Little Bits of History

Fairy Tale’s End

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 31, 2011

The car in which Diana was riding

August 31, 1997: Diana, Princess of Wales, dies from injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris. Photographers were in pursuit of a photo op as well as Diana and Dodi Fayed. The car was speeding through a tunnel when Henri Paul, the driver, lost control and crashed head on into a pillar. Fayed’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, was the only survivor of the crash.

Diana and Dodi left the Hôtel Ritz (owned by Dodi’s father) and were trying to escape the paparazzi. The drunken driver lost control of the Mercedes-Benz S280 while they were traveling through a tunnel. After striking the pillar, the car spun to a stop. Dodi and Henri were dead at the scene. The bodyguard was conscious but with severe injuries. None of the people in the car were wearing seat belts at the time of impact.

Diana was finally freed of the wreckage when the top of the car was cut away. She was still alive and taken to the nearby Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital. She arrived there about 2 AM and was rushed into surgery. The impact of the crash was so implosive that her heart had shifted from a normal left chest position to the right side, tearing major blood vessels. Although an attempt was made to save the princess, she was pronounced dead at 4 AM. Prince Charles and her two sisters came to claim the body and whisked her back to England.

Like many high profile deaths, there are conspiracy theories. Who was Henri Paul? Drunk chauffer? His job was actually as head of security for the Hôtel Ritz. Were his blood samples altered? After repeated testing along with more rigorous tests from other body fluids, it was deemed that Henri was drunk and also taking antidepressants. After claims that the samples did not belong to the Paul, DNA testing proved that the samples were his. Why was he drinking? It was his night off and he was kicking back with a few drinks. Fayed called him back to duty and he responded. Then he was forced to not only drive, but drive like a maniac to keep the ever circling vultures from snapping a few pictures. The case has been called an accident.

“Being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

“They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?”

“Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back.”

“When you are happy you can forgive a great deal.” – all from Princess Diana

Also on this day:
Who Was He? – In 1888, Mary Ann Nichols was brutally murdered.
Try This – In 1900, Coke was first sold in England.

Wreck of the Pandora

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2011

Lt.-Col. Batty's etching of Peter Heywood's painting of the foundering of HMS Pandora

August 30, 1791: The HMS Pandora sinks. The ship belonged to the British Royal Navy and was launched in May 1779. When first put to sea, she was stationed in the English Channel as Britain was threatened by the fleets of France and Spain. Later, during the American Revolutionary War, she was sent to the Americas. There she served as an escort between England and Quebec. As a single cruiser along the coast of America, she captured several rebel privateers. Finally, in 1783, she was retired from formal service.

On June 30, 1790, the HMS Pandora was brought back into service. It once again seemed that war might break out between England and Spain. But the Pandora’s orders were changed in August of that year. Five months after learning of the Mutiny on the Bounty, the First Lord of the Admiralty, John Pitt, ordered Pandora to go and recover the Bounty, capture the mutineers, and bring them back to England to stand trial. Her guns were refitted and she set sail from Portsmouth on November 7, 1790. She was captained by Edward Edwards and had a crew of 134 men.

Some of the mutineers had stayed loyal to Capt. Bligh and returned to Tahiti where they settled in with the natives, many having fathered children on the island. Fletcher Christian’s group sailed off and eventually landed and settled on Pitcairn Island. The Pandora reached Tahiti on March 23, 1791. Five of the men voluntarily boarded and nine more had to be hunted down. All fourteen were imprisoned. Edwards left Tahiti on May 8, 1791. He spent three months searching the South Pacific for the remaining mutineers.

Heading west, the ship ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef on August 29. As she was sinking, the prisoners were released. As she slipped under the waters, 31 of the crew and 4 prisoners were killed. They settled on a small sand cay for two days and then set sail in four open boats and arrived in Kupang on September 16. Next they set sail for Jakarta and 16 more men died. Eventually 78 men were returned to England. Capt. Edwards was exonerated for the lost of the ship at a court martial. Four of the mutineers were found innocent, six were found guilty and of those, three were hanged. The descendants of the mutineers who made it to Pitcairn Island remain there to this day.

“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.” – George William Curtis

“The effect of sailing is produced by a judicious arrangement of the sails to the direction of the wind.” – William Falconer

“Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent.” – H. P. Lovecraft

“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Also on this day:
Yesterdays and Todays – In 1909, the Burgess Shale site was discovered.
Thin Red Line – In 1963, a direct link between Washington, D.C. and Moscow was established.

