FYI March 09, 2017


On this day:

1925 – Pink’s War: The first Royal Air Force operation conducted independently of the British Army or Royal Navy begins.
Pink’s War was an air-to-ground bombardment and strafing campaign carried out by the Royal Air Force, under the command of Wing Commander Richard Pink, against the mountain strongholds of Mahsud tribesmen in South Waziristan in March and April 1925.[2]

The defence of the North-West Frontier Province was an important task for British India. In the 1920s, the British were engaged in a continuing effort to pacify militant tribesmen in the province. In July 1924 the British mounted operations against several of the Mahsud tribes in southern Waziristan and by October they had mostly been subdued. Only the Abdur Rahman Khel tribe and three other supporting tribes continued to attack British Indian Army posts.[3]

The fledgling RAF was keen to establish its military credentials and the air officer commanding in India, Sir Edward Ellington, made the unprecedented decision to conduct air operations against the tribesmen without the support of the army.[3]

Bristol Fighters and de Havilland DH.9As from No. 5, 27 and 60 squadrons were deployed to the airstrips at Miranshah and Tank.[3] Operations commenced on 9 March 1925,[4] and the RAF squadrons strafed tribal mountain strongholds in a successful attempt to crush the rebellion.[2]

On 1 May 1925, the tribal leaders sought an honourable peace, bringing the short campaign to a close.[2] Only two British lives and one aircraft were lost during the campaign.[2][3] Pink’s War was the first air action of the RAF carried out independent of the army or navy.[2]

After the campaign was over, the India General Service Medal with the Waziristan 1925 bar was awarded to the 46 officers and 214 men of the Royal Air Force who took part in Pink’s War. It was by far the rarest bar given with an India General Service Medal and was only awarded after the then Chief of the Air Staff Sir John Salmond succeeded in overturning the War Office decision not to grant a medal for the campaign.[5] The campaign’s commander, Wing Commander Pink, received speedy promotion to group captain “in recognition of his services in the field of Waziristan”.[1][6][7] For distinguished service during Pink’s War, Squadron Leader Arthur John Capel was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, the Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded to flight lieutenants John Baker and William Cumming, and Flying Officer Reginald Pyne, and the Distinguished Flying Medal was given to sergeant pilots George Campbell and Ralph Hawkins, Sergeant Arthur Rutherford, Corporal Reginald Robins, and Leading Aircraftman Alfred Walmsley.[8] A further 14 men were mentioned in despatches, including flying officers Edward Dashwood and Noel Hayter-Hames, who both lost their lives in the campaign.[8]



Born on this day:

1758 – Franz Joseph Gall, German neuroanatomist and physiologist (d. 1828)
Franz Josef Gall (German: [gal]; 9 March 1758 – 22 August 1828) was a neuroanatomist, physiologist, and pioneer in the study of the localization of mental functions in the brain.

Claimed as the founder of phrenology,[1] Gall was an early and important researcher in his fields. His contributions to the field of neuropsychology were controversial at the time and now widely referred to as pseudoscience. However, Gall’s study of phrenology helped establish psychology as a science, contributed to the emergence of the naturalistic approach to the study of man, and played an important part in the development of evolutionist theories, anthropology, and sociology.[2]

Early life
Gall was born in the village of Tiefenbronn to a wealthy Roman Catholic wool merchant. The Galls, originally a noble family from Lombardy,[3] had been the leading family in the area for over a century. His father was the mayor of Tiefenbronn and he was one of 12 children, only 7 of whom lived to adulthood.[4]

Gall’s scientific inquiry began in his youth. As a boy, he was fascinated by the differences between himself, his siblings, and his classmates. He developed an early interest in the brain after making a connection between one classmate’s odd shaped skull and advanced language abilities.[5] He enjoyed collecting and categorizing plants and animals. He also realized the importance of observation as a scientific technique at a young age.[6]

Education and early career
As the second eldest son, he was intended for the priesthood but chose instead to study medicine at the University of Strasbourg. In his advanced studies, he again made observations about his classmates. He noticed that many of the particularly bright students had prominent eyeballs and concluded that this could not be purely coincidental. [7]

He later completed his degree in Vienna, Austria. While in medical school, he studied under Johann Hermann and Maximilian Stoll who impressed upon him the importance of natural observation.[8] He took his first job at Lunatic Asylum making observations about the insane.[9] He then opened up his own successful private practice and became so popular he even gave well attended lectures to the public.[10] He was offered the position as head Austrian Court physician but decided to remain in private practice and research.[11]

Contributions to phrenology
Based on his early observations about the skull sizes and facial features of his classmates, Gall developed the theory of Organology and the method of Cranioscopy that would later be known as Phrenology. Gall’s version of Organology states that the mind is a collection of independent entities housed within the brain. Cranioscopy is a method to determine the personality and development of mental and moral faculties on the basis of the external shape of the skull. During his lifetime, Gall collected and observed over 120 skulls in order to test his hypotheses.

