Tag: Hi-jacked

FYI February 28, 2017


The 2 Minutes Microwave Chocolate Souffle (Molten Lava Cake)


FAT TUESDAY – Day Before Ash Wednesday



On this day:

1939 – The erroneous word “dord” is discovered in the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, prompting an investigation
The word dord is a notable error in lexicography, an accidental creation, or ghost word, of the G. and C. Merriam Company’s staff in the second (1934) edition of its New International Dictionary, in which the term is defined as “density”.

Philip Babcock Gove, an editor at Merriam-Webster who became editor-in-chief of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, wrote a letter to the journal American Speech, fifteen years after the error was caught, in which he explained why “dord” was included in that dictionary.[1]

On July 31, 1931, Austin M. Patterson, Webster’s chemistry editor, sent in a slip reading “D or d, cont./density.” This was intended to add “density” to the existing list of words that the letter “D” can abbreviate. The slip somehow went astray, and the phrase “D or d” was misinterpreted as a single, run-together word: Dord (This was a plausible mistake because headwords on slips were typed with spaces between the letters, making “D or d” look very much like “D o r d”). A new slip was prepared for the printer and a part of speech assigned along with a pronunciation. The would-be word got past proofreaders and appeared on page 771 of the dictionary around 1934.[1]

On February 28, 1939, an editor noticed “dord” lacked an etymology and investigated. Soon an order was sent to the printer marked “plate change/imperative/urgent”. In 1940, bound books began appearing without the ghost word but with a new abbreviation (although inspection of printed copies well into the 1940s show “dord” still present).[2] The non-word “dord” was excised, and the definition of the adjacent entry “Doré furnace” was expanded from “A furnace for refining dore bullion” to “a furnace in which dore bullion is refined” to close up the space. Gove wrote that this was “probably too bad, for why shouldn’t dord mean ‘density’?”[1] The entry “dord” was not removed until 1947.[3]







Born on this day:

1896 – Philip Showalter Hench, American physician and endocrinologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
Philip Showalter Hench (February 28, 1896 – March 30, 1965) was an American physician. Hench, along with his Mayo Clinic co-worker Edward Calvin Kendall and Swiss chemist Tadeus Reichstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1950 for the discovery of the hormone cortisone, and its application for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The Nobel Committee bestowed the award for the trio’s “discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects.”[1]

Hench received his undergraduate education at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, and received his medical training at the United States Army Medical Corps and the University of Pittsburgh. He began working at Mayo Clinic in 1923, later serving as the head of the Department of Rheumatology. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Hench received many other awards and honors throughout his career. He also had a lifelong interest in the history and discovery of yellow fever.

Early life and education
He attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in 1916. After serving in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army and the reserve corps to finish his medical training, he was awarded a doctorate in medicine from the University of Pittsburgh in 1920.[2] Immediately after finishing his medical degree, Hench spent a year as an intern at St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh, and then he subsequently became a Fellow of the Mayo Foundation.[2]

In 1928 and 1929, Hench furthered his education at Freiburg University and the von Müller Clinic in Munich.[2]

Medical career
Hench started his career at Mayo Clinic in 1923, working in the Department of Rheumatic Diseases. In 1926, he became the head of the department. While at Mayo Clinic, Hench focused his work on arthritic diseases, where his observations led him to hypothesize that steroids alleviated pain associated with the disease.[2] During this same time, biochemist Edward Calvin Kendall has isolated several steroids from the adrenal gland cortex. After several years of work, the duo decided to try one of these steroids (dubbed Compound E at the time, later to become known as cortisone) on patients afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis.[2] Testing of the hypothesis was delayed because the synthesis of Compound E was costly and time-consuming, and Hench served in the military during World War II. The tests were conducted successfully in 1948 and 1949.[2]

Hench, Kendall and Swiss chemist Tadeus Reichstein were awarded the 1950 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects.”[1] As of the 2010 prizes, Hench and Kendall are the only two Nobel laureates affiliated with Mayo Clinic.[3] Hench’s Nobel Lecture was directly related to the research he was honored for, and titled “The Reversibility of Certain Rheumatic and Non-Rheumatic Conditions by the Use of Cortisone Or of the Pituitary Adrenocorticotropic Hormone”.[4] His speech at the banquet during the award ceremony acknowledged the connections between the study of medicine and chemistry, saying of his co-winners “Perhaps the ratio of one physician to two chemists is symbolic, since medicine is so firmly linked to chemistry by a double bond.”[5]

During his career, Hench was one of the founding members of the American Rheumatism Association, and served as its president in 1940 and 1941.[6] In addition to the Nobel Prize, Hench has been awarded the Heberdeen Medal (1942), the Lasker Award (1949), the Passano Foundation Award (1950), and the Criss Award.[2] Lafayette College, Washington and Jefferson College, Western Reserve University, the National University of Ireland and the University of Pittsburgh awarded Hench honorary doctorates.[2]

In addition to his work with cortisone, Hench had a career long interest in yellow fever. Starting in 1937, Hench began to document the history behind the discovery of yellow fever. His collection of documents on this subject are at the University of Virginia in the Philip S. Hench Walter Reed Yellow Fever Collection.[7] His wife donated the collection to the university after his death.[8]

Hench married Mary Kahler in 1927.[2] His father-in-law, John Henry Kahler, was a friend of Mayo Clinic founder William J. Mayo.[9] Hench and his wife had four children, two daughters and two sons.[2] His son, Philip Kahler Hench also studied rheumatology.[10] Hench died of pneumonia while on vacation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in 1965.[6]




1929 – Rangaswamy Srinivasan, Indian-American physical chemist and inventor
Rangaswamy Srinivasan (born February 28, 1929, Madras, India[1]) is a physical chemist and inventor with a 30-year career at IBM Research. He has developed techniques for ablative photodecomposition and used them to contribute to the development of LASIK eye surgery. He received the National Medal of Technology from President Obama on February 2, 2013 for his contributions to laser eye surgery.

Srinivasan was born in India on February 28, 1929.[2] Srinivasan received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science from the University of Madras, in 1949 and 1950.[2] In 1953 he moved to the United States to attend graduate school. He earned a doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Southern California in 1956, studying protein chemistry with chemical kineticist Sidney W. Benson.[3] He held postdoctoral positions at the California Institute of Technology in 1956, and at the University of Rochester from 1957 to 1961.[4]

Srinivasan has spent a thirty-year career, from 1961 to 1990, at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. He joined the research staff in 1961, and was promoted to “manager of fundamental photochemical research” in 1963.[5] His research group has studied ultraviolet light and its effects on organic matter.[4]

In 1981, Srinivasan and his coworkers determined that an ultraviolet excimer laser could be used to etch designs into polymers. The technique has since been used in the computer industry to drill polymers to create computer circuit boards and ink jet printer nozzles.[6]

Srinivasan, physicist James J. Wynne and materials scientist Samuel Blum speculated that it might also be possible to use excimer lasers on living tissue. On November 27, 1981, Srinivasan experimented with the remains of his family’s Thanksgiving turkey, and proved that it was possible to create precisely-etched patterns.[5][7][8] An ultraviolet excimer laser pulsed at 193 nm was able to etch living tissue precisely without causing any thermal damage to surrounding area. Srinivasan named the technique Ablative Photodecomposition (APD),[4] a type of Laser ablation.[9]

In 1983, ophthalmic surgeon Stephen Trokel approached Srinivasan about the possibility of using APD for surgery of the cornea. The collaboration of Srinivasan, Trokel, and Bodil Braren led to development of LASIK eye surgery, a technique for reshaping the cornea to correct visual issues such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. In 1995, a commercial system for laser refractive surgery was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.[7]

Srinivasan has published over 130 scientific papers and holds at least 22 US patents.[4] A patent application filed by Stephen Trokel in 1992, claiming a LASIK surgery technique as his sole invention, was declared invalid in 2000 by an International Trade Commission ruling that found that Srinivasan should have been included as a co-author.[10]

In 1990, Srinivasan formed a consulting company, UVTech Associates.[4]

External video Excimer-Laser-MEL80.jpg
2013 Russ Prize, Ohio University

In 1997, Srinivasan was awarded the American Chemical Society’s Award for Creative Invention,[11] and the ACS North East Section’s Esselen Medal.[12]

In 1998, Srinivasan was awarded the Max Delbruck Prize in Biological Physics by the American Physical Society.[13]

In 1999, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.[14]

In 2002, he was inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame.[2]

In 2004, he received the Prize for Industrial Applications of Physics from the American Institute of Physics.[4]

In 2011, Srinivasan, Wynne, and Blum received the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize from Ohio University and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for their work, “a bioengineering achievement that significantly improves the human condition.”[5]

In 2012, Srinivasan, Wynne, and Blum were named as recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.[15] The award was presented on February 1, 2013 by President Barack Obama, to acknowledge their work with the Excimer laser, leading to the development of LASIK Surgery.[16][17]






Farewell: Joseph Albert Wapner (November 15, 1919 – February 26, 2017)
Joseph Albert Wapner (November 15, 1919 – February 26, 2017) was an American judge and television personality. He was the first star of the ongoing reality courtroom series The People’s Court. The court show’s first run in syndication, with Wapner presiding as judge, lasted from 1981 to 1993, for 12 seasons and 2,484 episodes. While the show’s second run has been presided over by multiple judges, Wapner was the sole judge to preside during the court show’s first run.