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The Ashes

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 29, 2011

The Ashes urn

August 29, 1882: According to The Sporting Match, English cricket dies. The Ashes is a Test cricket series played by cricket’s greatest international rivalry – Australia and England. Cricket is a summer game and The Ashes is a biennial event. However, summer does not occur at the same time in the two countries. The Ashes is therefore played every 18 or 30 months in a bid to find the new home for the urn.

The Sporting Match published an obituary stating that English cricked had died when Australia beat England on their home field. “The body would be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia” according to the obit. The media played up the need to regain the ashes when England next played in Australia calling the 1882-1883 season the “quest to regain The Ashes.” And so began the tradition.

The first urn contained ashes from some piece of cricket equipment and was presented to English captain Ivo Bligh when they played their next match in Melbourne. It was made of terra cotta and he forever thought of it as a personal gift. Replicas are seen today holding the ashes. It is not a trophy, per se. Since 1998 there has been a trophy that is presented to the winner and it is made of Waterford crystal. Australia is the current title, trophy, and ash holder with the next match scheduled for 2009.

Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world. It is played on an oval field with two teams of eleven members each. In the center of the oval is a flat strip of ground 22 yards  long called a pitch. There is a wicket set up at each end. A bowler throws a ball to the man protecting his wicket who bats the ball into the playing field. If the ball remains in play and the wicket remains standing, the batsman and the non-striker (a second batsman at the opposing end of the pitch) run between the wickets to score runs. The highest score wins.

“By bringing the Ashes back after so long you have given cricket a huge boost and lit up the whole summer.” – Tony Blair

“My warmest congratulations to you, the England cricket team and all in the squad for the magnificent achievement of regaining the Ashes.” – Michael Vaughan

“It has brought cricket alive in Britain and even around the world. And what’s more the players have been great sporting role models for kids. The Ashes victory is great for the sport.” – David Folb

“Baseball has the great advantage over cricket of being ended sooner.” – George Bernard Shaw

Also on this day:
Have You Hugged Your Hog Today? – In 1885, Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler patents the motorcycle.
Last Man Standing – In 1911, Ishi was found.

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Evens and Odds

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2011


August 28, 888: This the last date which can be expressed in all even numbers for over a thousand years. The date is 8-28-888 and the next date that can be expressed in only even numbers is 2-2-2000. A “number” can be natural, rational, or imaginary. Numbers can be real, complex, or computable. A number can be an integer, but the terms are not synonymous. An integer is a whole number, either negative or positive. It comes from the Latin and means literally “untouched” and the set of integers is composed of natural numbers, including zero. It is a subset of real numbers. Hence, 8 and -94 are integers but 5.25 and ½ are not.

Even numbers are those evenly divisible by 2. An odd number, regardless of how strange it is, is considered odd only if it is not evenly divisible by 2. There is a formula for this. It is n = 2k for even numbers and n = 2k+1 for odd numbers. In this formula, n is a number and k must always be an integer. Fractions and decimals cannot be odd or even as this concept is only used for integers or whole numbers. A prime number is a number divisible only by 1 and itself. Therefore, since every other even number is, by definition, divisible by 2, the integer 2 is the only even prime number.

The first use of numbers was probably tally marks. Bones and other artifacts have been found with these marks which seem to be counting the passage of time, either in lunar cycles or number of days passed. There was  no value system known to coincide with tally marks. They were  merely a one-to-one correspondence for what one was keeping track of. The first numbering system with a place value was found in Mesopotamia and was a base 60 system. The first base 10 system, the system we use, has been dated to ancient Egypt and 3100 BC.

The ancient Greeks argued over the concept of zero. Philosophical debate took place on “how nothing can be something” and led to the Paradoxes of Zeno of Elea. The Greeks weren’t even sure 1 was a number, lonely or not. The late Olmec people of Mexico used a true zero as early as the 4th century BC but certainly by 40 BC. Another difficult concept was the idea of negative numbers. If the ancient Greeks had issue with nothing being something, how much more difficult to comprehend negative numbers. The ancient Chinese did recognize these numbers as early as 100-50 BC.

“A mathematical truth is neither simple nor complicated in itself, it is.” – Emile Lemoine

“God made the Integers, all the rest is the work of man.” – Leopold Kronecker

“Mathematics is the handwriting on the human consciousness of the very Spirit of Life itself.” – Claude Bragdon

“Yes, yes, I know that, Sydney … Everybody knows that! … But look: Four wrongs squared, minus two wrongs to the fourth power, divided by this formula, do make a right.” – Gary Larson

Also on this day:
First Tornado Photograph – In 1884, the first tornado photograph is made.
Sci Am – In 1845, Scientific American began publication.

