Little Bits of History

June 15

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 15, 2017

1878: Proof of how a horse runs is captured. Eadweard Muybridge (born Edward James Muggeridge, but changed his to what he believed to be the original Anglo-Saxon form) was born in England in 1830. He came to America at age twenty but returned to England at age 31. He then took up the craft of photography and gained two British patents around the idea of the wet-plate collodion process. He returned to America and took large photographs of the Yosemite Valley which made him world famous. He 1874, he shot and killed Major Harry Larkyns, his wife’s lover, but was acquitted on the grounds of justifiable homicide. He then traveled in Central America on a photographic expedition. In the 1880s, he created over 100,000 images of animals and humans in motion while at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

By filming individual frames of stop action movement, it was possible to see what the eye could not. The movements were disrupted in mid-pose. At speed, the human eye cannot see the flow of the movements. Leland Stanford commission Muybridge to create a series of still photographs of a horse galloping. Stanford was interesting in the exact gait of a moving horse, specifically, if all four hooves were off the ground at one time. He owned a large farm where he bred and trained horses, both Stanardbreds and Thoroughbreds. The former were used for trotting races while the latter where ridden by jockeys. In order to improve their running styles, Stanford needed to know what that was.

During July 1877, Muybridge attempted to learn the four-hoof answer by taking ever sharper images of Occident, one of Stanford’s trotters, running at racing speed gait. He managed to catch a still shot of the horse with all four feet off the ground. However, when the image was sent to the press, it was found the negative had been retouched and it was disqualified. Although retouching was permitted at the time and Muybridge won an award with the picture, the press was not impressed. So on this day, a new experiment was carried out.

Sallie Gardner, a Thoroughbred, was photographed at 1.40 gait (about 36 mph). Muybridge set up 24 cameras, each 27 inches apart from the prior one. The shutters were controlled by trip wires triggered by the horse’s legs. The pictures were taken one twenty-fifth second apart. The series of photographs could then be viewed in rapid succession using a zoopraxiscope and Sallie Gardner did, indeed, have all four hooves off the ground at once. In  1880, the images were projected to a large screen at the California School of Fine Arts and so began the moving picture industry.

In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality. – Alfred Stieglitz

Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is. – unknown

A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it. – Edward Steichen

I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them. – Diane Arbus

World’s Most Famous Ball

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 15, 2015
Duke of Wellington

Duke of Wellington

June 15, 1815: The world’s most famous ball takes place. The Duchess of Richmond held a ball in Brussels. Charlotte and her husband, Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond hosted a gala event in the city they were protecting in case Napoleon Bonaparte should attack. Lennox was in charge of the forces protecting the city and he was able to invite many high ranking officers to the evening of fun. Included on the guest list was the Duke of Wellington, Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley. William II, Prince of Orange and Prince Frederic of Orange were there as was the Prince of Nassau, two Princes d’Arenberg and many other aristocratic personages. All but three of Wellington’s generals were there as were high ranking officers from other armies.

The exact location of the ball was not recorded at the time and there are only suppositions as to the venue today. There was much merriment, eating, drinking, and dancing. But then … disaster came. Wellington received a disconcerting message and asked the Duke of Richmond if he had a good map. The two men left the room and went to Richmond’s dressing-room to pour over a map of the region. Wellington had learned that Napoleon had ordered his army to concentrate on Quatre Bras. With a 24-hour head start on preparations, Napoleon held a distinct advantage. As Wellington looked over the map, he pointed to a secondary site. If they could not stop Napoleon at Quatre Bras, they would have to move to a second nearby point on the map – Waterloo.

This new information cast a pall over the party. As guests left, they knew they might never see their loved ones again as they were marching off to battle in the morning. The next day (June 16, 1815), the French Empire met the Seventh Coalition (United Kingdom, United Netherlands, Hanover, Nassau, and Duchy of Brunswick) at Quartre Bras in present-day Belgium. Although the day brought a tactical victory to the coalition, the strategic victory went to the French. With their head start, the French began the day with 18,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. But that was all they troops they had. The coalition began the day with just 8,000 infantry but they were eventually joined by another 22,000 troops. Each side suffered over 4,000 casualties.