Wapner’s tenure on the program made him the first jurist of arbitration-based reality court shows, what is now a most popular trend in the judicial genre. Until the summer of 2013, Wapner also held the title of longest reigning arbiter over The People’s Court. However, by completion of the court show’s 2012–2013 season, Marilyn Milian captured this title from him and became the longest-reigning judge over the series. Five years after presiding over The People’s Court, Wapner returned to television as a judge on the nontraditional courtroom series, Judge Wapner’s Animal Court, lasting for two seasons (1998–1999 and 1999–2000).




Stella: In 1973, Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill purchased a WWI-era cement factory near Barcelona
Ricardo Bofill




Darla the tutu wearing therapy chicken

Darla the tutu wearing therapy chicken



Courtesy of Just A Car Guy
A stunning scene of a former C and O cantilever signal glowing brightly against the snow along the CSX main line near Pence Springs, West Virginia on February 19, 2012.
In September of 1825 the steam-powered, Stockton and Darlington began service on a standard-gauged right-of-way of 4-feet, 8 1/2-inches.
The width was based upon ancient Roman chariot roads and championed by locomotive builders George and Robert Stephenson, earning it the name “Stephenson Gauge.”

Railroad Infrastructure, The Backbone Of How Trains Operate





Women Who Draw



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FYI February 27, 2017



On this day:

1560 – The Treaty of Berwick, which would expel the French from Scotland, is signed by England and the Lords of the Congregation of Scotland.
The Treaty of Berwick was negotiated on 27 February 1560 at Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was an agreement made by the representative of Queen Elizabeth I of England, the Duke of Norfolk, and the group of rebellious nobles known as the Scottish Lords of the Congregation.[1] The purpose was to agree the terms under which an English fleet and army would come to Scotland to expel the French troops who were defending the Regency of Mary of Guise. The Lords were trying both to expel the French and to effect the Scottish Reformation, and this had led from rioting to armed conflict.[2]

England and the Scottish Lords of the Congregation
The leader of the Lords of the Congregation was the Duke of Chatelherault. He had formerly been Regent, but in this treaty was described as “second person”, meaning that he was heir to the throne after Mary, Queen of Scots. His representatives at Berwick were James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, Patrick, Lord Ruthven, Sir John Maxwell of Terregles, William Maitland younger of Lethington, John Wishart of Pitarro, and Master Henry Balnaves of Halhill. England’s representative was Thomas, Duke of Norfolk.[3]

The treaty was effective: the English navy already had a fleet in the Firth of Forth commanded by William Winter, and now an English army under Baron Grey de Wilton marched north from Berwick into Scotland. The Scottish Lords arranged to rendezvous with the English army on 31 March 1560, at Aitchison’s Haven, the harbour of Newbattle Abbey at Prestongrange in East Lothian.[4]

On 24 March 1560 Elizabeth had a proclamation published and circulated in English, French and Italian, which detailed her concerns over Mary’s use of English heraldry and the ambitions of the Guise family. The proclamation stressed that England was not at war with France or Scotland, although Elizabeth had been forced to “put in order, to her great charges, certain forces both by sea and land.”[5]

The English force assisted with the Siege of Leith until hostilities ended in July 1560, after the death of Mary of Guise and the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh.[6] Under the terms of the treaty, the French fortifications at Leith, new works at Dunbar Castle and at Eyemouth were demolished and the French and English went home. The religious ambitions of the Scottish lords were realised in the Reformation Parliament of August 1560. This parliament also ratified the treaty; William Maitland commended it and the goodwill and favour of Elizabeth in relieving the extreme necessity and “almost utter ruen of the whole countrie.” According to the English observer Thomas Randolph, there was common consent and some would have happily signed in their own blood.[7]

John Knox thought the treaty so important in explaining the actions of the Lords of the Congregation to posterity that he inserted the whole text into his History of the Reformation. Knox directly related the treaty to the thinking of his colleague Christopher Goodman in his tract, How Superior Powers Ought to be Obeyed, by writing:

And because we have heard the malicious tongues of wicked men make false report of this our fact, we have faithfully and truly inserted in this our history the said contract, …that memory thereof may bide to our posterity; to the end that they may judge with indifference, whether that we have done anything prejudicial to our commonwealth or yet contrarious unto that debtful obedience which true subjects owe to their superiors…[8]

The modern historian Michael Lynch called the treaty “an astonishing document which mentioned many things but not religion.”[9] Pamela Ritchie, historian and author of a political biography of Mary of Guise, sees the treaty as facilitating “the interference of a foreign monarch in what was essentially a domestic crisis.”[10] William Ferguson argued that previous historians had overemphasised the significance of the treaty and the English military action. While the intervention was opportunistic, arranged following the tumult of Amboise when France was first troubled by her wars of Religion, the English army did not receive widespread welcome and support, and failed to take Leith by storm.[11] The English were aware of the probable impact of troubles in France; Cecil wrote to Ralph Sadler on 22 March 1560 that:

“we here doo trust well that the bravery of the French wilbe cooled; at home they have ynough to doo with trooble partly for religion, partly for governance; God send his just wrath amomgst them to their amendment.”[12]

The Scottish Lords had already seen the opportunity arising from pressures on France’s borders. On 20 January Richard Maitland wrote to his friend in London of their readiness to abandon the Auld Alliance, noting;

“It shall not be amiss to consider in what case the French be presently, their estate is not always so calm at home as everyman thinketh … the demand by the Empire for the restitution of Metz, Toul, and Verdun may grow to some business.”[13]

On the 27 March 1560, Mary of Guise wrote to her brothers, the Cardinal and Duke of Guise, that she never saw anything so shameful as the Articles.[14]

The Berwick articles[15] included:

The belief of Elizabeth that France intended to conquer Scotland, and offered her protection to its nobility during the marriage of Mary to Francis II of France.
Elizabeth would send an army with all speed to join with Scots.
Any forts won by the English force would be immediately destroyed by the Scots, or delivered to the Duke of Châtellerault.
The Scots will aid the English Army.
All enemies of England are enemies of both.
Scotland shall be no further united to France than by Mary’s marriage.
Scotland will help repel French invasions of England.
The Earl of Argyll will help English rule in the north of Ireland.[16]
The Scots will offer hostages or ‘pledges’ — those sent in April 1560 included:[17]
Claud Hamilton, 1st Lord Paisley, Châtellerault’s son, aged 14.
Master Alexander Campbell, first cousin to the Earl of Argyll.
Master Robert Douglas half-brother of Lord James.
Master James Cunningham, son of Earl of Glencairn.
Master George Graham, son of the Earl of Menteith, aged 5.
Master Archibald Ruthven, son of Lord Ruthven, aged 14.
These hostages were at Newcastle by 10 April 1560, attended by Ninian Menville of Sledwick Hall.[18] Châtellerault wrote to Elizabeth on 21 December 1561, asking for the return of these pledges, as they were meant to stay in England only until a year after the end of Mary’s French marriage.[19]
The treaty to be signed by the Duke after the hostages are delivered. There is no due obedience withdrawn from Mary or the French king.

