Little Bits of History

August 8

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 8, 2017

1576: The cornerstone for Uraniborg is laid. Tycho Brahe was a Danish nobleman born in 1546 who became famous for his astronomical discoveries. Not just an astronomer, Brahe was also an astrologer and alchemist who was impressed with the world of empirical facts which led him to make astoundingly accurate observations about the world in which he lived. He received a comprehensive education and when the current instrumentation was not up to his own standards, he invented new ones so his observations were not distorted by inadequate tools. Having said that, he was the last of the great astronomers to make his observations without the use of telescopes since these were not invented until after his death in 1601 at the age of 54.

Uraniborg was a Danish astronomical observatory and alchemical laboratory established and run by Brahe. It was built on Hven, an island then owned by Denmark. It was dedicated to Urania, the Muse of Astronomy and the name translates to “The Castle of Urania”. It was the first specifically built observatory in modern Europe. As mentioned above, telescopes weren’t invented until 1604 so this observatory lacked what is today considered to be basic equipment. The main building was a square, about 50 feet per side and made of red brick. There were two semicircular towers erected on the north and south sides so the overall footprint was rectangular. Gardens were planted to specific measurements in order to make the Uraniborg promote the health of the occupants, an early feng shui.

The sun and Jupiter were to have increased influence over the observatory due to this careful building. The main floor had four rooms, one for Brahe and his family and the other three for visiting astronomers. The north tower held the kitchen while the southern one was a library. The second floor had three rooms, one large one for visiting royalty. James VI of Scotland visited in 1590. There were two more rooms of equal size but smaller than the royal room. On the second level, both towers held instruments used for studying the skies. The third floor held eight rooms for students. A third tower, like cupola, was added to the roof of the third floor, and the widow’s walk afforded an even wider view of the sky.

Soon after Uraniborg was built, it was expanded underground with Sterneborg or Star Castle in which Brahe was able to keep important instruments away from the elements and to allow other observers to make separate observations and then compare them with their peers. Brahe had a patron., protector, and friend in King Frederick. The king died in 1588 and his 11 year old son came to the throne and a regency council ruled until 1596, Christian IV’s coronation date. Brahe fell out of favor with the new King and abandoned Uraniborg in 1597 and left the country. The institution was destroyed after Brahe’s death and the Round Tower of Copenhagen was built on the site in 1642. Today, the grounds of Uraniborg are being restored.

It was not just the Church that resisted the heliocentrism of Copernicus.

Now it is quite clear to me that there are no solid spheres in the heavens, and those that have been devised by the authors to save the appearances, exist only in the imagination.

When, according to habit, I was contemplating the stars in a clear sky, I noticed a new and unusual star, surpassing the other stars in brilliancy. There had never before been any star in that place in the sky.

I conclude, therefore, that this star is not some kind of comet or a fiery meteor… but that it is a star shining in the firmament itself one that has never previously been seen before our time, in any age since the beginning of the world. – all from Tycho Brahe

 

 

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System Error

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 8, 2015
Remains of the Warsaw Radio Mast after the collapse

Remains of the Warsaw Radio Mast after the collapse

August 8, 1991: The Warsaw Radio Mast collapses. At the time, it was the tallest manmade structure in the world. Even today, the only structure built taller has been the Burj Khakifa which was completed in 2010. The mast was designed by Jan Polak and was 2,120.7 feet tall. Construction began in July 1970. The guyed steel lattice mast was made with equilateral triangular cross sections with a face width of 16 feet. The vertical steel tubes used in forming the vertices had a diameter of 10 inches and thickness of the walls of the tubes varied in width from 0.31 to 1.33 inches, depending on the height. There were 86 elements each measuring 25 feet and the mast had three arrays of guy wires attached at five levels between 399.5 feet and 1,949.7 feet from the ground. Each wire was fixed on a separate anchor block on the ground.

Construction was completed on May 18, 1974 and the transmitters began regular service on July 22. It was used by Warsaw Radio-Television for longwave radio broadcasting. In 1988, the frequency changed from 227 kHz to 225 kHz. Because of voltage potential, the mast was built on an insulated block 6.6 feet high. Signals from broadcasts could be received by the entire globe. The weight of the structure is debated but Polish sources claim it was 420 tons. The mast was also equipped with 16 levels of air traffic warning lights as well as a flashing beacon on the top. A substation was built to supply power to the mast and six small towers were built around the periphery of the grounds to support aircraft warning lamps.

