On This Day
1531 – The 6.4–7.1 Mw Lisbon earthquake kills about thirty thousand people.
The 1531 Lisbon earthquake occurred in the Kingdom of Portugal on the morning of 26 January 1531, between 4 and 5 o’clock. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami resulted in approximately 30,000 deaths. Despite its severity, the disaster had been mostly forgotten until the rediscovery of contemporary records in the early 20th-century.
The earthquake is believed to have been caused by the Lower Tagus Fault Zone, and was preceded by a pair of foreshocks on 2 January and 7 January. Damage to the city, especially the downtown area, was severe: approximately one third of structures in the city were destroyed and 1000 lives were lost in the initial shock.
Contemporary reports tell of flooding near the Tagus River, some ships being thrown onto rocks, and others grounded on the river’s floor as the water retreated. Miranda et al. conclude that “These observations are coherent with the existence of a large change in the estuary seafloor, either tectonic displacement or a landslide.”
The earthquake was followed by several strong aftershocks, and fear of another earthquake was intense. A rumor spread, apparently encouraged by the friars of Santarém, that the disaster was divine punishment and that the Jewish community was to blame. Poet and playwright Gil Vicente reportedly defused the situation, scolding the friars for their fear-mongering, and possibly averting a massacre of Jews and recent converts to Christianity.
The 1531 earthquake, alongside the 1321 earthquake, had been largely forgotten until the early 20th century. In 1909, a Portuguese newspaper reported the discovery of an unsigned manuscript of eyewitness accounts of the disaster. In 1919, a four-page letter addressed to the Marquis of Tarifa was found in a Lisbon bookshop, which appeared to describe the earthquake. Sousa’s 1919 investigation of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake provided more evidence for the 1531 event, particularly his compilation of answers to the Marquis of Pombal’s survey in the wake of the 1755 disaster, which included a question about previous earthquakes.
Born On This Day
1904 – Ancel Keys, American physiologist and nutritionist (d. 2004)
Ancel Benjamin Keys (January 26, 1904 – November 20, 2004) was an American physiologist who studied the influence of diet on health. In particular, he hypothesized that dietary saturated fat causes cardiovascular heart disease and should be avoided.
Keys studied starvation in men and published The Biology of Human Starvation (1950), which remains the only source of its kind. He examined the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and was responsible for two famous diets: K-rations, formulated as balanced meals for combat soldiers in World War II, and the Mediterranean diet, which he popularized with his wife Margaret. Science, diet, and health were central themes in his professional and private lives.
Ancel Keys was born in Colorado Springs in 1904 to Benjamin Pious Keys (1883-1961) and Carolyn Emma Chaney (1885-1960), the sister of Lon Chaney. In 1906 they moved to San Francisco before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck. Shortly after the disaster, his family relocated to Berkeley where he grew up. His intellect was well-known ever since a young age. Lewis Terman, a noted psychologist and inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ Test, identified Keys as intellectually “gifted”. During his youth, he left high school to pursue odd jobs, such as shoveling bat guano in Arizona, a powder monkey in a Colorado mine, in a lumber camp, and as a crewmember on a ship to China. He eventually finished his secondary education and was admitted to the University of California at Berkeley in 1922.
At the University of California, Berkeley, Keys initially studied chemistry, but was dissatisfied and took some time off to work as an oiler aboard the S.S. President Wilson (1st), which traveled to China. He then returned to Berkeley, switched majors, and graduated with a B.A. in economics and political science (1925) and M.S. in zoology (1928). For a brief time, he took up a job as a management trainee at Woolworth’s, but returned to his studies at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla on a fellowship. In 1930 he received his Ph.D. in oceanography and biology from UC Berkeley. He was then awarded a National Research Council fellowship that took him to Copenhagen, Denmark to study under August Krogh at the Zoophysiological Laboratory for two years. During his studies with Krogh, he studied fish physiology and contributed numerous papers on the subject. Once his fellowship ended, he went to Cambridge but took some time off to teach at Harvard University, after which he returned to Cambridge and earned a second Ph.D. in physiology (1936).
Michel Legrand (French pronunciation: [miʃɛl ləɡʁɑ̃]; 24 February 1932 – 26 January 2019) was a French musical composer, arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist. Legrand was a prolific composer, he wrote over 200 film and television scores, in addition to many memorable songs. He is best known for his often haunting, jazz-tinged film music. His celebrated scores for the films of French New Wave director Jacques Demy, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), earned Legrand his first Academy Award nominations. Legrand won his first Oscar for the song “The Windmills of Your Mind” from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).
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