The treaty was signed and sealed by 30 of the Lords of the Congregation at the ‘camp before Leith’ (Pilrig) on 10 May 1560.[20]



Born on this day:

1875 – Vladimir Filatov, Russian-Ukrainian ophthalmologist and surgeon (d. 1956)
Vladimir Petrovich Filatov (Russian: Владимир Филaтoв, 15 [O.S. 27] February 1875, Mikhaylovka, Penza Governorate, Russian Empire – 30 October 1956, Odessa, Ukrainian SSR) was a Russian and Ukrainian ophthalmologist and surgeon best known for his development of tissue therapy. He introduced the tube flap grafting method, corneal transplantation and preservation of grafts from cadaver eyes. He founded The Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases & Tissue Therapy in Odessa, Ukraine. Filatov is also credited for restoring Vasily Zaytsev’s sight when he suffered an injury to his eyes from a mortar attack during Battle of Stalingrad.

First corneal transplantation was attempted by Filatov on 28 February 1912, but the graft grew opaque. After numerous attempts over the course of many years, Filatov achieved a successful transplantation of cornea from a diseased person on 6 May 1931.[1]



1890 – Mabel Keaton Staupers, American nurse and advocate (d.1989)
Mabel Keaton Staupers (February 27, 1890 – November 29, 1989) was a pioneer in the American nursing profession. Faced with racial discrimination after graduating from nursing school, Staupers became an advocate for racial equality in the nursing profession.[1]

Staupers was born on February 27, 1890, in Barbados, West Indies.[2] In 1903, at the age of thirteen, she emigrated to the United States with her parents, Pauline and Thomas Doyle. She attended Freedmen’s Hospital School of Nursing in Washington, DC, where she graduated with honors. After graduation, she worked as a private duty nurse.

Staupers fought for the inclusion of black nurses in World War II to the Army and Navy as the executive secretary of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NAGCN). She wrote that “Negro nurses recognize that service to their country is a responsibility of citizenship.”[3]

She continued fighting for the full inclusion of nurses of all races in the U.S. military, which was granted in January 1945. In 1948, the American Nursing Association followed suit and allowed African-American nurses to become members. In 1950, Staupers dissolved the NAGCN because she believed the organization had completed its mission. In 1951, the NAACP honored Stauper with the Spingarn Medal in recognition of her efforts on behalf of black women workers.[4]

During World War II, Staupers assembled support and fought to stop the usage of quotas in the military.[5] Quotas were used in the military to restrict the number of black nurses the military hired.[5]

While working as a private nurse in Washington and New York, Staupers helped establish the Booker T. Washington Sanatorium.[5] It was one of the few clinics founded to care for African Americans who had tuberculosis,[5] at a time when other hospitals refused black medical experts privileges or staffing positions.[5] Staupers served as Superintendent for the Booker T. Washington Sanatorium from 1920 to 1922.[5] Staupers used her influence and management skills and became executive secretary of the Harlem Committee of the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association,[5] a position she held for twelve years. In December 1935, Staupers attended a gathering of African American women leaders, organized by Mary McLeod Bethune to establish the National Council of Negro Women.[5]





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Wendy Chin Year of Knots

Kate Sierzputowski: Windy Chien Unearths Obscure Knots Everyday for an Entire Year




FYI February 26, 2017



On this day:

1909 – Kinemacolor, the first successful color motion picture process, is first shown to the general public at the Palace Theatre in London.
Kinemacolor was the first successful color motion picture process, used commercially from 1908 to 1914. It was invented by George Albert Smith of Brighton, England in 1906. He was influenced by the work of William Norman Lascelles Davidson and, more directly, Edward Raymond Turner.[1] It was launched by Charles Urban’s Urban Trading Co. of London in 1908. From 1909 on, the process was known as Kinemacolor. It was a two-color additive color process, photographing and projecting a black-and-white film behind alternating red and green filters.

“How to Make and Operate Moving Pictures” published by Funk and Wagnalls in 1917 notes the following:

Of the many attempts to produce cinematograph pictures… the greatest amount of attention so far has been attracted by a system invented by George Albert Smith, and commercially developed by Charles Urban under the name of “Kinemacolor.” In this system (to quote from Cassell’s Cyclopædia of Photography, edited by the editor of this present book), only two colour filters are used in taking the negatives and only two in projecting the positives. The camera resembles the ordinary cinematographic camera except that it runs at twice the speed, taking thirty-two images per second instead of sixteen, and it is fitted with a rotating colour filter in addition to the ordinary shutter. This filter is an aluminium skeleton wheel… having four segments, two open ones, G and H; one filled in with red-dyed gelatine, E F; and the fourth containing green-dyed gelatine, A B. The camera is so geared that exposures are made alternately through the red gelatine and the green gelatine. Panchromatic film is used, and the negative is printed from in the ordinary way, and it will be understood that there is no colour in the film itself.[2]

The first motion picture exhibited in Kinemacolor was an eight-minute short filmed in Brighton titled A Visit to the Seaside, which was trade shown in September 1908. On 26 February 1909, the general public first saw Kinemacolor in a programme of twenty-one short films shown at the Palace Theatre in London. The process was first seen in the United States on 11 December 1909, at an exhibition staged by Smith and Urban at Madison Square Garden in New York.[3]

In 1910, Kinemacolor released the first dramatic film made in the process, Checkmated. The company then produced the documentary films With Our King and Queen Through India (also known as The Durbar at Delhi, 1912), and the notable recovery of £750,000 worth of gold and silver bullion from the wreck of P&O’s SS Oceana in the Strait of Dover (1912).[4] With Our King and Queen Through India and the dramas The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1914), and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1914) were the first three feature films made in color. Unfortunately, these latter two features were also among the last films released by Kinemacolor.
Success and decline

Kinemacolor enjoyed the most commercial success in the UK where, between 1909 and 1918, it was shown at more than 250 entertainment venues. The system was made available to exhibitors either by licence or from 1913 through a series of touring companies. Although in most cases the system stayed at licensed venues for only a few months there were instances where it remained at a hall for up to two years.[5] 54 dramatic films were produced. Four dramatic short films were also produced by Kinemacolor in the United States in 1912–1913,[6] and one in Japan, Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (1914).

However, the company was never a success, partly due to the expense of installing special Kinemacolor projectors in cinemas. Also, the process suffered from “fringing” and “haloing” of the images, an unsolvable problem as long as Kinemacolor remained a successive frame process. Kinemacolor in the U.S. became most notable for its Hollywood studio being taken over by D. W. Griffith, who also took over Kinemacolor’s failed plans to film Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman, which eventually became The Birth of a Nation (1915).

The first (additive) version of Prizma Color, developed by William Van Doren Kelley in the U.S. from 1913 to 1917, used some of the same principles as Kinemacolor. In the U.K., William Friese-Greene developed another additive color system for film called Biocolour. However, in 1914 George Albert Smith sued Friese-Greene for infringing Kinemacolor’s patents, slowing the development of Biocolour by Friese-Greene and his son Claude in the 1920s.
Predecessor process

In 2012, the National Media Museum in Bradford, England publicized its digital restoration of some very early three-color alternating-filter test films, dated to 1902, made by Edward Raymond Turner. They are believed to be the earliest existing color movie footage. Turner’s process, for which Charles Urban had provided financial backing, was adapted by Smith after Turner’s sudden death in 1903, and this in turn became Kinemacolor.[7]


Born on this day:

1903 – Giulio Natta, Italian chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1979)
Giulio Natta (26 February 1903 – 2 May 1979) was an Italian chemist and Nobel laureate. He won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963 with Karl Ziegler for work on high polymers. He was also a recipient of Lomonosov Gold Medal in 1969.[1]

Natta was born in Imperia, Italy. He earned his degree in chemical engineering from the Politecnico di Milano university in Milan in 1924. In 1927 he passed the exams for becoming a professor there. In 1933 he became a full professor and the director of the Institute of General Chemistry of Pavia University, where he stayed until 1935. In that year he was appointed full professor in physical chemistry at the University of Rome.[1]
From 1936 to 1938 he moved as a full professor and director of the Institute of Industrial Chemistry at the Polytechnic Institute of Turin. In 1938 he took over as the head of the Department of chemical engineering at the Politecnico di Milano university, in a somewhat controversial manner, when his predecessor Mario Giacomo Levi was forced to step down because of racial laws against Jews being introduced in Fascist Italy.[1]

Natta’s work at Politecnico di Milano led to the improvement of earlier work by Karl Ziegler and to the development of the Ziegler-Natta catalyst. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963 with Karl Ziegler for their research in high polymers.
Personal life
In 1935 Natta married Rosita Beati, a woman of great culture and sensitivity, who helped his career in many ways. A graduate in literature, she coined the terms “isotactic”, “atactic” and “syndiotactic” for polymers discovered by her husband.[2] They had two sons, Giuseppe and Franca. Beati died in 1968.[1]