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Kǒng Qiū

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 27, 2011

Sculpture of Confucius

August 27, 551 BC: Confucius is born in the State of Lu, China. He was conceived out of wedlock with is father a 70 year old down and out noble and his mother an 18 year old woman. His father died when Confucius was three and his mother raised him in poverty. He married Qi Quan when he was 19 and their first child was born the next year. He worked as a shepherd and cowherd as well as a clerk and bookkeeper. By the age of 53 he was the Justice Minister of Lu. Two years later he resigned his position after becoming disenchanted with the political process.

He set about traveling through the small kingdoms of north-central China. He would endear himself to the local rulers and then impart the wisdom, hopes, and dreams he had formulated in the off chance someone would implement his political agenda. He would then be run out of town.

Some consider Confucianism a religion. However, it lacks an afterlife, deities, and concern with spiritual matters. It is an ethical and political or social philosophy based on three concepts: sacrificing to the gods; ethical, social, and political institutions; and personal daily behaviors. Confucius formulated an early version of the Golden Rule and felt that the world would be better if we moved from a sense of total self absorption to behaving in a moral or right manner concerned with the effects of our behavior on others and the world around us. His political beliefs flowed from this ethical base.

By the age of 67 Confucius returned to Lu to settle down. He spent the rest of his life teaching and writing. In his work, Analects, he calls himself “a transmitter who invented nothing.” He put great emphasis on study and opened his book with the Chinese character for this word. His name is a westernized version of Kǒng Fūzǐ that the Jesuits gave to the author as they translated his works. Fūzǐ means teacher; he was born with the name Kǒng Qiū.

“Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.”

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

“To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.”

“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”

“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” – all from Confucius

Also on this day:
Powerful Industry – In 1859, the modern day oil industry starts.
War is Hell – In 1896, the shortest war in history was fought.

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Quake Lake

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 26, 2011

Somehow this article got lost in the shuffle and is published out of order. I am sorry. – PH

Quake Lake

Quake Lake

August 17, 1959: Quake Lake is formed. At 11:37 PM a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Hebgen Lake, Montana. The quake was felt over a 454,000 square mile area. Earthquakes in the 7.0-7.9 magnitude range occur less frequently than smaller quakes, but still happen about 18 times per year. Yellowstone is North America’s largest earthquake system and is on the Wyoming and Montana border. The earth’s crust is being stretched across the Basin and Range Province at the western edge of the central US. As the crust stretched apart, huge blocks of rock measuring as much as 15 miles long crashed into the breach.

The quake also caused an 80 million ton landslide along the steep south side of the Madison River Canyon. As the earth, rock, and trees slid down at speeds reaching 100 mph, 28 campers were also swept to their deaths. Fault scarps which show the relative movement along the fault line measured up to 20 feet and Hebgen Lake dropped the same relative distance. A 32,000 acre area of land dropped 10 feet.

The upstream fault forced water at Hebgen Lake over a dam that was constructed in 1914. The concrete core and rock filled dam was damaged but held. In one of the largest mobilizations, the US Army Corps of Engineers were rushed to Montana to repair the dam and provide a spillway for the now trapped waters forming a new lake.

With no way for the rapidly rising waters to escape, Quake Lake was formed. The lake is 190 feet deep and 6 miles long. It was formed within a month from the trapped waters. By September 10 the Engineers had created a 250 feet wide and 14 feet deep channel for water to escape and ease pressure on the endangered dam. The channel was deepened to 54 feet by October 17.

“Which would you rather have, a bursting planet or an earthquake here and there?” – John Joseph Lynch

“I don’t want to deal with any more hurricanes. I’d rather take an earthquake or a tornado.” – William Phillips

“An earthquake achieves what the law promises but does not in practice maintain – the equality of all men.” – Ignazio Silone

“It takes an earthquake to remind us that we walk on the crust of an unfinished planet.” – Charles Kuralt

Also on this day:
Good Grief – In 2002, the Charles M. Schultz Museum and Research Center opens.
The Eagle Has Landed – In 1978, the first successful crossing of the Atlantic in a balloon successfully concluded.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 26, 2011

Soda and snail

August 26, 1928: May Donoghue’s treat is undelightful. May boarded a tram in Glasgow for a thirty minute ride to Paisley. She was traveling with a friend and they went to the Wellmeadow Café about 8:50 PM and ordered from the owner, Francis Minchella. May ordered an ice cream drink and Francis brought the ice cream and an opaque bottle of ginger beer to the table. The ginger beer was poured over the ice cream and May enjoyed her treat. Then, she added the rest of the ginger beer and a partially decomposed snail dropped out of the bottle.