The two sides met again two days later (June 18, 1815). This time they were at Waterloo, then in the Netherlands and today part of Belgium. The coalition had help from the Prussians at this meeting. With all this help, they outnumbered and outgunned the French. The day’s fighting brought horrific numbers of casualties. Napoleon lost more than half his army with many of them deserting. The Anglo-allies had 3,500 killed, 10,200 wounded, and 3,300 missing while the Prussians suffered another 1,200 dead, 4,400 wounded, and 1,400 missing. Napoleon was severely beaten at this battle and was unable to recover from the loss. He made his second abdication on June 24, 1815.

I well remember the Gordon Highlanders dancing reels at the ball. My mother thought it would interest foreigners to see them, which it did. I remember hearing that some of the poor men who danced in our house died at Waterloo. There was quite a crowd to look at the Scotch dancers. – Lady Louisa, daughter of the Duchess Richmond

Napoleon has humbugged me, by God; he has gained twenty-four hours’ march on me. … I have ordered the army to concentrate at Quatre Bras; but we shall not stop him there, and if so I must fight him there (passing his thumb-nail over the position of Waterloo). – Duke of Wellington

It was a dreadful evening, taking leave of friends and acquaintances, many never to be seen again.  – Georgiana, Dowager Lady De Ros

On our arrival at the ball we were told that the troops had orders to march at three in the morning, and that every officer must join his regiment by that time, as the French were advancing, you cannot possibly picture to yourself the dismay and consternation that appeared on every face. – Katherine Arden

Also on this day: King “Soft-sword” John “Signs” on the Dotted Line – In 1215, King John of England signed the Magna Carta.
Not Spock – In 1844, vulcanization was patented.
Protect Your Eyes – In 763 BC, the first total solar eclipse was recorded.
Go Fly a Kite! – In 1753, Franklin experimented with electricity, maybe.
Life Saving – In 1667, the first blood transfusion was given.

Life Saving

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 15, 2014
First blood transfusion

Blood transfusion

June 15, 1667: The first fully documented human blood transfusion is administered. Dr. Jean-Babtiste Denys transfused the blood of a sheep into a 15-year-old boy. Denys was the doctor to King Louis XIV of France and was treating the young boy who had already suffered the medical treatment of being bled with leeches twenty times. After losing all that blood, it was deemed that some be replaced and so Denys injected about twelve ounces of sheep blood. The child survived both treatments. The blood transfusion was tried again with a laborer who also survived. Both were lucky that a small amount of blood was given and so the allergic reaction was not fatal. The third time it was tried, Swedish Baron Gustaf Bonde survived the first transfusion but died after receiving a second one.

By winter of 1667, Denys performed three transfusions on Antoine Mauroy. This time he used calf’s blood. Mauroy died after the third transfusion and his wife brought charges against Denys. Although he avoided being found guilty of murder, Denys quit the practice of medicine. It was later determined that Mauroy had died of arsenic poisoning. The subject of animal blood transfusions came under great scrutiny and caused such a controversial stir that the entire process was banned in 1670. It wasn’t until 1902 when Karl Landsteiner discovered the four blood groups that transfusions became safe and reliable.

Red blood cells are of four different types based on two different antigens. In type A blood, the cells possess A (and only A) antigens. With type B blood, they have B (and only B) antigens. AB blood type means that both of the antigens are present while type O has neither antigen present. Also present in the plasma (the liquid component of the blood, pale-yellow in color, which holds both the red and white blood cells in suspension) are antibodies. Type A blood carries Anti-B antibodies which react with the B antigens on type B blood. The opposite is true of B which carries Anti-A antibodies. Type AB blood carries neither antibody. Type O carries both Anti-A and Anti-B antibodies.