Natta was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1956. By 1963, his condition had progressed to the point that he required the assistance of his son and four colleagues to present his speech at the Nobel ceremonies in Stockholm. Prof. Natta died in Bergamo, Italy at age 76.[1]



Delaware Aqueduct

infoplease: Delaware Aqueduct
Delaware Aqueduct (dĕlˈəwâr, –wər) [key], SE N.Y., 85 mi (137 km) long, carrying water from the Rondout Reservoir, Sullivan co., SE into the New York City water system at the Hillview Reservoir, Westchester co.; built 1937–62. The tunnel taps the Delaware River basin and supplies more than half of New York City’s water. The aqueduct’s deep, gravity-flow construction requires little maintenance. The Rondout Reservoir receives water from other Delaware basin reservoirs through a tunnel system. In 1965 the aqueduct was extended; its total distance is now 105 mi (170 km).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Great American Infrastructure: The Delaware Aqueduct Tunnel

Construction of the Delaware Aqueduct in Pictures





DamnDelicious: Slow Cooker Tater Tot Casserole

Videos February 25, 2017



FYI February 25, 2017






On this day:

1866 – Miners in Calaveras County, California, discover what is now called the Calaveras Skull – human remains that supposedly indicated that man, mastodons, and elephants had co-existed.
The Calaveras Skull was a human skull found by miners in Calaveras County, California, which was purported to prove that humans, mastodons, and elephants had coexisted in California. It was later revealed to be a hoax. Coincidentally, “calaveras” is the Spanish word for “skulls”.

On February 25, 1866, miners claimed to have found a human skull in a mine, beneath a layer of lava, 130 feet (40 m) below the surface of the earth, which made it into the hands of Josiah Whitney, then the State Geologist of California as well as a Professor of Geology at Harvard University. A year before the skull came to his attention, Whitney published the belief that humans, mastodons, and elephants coexisted;[1] the skull served as proof of his convictions. After careful study, he officially announced its discovery at a meeting of the California Academy of Sciences on July 16, 1866, declaring it evidence of the existence of Pliocene age man in North America, which would make it the oldest known record of humans on the continent.[2]

Its authenticity was immediately challenged. In 1869 a San Francisco newspaper reported that a miner had told a minister that the skull was planted as a practical joke.[3] Thomas Wilson of Harvard ran a fluorine analysis on it in 1879 (the first ever usage of such on human bone), with the results indicating it was of recent origin.[4] It was so widely believed to be a hoax that Bret Harte famously wrote a satirical poem called “To the Pliocene Skull” in 1899.[5]

Whitney did not waver in his belief that it was genuine. His successor at Harvard, F. W. Putnam, also believed it to be real. By 1901 Putnam was determined to discover the truth and he headed to California. While there, he heard a story that in 1865 one of a number of Indian skulls had been dug up from a nearby burial site and planted in the mine specifically for miners to find. Putnam still declined to declare the skull a fake, instead conceding, “It may be impossible ever to determine to the satisfaction of the archaeologist the place where the skull was actually found.”[2] Others, such as adherents of Theosophy, also were unwavering in their belief in the authenticity of the skull.[3]

To further complicate the issue, careful comparison of the skull with descriptions of it at the time of its discovery revealed that the skull Whitney had in his possession was not the one originally found.[2]

Anthropologist William Henry Holmes of the Smithsonian Institution investigated around the turn of the century. He determined that the plant and animal fossils that had been discovered near the skull were indeed genuine, but the skull was too modern, and concluded that “to suppose that man could have remained unchanged… for a million years, roughly speaking… is to suppose a miracle.”[3] Likewise, J. M. Boutwell, investigating in 1911, was told by one of the participants in the discovery that the whole thing was indeed a hoax.[6] The miners of the Sierra Nevada apparently did not greatly like Whitney (“being an Easterner of very reserved demeanor”) and were “delighted” to have played such a joke on him.[2] Furthermore, John C. Scribner, a local shopkeeper, claimed to have planted it, and the story was revealed by his sister after his death.[7] Radiocarbon dating in 1992 established the age of the skull at about 1,000 years, placing it in the late Holocene age.[8]

Despite evidence to the contrary, the Calaveras Skull continues to be cited by creationists as proof that paleontologists ignore evidence that does not fit their theories,[9][10] although others have acknowledged that the Calaveras Skull is a hoax.[11]



1870 – Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, is sworn into the United States Senate, becoming the first African American ever to sit in the U.S. Congress.
Hiram Rhodes Revels (September 27, 1827[note 1] – January 16, 1901) was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), a Republican politician, and college administrator. Born free in North Carolina, he later lived and worked in Ohio, where he voted before the Civil War. He became the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress when he was elected to the United States Senate to represent Mississippi in 1870 and 1871 during the Reconstruction era.

During the American Civil War, Revels had helped organize two regiments of the United States Colored Troops and served as a chaplain. After serving in the Senate, Revels was appointed as the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University), 1871–1873 and 1876 to 1882. Later he served again as a minister.

Revels was born free in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to free people of color, parents of African and European ancestry. He was tutored by a black woman for his early education. In 1838 he went to live with his older brother, Elias B. Revels, in Lincolnton, North Carolina, and was apprenticed as a barber in his brother’s shop. After Elias Revels died in 1841, his widow Mary transferred the shop to Hiram before she remarried.[citation needed] Revels attended the Union County Quaker Seminary in Indiana, and Darke County Seminary in Ohio.[1] He was a second cousin to Lewis Sheridan Leary, one of the men who was killed taking part in John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry and to North Carolina lawyer and politician John S. Leary.[2]

In 1845 Revels was ordained as a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME); he served as a preacher and religious teacher throughout the Midwest: in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kansas.[1] “At times, I met with a great deal of opposition,” he later recalled. “I was imprisoned in Missouri in 1854 for preaching the gospel to Negroes, though I was never subjected to violence.”[3] During these years, he voted in Ohio.

He studied religion from 1855 to 1857 at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. He became a minister in a Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland, where he also served as a principal for a black high school.[4]

As a chaplain in the United States Army, Revels helped recruit and organize two black Union regiments during the Civil War in Maryland and Missouri. He took part at the battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi.[5]

In 1865, Revels left the AME Church and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was assigned briefly to churches in Leavenworth, Kansas, and New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1866, he was called as a permanent pastor at a church in Natchez, Mississippi, where he settled with his wife and five daughters. He became an elder in the Mississippi District of the Methodist Church,[4] continued his ministerial work, and founded schools for black children.

During Reconstruction, Revels was elected alderman in Natchez in 1868. In 1869 he was elected to represent Adams County in the Mississippi State Senate. As the Congressman John R. Lynch later wrote of him in his book on Reconstruction:

Revels was comparatively a new man in the community. He had recently been stationed at Natchez as pastor in charge of the A.M.E. Church, and so far as known he had never voted, had never attended a political meeting, and of course, had never made a political speech. But he was a colored man, and presumed to be a Republican, and believed to be a man of ability and considerably above the average in point of intelligence; just the man, it was thought, the Rev. Noah Buchanan would be willing to vote for.[6]

In January 1870, Revels presented the opening prayer in the state legislature. Lynch wrote,

“That prayer—one of the most impressive and eloquent prayers that had ever been delivered in the [Mississippi] Senate Chamber—made Revels a United States Senator. He made a profound impression upon all who heard him. It impressed those who heard it that Revels was not only a man of great natural ability but that he was also a man of superior attainments.”[6]

At the time, as in most states, the state legislature elected U.S. senators from the state. In 1870 Revels was elected by a vote of 81 to 15 in the Mississippi State Senate to finish the term of one of the state’s two seats in the US Senate, which had been left vacant since the Civil War. Previously, it had been held by Albert G. Brown, who withdrew from the US Senate in 1861 when Mississippi seceded.[7]

When Revels arrived in Washington, D.C., southern Democrats opposed seating him in the Senate. For the two days of debate, the Senate galleries were packed with spectators at this historic event.[8] The Democrats based their opposition on the 1857 Dred Scott Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that people of African ancestry were not and could not be citizens. They argued that no black man was a citizen before the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, and thus Revels could not satisfy the requirement of the Senate for nine years’ prior citizenship.[9]