May later complained of stomach pains and was diagnosed as having gastroenteritis. On April 29, 1929 May brought action against David Stevenson, the maker of the ginger beer located in Paisley. She was asking for £500 in damages. The House of Lords dealt with the case in a preliminary matter and the case was settled out of court. Since there are no case records, some of the facts are a bit sketchy. The friend is never named, the animal was either a snail or a slug, and the ginger beer may have been some other carbonated beverage.

The case known as Donoghue v. Steveson received judgment on May 26, 1932 and established the modern legal concept of negligence in Scots and English law. What was determined was the aspect of “duty of care” stating the legal obligation of a person or institution to hold to a standard of reasonable care while performing acts which may cause harm to others. This is the first requirement for a case of negligence. One has the right to expect soda bottles to contain soda and nothing else.

To successfully bring judgment against negligence, the duty of care must have been breached. This particular breach must have been what caused harm to the other person. This brings liability upon the person who was derelict in their duty to protect from harm. In this case, one could reasonably expect no livestock in a soda bottle. When drinking from a container in which an animal has been decomposing, one is likely to become ill. If illness does occur, the maker of the soda would be held liable for damages.

“A man has a Duty of Care to conduct himself in such a way as to avoid harm to others, where a reasonable man would have seen that such harm could occur.” – Lord Atkin

“Negligence is the rust of the soul, that corrodes through all her best resolves.” – Owen Feltham

“Success produces confidence; confidence relaxes industry, and negligence ruins the reputation which accuracy had raised.” – Ben Jonson

“The real and effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman is that of his customers. It is the fear of losing their employment which restrains his frauds and corrects his negligence.” – Adam Smith

Also on this day:

The Terminal Man – In 1988, Merhan Karrimi Nasseri hit the airport.
Explosive – in 1883, Krakatau began to erupt.

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I See

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2011

Modern radio telescope

August 25, 1609: Galileo Galilei demonstrates his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers. This was not Galileo’s only technological advance. He also created and then improved a geometric and military compass, especially valuable for aiming cannons as well as for surveyors. It was also useful in the construction of polygons. Galileo built a thermometer that used the expansion and contraction of air in a bulb moving through a tube of water.

He was working on a way to see the stars and distant planets more clearly, as were many others. He and Thomas Harriot, an Englishman, were the first to use a refracting telescope to peer into the night skies. The term “telescope” was coined by a Greek mathematician, Giovanni Demisiani in 1611. The term means to see far. Galileo was also concerned with seeing small and by 1624  he had perfected a compound microscope. He gifted this invention to the Duke of Bavaria and a second was sent to Prince Cesi. Giovanni Faber gave the name “microscope” to the invention.

The first refracting telescope came out of the Netherlands a year earlier and the inventor is not known. Credit sometimes goes to Hans Lippershey, Zacharias Hanssen, and Jacob Metius. The instrument was perfected many times and by 1668 Isaac Newton added his improvements, creating a telescope which bears his name. In 1733, an achromatic lens helped to correct color distortions. These, however, tarnished rapidly. A silver coating was added in the 19th century, alleviating that problem. Aluminized mirrors came in the 20th century. In the 1900s, telescopes working in a much wider wavelength range gave rise to radio and gamma-ray telescopes as well.

Today’s telescopes come in a variety of types. There are still optical telescopes, but added to them are many more: radio, x-ray, gamma-ray, high energy particle, gravitational wave, and neutrino detector telescopes are all in use. There are infrared, visible light, ultraviolet and low energy scopes, too. Each of these gives an entirely different look to what is in the night sky. Today, the largest optical telescope is the Gran Telescopio Canarias built by Spain, Mexico, and the US. It has an aperture of 410 inches and it is located in the Canary Islands. There are also many telescopes out in space, search outward and sending information back to Earth.

“For my confirmation, I didn’t get a watch and my first pair of long pants, like most Lutheran boys. I got a telescope. My mother thought it would make the best gift.” – Wernher von Braun

“I was, I remember, I still remember when the first time I pointed the telescope at the sky and I saw Saturn with the rings. It was a beautiful image.” – Umberto Guidoni

“The development of the telescope, together with increased knowledge of things, brought men to see that the earth is not what man had once thought it to be.” – Joseph Franklin Rutherford

“Love looks through a telescope; envy, through a microscope.” – Josh Billings

Also on this day:
Swimming the English Channel – In 1875 Matthew Webb becomes the first to swim the English Channel.
Men in the Moon – In 1835, the Great Moon Hoax articles first began to see print.

