On This Day
1970 – The 7.1 Mw Tonghai earthquake shakes Tonghai County, Yunnan province, China, with a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). Between 10,000 and 15,000 people are known to have been killed and about another 26,000 are injured.
The 1970 Tonghai earthquake (Chinese: 1970年通海地震) occurred at 01:00:41 local time on January 5 with a moment magnitude of 7.1 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). The strike-slip rupture originated on the Red River Fault, which had not experienced an earthquake above magnitude 7 since 1700, and affected Tonghai County, Yunnan province, China. At least 10,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest in its decade. The tremor caused between US$5 to $25 million in damage,[note 1] felt over an area of 8,781 km2 (3,390 sq mi). In Hanoi, North Vietnam, almost 483 km (300 mi) from the epicenter, victims left their homes as the rupture rumbled through the city.
Occurring during the height of the Cultural Revolution, it was not widely publicized by the Chinese government for well over a decade. The amount of aid and finances distributed was described by the Beijing Morning Post as “pathetically small”. Much of the aid provided to survivors was in “spiritual” form, including Mao Zedong badges and condolence letters. Nevertheless, the earthquake was among the first to be studied over a long term by the Chinese government. It was cited as one of the reasons behind creating the largest earthquake monitoring system in China, 25 years later.
1066 – Following the death of Edward the Confessor on the previous day, the Witan meets to confirm Harold Godwinson as the new King of England; Harold is crowned the same day, sparking a succession crisis that will eventually lead to the Norman conquest of England.
Harold Godwinson (c. 1022 – 14 October 1066), often called Harold II, was the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England. Harold reigned from 6 January 1066 until his death at the Battle of Hastings, fighting the Norman invaders led by William the Conqueror during the Norman conquest of England. His death marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule over England.
Harold was a powerful earl and member of a prominent Anglo-Saxon family with ties to Cnut the Great. Upon the death of his brother-in-law King Edward the Confessor on 5 January 1066, the Witenagemot convened and chose Harold to succeed; he was probably the first English monarch to be crowned in Westminster Abbey. In late September, he successfully repelled an invasion by rival claimant Harald Hardrada of Norway before marching his army back south to meet William the Conqueror at Hastings two weeks later.
Born On This Day
1902 – Stella Gibbons, English journalist and author (d. 1989)
Stella Dorothea Gibbons (5 January 1902 – 19 December 1989) was an English author, journalist, and poet. She established her reputation with her first novel, Cold Comfort Farm (1932) which has been reprinted many times. Although she was active as a writer for half a century, none of her later 22 novels or other literary works—which included a sequel to Cold Comfort Farm—achieved the same critical or popular success. Much of her work was long out of print before a modest revival in the 21st century.
The daughter of a London doctor, Gibbons had a turbulent and often unhappy childhood. After an indifferent school career she trained as a journalist, and worked as a reporter and features writer, mainly for the Evening Standard and The Lady. Her first book, published in 1930, was a collection of poems which was well received, and through her life she considered herself primarily a poet rather than a novelist. After Cold Comfort Farm, a satire on the genre of rural-themed “loam and lovechild” novels popular in the late 1920s, most of Gibbons’s novels were based within the middle-class suburban world with which she was familiar.
Gibbons became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1950. Her style has been praised by critics for its charm, barbed humour and descriptive skill, and has led to comparison with Jane Austen. The impact of Cold Comfort Farm dominated her career, and she grew to resent her identification with the book to the exclusion of the rest of her output. Widely regarded as a one-work novelist, she and her works have not been accepted into the canon of English literature—partly, other writers have suggested, because of her detachment from the literary world and her tendency to mock it.
Marianne Grunberg-Manago (January 6, 1921 – January 3, 2013) was a Soviet-born French biochemist. Her work helped make possible key discoveries about the nature of the genetic code.
Grunberg-Manago was born into a family of artists who adhered to the teachings of the Swiss educational reformer Johann Pestalozzi. When she was 9 months old, Grunberg-Manago’s parents emigrated from the Soviet Union to France.
Education and Research
Grunberg-Manago studied biochemistry and, in 1955, while working in the lab of Spanish-America biochemist Severo Ochoa, she discovered the first nucleic-acid-synthesizing enzyme. Initially, everyone thought the new enzyme was an RNA polymerase used by E. coli cells to make long chains of RNA from separate nucleotides. But although the new enzyme could link a few nucleotides together, the reaction was highly reversible and it later became clear that the enzyme, polynucleotide phosphorylase, usually catalyzes the breakdown of RNA, not its synthesis.
Nonetheless, the enzyme was extraordinarily useful and important. Almost immediately, Marshall Nirenberg and J. Heinrich Matthaei put it to use to form the first three-nucleotide RNA codons, which coded for the amino acid phenylalanine. This first step in cracking the genetic code entirely depended on the availability of Grunberg-Manago’s enzyme.
In 1959, Ochoa and Arthur Kornberg won the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for the synthesis of the nucleic acids RNA and DNA.” She was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1978 and a Foreign Associate Member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1982.
Grunberg-Manago was the first woman to direct the International Union of Biochemistry, and she was also the first woman to preside the French Academy of Sciences from 1995 to 1996.
Later life and death
Late in her career, Grunberg-Manago was named emeritus director of research at CNRS, France’s National Center for Scientific Research.
Grunberg-Manago died in January, 2013, three days before her 92nd birthday.
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