Supporters of Revels made a number of arguments, from the relatively narrow and technical to fundamental arguments about the meaning of the Civil War. Among the narrower arguments was that Revels was of primarily European ancestry (an “octoroon”) and that the Dred Scott Decision ought to be read to apply only to those blacks who were of totally African ancestry. Supporters argued that Revels had long been a citizen (and had voted in Ohio) and that he had met the nine-year requirement before the Dred Scott decision changed the rules and held that blacks could not be citizens.[10]

The more fundamental arguments by Revels supporters boiled down to this idea: that the Civil War, and the Reconstruction Amendments, had overturned Dred Scott. The meaning of the war, and also of the Amendments, was that the subordination of the black race was no longer part of the American constitutional regime, and that therefore, it would be unconstitutional to bar Revels on the basis of the pre-Civil War Constitution’s racist citizenship rules.[10] One Republican Senator supporting Revels mocked opponents as still fighting the “last battle-field” of that War.[10]

Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner said, “The time has passed for argument. Nothing more need be said. For a long time it has been clear that colored persons must be senators.”[9] On February 25, 1870, Revels, on a party-line vote of 48 to 8, with only Republicans voting in favor and only Democrats voting against, became the first African American to be seated in the United States Senate.[9] Everyone in the galleries stood to see him sworn in.[8]

Sumner’s Massachusetts colleague, Henry Wilson, defended Revels’s election,[11] and presented as evidence of its validity signatures from the clerks of the Mississippi House of Representatives and Mississippi State Senate, as well as that of Adelbert Ames, the military Governor of Mississippi.[12] Wilson argued that Revels’s skin color was not a bar to Senate service, and connected the role of the Senate to Christianity’s Golden Rule of doing to others as one would have done to oneself.[12]




Born on this day:

1670 – Maria Margarethe Kirch, German astronomer and mathematician (d. 1720)
Maria Margarethe Kirch (née Winckelmann; 25 February 1670 – 29 December 1720) was a German astronomer, and one of the first famous astronomers of her period due to her writings on the conjunction of the sun with Saturn, Venus, and Jupiter in 1709 and 1712 respectively.[1]

Maria was educated from an early age by her father, a Lutheran minister, who believed that she deserved an education equivalent to that given to young boys of the time. After her father’s death, her education was continued by her uncle. As Maria, had an interest in astronomy from an early age, she took the opportunity of studying with Christoph Arnold, a self-taught astronomer who worked as a farmer in Sommerfeld, near Leipzig. She became Arnold’s unofficial apprentice and later his assistant, living with him and his family.[2]

Through Arnold, Maria met astronomer and mathematician Gottfried Kirch, one of the most famous German astronomers of the time. Despite Kirch being 30 years her senior, they married in 1692, later having four children, all of whom followed in their parents’ footsteps by studying astronomy.[3]

Gottfried Kirch gave Maria further instruction in astronomy, as he had his sister and many other students. While at the time women were not allowed to attend universities, much work was conducted outside universities and Gottfried himself had never attended a university.

Maria and Gottfried worked together as a team, though Maria was mainly seen as Gottfried’s assistant rather than equal. Together they made observations and performed calculations to produce calendars and ephemerides. From 1697, the couple also began recording weather information.

The data collected by the Kirches was used to produce calendars and almanacs and was also very useful in navigation. The Royal Academy of Sciences in Berlin handled sales of their calendars, which included information on the phases of the moon, the setting of the sun, eclipses, and the position of the sun and other planets.[2]

On 21 April 1702, while making her regular nighttime observations, Maria discovered a previously unknown comet, the so-called “Comet of 1702” (C/1702 H1), becoming the first woman to make such a discovery (actually two observers in Rome had found this comet about two hours before her).

In the words of her husband:
“     Early in the morning the sky was clear and starry. Some nights before I had observed a variable star, and my wife wanted to find and see it for herself. In so doing she found a comet in the sky. At which time she woke me and I found that it was indeed a comet… was surprised that I had not seen it the night before.     ”

However, the comet was not named after her as was the case with most newly discovered comets, Gottfried instead taking credit for its discovery, something he may have done from fear of possible ridicule if the truth were widely known. It is likely, though, that Maria could not have made a claim in her own name because she published solely in German while the preferred language in the German scientific circles of the time was Latin, a fact which prevented her publishing her works in Germany’s only scientific journal of the period, Acta Eruditorum. Gottfried later admitted the truth regarding the discovery in 1710 but the comet was never named after her.

Maria continued to pursue important work in astronomy, publishing in German under her own name, and with the proper recognition. Her publications, which included her observations on the Aurora Borealis (1707), the pamphlet Von der Conjunction der Sonne des Saturni und der Venus on the conjunction of the sun with Saturn and Venus (1709), and the approaching conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 1712 became her lasting contributions to astronomy. The latter contained both astrological and astronomical observations and some have claimed that it leaned towards the former.[3] However, Alphonse des Vignoles, president of the Berlin Academy, said in her eulogy: “Madame Kirch prepared horoscopes at the request of her friends, but always against her will and in order not to be unkind to her patrons.”[2]
As widow

After Gottfried died in Berlin on 25 July 1710, Maria attempted to assume her husband’s place as astronomer and calendar maker at the Royal Academy of Sciences, saying that she had been carrying out most of this work during the illness from which he died, as at that time it was not unusual for widows to take over their husband’s business. However, the Royal Academy’s council refused to let her do this and in fact did not even consider the possibility before she petitioned them, as they were reluctant to set a precedent.

The only person who supported Maria was the then president of the Academy, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who had long encouraged her and had arranged for her to be presented to the royal court of Prussia in 1709 where she made a good impression as she discussed sunspots. Even Leibniz’s support was insufficient to change the Academy’s mind even though Maria had been left without any income.

Maria was of the opinion that her petitions were denied due to her gender. This is somewhat supported by the fact that Johann Heinrich Hoffmann, who had little experience, was appointed to her husband’s place instead of her. Hoffmann soon fell behind with his work and failed to make required observations and it was even suggested that Maria become his assistant.[2] Maria wrote: Now I go through a severe desert, and because… water is scarce… the taste is bitter. However, she was admitted by the Berlin Academy of Sciences.[2]

In 1711, she published Die Vorbereitung zug grossen Opposition, a well-received pamphlet in which she predicted a new comet, followed by a pamphlet concerning Jupiter and Saturn which was again a blend of astronomical calculations and astrological material.

In 1712, Maria accepted the patronage of a family friend, Bernhard Friedrich Baron von Krosigk, who was an enthusiastic amateur astronomer, and began work in his observatory. She trained her son and daughters to act as her assistants and continued the family’s astronomical work, continuing the production of calendars and almanacs as well as making observations.

After Baron von Krosigk died in 1714 Maria moved to Danzig to assist a professor of mathematics for a short time before returning. In 1716, she received an offer to work for Russian czar, Peter the Great, but preferred to remain in Berlin where she continued to calculate calendars for locales such as Nuremberg, Dresden, Breslau, and Hungary.

Also in 1716, Maria’s son Christfried became the director of Berlin Observatory of the Royal Academy of Sciences following Hoffmann’s death and Maria and her daughter, Christine, became his assistants. Academy members complained that she took too prominent a role during visits to the observatory and demanded that she behave like an assistant and stay in the background. Maria refused to do this and was forced to retire, being obliged to relinquish her home, which was sited on the observatory’s grounds.

Maria continued working in private but conditions eventually forced her to abandon all astronomical work and she died in Berlin on 29 December 1720. Her three daughters continued much of her work after her death, assisting their brother in his position as master astronomer.


1869 – Phoebus Levene, Russian-American biochemist and physician (d. 1940)
Phoebus Aaron Theodore Levene, M.D. (25 February 1863 – 6 September 1940) was an American biochemist who studied the structure and function of nucleic acids. He characterized the different forms of nucleic acid, DNA from RNA, and found that DNA contained adenine, guanine, thymine, cytosine, deoxyribose, and a phosphate group.[citation needed]

He was born into a Litvak (Lithuanian Jewish) family as Fishel Rostropovich Levin in the town of Žagarė in Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire, but grew up in St. Petersburg. There he studied medicine at the Imperial Military Medical Academy (M.D., 1891) and developed an interest in biochemistry. In 1893, because of anti-Semitic pogroms, he and his family emigrated to the United States and he practiced medicine in New York City.

