and 127 troops. Each of the first three detachments was to seek out Indian encampments and attack.

Reno attacked and was driven off after hearing gunfire in the distance. Custer’s engagement did not go as he had planned. He met with a far greater number of combatants than he had anticipated. He was outnumbered 3:1 and after troops freed with Reno’s retreat, the numbers changed to 5:1. According to Lakota accounts, Crazy Horse led his combined forces against Custer. Many of his men had repeating rifles while the 7th Cavalry was armed with single shot rifles that were known to jam. Custer’s men were in a depression while Crazy Horse’s men were on higher ground, making arrows a more lethal weapon. After annihilating Custer’s detachment, the Indians re-engaged with Reno and Benteen fighting until nightfall and taking up the battle the next day.

The battlefield was preserved as a national cemetery in 1879. The name has changed twice since that time and is today called the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. There is a marble obelisk memorializing the fallen US soldiers. In 2003 an Indian Memorial entitled Spirit Warriors, a beautifully rendered sculpture, was dedicated at the site as well.

“There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry.” – George Armstrong Custer

“I do not wish to be shut up in a corral. All agency Indians I have seen are worthless. They are neither red warriors nor white farmers. They are neither wolf nor dog.” – Sitting Bull

“Free people, remember this maxim: we may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost.” – Jean Jacques Rousseau

“The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything. Do not be afraid to make mistakes providing you do not make the same one twice.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Also on this day:
Great Star of Africa – In 1905, The Cullinan diamond was discovered.
The End – In 1906, a bizarre love triangle ended badly.

Victory Parade

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 24, 2011

Moscow Victory Parade

June 24, 1945: The Moscow Victory Parade of 1945 takes place. The Soviets called World War II by a different name. It was not just a world war, but for them it was called the Great Patriotic War. It ended for them on May 9 when Germany surrendered to the Soviet commanders. With the war over, Marshal of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin issued Order 370 of the Office of the Supreme Commander in Chief, Armed Forces of the USSR. This order called for a victory parade in the capital city of Moscow. Troops from the Army and Navy would participate in the parade held at Moscow’s Red Square.

Marshal Georgy Zhukov [who had formally accepted Germany’s surrender] was joined by Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky with the men riding on white and black stallions respectively. These two men led the parade. There is a debated story about Stalin meaning to lead the parade atop the white stallion. However, Stalin was not a horseman and when he tried to ride the horse, he was thrown and therefore gave the horse to Zhukov. Stalin watched the parade standing tall atop Lenin’s Mausoleum.

The parade included two military bands. A Ground Column in which marched Army, Navy, and Air Force members followed.  In this group were members of military schools as well. A Mounted Column displayed Cavalry and Horse Artillery. Also included was the Mobile Column containing Air Defense Forces and Tank Forces. The men and their armaments were proudly displayed.

Soviet forces were mercilessly assaulted with far greater technologies at the beginning of the war. Germany had some of the most sophisticated tanks made at the time and these were employed against cavalry troops. The onslaught of German troops into Russian territory was relentless. However, the Soviet soldiers did not give up, did not surrender, defended Moscow, and eventually prevailed. Their tactics and technology improved. They took back their lands and chased the German Army back from whence it came. This was not without a terrible human cost. The Soviet losses for World War II are at least 10,600,000. That is over ten million dead, 6,829,437 were either killed or missing in action. Another 5,200,000 Soviets were taken as prisoners by the Axis and of those, 3,300,000  died while in captivity. Polish, Romanian, and Bulgarian troops also fought alongside the Soviets and they lost another 51,000 in combat with unknown thousands more dying as prisoners of war. A Russian source claims 27 million Soviets were lost during the war.

“A sincere diplomat is like dry water or wooden iron.”

“Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach.”

“History shows that there are no invincible armies.”

“If any foreign minister begins to defend to the death a ‘peace conference,’ you can be sure his government has already placed its orders for new battleships and airplanes.” – all from Joseph Stalin

Also on this day:
The Cynic – In 1842, Ambrose Bierce was born.
UFO – In 1947, Kenneth Arnold saw something strange in the sky.

