On This Day
585 BC – A solar eclipse occurs, as predicted by the Greek philosopher and scientist Thales, while Alyattes is battling Cyaxares in the Battle of Halys, leading to a truce. This is one of the cardinal dates from which other dates can be calculated.
The Eclipse of Thales was a solar eclipse that was, according to The Histories of Herodotus, accurately predicted by the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus. If Herodotus’s account is accurate, this eclipse is the earliest recorded as being known in advance of its occurrence. Many historians believe that the predicted eclipse was the solar eclipse of 28 May 585 BC. How exactly Thales predicted the eclipse remains uncertain; some scholars assert the eclipse was never predicted at all. Others have argued for different dates, but only the eclipse of 28 May 585 BC matches the conditions of visibility necessary to explain the historical event.
According to Herodotus, the appearance of the eclipse was interpreted as an omen, and interrupted a battle in a long-standing war between the Medes and the Lydians. The fighting immediately stopped, and they agreed to a truce. Because astronomers can calculate the dates of historical eclipses, Isaac Asimov described this battle as the earliest historical event whose date is known with precision to the day and described the prediction as “the birth of science”.
1733 – The right of settlers in New France to enslave natives is upheld at Quebec City.
Slavery in New France was practiced by many of the indigenous populations and predates the arrival of Europeans to the continent, however it was not until the colonization and commencement of trade with England’s southern colonies that commercial chattel slavery became common place in New France.
This institution, which endured for almost two centuries, affected thousands of men, women, and children descended from Indigenous and African peoples.
Indigenous origins of slavery in Canada
The existence of slavery in this region predates arrival of Europeans and had major impacts on the way the system of slavery progressed during French colonization. Entrenched in a culture of war, indigenous groups of the Pays d’en Haut relied extensively on warfare that focused on captive taking, rather than killing. These captives would then be processed, often through a brutal series of events that were designed to strip the individual of any identifications from prior groups while also supplying lasting demarcations and scarring that would signify the individual’s captive status to others in the community.
This process of integration was often cruel and life-threatening and included acts such as the cutting off of fingers or other extremities, nails being torn out, nose cropping, and beatings. The ritual of captive integration was a public affair that involved all sections of native society, including women and children whose participation was particularly poignant in solidifying the status of the slave (often a captured male warrior) within his new community. Those surviving from being beaten and marked would then undergo humiliating acts, such as undressing and forced singing, to further erase former identities before either being reintegrated into their new community or being ritually tortured and executed. Once part of the community, captives served distinct social functions within it. Generally, slaves were not typically seen as freely transferable property and trade goods, as traditionally seen in modes of chattel slavery. Instead, slaves were intended to serve the social role of a lost community member: when one member would be murdered or taken from the community a captive would be provided to take this member’s place and assume her or his roles. This often meant that the position of the slave was gendered in a way that pushed men to take on traditionally female tasks, such as serving meals, providing farm labour, preparing skins, and carrying packs when hunting. Female captives were often used as secondary “chore” wives, utilized for routine household acts as well as providing reproductive labour.
Politically, there was also considerable value in these captive-taking rituals; captives’ unique positions as social intermediaries allowed them to provide diplomatic services, such as translation. Able to act as symbolic gifts between peoples, slave-trading added social and political weight behind indigenous relations, linking separate regions’ peoples to one another through ethnic and linguistic boundaries. Often being seized from one group, integrated into another, and then exchanged to others still, their capacities to act as cultural coordinators highlighted the utility of this indigenous slave trade, while highlighting the degree to which indigenous captives may have been able to exercise autonomy within their servitude.
Born On This Day
1912 – Ruby Payne-Scott, Australian physicist and astronomer (d. 1981)
Ruby Violet Payne-Scott, BSc (Phys) MSc DipEd (Syd) (28 May 1912 – 25 May 1981) was an Australian pioneer in radiophysics and radio astronomy, and was the first female radio astronomer.
Early life and education
Ruby Payne-Scott was born on 28 May 1912 in Grafton, New South Wales, the daughter of Cyril Payne-Scott and his wife Amy (née Neale). She later moved to Sydney to live with her aunt. There she attended the Penrith Public Primary School (1921–24), and the Cleveland-Street Girls’ High School (1925–26), before completing her secondary schooling at Sydney Girls High School. Her school leaving certificate included honours in mathematics and botany.
She won two scholarships to undertake tertiary education at the University of Sydney, where she studied physics, chemistry, mathematics and botany. She earned a B.Sc. in 1933—the third woman to graduate in physics there:22—followed by an M.Sc. in physics in 1936 and a Diploma of Education in 1938.
In 1936, Payne-Scott conducted research with William H. Love at the Cancer Research Laboratory at the University of Sydney. They determined that the magnetism of the earth had little or no effect on the vital processes of beings living on the earth by cultivating chicken embryos with no observable differences, despite being in magnetic fields up to 5000 times as powerful as that of the earth. Some decades earlier it was a widely held belief that the earth’s magnetic field produced extensive effects on human beings, and many people would sleep only with the head to the north and the body parallel to the magnetic meridian.
After her cancer research, she worked for year and a term as a secondary school teacher at St Peter’s Woodlands Grammar School from 1938 through 1939.:61 Shortly after this, Payne-Scott joined AWA, a prominent electronics manufacturer and operator of two-way radio communications systems in Australia. Although originally hired as a librarian, her work quickly expanded to leading the measurements laboratory and performing electrical engineering research.:64 She left AWA in August 1941, having grown displeased with its research environment.:31
1894 – Beatrice Lillie, Canadian-English actress, singer and writer (d. 1989)
Beatrice Gladys Lillie (29 May 1894 – 20 January 1989), known as Bea Lillie, was a Canadian-born British actress, singer and comedic performer.