Levene enrolled at Columbia University and in his spare time conducted biochemical research, publishing papers on the chemical structure of sugars. In 1896 he was appointed as an Associate in the Pathological Institute of the New York State Hospitals, but he had to take time off to recuperate from tuberculosis. During this period, he worked with several chemists, including Albrecht Kossel and Emil Fischer, who were the experts in proteins.

In 1905, Levene was appointed as head of the biochemical laboratory at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research. He spent the rest of his career at this institute, and it was there that he identified the components of DNA. (He had discovered ribose in 1909[citation needed] and deoxyribose in 1929[citation needed].) Not only did Levene identify the components of DNA, he also showed that the components were linked together in the order phosphate-sugar-base to form units. He called each of these units a nucleotide, and stated that the DNA molecule consisted of a string of nucleotide units linked together through the phosphate groups, which are the ‘backbone’ of the molecule. His ideas about the structure of DNA were wrong; he thought there were only four nucleotides per molecule. He even declared that it could not store the genetic code because it was chemically far too simple. However, his work was a key basis for the later work that determined the structure of DNA. Levene published over 700 original papers and articles on biochemical structures. Levene died in 1940, before the true significance of DNA became clear.

Levene is known for his “tetranucleotide hypothesis” (formulated around 1910) which first proposed that DNA was made up of equal amounts of adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. Before the later work of Erwin Chargaff, it was widely thought that DNA was organized into repeating “tetranucleotides” in a way that could not carry genetic information. Instead, the protein component of chromosomes was thought to be the basis of heredity; most research on the physical nature of the gene focused on proteins, and particularly enzymes and viruses, before the 1940s.[1]






Adam Clark Estes: Everything You Need to Know About Cloudbleed, the Latest Internet Security Disaster


Daniel Dopps stupidity is criminal.
Kristen V. Brown: Please Don’t ‘Glue’ Your Vagina Shut During Your Period



By Bruce McClure: Ring of fire eclipse on Sunday, February 26, 2017



Ted Mills: I wrote for Open Culture on a service called And Vinyly, which will press your cremated ashes into a vinyl record for your loved ones to play.



Andrew P Collins: Watch The Dukes Of Hazzard Dodge Charger Catch Air And Crash In Downtown Detroit


Michael Ballaban: Here’s Jeremy Clarkson Watching His Own Very First Top Gear Appearance


Trent Hamm: How We Plan Frugal Family Vacations in National Parks



Nagi: Homemade Baked Beans with Bacon (Southern Style)


by Lauren Young: Lady Jane Franklin, the Woman Who Fueled 19th-Century Polar Exploration



FYI February 24, 2017




On this day:

1803 – In Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court of the United States establishes the principle of judicial review.
Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. The landmark decision helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of the American form of government.

The case resulted from a petition to the Supreme Court by William Marbury, who had been appointed Justice of the Peace in the District of Columbia by President John Adams but whose commission was not subsequently delivered. Marbury petitioned the Supreme Court to force the new Secretary of State, James Madison, to deliver the documents. The Court, with John Marshall as Chief Justice, found firstly that Madison’s refusal to deliver the commission was both illegal and correctible. Nonetheless, the Court stopped short of ordering Madison (by writ of mandamus) to hand over Marbury’s commission, instead holding that the provision of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that enabled Marbury to bring his claim to the Supreme Court was itself unconstitutional, since it purported to extend the Court’s original jurisdiction beyond that which Article III established. The petition was therefore denied.



1831 – The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, the first removal treaty in accordance with the Indian Removal Act, is proclaimed. The Choctaws in Mississippi cede land east of the river in exchange for payment and land in the West.
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was a treaty signed on September 27, 1830 (and proclaimed on February 24, 1831) between the Choctaw (an American Indian tribe) and the United States Government. This was the first removal treaty carried into effect under the Indian Removal Act. The treaty ceded about 11 million acres (45,000 km2) of the Choctaw Nation (now Mississippi) in exchange for about 15 million acres (61,000 km2) in the Indian territory (now the state of Oklahoma). The principal Choctaw negotiators were Chief Greenwood LeFlore, Musholatubbee, and Nittucachee; the U.S. negotiators were Colonel John Coffee and Secretary of War John Eaton.

The site of the signing of this treaty is in the southwest corner of Noxubee County; the site was known to the Choctaw as Bok Chukfi Ahilha (creek “bok” rabbit “chukfi” place to dance “a+hilha” or Dancing Rabbit Creek). The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was the last major land cession treaty signed by the Choctaw.[1] With ratification by the U.S. Congress in 1831, the treaty allowed those Choctaw who chose to remain in Mississippi to become the first major non-European ethnic group to gain recognition as U.S. citizens.

On August 25, 1830, the Choctaw were supposed to meet with Andrew Jackson in Franklin, Tennessee, but Greenwood Leflore informed the Secretary of War, John H. Eaton, that the chiefs were fiercely opposed to attending.[2] The president was upset but, as the journalist Len Green wrote in 1978, “Although angered by the Choctaw refusal to meet him in Tennessee, Jackson felt from LeFlore’s words that he might have a foot in the door and dispatched Secretary of War Eaton and John Coffee to meet with the Choctaws in their nation.”[3] Jackson appointed Eaton and General John Coffee as commissioners to represent him to meet the Choctaws where the “rabbits gather to dance.”

The commissioners met with the chiefs and headmen on September 15, 1830, at Dancing Rabbit Creek.[5] In a carnival-like atmosphere, the US officials explained the policy of removal through interpreters to an audience of 6,000 men, women and children.[5] The Choctaws faced migration west of the Mississippi River or submitting to U.S. and state law as citizens.[5] The treaty would sign away the remaining traditional homeland to the United States; however, a provision in the treaty made removal more acceptable.

The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was one of the largest land transfers ever signed between the United States Government and American Indians in time of peace. The Choctaw ceded their remaining traditional homeland to the United States. Article 14 allowed for some Choctaw to remain in the state of Mississippi, if they wanted to become citizens:

“ART. XIV. Each Choctaw head of a family being desirous to remain and become a citizen of the States, shall be permitted to do so, by signifying his intention to the Agent within six months from the ratification of this Treaty, and he or she shall thereupon be entitled to a reservation of one section of six hundred and forty acres of land, to be bounded by sectional lines of survey; in like manner shall be entitled to one half that quantity for each unmarried child which is living with him over ten years of age; and a quarter section to such child as may be under 10 years of age, to adjoin the location of the parent. If they reside upon said lands intending to become citizens of the States for five years after the ratification of this Treaty, in that case a grant in fee simple shall issue; said reservation shall include the present improvement of the head of the family, or a portion of it. Persons who claim under this article shall not lose the privilege of a Choctaw citizen, but if they ever remove are not to be entitled to any portion of the Choctaw annuity.”[6]

The Choctaw were the first of the “Five Civilized Tribes” to be removed from the southeastern United States, as the federal and state governments desired Indian lands to accommodate a growing agrarian American society. In 1831, tens of thousands of Choctaw walked the 800-kilometer journey to Oklahoma and many died.[citation needed] Like the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Seminole who followed them, the Choctaw attempted to resurrect their traditional lifestyle and government in their new homeland.

The Choctaw at this crucial time became two distinct groups: the Nation in Oklahoma and the Tribe in Mississippi. The nation retained its autonomy to regulate itself, but the tribe left in Mississippi had to submit to state and U.S. laws. Under article XIV, in 1830 the Mississippi Choctaws became the first major non-European ethnic group to gain U.S. citizenship.[7][8] The Choctaw sought to elect a representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The preamble begins with,
“     A treaty of perpetual, friendship, cession and limits, entered into by John H. Eaton and John Coffee, for and in behalf of the Government of the United States, and the Mingoes, Chiefs, Captains and Warriors of the Choctaw Nation, begun and held at Dancing Rabbit Creek, on the fifteenth of September, in the year eighteen hundred and thirty …     ”
— -Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, 1830[9]

The following terms of the treaty were:

1. Perpetual peace and friendship.
2. Lands (in what is now Oklahoma) west of the Mississippi River to be conveyed to the Choctaw Nation.
3. Lands east of the Mississippi River to be ceded and removal to begin in 1831 and end in 1833.
4. Autonomy of the Choctaw Nation (in Oklahoma) and descendants to be secured from laws of U.S. states and territories forever.
5. U.S. will serve as protectorate of the Choctaw Nation.
6. Choctaw or party of Choctaws part of violent acts against the U.S. citizens or property will be delivered to the U.S. authorities.
7. Offenses against Choctaws and their property by U.S. citizens and other tribes will be examined and every possible degree of justice applied.
8. No harboring of U.S. fugitives with all expenses to capture him or her paid by the U.S.
9. Persons ordered from Choctaw Nation.
10. Traders require a written permit.
John Eaton was a close personal friend of Andrew Jackson. He was Secretary of War for the Jackson administration. Painted 1873 by Robert Weir.