Lorena and John

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 23, 2011

The unhappy couple

June 23, 1993: Lorena and John Bobbitt’s marital troubles become known to the world. John had been out partying and came home drunk. Lorena states that when he returned to their apartment, he raped her. After the rape, she got out of bed, went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, and it was then she saw a carving knife. She remembered not only this night’s assault, but the history of violence in their marriage. She picked up the knife, went back to the bedroom, and cut off nearly half of her passed-out husband’s penis.

She left the house with the severed penis and drove away from their apartment. Eventually, she rolled down the window and tossed the penis out of the car where it landed in a field. She then called 9-1-1. John’s penis was eventually located, packed in ice, and taken to a hospital where he was being treated for his injury. The severed penis was reattached during a 9.5-hour procedure. During this time, Lorena was taken into custody.

During the trial of Lorena Bobbitt, both parties spoke of their tumultuous relationship. Lorena said she was physically, sexually, and emotionally abused during their marriage. John flaunted his infidelities and forced her to have an abortion. There was much corroborative testimony supporting Lorena’s claims of abuse. Her lawyer claimed that after years of abuse, she finally “snapped” and the result was the assault on this day. While John denied the allegations of abuse, his own testimony was often contradictory to known facts and it weakened his veracity. Lorena was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She underwent a 45 day evaluation period and was released afterwards. The couple divorced.

John Wayne Bobbitt attempted to cash in on his ordeal. He formed a band called The Severed Parts but it was generally unsuccessful and did not help to generate enough funds to pay for his increasing medical and legal bills. He also appeared in an adult film, John Wayne Bobbitt, Uncut and then made a second such film. John continued to have scrapes with the law as well. He was convicted of domestic battery against other women and was found guilty of grand theft. Lorena has kept a low profile since this incident. She has founded an organization to help battered women.

“Long term domestic violence: Being abused in this manner is like being kidnapped and tortured for ransom but you will never have enough to pay off the kidnapper.” – Rebecca J. Burns

“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” – Mark Caine

“Domestic violence causes far more pain than the visible marks of bruises and scars. It is devastating to be abused by someone that you love and think loves you in return. It is estimated that approximately 3 million incidents of domestic violence are reported each year in the United States.” – Dianne Feinstein

“If the numbers we see in domestic violence were applied to terrorism or gang violence, the entire country would be up in arms, and it would be the lead story on the news every night.” – Mark Green

Also on this day:
Mutiny on the Discovery – In 1611, Henry Hudson’s crew mutinies.
Clackity clack – In 1868, an improved typewriter was patented.

Burn, Baby, Burn

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2011

Extinguishing the fire on the Cuyahoga River

June 22, 1969: The Cuyahoga River in Northeastern Ohio catches fire. The river meanders through the Cuyahoga Valley for 100 miles and empties into Lake Erie. Moses Cleaveland, a surveyor, found the mouth of the river in 1796 and liked the area so much he settled there and established his eponymous town. For a very short time, the Cuyahoga River was the western border of the United States.

Industrial pollution wasn’t new in the 20th century. The river had caught fire several times before. In 1868, 1883, 1887, 1912, 1922, 1936, 1941, 1948, 1952, and in 1969. The fire in 1952 did between $1 and $1.5 million in damages to boats and riverfront property. The 1969 fire was much smaller. It was under control and extinguished within 30 minutes and did only $50,000 in damages. It is thought the fire started from a passing train throwing sparks that set fire to an oil slick. It was rather a non-event in Cleveland at the time with only the local fire patrol acting to put out the fire.

Small stories were buried in the local papers. However, Time Magazine ignited national interest when they carried the story about the burning river. The same problem was found in the Baltimore Harbor, the Buffalo River in New York, and the Rouge River in Michigan. The Cuyahoga River fire was the one to make it into the August 1, 1969 Time article.