Ten years after construction, examination revealed wind-induced damage secondary to oscillations of the mast, insulators, and the guys. Repair work was difficult and discussions were held about building an improved replacement. Due to Poland’s economy, this was abandoned. In 1988, the tower was to be repainted, but there was not enough paint to complete the job. On this day, repairs were underway. At 4 PM UTC, while exchanging the guy wires on the highest stock, a catastrophic error caused the collapse of the mast. The mast first bent and then snapped at roughly the half way point. The helix building and the transmitter building were not damaged.

An investigation into the cause of the error found that Mostostal Zabrze, the builder and company in charge of maintenance, were at fault. The construction coordinator and the chief of the Mostostal division in charge of construction were each sentenced to prison time. Since the collapse, the tallest structure in Poland has been the FM- and TV-mast Olsztyn-Pieczewo at 1,197.51 feet. Radio broadcasts are important throughout Poland and especially so to those Poles who live abroad. They have been able to maintain radio communication by switching to other sources. Today, the Warsaw site is cleaned up of the wreckage and the rest of the buildings are in disuse and slowly decaying.

A man’s errors are what make him amiable. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Ignorance and error are necessary to life, like bread and water. – Anatole France

Error is the price we pay for progress. – Alfred North Whitehead

What passes for optimism is most often the effect of an intellectual error. – Raymond Aron

Also on this day: Great Train Robbery – Another One – In 1963, another train was robbed.
Around the World – In 1929, the first Zeppelin began a trip around the world.
Inhumanity – In 1938, construction began on Mauthausen Concentration Camp.
High Up – In 1786, Mont Blanc was first climbed.
Abbey Road – In 1969, Iain Macmillan took some pictures.

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Abbey Road

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 8, 2014
Abbey Road cover

Abbey Road cover

August 8, 1969: Iain Macmillan takes some pictures. Iain was born in 1938 in Dundee, Scotland. He moved to London in 1958 to study Photography at the Regent Street Polytechnic. His first job after completing his studies was as a cruise photographer. He returned to Scotland and began to photograph street scenes. Both The Sunday Times and the Illustrated London News commissioned work from him in the early 1960s. He went on to create a book entitled The Book of London (1966). In this book, a picture of Yoko Ono appeared. On page 181, she and three others appeared in a picture called the “Handkerchief Piece” where all of them were wearing the cloths over their mouths. She went on to commission him to photograph her exhibit at the Indica Gallery in St. James’s, London.

On November 9, 1966 John Lennon met Yoko One at the Gallery and she later introduced him to Iain. In 1969, Lennon invited the photographer to shoot some pictures for an upcoming album cover. The Beatles had recorded most of their music at the EMI Studios on Abbey Road, St. John’s Wood, London. They agreed to meet outside the studio around 11:30 AM on this day. Paul McCartney had given the photographer an idea of what was wanted. The four men would cross the street. In the background was an abandoned Volkswagen Beetle which had been left there while the owner was on holiday. Iain stood on a stepladder placed in the middle of the road while a policeman blocked traffic. He took six pictures.

In the first picture, John was in the lead and followed by Ringo Starr, Paul, and George Harrison. They would remain in this order for all six pictures. In this first picture, they were heading from left to right. They turned around and walked back, from right to left. In this picture, the spacing was good, but only John had a full step. In the third picture, they were again left to right but there was a traffic jam; Paul lost the sandals he had worn in the first two pictures and was barefoot. The fourth photo was again right to left and John was the only one not in mid step. The fifth photo, they are in perfect step going from left to right. It is the only picture in which Paul was smoking. It was the one chosen for the cover of the album. The sixth picture was again out of step.

After getting these six pictures, Iain went to photograph a road sign for the back cover. He found the sign he was looking for on the corner of Alexandra Road. While taking a picture, a girl in a blue dress walked past, photo bombing it. Although upset at the time, it was the picture chosen for the back of the cover. Before the album was released, John had unofficially quit the group. Paul left, officially, the next year. Iain went on to work with Yoko and John on several more projects. He continued to work with photography and in 1993 was back at the same street taking a picture of Paul and an Old English Sheepdog which was used as the cover on McCartney’s album, Paul is Live. Iain died in 2006 from lung cancer.