11. Navigable streams will be free for Choctaws, U.S. post-offices will be established in the Choctaw Nation, and U.S. military posts and roads may be created.
12. Intruders will be removed from the Choctaw Nation. U.S. citizens stealing Choctaw property shall be returned and offender punished. Choctaw offending U.S. laws shall be given a fair and impartial trial.
13. U.S. agent appointed to the Choctaws every four years.
14. Choctaws may become U.S. citizens and are entitled to 640 acres (2.6 km2) of land (in Mississippi) with additional land for children.
15. Lands granted to the Choctaw chiefs (Greenwood LeFlore, Musholatubbee, and Nittucachee) with annuities granted to each of them.
16. Transportation in wagons and steamboats will be provided at the costs of the U.S. Ample food will be provided during the removal and 12 months after reaching the new homes. Reimbursements will be provided for cattle left in Mississippi Territory.
17. Annuities to Choctaws to continue from other treaties. Additional payments after removal.
18. Choctaw Country to be surveyed
19. Lands granted to I. Garland, Colonel Robert Cole, Tuppanahomer, John Pytchlynn, Charles Juzan, Johokebetubbe, Eaychahobia, and Ofehoma.
20. Improve the Choctaw condition with Education. Provide tools, weapons, and steel.
21. Choctaw Warriors who marched and fought in the army of U.S. General Wayne during the American Revolution and Northwest Indian War will receive an annuity.
22. Choctaw delegate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Unratified section

The following paragraph of the treaty was not ratified:

“WHEREAS the General Assembly of the State of Mississippi has extended the laws of said State to persons and property within the chartered limits of the same, and the President of the United States has said that he cannot protect the Choctaw people from the operation of these laws; Now therefore that the Choctaw may live under their own laws in peace with the United States and the State of Mississippi they have determined to sell their lands east of the Mississippi and have accordingly agreed to the following articles of treaty”.[9]

The main signatories included John Eaton, John Coffee, Greenwood Leflore, Musholatubbee, and Nittucachee. Nearly 200 other signatures are on the treaty.
Main article: Choctaw Trail of Tears
John R Coffee

After ceding nearly 11,000,000 acres (45,000 km2), the Choctaw emigrated in three stages: the first in the fall of 1831, the second in 1832 and the last in 1833.[10] The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was ratified by the U.S. Senate on February 25, 1831, and the President was anxious to make it a model of removal.[10] The chief George W. Harkins wrote a letter to the American people before the removals began.
“     It is with considerable diffidence that I attempt to address the American people, knowing and feeling sensibly my incompetency; and believing that your highly and well improved minds would not be well entertained by the address of a Choctaw. But having determined to emigrate west of the Mississippi river this fall, I have thought proper in bidding you farewell to make a few remarks expressive of my views, and the feelings that actuate me on the subject of our removal … We as Choctaws rather chose to suffer and be free, than live under the degrading influence of laws, which our voice could not be heard in their formation … Much as the state of Mississippi has wronged us, I cannot find in my heart any other sentiment than an ardent wish for her prosperity and happiness.     ”
— -George W. Harkins, George W. Harkins to the American People


Around 15,000 Choctaws left the old Choctaw Nation for the Indian Territory – much of the state of Oklahoma today.[1] The Choctaw word Oklahoma means “red people”.

Late twentieth-century estimates are that between 5,000–6,000 Choctaws remained in Mississippi in 1831 after the first removal.[1][8] For the next ten years they were objects of increasing legal conflict, harassment, and intimidation. The Choctaw describe their situation in 1849,

we have had our habitations torn down and burned, our fences destroyed, cattle turned into our fields and we ourselves have been scourged, manacled, fettered and otherwise personally abused, until by such treatment some of our best men have died.[1]

Joseph B. Cobb, a settler who moved to Mississippi from Georgia, described the Choctaw as having

no nobility or virtue at all, and in some respect he found blacks, especially native Africans, more interesting and admirable, the red man’s superior in every way. The Choctaw and Chickasaw, the tribes he knew best, were beneath contempt, that is, even worse than black slaves.[12]

The removals continued well into the early 20th century. In 1903, three hundred Mississippi Choctaws were persuaded to move to the Nation in Oklahoma. The Choctaw did not gain a delegate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representative. Greenwood LeFlore, a Choctaw leader, stayed in Mississippi, where he was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives and Senate.

The Choctaw Nation continued to thrive until Oklahoma was created as a state. Their government was dismantled under the Curtis Act, along with those of other Native American nations in the former Indian Territory, in order to permit the admission of Oklahoma as a state. Their communal lands were divided and allotted to individual households under the Dawes Act to increase assimilation as American-style farmers. The US declared communal land remaining after allotment to be surplus and sold it to American settlers. In the twentieth century, the Choctaw reorganized and were recognized by the government as the Choctaw Nation.

The descendants of the Choctaw who stayed in Mississippi reorganized themselves as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in 1945 and gained federal recognition.



Born on this day:

1709 – Jacques de Vaucanson, French engineer (d. 1782)
Jacques de Vaucanson (February 24, 1709 – November 21, 1782) was a French inventor and artist who was responsible for the creation of impressive and innovative automata and machines such as the first completely automated loom.

He was born in Grenoble, France in 1709 as Jacques Vaucanson (the particle “de” was later added to his name by the Académie des Sciences[1]). The tenth child, son of a glove-maker, he grew up poor, and in his youth he reportedly aspired to become a clockmaker. [2] He studied under the Jesuits and later joined the Order of the Minims in Lyon. It was his intention at the time to follow a course of religious studies, but he regained his interest in mechanical devices after meeting the surgeon Le Cat, from whom he would learn the details of anatomy. This new knowledge allowed him to develop his first mechanical devices that mimicked biological vital functions such as circulation, respiration, and digestion. [3]

Automaton inventor
At just 18 years of age, Vaucanson was given his own workshop in Lyon, and a grant from a nobleman to construct a set of machines. In that same year of 1727, there was a visit from one of the governing heads of Les Minimes. Vaucanson decided to make some androids. The automata would serve dinner and clear the tables for the visiting politicians. However one government official declared that he thought Vaucanson’s tendencies “profane”, and ordered that his workshop be destroyed.[4]

In 1737, Vaucanson built The Flute Player, a life-size figure of a shepherd that played the tabor and the pipe and had a repertoire of twelve songs. The figure’s fingers were not pliable enough to play the flute correctly, so Vaucanson had to glove the creation in skin. The following year, in early 1738, he presented his creation to the Académie des Sciences.[5] At the time, mechanical creatures were somewhat a fad in Europe, but most could be classified as toys, and de Vaucanson’s creations were recognized as being revolutionary in their mechanical lifelike sophistication.

Later that year, he created two additional automata, The Tambourine Player and The Digesting Duck, which is considered his masterpiece. The duck had over 400 moving parts in each wing alone, and could flap its wings, drink water, digest grain, and defecate.[6] Although Vaucanson’s duck supposedly demonstrated digestion accurately, his duck actually contained a hidden compartment of “digested food”, so that what the duck defecated was not the same as what it ate; the duck would eat a mixture of water and seed and excrete a mixture of bread crumbs and green dye that appeared to the onlooker indistinguishable from real excrement. Although such “frauds” were sometimes controversial, they were common enough because such scientific demonstrations needed to entertain the wealthy and powerful to attract their patronage. Vaucanson is credited as having invented the world’s first flexible rubber tube while in the process of building the duck’s intestines. Despite the revolutionary nature of his automata, he is said to have tired quickly of his creations and sold them in 1743.