In 1963 the Cleveland area was already concerned with cleaning up the river when they instituted the Cuyahoga River Basin Water Quality Committee. In 1968 the city of Cleveland passed a $100 million bond with the money going to clean up the river. In that same year, the federal government spent $160 million for the entire nation. Businesses were encouraged to clean up their effluvium and many did so voluntarily or due to pressure from the community. The river was improving, as can be inferred from the differences in damages between the 1952 fire and this one. Efforts have continued to improve the beautiful river and in 1998 the Cuyahoga River was one of 14 listed as American Heritage Rivers. While the river is beautiful in spots, the EPA continues to monitor problem areas – areas of stagnation and with unsafe levels of pollution.

“Some river! Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gases, it oozes rather than flows. ‘Anyone who falls into the Cuyahoga does not drown,’ Cleveland’s citizens joke grimly. ‘He decays.'” – Time Magazine, August 1969

“The lower Cuyahoga has no visible life, not even low forms such as leeches and sludge worms that usually thrive on wastes.” – The Federal Water Pollution Control Administration

“I will never forget a photograph of flames, fire, shooting right out of the water in downtown Cleveland. It was the summer of 1969 and the Cuyahoga River was burning.” – EPA Administrator, Carol Browner

“What a terrible reflection on our city.” – ClevelandMayor, Carl Stokes

Also on this day:
Deke – In 1844, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity is founded.
No Fun – In 1918, the worst circus train wreck took place.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 21, 2011

SpaceShipOne landing

June 21, 2004: SpaceShipOne is the first privately funded space plane to achieve space flight. Flight 15P took off from Mohave, California at 14:50 UTC [6:50 PDT] and landed again at the Mohave Airport & Spaceport at 15:15 UTC [7:17 PDT]. The flight had a crew of one, Mike Melvill. The mission lasted 24 minutes, was suborbital, and reached an apogee of 62.214 miles and a speed of 2150 mph or Mach 2.9. The taxiing was to begin at 6:30 AM local time, but was slightly delayed.

The White Knight airplane began its taxi at 6:37 and took off at 6:47. After reaching 47,000 feet, SpaceShipOne separated from the airplane at 6:50 and immediately fired its rocket. Shortly after separation and firing the rocket booster, at an altitude of 60,000 feet, the spaceship suddenly rolled about 90 degrees to the left due to wind shear. The pilot attempted to correct it and it then rolled about 90 degrees to the right. Finally leveled out, the climb proceeded. There was a safely system installed to correct the roll and it worked, however the pilot also corrected the roll. The spacecraft’s attitude was a problem throughout the climb and not corrected until the beginning of the re-entry phase.

The rocket burned for 76 seconds. As the rocket stopped firing, the craft was at 180,000 feet. The plan was for the craft to climb to 360,000 feet, but because of the attitude issue, it reached only 328,491 feet or 100.124 km. the boundary of space is at 100 km. While the space craft was high enough to be considered in space, the pilot experienced about 3.5 minutes of weightlessness. Melvill opened a bag of M&Ms and watched them float around the cabin. The next thing on the agenda was to return to Earth.

SpaceShipOne was about 22 miles south of its planned re-entry zone. Melvill managed to correct for this using a backup trim system. Deceleration of 5.0 g was achieved during descent. At 57,000 feet, a gliding configuration was assumed and the craft landed safely. After this success, it was immediately awarded the $10 million Ansari X Prize and the craft was retired. Building of SpaceShipOne was undertaken by Paul Allen [of Microsoft fame] and Scaled Composites [Burt Rutan’s aviation company]. Allen had provided about $25 million of the funding to create the craft. After SpaceShipOne was retired to a museum, it was followed by SpaceShipTwo.

“I am very excited to be supporting one of the world’s most visionary efforts to seek basic answers to some of the fundamental question about our universe and what other civilisations may exist elsewhere.”

“In my own work, I’ve tried to anticipate what’s coming over the horizon, to hasten its arrival, and to apply it to people’s lives in a meaningful way.”

“The best museums and museum exhibits about science or technology give you the feeling that, hey, this is interesting, but maybe I could do something here, too.”

“The possible is constantly being redefined, and I care deeply about helping humanity move forward.” – all from Paul Allen

Also on this day:
Job Insecurity – In 1919, the Winnipeg Strike goes horribly wrong.
Manchester Baby – In 1948, the world’s first stored program computer worked.

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