Abbey Road was like a freak. It was an effort trying to produce something that we used to produce, because it was already disintegrating on the White Album because there was so much material. – John Lennon

The second side of Abbey Road is incredible! The White Album, ninety-nine percent of it is very good. If I had Desert Island Discs, I’d take the White one or Abbey Road, I think. I like the boys playing together, you know. I like a group. – Ringo Starr

I don’t like people explaining albums. The only way you can explain it is to hear it. You can’t really use words about music, otherwise we’d do a talking album. The album is the explanation, and it’s up to you to make sure what you want of it. There is no theme to Abbey Road. – Paul McCartney

It all fits together, but it’s a bit like it’s something else. It doesn’t feel like it’s us. We spent hours doing it, but I still don’t see it like us. It’s more like somebody else. It’s a very good album. – George Harrison

Also on this day: Great Train Robbery – Another One – In 1963, another train is robbed.
Around the World – In 1929, the first Zeppelin began a trip around the world.
Inhumanity – In 1938, construction began on Mauthausen Concentration Camp.
High Up – In 1786, Mont Blanc was first climbed.

Around the World

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 8, 2013
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin

LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin

August 8, 1929: LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin begins to circumnavigate the globe. Zeppelins, dirigibles, or airships float through the air and are steered by the use of rudders and propellers. They are lighter than air and are the descendants of hot air balloons first demonstrated by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783. The next year, Jean-Pierre Blanchard added a propeller to the balloon and crossed the English Channel. In 1852, Henri Giffard added a steam powered engine. By 1872, these lighter than air vehicles were completely navigable and by 1878 they were being built with internal combustion engines.

The ships’ skins became rigid in construction and the most successful of these were designed by Graf (Count) von Zeppelin. In July 1900, LZ1 was launched, but was not a complete success. With further modifications and improvements, LZ2 (a better model) was launched in 1906. The airships were used throughout WWI mostly for reconnaissance, but some ships were used on bombing runs. Continual improvements led to bigger and better ships.

LZ 127 made her maiden flight on September 18, 1928. The ship was 776 feet long with a diameter of 100 feet. Hydrogen was the lighter than air gas used and it took 3,700,000 cubic feet to fill the ship. She was powered by five 550 horsepower Maybach engines and had a maximum speed of 80 mph or 69.5 knots. A crew of 40 cared for the 20 passengers.

After touring Europe and visiting the US, company chief Dr. Hugo Eckener sought sponsors for an around the world flight. William Randolph Hearst backed the flight but only if it started in the US. The Zeppelin flew from Germany and then began the trip from Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey. They then flew back to Germany, across Siberia, stopped in Tokyo, made the first non-stop crossing of the Pacific Ocean, stopped in Los Angeles and finally returned to New Jersey on August 29. The trip took 21 days, 5 hours, and 31 minutes and covered 19,500 miles, unless you add in the initial trip from Germany, in which case the trip covered 30,831 miles. The flying time for the Lakehurst to Lakehurst trip was 12 days and 11 minutes.

“If it is better to travel than to arrive, it is because traveling is a constant arriving, while arrival that precludes further traveling is most easily attained by going to sleep or dying.” – John Dewey

“If an Ass goes a-traveling, he’ll not come home a Horse.” – Thomas Fuller

“The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases.” – William Hazlitt

“My advice to any traveler who is traveling in order to learn would be: ‘Fight tooth and nail to be permitted to travel in what is technically the least efficient way.'” – Arnold J. Toynbee

This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin was born on July 8, 1838 in Konstanz, Grand Duchy of Baden (now part of Germany). He was from a noble family whose claim to aristocracy dated back to the 1400s. He was educated by private tutors at the family home. In 1853, he left home to attend the polytechnic at Stuttgart and two years later became a cadet of the military school at Ludwigsburg. After finishing, he joined the army as an officer at Wurttemberg. He took a leave in 1863 to come to America where he acted as an observer for the Union Army during the US Civil War. Back in Germany, he was commander of the 19th Uhlans after having worked in reconnaissance. He eventually retired from the Army under criticism but with the rank of Generalleutnant. After his military career ended, he pursued his love of flight and began work on his eponymous airships.

Also on this day: Great Train Robbery – Another One – In 1963, another train is robbed.
Inhumanity – In 1938, construction began on Mauthausen Concentration Camp.
High Up – In 1786, Mont Blanc was first climbed.

High up

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 8, 2012

Map of approaches to the summit of Mont Blanc

August 8, 1786: Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard are the first to climb Mont Blanc. The mountain lies on the border between France and Italy. Mont Blanc is the French name and Monte Bianco is the Italian name for the peak. Both names mean “White Mountain” and it is the highest point in the Alps. This distinction also means the 15,774 foot high mountain is the highest point in Western Europe and the European Union. It is the 11th highest peak in the world.