Also, as part of the blood grouping component is the RdD antigen. Rh stands for the Rhesus blood group system and is the + or – part of the blood type. We currently know of 50 defined blood-group antigens. Of these, the D, C, c, E, and e are the most important. RhD refers only to the D antigen. The greatest risk is to pregnant mothers who are Rh-negative. If these women carry a fetus who is Rh-positive (having inherited that from the father), there can be a cross contamination of the blood types. The mother’s negative Rh doesn’t affect the baby, but if she is exposed to the Rh-positive component, she can develop anti-bodies which causes her system to become “allergic” to her baby. This can cause issues, including death, to the baby. There is treatment for this for mothers who are Rh- so they can carry healthy babies to term.

Blood relatives often have nothing to do with family, and similarly, family is about who you choose to make your life with. – Oliver Hudson

It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place… it’s when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood. – David Hume

A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood. – George S. Patton

The patriot blood of my father was warm in my veins. – Clara Barton

Also on this day: King “Soft-sword” John “Signs” on the Dotted Line – In 1215, King John of England signs the Magna Carta.
Not Spock – In 1844, vulcanization was patented.
Protect Your Eyes – In 763 BC, the first total solar eclipse was recorded.
Go Fly a Kite! – In 1753, Franklin experimented with electricity, maybe.

Not Spock

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 15, 2013
Charles Goodyear

Charles Goodyear

June 15, 1844: The process of vulcanization is patented. The process was named for the Roman god of fire, Vulcan. Rubber in its natural state is sticky and unstable at both high and low temperatures. When too warm, it partially melts and changes shape; when too cold, it is brittle and inelastic. These characteristics are due to rubber being composed of long polymer chains that can move independently of each other. In order to interweaver or crosslink the chains, rubber is vulcanized.

Vulcanization takes place under high heat and includes the addition of a curative agent, usually sulfur. This process makes bridges of sulfur atoms or carbon-to-carbon bonds holding the long polymers in place. The treated rubber is less springy, more durable, and has a smoother surface. The bridges are strong covalent bonds (a bond sharing atoms) making the resulting product a thermosetting polymer – meaning it is irreversibly set.

Natural rubber is produced in the sap of some plants. Rubber has been in use since at least 1600 BC in Mesoamerica. It was brought to Europe in 1736 and the substance was found to be interesting but not completely useful because of the difficulty with extreme temperatures. It was handy for rubbing out pencil marks and hence the name “rubber.” Charles Goodyear either through rigorous research or fortuitous good luck (depending on your source) found a way to make rubber useful for a variety of purposes. Goodyear claimed to have discovered the process in 1839, but did not patent it until 1844. He told the story of his find in his autobiography, written in 1853.

Charles Goodyear was born in 1800. His father was an astute businessman. As a young man, Charles also became a successful businessman accruing a fortune. A run of ill health and bad luck led to his financial ruin. He became aware of “gum elastic” in 1831 or 1832 and began an earnest study of the substance. His experiments with rubber often caused problems in the laboratory with clouds of noxious fumes threatening his safety and health. He changed the face of the world, but was not able to reap the profits from his process. He died penniless in 1860. Goodyear was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1976.

“A man has cause for regret only when he sows and no one reaps.” – Charles Goodyear

“I am not disposed to complain that I have planted and others have gathered the fruits.” – Charles Goodyear

“Life should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents.” – Charles Goodyear

“A pencil and rubber are of more use to thought than a battalion of assistants. To happiness the same applies as to truth: one does not have it, but is in it.” – Theodor Adorno

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: It was not until four decades after Goodyear’s death that The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was founded by Frank Seiberling. The Akron, Ohio company was founded in 1898 and they remain in business with Richard J. Kramer as Chairman, President, and CEO. They make tires for cars, SUVs, and both commercial and light trucks. They supply tires for race cars as well as airplanes and farm equipment. They also make tires for heavy earth-mover equipment. They employ 72,000 people (2010 are latest figures available). In 2012, they had revenue of $20.3 billion with a net income of $220 million from a gross profit of $3.83 billion. They may be best known for their iconic Goodyear blimp which was introduced in 1925. Today, they have three blimps: Spirit of Goodyear, Spirit of America, and Spirit of Innovation.