She began to perform as a child with her mother and sister. She made her West End debut in 1914 and soon gained notice in revues and light comedies, becoming known for her parodies of old-fashioned, flowery performing styles and absurd songs and sketches. She debuted in New York in 1924 and two years later starred in her first film, continuing to perform in both the US and UK. She was associated with revues staged by André Charlot and works of Noël Coward and Cole Porter, and frequently was paired with Gertrude Lawrence, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley.
During World War II, Lillie was an inveterate entertainer of the troops. She won a Tony Award in 1953 for her revue An Evening with Beatrice Lillie.
By John Beifuss, Memphis Commercial Appeal: Stax’s Mad Lads vocalist John Gary Williams has died
John Gary Williams, whose pleading lead vocals were key to the success of the Mad Lads, a doo-wop-influenced Stax group out of Booker T. Washington High School that recorded several influential and beloved R&B hits in the 1960s, has died. He was 73.
Proudly and fiercely independent, Mr. Williams led an often tumultuous life that was notable for more than music.
Mr. Williams’ Stax career was interrupted by military service in Vietnam, where he participated in dangerous deep-jungle combat missions. Returning home, he joined the Invaders, a so-called “militant” group inspired by the Black Panthers that was especially active during the sanitation strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis, where the civil rights leader was murdered in 1968.
Anthony Lander Horwitz (June 9, 1958 – May 27, 2019) was an American journalist and author who won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.
His books include One for the Road: a Hitchhiker’s Outback (1987), Baghdad Without a Map (1991), Confederates in the Attic (1998), Blue Latitudes (AKA Into the Blue) (2002), A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World (2008), Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War (2011), and Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide (2019)
Read more ->
The Passive Voice: A Loss for Words No More: Caption Any Photo Will Fill in Your Blank Slates; The Dictionary Wars; Little Free Library Marks a Decade of Book Sharing and more ->
By Stephanie Donovan: Blog Profiles: Summer Job Blogs
ForbesWomen Joan Michelson Contributor: 8 Tips For Generating Creative Ideas From The Mind Of A ‘Genius’ Woman Scientist
When you send a photo from your smartphone, it asks you to choose a size of photo to send. Which size should you choose and why?
Each smaller size means the image is more compressed, so each size is a trade-off between bandwidth and detail. The smaller you go, the less bandwidth you use, yet you also get less and less precise detail (e.g., the fine lines are less defined, while still being recognizable).
That compression is made possible by what is called “wavelet theory,” which is also used in the Hubble telescope, and was discovered by the remarkably innovative Ingrid Daubechies, Ph.D., the first female tenured math professor at Duke University, who was recently awarded the prestigious 2019 L’Oreal UNESCO International Award for Women in Science (and $100,000). She has also received the MacArthur “Genius” Award and was the first woman to receive the coveted National Academy of Sciences award, among many other accolades.
By Associated Press: Australian ‘Egg Boy’ donates $70,000 to Christchurch victims
“I decided to donate all monies to help provide some relief to the victims of the massacre … it wasn’t mine to keep.”
He added: “To the victims of the Tragedy, I whole heartedly hope that this can bring some relief to you.
“Keep spreading the love.”
By Bhadra Sharma and Jeffrey Gettleman: Nepal Says Everest Rules Might Change After Traffic Jams and Deaths
Veteran mountaineers who recently summited described a “Lord of the Flies” atmosphere with mobs of people in huge down jackets precariously perched at the top, pushing and shoving to take selfies.
At least 11 climbers have died on Everest this year, making this season one of the deadliest ever. Many of the deaths were needless, veterans say, and the increasing number of rookie climbers who try to tackle Everest have made it more dangerous for everyone.
By Liz Seegert: Differences between palliative and hospice care described in new tip sheet
By Danielle C. Belton: Jennifer Hudson Honors Aretha Franklin’s Legacy at Pulitzer Prize Ceremony With ‘Amazing Grace’
By Maiysha Kai: Alexis Ohanian Wants to Become Skilled at Doing His Daughter’s Hair. So, Why Did He Get Pushback?
By Washington State University: Researchers tease out genetic differences between cannabis strains
By Rice University: Chemists build a better cancer-killing drill
The Rural Blog: Closure of syringe exchange in Kanawha County, West Virginia, increased health risks, study concludes; Rural share of population has declined partly because fewer counties are ‘rural’ but a demographic transition point is here; Rural-urban political split driven by design of our democracy and polarization of two-party system, Stanford prof argues; Glyphosate (Roundup) use soars in recent decades, especially in Midwest, as weeds grow more resistant and more ->
Fast Company Compass: The cord that changed computers forever; Why every business leader should care about childhood mental health and more ->
Open Culture: The Story of Pure Hell, the “First Black Punk Band” That Emerged in the 70s, Then Disappeared for Decades; McDonald’s Opens a Tiny Restaurant — and It’s Only for Bees; How Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” Recreates the Epic Hero’s Journey Described by Joseph Campbell and more ->
Open Culture: Hear the Song That Two Teenage Musicians, Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, Recorded Together in 1958; Download 91,000 Historic Maps from the Massive David Rumsey Map Collection and more ->