The highest peak in the world is Mount Everest which wasn’t successfully scaled until 1953. There are two styles of mountaineering – Expedition Climbing and Alpine Climbing. The latter is named for the Alps and is consistent with climbs taken in medium-sized glaciated mountains such as the Alps or Rocky Mountains. While loosely based on the altitude of the climb, it also refers to the terrain of the ascent as well as the time it takes. Alpine climbs usually are “light and fast” and the goal is to reach the summit in a single push.

Jacques Balmat was a Savoyard mountain guide born in the Kingdom of Sardinia. He was from the Chamonix valley in what is France today and collected crystals and hunted chamois, a goat-antelope species of the region. Twenty-five years earlier, Horace-Benedict de Saussure offered a reward to the first man to climb Mont Blanc. Balmat collected the reward, the next year he took Saussure and 17 others to the peak.

Michel-Gabriel Paccard was a doctor and scientist. He wanted to reach the top of the mountain for scientific purposes. He made several attempts prior to his success on this date. Their trip was made without what we today would consider necessary equipment – like ropes and ice axes. They did bring along scientific instruments. Paccard made it to the peak and managed to take the measurements he sought.

This man, robust, resolute, this crystal hunter who, as it turns out, possesses an extraordinary mountaineering sense, an unerring instinct for the crevasses and seracs of the glaciers … Gaston Rebuffat on Balmat’s climbing abilities

Theirs was an astounding achievement of courage and determination, one of the greatest in the annals of mountaineering. It was accomplished by men who were not only on unexplored ground but on a route that all the guides believed to be impossible. – Eric Shipton

The ascent itself was magnificent; an amazing feat of endurance and sustained courage, carried through by these two men only, unroped and without ice axes, heavily burdened with scientific equipment and with long iron-pointed batons. The fortunate weather and a moon alone ensured their return alive. – C. Douglas Milner

Like Saussure a devotee of the natural sciences, he has a dream: to carry a barometer to the summit and take a reading there. An excellent mountaineer, he has already made several attempts. – Gaston Rebuffet on Paccard prior to this day

Also on this day:

Great Train Robbery – Another One – In 1963, another train is robbed.
Around the World – In 1929, the first Zeppelin began a trip around the world.
Inhumanity – In 1938, construction began on Mauthausen Concentration Camp.

Inhumanity

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 8, 2011

Survivors of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp shortly after their liberation.

August 8, 1938: Construction begins on the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. The Third Reich annexed Austria on March 13, 1938 and leased the Wienergraben Quarry from Vienna on June 3. Using prisoners brought from Dachau and stone from the quarry, construction of the first building began. After 1940 and with the building of many more sub-camps, the area became known as the Mauthausen-Gusen Camp because of the two nearby villages.

The entire complex was huge and had 101 sub-camps altogether with 49 of them considered major sub-camps. The total population of all these institutions of horror was close to 85,000. Slave labor was exploited by both national and local industries. This was one of the most productive and profitable camps in the system. The profit for Mauthausen was 11,000,000 Reichsmark in 1944 alone.

The camp was used to imprison real and imagined political and ideological prisoners as well as foreigners or enemies of the state. They were worked to exhaustion and starved as well. When they became too ill to work they were sent to a hospital where they were exterminated and the bodies sent a crematorium. Men were forced to carry large blocks of stone up 186 stairs with guards betting on who would make it to the top or fall and kill others on the way down.

The camp was liberated on May 5, 1945 by the US 11th Armored Division, 3rd US Army. Many records were destroyed by the Germans prior to the Allies arrival. An accurate death toll is unknowable but it is estimated that 170,700 were killed. The numbers range from 122,700 – 320,000 dead. What is known for sure is that another 1,042 died in American field hospitals after their release. It is thought that about 320,000 people were incarcerated here with only approximately 80,000 surviving the ordeal.

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl

“As long as the German people was united it has never been conquered. It was the lack of unity in 1918 that led to collapse. Whoever offends against this unity need expect nothing else than annihilation as an enemy of the nation.” – Adolph Hitler

“In general terms, the basic elements of the Nazi foreign labor policy consisted of mass deportation and mass enslavement. It was a policy of underfeeding and overworking foreign laborers, of subjecting them to every form of degradation and brutality.” – from A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology

“Concentration camps were entirely a matter for the police and had nothing to do with the administration.” – Hans Frank

Also on this day:
Great Train Robbery – Another One – In 1963, another train is robbed.
Around the World – In 1929, the first Zeppelin began a trip around the world.