Also on this day: King “Soft-sword” John “Signs” on the Dotted Line – In 1215, King John of England signs the Magna Carta.
Protect Your Eyes – In 763 BC, the first total solar eclipse was recorded.
Go Fly a Kite! – In 1753, Franklin experimented with electricity, maybe.

Go Fly a Kite!

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 15, 2012

Imaginative drawing of Ben Franklin and his kite.

June 15, 1752: Benjamin Franklin’s kite flying experiment proves lightning and electricity are related. Maybe. The account of Franklin’s experiment wasn’t written down for another 15 years when the tale was placed into Joseph Priestley’s History and Present Status of Electricity. While the idea of old Ben standing out in a storm with a kite floating in the ominous sky, key attached, and the scientist in grave danger is pretty standard, if he did perform the experiment at all, he did not put himself in the path of danger.

Franklin did write much about his fascination with electricity and his premise stating lightning was made of the same energy. At the time, the largest electrical sparks to be generated were about an inch long. To take the giant leap from small spark to the outrageously powerful lightning strike being the same would take some proof. Franklin’s ideas about the phenomenon led him to experiment, but with an intermediary collection device. A Leyden Jar, or capacitor, was used to collect the energy discharged during a lightning strike. Although he did not put himself in the direct line of fire, other experimenters did and died as a result.

Lightning is, in fact, an electrical discharge. It usually occurs during thunderstorms, but can also follow volcanic eruptions and dust storms. Lightning is powerful, moving at speeds up to 130,000 mph and reaching temperatures nearing 54,000° F. This is hot enough to melt silica, turning sand into glass. What we know is when there is enough energy buildup, there is an electrical discharge with a bolt of lightning running either between clouds or from clouds to ground.

Thunder is the audible result of the lightning bolt. During a lightning strike, successive parts of the air are used as a discharge channel. The area superheats along the discharge channel and then the air rapidly expands. This causes a shock wave which we hear as thunder. The rumbling variety is caused by the time delay between the sound of different portions of a long strike. There are ≈ 16 million thunderstorms each year around the globe. With this many storms there are about 1.4 billion lightning flashes per year with 80% of them cloud to cloud and the rest ground strikes. That means 280 million times a year, lightning strikes. It is not evenly distributed around the globe, with 70% of all lightning occurring in the topics.

Electricity is really just organized lightning. – George Carlin

I’d rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph. – Ken Kesey

Television news is like a lightning flash. It makes a loud noise, lights up everything around it, leaves everything else in darkness and then is suddenly gone. – Hodding Carter

The reason lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place is that the same place isn’t there the second time. – Willie Tyler

Also on this day:

King “Soft-sword” John “Signs” on the Dotted Line – In 1215, King John of England signs the Magna Carta.
Not Spock – In 1844, vulcanization was patented.
Protect Your Eyes – In 763 BC, the first total solar eclipse was recorded.

Protect Your Eyes

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 15, 2011

Total eclipse (photo by n0ll)

June 15, 763 BC: A total solar eclipse is recorded by Assyrians. Assyria was located in the northern half of Mesopotamia on the upper Tigris River. Because we have the time and place of the eclipse, using mathematical calculations from the current time, we can place the chronology of Mesopotamian history accurately.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. There are three types of eclipses: 1) total, where the Sun is completely hidden by the moon, 2) annular, where the Moon appears smaller than the Sun and a ring of light shows around the entire edge, and 3) partial, where the Sun is not exactly in line with the Moon and so is not adequately obscured.