Gall believed that the bumps and uneven geography of the human skull were caused by pressure exerted from the brain underneath. He divided the brain into sections that corresponded to certain behaviors and traits that he called fundamental faculties. This is referred to as localization of function. Gall believed there were 27 fundamental faculties, among them were: recollection of people, mechanical ability, talent for poetry, love of property, and even a murder instinct. Based on the surface of a person’s skull, Gall could make assumptions about that person’s fundamental faculties and therefore their character.

Gall disagreed with Philippe Pinel and Peter Camper that the larger brain the larger one’s intellectual power. However, after numerous dissections and observations he was able to assert that a mature skull under 14 inches in circumference was not able to function normally.[12]

Relationship with Johann Spurzheim
In 1800, Johann Spurzheim attended one of Gall’s public lectures and was hired as an assistant to help with public medical demonstrations. In 1804, he became Gall’s full-time research partner.[13] They worked together for years to develop theories about brain localization and function. In 1813, Spurzheim separated from Gall in order to make a name for himself in Britain. Gall would later accuse Spurzheim of plagiarism and perverting his work.[14] It was Spurzheim who would give the name Phrenology to Gall’s theories.

Other achievements
Other than his contributions to Phrenology, Gall is lesser known for his other achievements. While developing his theories on localization of function, Gall significantly advanced the science of dissection. Instead of slicing randomly, as had been the practice in previous years, Gall’s method involved slow exploration of the entire brain structure and the separation of individual fibers.[15] This shift in methodology was extremely influential in future discoveries of the brain.

Gall also researched and theorized about language, communication, and the brain. He argued that pantomime, or the science of gesture, was a universal language for all animals and humans. He believed every living thing was born with the ability to understand gestures on some level.[16]

In 1823, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

He published a book titled “On the Functions of the Brain and of Each of Its parts: With Observations on the Possibility of Determining the Instincts, Propensities, and Talents, Or the Moral and Intellectual Dispositions of Men and Animals, by the Configuration of the Brain and Head” detailing his vast research on brain function and localization. It was translated to English in 1835 by Lewis Winslow.[17]

Reception and controversy
Gall’s concepts on brain localization were revolutionary, and caused religious leaders and some scientists to take exception. The Roman Catholic Church considered his theory as contrary to religion. Established science also condemned these ideas for lack of scientific proof of his theory. Still others attempted to discredit Gall because they believed he had not given rightful credit to the theories and scientists who influenced him. Étienne-Jean Georget accused Gall of stealing Charles Bonnet’s basic idea of brain localization that he had written about over 60 years earlier.[18]

His ideas were also not acceptable to the court of Josef II (the brother of Marie Antoinette). The Austrian government accused Gall of being a materialist and banned his ideas because of their threat to public morality.[19] Due to this opposition, Gall left his lecturer position in Austria. He sought a teaching position in Germany and eventually settled in Paris. Revolutionary France was most likely the most hospitable place for Gall’s theories. However, Napoleon Bonaparte, the ruling emperor, and the scientific establishment led by the Institute of France, pronounced his science as invalid. Despite all this, Gall was able to secure a comfortable existence on the basis of his speciality. He became a celebrity of sorts as he was accepted into Parisian intellectual salons.

Gall’s phrenological theories and practices were best accepted in England, where the ruling class used it to justify the “inferiority” of its colonial subjects.[citation needed] It also became very popular in the USA from 1820 to 1850.[citation needed] One interesting influence was on psychiatry, where the South Italian psychiatrist Biagio Miraglia proposed a new classification of mental illness based on brain functions as they were conceived in Gall’s phrenology. [20]

In spite of many problems associated with his work, Gall made significant contributions to neurological science. He died in Paris, on 22 August 1828. Although married, he remained childless. Some direct descendants of his brothers lived in Germany until 1949. A collection of his skulls can be seen at the Rollett Museum in Baden bei Wien, Austria, where several of his relatives now live.[21]

Today, phrenology is thought of as a huge misstep by the scientific community. The idea that a person’s personality could be determined by the shape of their skull has been repeatedly disproven. But at the time, Gall’s arguments were persuasive and intriguing. Even though phrenology is now known to be incorrect, Gall did set the groundwork for modern neuroscience by spreading the idea of functional localization within the brain.

The misuse of Gall’s ideas and work to justify discrimination were deliberately furthered by his associates, including Johann Spurzheim. Later, others tried to improve on his theories with systems such as characterology.

Gall’s theories had an influence both on the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso and on his French rival, Alexandre Lacassagne. He also influenced the French anatomist, Paul Broca.






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Note: Registration is not required for Live Streaming.


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