FYI November 07, 2018

On This Day

 
 
1907 – Jesús García saves the entire town of Nacozari de García by driving a burning train full of dynamite six kilometers (3.7 miles) away before it can explode.
Jesús García Corona (13 November 1881 – 7 November 1907) was a Mexican railroad brakeman who died while preventing a train loaded with dynamite from exploding near Nacozari, Sonora, in 1907. As el héroe de Nacozari he is revered as a national hero and many streets, plazas, and schools across Mexico are named after him.

García was born in Hermosillo, Sonora. At the age of 17 got a job with Moctezuma Copper Company, but due to his age, he was made a waterboy. He was promoted to switchman, then to brakeman.

Jesús García was the railroad brakeman for the train that covered the line between Nacozari, Sonora, and Douglas, Arizona. On 7 November 1907 the train was stopped in the town and, as he was resting, he saw that some hay on the roof of a car containing dynamite had caught fire. The cause of the fire was that the locomotive’s firebox was failing and sparks were going out from the smokestack. The wind blew them and got into the dynamite cars. García drove the train in reverse downhill at full-steam six kilometers out of the town before the dynamite exploded, killing him and sparing the population of the mining town.

In his honor a statue was raised and the name of the town of Nacozari was changed to Nacozari de García. He was declared Hero of Humanity by the American Red Cross, many streets in Mexico carry his name, and the Estadio Héroe de Nacozari sports stadium in Hermosillo is also named after him. García’s sacrifice is remembered in the corrido (ballad) “Máquina 501”, sung by Pancho “el Charro” Avitia, and Mexican railroad workers commemorate 7 November every year as the Día del Ferrocarrilero (Railroader’s Day). His heroism is also recounted in the ballad, “Jesus Garcia” sung by Arizona State’s official balladeer, Dolan Ellis, who wanted to let the world know of the “Casey Jones of Mexico” who saved the town.

The “Máquina 501” song in free translation:

Engine 501
rolls through Sonora.
And the brakeman
who won’t sigh will cry.

One fine Sunday, gentlemen,
’round three o’clock,
Jesús Garcia sweetly
caressed his mother.

“Soon I must depart,
kind mother,
the train whistle
draws the future near.”

Arriving at the station
a whistle blew shrill.
The wagon with dynamite
menaced with its roof afire.

The fireman says,
“Jesús, let’s scram!
that wagon behind
will burn us to hell.”

Jesús replies,
“That I cannot own–
this conflagration
will kill the whole town!”

So he throws it in reverse
to escape downhill
and by the sixth mile
into God’s hands he’d arrived.

From that unforgettable day
you’ve earned the holy cross
you’ve earned our applause.
Jesús, you’re our hero.

Engine 501
rolls through Sonora.
And the brakeman
who won’t sigh will cry.

 
 
 
 

Born On This Day

 
 
1878 – Lise Meitner, Austrian-English physicist and academic (d. 1968)
Lise Meitner (/ˈliːzə ˈmaɪtnər/; German: [ˈmaɪtnɐ]; 7 November 1878 – 27 October 1968) was an Austrian-Swedish physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner, Otto Hahn and Otto Robert Frisch led the small group of scientists who first discovered nuclear fission of uranium when it absorbed an extra neutron; the results were published in early 1939.[4][5] Meitner, Hahn and Frisch understood that the fission process, which splits the atomic nucleus of uranium into two smaller nuclei, must be accompanied by an enormous release of energy. Nuclear fission is the process exploited by nuclear reactors to generate heat and, subsequently, electricity.[6] This process is also one of the basics of nuclear weapons that were developed in the U.S. during World War II and used against Japan in 1945.

Meitner spent most of her scientific career in Berlin, Germany, where she was a physics professor and a department head at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute; she was the first woman to become a full professor of physics in Germany. She lost these positions in the 1930s because of the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany, and in 1938 she fled to Sweden, where she lived for many years, ultimately becoming a Swedish citizen.

Meitner received many awards and honors late in her life, but she did not share in the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for nuclear fission that was awarded exclusively to her long-time collaborator Otto Hahn. In the 1990s, the records of the committee that decided on that prize were opened. Based on this information, several scientists and journalists have called her exclusion “unjust”, and Meitner has received many posthumous honors, including naming chemical element 109 meitnerium in 1992.[7][8][9][10][11] Despite not having been awarded the Nobel Prize, Lise Meitner was invited to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in 1962.[12]

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