The Sun is about 400 times larger than the Moon and about 400 times farther away from Earth than the Moon. This synchronicity means that they appear the same size to us. Orbits are not circular, but rather elliptical so that the sizes are not always in sync. The Moon’s orbit around the Earth is inclined 5º when compared to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. This all means that there can be up to a 6% difference in the appearance of size.

Lunar eclipses can be seen from anywhere on the night side of the planet. Solar eclipses are less accommodating. The shadow cast by a total solar eclipse is seen only in a particular area. Total eclipses are rare with one occurring every 18 months somewhere on the planet. For a particular place, a total eclipse occurs once every 370 years, on average. The longest a total eclipse can last is 7 minutes and 40 seconds, but most are shorter in duration. In each millennium, fewer than 10 last more than 7 minutes.

By studying the pattern of eclipses, two cycles have been found. The Saros cycle lasts about 18 years and is a more stable and consistent cycle. After a Saros cycle, and Inex cycle that is more volatile and less well defined runs its course. By using complex mathematical computations we can determine when past eclipses occurred and plot them into the calendar we currently use.

“Insurrection in the city of Ashur. In the month Sivan, the Sun was eclipsed.” – from The Assyrian Chronicles

“The Sun was eclipsed, a thing of very evil omen. Then the Moon became small, and now the Sun became small. . . . For the Moon to be eclipsed is but an ordinary matter. Now that the Sun has been eclipsed – how bad it is!” – from the Shih-ching

“Nothing there is beyond hope, nothing that can be sworn impossible, nothing wonderful, since Zeus, father of the Olympians, made night from mid-day, hiding the light of the shining Sun, and sore fear came upon men.” – Archilochus

“You’ve got to be careful when you look at the sun at anytime. Today is no different. The solar eclipse itself doesn’t generate anymore unusual a phenomenon.” – Paul Delany

Also on this day:
King “Soft-sword” John “Signs” on the Dotted Line – In 1215, King John of England signs the Magna Carta.
Not Spock – In 1844, vulcanization was patented.

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King “Soft-sword” John “Signs” on the Dotted Line

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 15, 2010
King John reluctantly signing the Magna Carta

King John reluctantly signing the Magna Carta

June 15, 1215: King John of England enacts the Magna Carta – Latin for Great Paper, or Great Charter. John became king of England after his brother, Richard the Lionhearted, died. This document, written in Latin, was created because Pope Innocent III, King John, and the aristocracy in England were trying to define the power of the king. The Pope and the barons wanted King John’s powers reduced. His incessant taxation and lack of military prowess combined to cause unrest among the taxed.

The document, also called the Great Charter of Freedoms, was not signed by the King because he probably could not write, but his Seal is affixed. After the meeting at Runnymede where the document was accepted by all parties, copies were produced by the royal chancery, four of the original documents survive to date. This document remains a vital influence on the idea of constitutional law used historically throughout much of the world.

There were 63 clauses to the document, limiting the King’s power and making him subject to the law. The most famous of these clauses is that which stated that a free man cannot be imprisoned, outlawed, or exiled without judicial process. The charter also discussed the treatment of heirs and widows, stated that justice could not be bought or sold, and provided a uniform means of measurements for wine, ale, corn, and cloth.

The King was forced into signing the document and as soon as possible tried to have it annulled. He continued to campaign for the repeal of the charter until his sudden death in October 1216. The documents lives on in reissued form as well as forming a basis for other charters, including the American Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

“None who have always been free can understand the terrible fascinating power of the hope of freedom to those who are not free.” – Pearl S. Buck

“Freedom is not a gift received from a State or a leader but a possession to be won every day by the effort of each and the union of all.” – Albert Camus

“In the truest sense freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Kings and fools speak freely.” – Dutch saying

Also on this date, in 1844 Charles Goodyear patented the vulcanization of rubber.

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