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George Crum

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 24, 2011

George Crum and his Saratoga Chips

August 24, 1853: George Crum tires of hearing about his French fries being too soggy. In order to shut up an annoying customer, some say it was Cornelius Vanderbilt, Crum sliced the potatoes so thin before frying them that they could no longer be eaten with a fork. Since he served them from a restaurant in Saratoga, New York, he named the surprising new taste treat Saratoga chips.

The most eaten food in the whole world is rice, second is the lowly potato. The French were making fries since the 1700s. Thomas Jefferson who served as ambassador to France, brought the recipe back to Monticello with him. He served the French fries to his dinner guests and the US began their love affair with the fried potato treat.

Crum made his fries in the standard fashion. Thickly sliced, fried, and salted. Due to the constant complaining, he tried to prove a point and ended up inventing a new treat – the Saratoga chip. By 1860 Crum opened his own restaurant, also in Saratoga and had a basket of his chips placed on each table. The treat was in great demand and he even distributed Saratoga chips to the Vanderbilts (father and son), Jay Gould, and Henry Hilton.

Crum never patented his invention and by 1895 William Tappendon of Cleveland, Ohio was packaging the treats and selling them as food to grocery stores. They often got soggy before the chips were consumed and in 1935, Laura Scudder ironed waxed paper into a sealed bag and kept the chips fresher, longer. Today, these treats are called potato chips and there are 1000 varieties listed (manufacturers, varieties, flavors) worldwide. The potato chip is big business with $16.4 billion in sales in 2005. That figure accounts for 35.5% of all “savory snacks” sold – a $46.1 billion business.

“I am not telling people to stop eating potato chips and French fries, … But I and all consumers should have the information we need to make informed decisions about the food we eat.” – Bill Lockyer

“While sandwiches are the number one consumed entree at lunch and dinner in this country, more than 35 billion ‘naked’ sandwiches are eaten a year without potato chips.” – Lora DeVuono

“More money is spent on potato chips every year in the United States than is spent on political campaigns. And yet, what’s the relative importance to the fate of the nation?” – Toby Nixon

“Nine hundred million pounds of potato chips are switching. We’re taking 60 million pounds of saturated fat out of the American diet.” – Rocco Papalia

Also on this day:
Pompeii Disappears – In AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupts.
Waffling – In 1869, a waffle iron was patented.

Fannie Farmer

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2011

Fannie Farmer

August 23, 1902: Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery opens in Boston, Massachusetts. Fannie Merritt Farmer was born in 1857 in Medford, Massachusetts. Her father was an editor and printer and he believed in education for all four of his daughters. Unfortunately, Fannie suffered a stroke while still in high school at the age of 16. The stroke left her unable to walk for several years. She remained at home with her educational plans put on hold. While recuperating, she took up cooking. She turned her mother’s home into a boarding house renowned for fabulous meals.

At the age of 30, she enrolled in the Boston Cooking School. She stayed for two years, studying nutrition, convalescent cooking, sanitation, chemical food analysis, various techniques for cooking and baking, and household management. Fannie was one of the school’s top students and stayed on as the assistant to the director after her studies were completed. In 1891, she became the school’s principal.

Fannie published her best-known book in 1896. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book used standardized measurements and was a follow-up work to Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book published in 1884 by Mary J. Lincoln. Fannie’s book eventually contained 1,849 recipes as well as household tips for cleaning, food preservation, and nutritional information. The publishers were not sure of sales and would only consent to publish if Fannie herself paid for the first edition of 3,000 books. It sold well. In fact, it is still available today.

In 1902, Fannie left the Boston School and founded her own cooking school. She ran the school, traveled for speaking engagements around the country, and wrote more cookbooks. In 1904, she published a cookbook for foods used to treat various maladies. She was so famous for her nutritional information, she lectured at Harvard Medical School. She spent the last seven years of her life confined to a wheelchair, but it barely slowed her down. Her last lecture was given just ten days before her death. She died at the age of 57 in 1915.

“When we decode a cookbook, every one of us is a practicing chemist. Cooking is really the oldest, most basic application of physical and chemical forces to natural materials.” – Arthur E. Grosser

“The biggest seller is cookbooks and the second is diet books — how not to eat what you’ve just learned how to cook.” – Andy Rooney

“Every year the number of new cookbooks increases, but in spite of them the progress made in this most useful of the arts is not ever overpowering. On the contrary, we must regretfully admit that nowadays people no longer prepare the fine and nourishing dishes that our mothers used to make.” – Anna Dorn, Cookbook Author (1834)

“It is not, in fact, cookery books that we need half so much as cooks really trained to a knowledge of their duties.” – Eliza Acton, ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’ (1845)

Also on this day:
The Blue Planet – In 1966, the first pictures came back from the Moon.
Holy God – In 1948, the World Council of Churches was founded.

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