Inhumanity

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 8, 2010

Survivors of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp shortly after their liberation.

August 8, 1938: Construction begins on the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. The Third Reich annexed Austria on March 13, 1938 and leased the Wienergraben Quarry from Vienna on June 3. Using prisoners brought from Dachau and stone from the quarry, construction of the first building began. After 1940 and with the building of many more sub-camps, the area became known as the Mauthausen-Gusen Camp because of the two nearby villages.

The entire complex was huge and had 101 sub-camps altogether with 49 of them considered major sub-camps. The total population of all these institutions of horror was close to 85,000. Slave labor was exploited by both national and local industries. This was one of the most productive and profitable camps in the system. The profit for Mauthausen was 11,000,000 Reichsmark in 1944 alone.

The camp was used to imprison real and imagined political and ideological prisoners as well as foreigners or enemies of the state. They were worked to exhaustion and starved as well. When they became too ill to work they were sent to a hospital where they were exterminated and the bodies sent a crematorium. Men were forced to carry large blocks of stone up 186 stairs with guards betting on who would make it to the top or fall and kill others on the way down.

The camp was liberated on May 5, 1945 by the US 11th Armored Division, 3rd US Army. Many records were destroyed by the Germans prior to the Allies arrival. An accurate death toll is unknowable but it is estimated that 170,700 were killed. The numbers range from 122,700 – 320,000 dead. What is known for sure is that another 1,042 died in American field hospitals after their release. It is thought that about 320,000 people were incarcerated here with only approximately 80,000 surviving the ordeal.

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl

“As long as the German people was united it has never been conquered. It was the lack of unity in 1918 that led to collapse. Whoever offends against this unity need expect nothing else than annihilation as an enemy of the nation.” – Adolph Hitler

“In general terms, the basic elements of the Nazi foreign labor policy consisted of mass deportation and mass enslavement. It was a policy of underfeeding and overworking foreign laborers, of subjecting them to every form of degradation and brutality.” – from A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology

“Concentration camps were entirely a matter for the police and had nothing to do with the administration.” – Hans Frank

Also on this day, in 1929 the LZ 127 Zeppelin began the first circumnavigation of planet via this type of craft.
Bonus Link: In 1963, the mail train from Glasgow to London is robbed.

Great Train Robbery – Another One

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 8, 2010

Scene of the crime

August 8, 1963: The Royal Mail’s Glasgow-to-London train is stopped near Mentmore in Buckinghamshire, England and robbed of £2.3 million. Adjusted for inflation that is equal to about £40 million or $74 million, today. The train was making its normal run, but contained more money in the High Value Package car because it had been a bank holiday weekend. Around 3 AM the engineer, Jack Mills, saw a red signal ahead. He did not know it was a fake. He stopped the train.

As was policy at the time, David Whitby, the co-driver, alit to call ahead and find out what the problem was. The lines to the phone had been cut. He was attacked while off the train and thrown down a steep embankment. Masked men boarded the train cab and hit Mills in the head, knocking him out. Others uncoupled the last few cars and left just the engine and first two cars attached.

They drove forward until they reached flatter land that made unloading the train easier. Land Rovers were waiting, the bandits offloaded the booty, and the plunder was driven in the Rovers to their hideout a few miles away. The gang consisted of around twenty people. They laid low, playing Monopoly with real money they had stolen. As the net was closing in, the criminals dispersed.

Police finally tracked them to their lair. Fingerprints left on the game board and other items led to the arrests of the gang one by one. Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind behind the heist received ten years in prison. Ronnie Biggs was sentenced to thirty years but escaped from prison and ended up in Brazil. All in all, the gang members were sentenced to 307 years between them. Most of the money was never recovered.

“A thief believes everybody steals.” – E. W. Howe

“A clever theft was praiseworthy among the Spartans; and it is equally so among Christians, provided it be on a sufficiently large scale.” – Herbert Spencer

“Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged.” – Joseph Joubert

“There are two kinds of people, those who finish what they start and so on.” – Robert Byrne

Also on this day, in 1929 the LZ 127 Zeppelin began the first circumnavigation of planet via this type of craft.
Bonus Link: In 1938, construction began on Mauthausen Concentration Camp
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