His inventions brought him to the attention of Frederick II of Prussia, who sought to bring him to his court. Vaucanson refused, however, wishing to serve his own country.[7]

Government service
In 1741 he was appointed by Cardinal Fleury, chief minister of Louis XV, as inspector of the manufacture of silk in France. He was charged with undertaking reforms of the silk manufacturing process. At the time, the French weaving industry had fallen behind that of England and Scotland. Vaucanson promoted wide-ranging changes for automation of the weaving process. In 1745, he created the world’s first completely automated loom,[8] drawing on the work of Basile Bouchon and Jean Falcon. Vaucanson was trying to automate the French textile industry with punch cards- a technology that, as refined by Joseph-Marie Jacquard more than a half century later, would revolutionize weaving and, in the twentieth century, would be used to input data into computers and store information in binary form. His proposals were not well received by weavers, however, who pelted him with stones in the street[9] and many of his revolutionary ideas were largely ignored.

He invented several machine tools, such as the first fully documented, all metal slide rest lathe, around 1751 (Though Derry & Williams[10] place this invention around 1768). It was described in the Encyclopédie.

In 1746, he was made a member of the Académie des Sciences.[11]

Jacques de Vaucanson died in Paris in 1782. Vaucanson left a collection of his work as a bequest to Louis XVI. The collection would become the foundation of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in Paris. His original automata have all been lost. The flute player and the tambourine player were reportedly destroyed in the Revolution. His proposals for the automation of the weaving process, although ignored during his lifetime, were later perfected and implemented by Joseph Marie Jacquard, the creator of the Jacquard loom.

Lycee Vaucanson in Grenoble is named in his honor, and trains students for careers in engineering and technical fields.


1827 – Lydia Becker, English-French activist (d. 1890)
Lydia Ernestine Becker (24 February 1827 – 18 July 1890) was a leader in the early British suffrage movement, as well as an amateur scientist with interests in biology and astronomy. She is best remembered for founding and publishing the Women’s Suffrage Journal between 1870 and 1890.

Born in Cooper Street, Manchester, the oldest daughter of Hannibal Becker, whose father, Ernst Becker had emigrated from Ohrdruf in Thuringia. Becker was educated at home, like many girls at the time. Intellectually curious, she studied botany and astronomy, winning a gold medal for an 1862 scholarly paper on horticulture.[1] Five years later, she founded the Ladies’ Literary Society in Manchester. She began a correspondence with Charles Darwin and soon afterwards convinced him to send a paper to the society.[2][3][4] In the course of their correspondence, Becker sent a number of plant samples to Darwin from the fields surrounding Manchester.[5] She also forwarded Darwin a copy of her “little book”, Botany for Novices (1864).[6] Becker is one of a number of 19th-century women who contributed, often routinely, to Darwin’s scientific work.[7] Her correspondence and work alike suggest that Becker had a particular interest in bisexual and hermaphroditic plants which, perhaps, offered her powerful ‘natural’ evidence of radical, alternative sexual and social order.[8]

In autumn 1866 Becker attended the annual meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Social Science, where she was excited by a paper from Barbara Bodichon entitled “Reasons for the Enfranchisement of Women”. She dedicated herself to organising around the issue, and in January 1867 convened the first meeting of the Manchester Women’s Suffrage Committee, the first organisation of its kind in England.[9]

Several months later, a widowed shop owner, Lilly Maxwell, mistakenly appeared on the register of voters in Manchester. She was not the first but she was a good opportunity for publicity.[10] Becker visited Maxwell and escorted her to the polling station. The returning officer found Maxwell’s name on the list and allowed her to vote. Becker immediately began encouraging other women heads of households in the region to petition for their names to appear on the rolls. Their claims were presented in court by Sir John Coleridge and Richard Pankhurst in Chorlton v. Lings, but the case was dismissed.[11]

On 14 April 1868, the first public meeting of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. The three main speakers were Agnes Pochin, Anne Robinson and Becker.[12] Becker moved the resolution that women should be granted voting rights on the same terms as men.

Becker subsequently commenced a lecture tour of northern cities on behalf of the society. In June 1869, Becker and fellow campaigners were successful in securing the vote for women in municipal elections.[13] Having campaigned for the inclusion of women on school boards, in 1870 she was one of four women elected to the Manchester School Board on which she served until her death.[14] In the same year Becker and her friend Jessie Boucherett founded the Women’s Suffrage Journal and soon afterward began organising speaking tours of women – a rarity in Britain at the time.[15] At an 1874 speaking event in Manchester organised by Becker, fifteen-year-old Emmeline Pankhurst experienced her first public gathering in the name of women’s suffrage.[16]

The Journal was the most popular publication relating to women’s suffrage in 19th-century Britain. Roger Fulford, in his study of the movement Votes for Women: The Story of a Struggle, writes: “The history of the decades from 1860 to 1890 – so far as women’s suffrage is concerned – is the history of Miss Becker.”[17] The Journal published speeches from around the country, both within and outside of Parliament. Becker published her correspondence with her supporters and her opponents, notably in 1870, when she chastised the MP for Caernarvonshire after he voted against a proposal offering women the vote.[18]

In 1880, Becker and co-workers campaigned in the Isle of Man for the right of women to vote in the House of Keys elections. Unexpectedly, they were successful and they secured for women voting rights in the Isle of Man for the first time in the elections of March 1881.[19]

Becker differed from many early feminists in her disputation of essentialised femininity. Arguing there was no natural difference between the intellect of men and women, Becker was a vocal advocate of a non-gendered education system in Britain.[20] She also differed with many suffrage activists in arguing more strenuously for the voting rights of unmarried women. Women connected to husbands and stable sources of income, Becker believed, were less desperately in need of the vote than widows and single women. This attitude made her the target of frequent ridicule in newspaper commentary and editorial cartoons.[21]

In 1890 Becker visited the spa town of Aix-les-Bains, where she fell ill and died of diphtheria, aged 63.[20] Rather than continue publishing in her absence, the staff of the Women’s Suffrage Journal decided to cease production.





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On this day:

1455 – Traditional date for the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed with movable type.
Movable type (US English; moveable type in British English) is the system and technology of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual letters or punctuation) usually on the medium of paper.

The world’s first movable type printing press technology for printing paper books was made of ceramic porcelain china materials and invented in ancient China around AD 1040 by the Han Chinese innovator Bi Sheng (990–1051) during the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127).[1] In 1377, currently the oldest extant movable metal print book, Jikji, was printed using Chinese characters in the Goryeo dynasty of Korea. The diffusion of both movable-type systems was, however, limited.[2] They were expensive, and required a high amount of labor involved in manipulating the thousands of ceramic tablets or metal tablets, required for scripts based on the ancient Chinese writing script, which has thousands of characters.[3] Around 1450 Johannes Gutenberg made another version of a metal movable-type printing press in Europe, along with innovations in casting the type based on a matrix and hand mould. The more limited number of characters needed for European languages was an important factor.[4] Gutenberg was the first to create his type pieces from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony—and these materials remained standard for 550 years.[5]

For alphabetic scripts, movable-type page setting was quicker than woodblock printing. The metal type pieces were more durable and the lettering was more uniform, leading to typography and fonts. The high quality and relatively low price of the Gutenberg Bible (1455) established the superiority of movable type in Europe and the use of printing presses spread rapidly. The printing press may be regarded as one of the key factors fostering the Renaissance[6] and due to its effectiveness, its use spread around the globe.

The 19th-century invention of hot metal typesetting and its successors caused movable type to decline in the 20th century.


1903 – Cuba leases Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”.


Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, also known as Naval Station Guantanamo Bay or NSGB, (also called GTMO because of the airfield designation code or Gitmo because of the common pronunciation of this code by the U.S. military[1]) is a United States military base located on 45 square miles (120 km2) of land and water at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which the US leased for use as a coaling and naval station in 1903 (for $2,000 per year until 1934, when it was increased to $4,085 per year). The base is on the shore of Guantánamo Bay at the southeastern end of Cuba. It is the oldest overseas U.S. Naval Base.[2] Since the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Cuban government has consistently protested against the U.S. presence on Cuban soil and called it illegal under international law, alleging that the base was imposed on Cuba by force. At the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2013, Cuba’s Foreign Minister demanded the U.S. return the base and the “usurped territory”, which the Cuban government considers to be occupied since the U.S. invasion of Cuba during the Spanish–American War in 1898.[3][4][5][6][7]

Since 2002, the naval base has contained a military prison, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, for unlawful combatants captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places during the War on Terror.[8] Cases of torture of prisoners,[9] and their alleged denial of protection under the Geneva Conventions, have been condemned internationally.[10][11]


Born on this day:

1583 – Jean-Baptiste Morin, French mathematician, astrologer, and astronomer (d. 1656)
For the 18th-century French composer, see Jean-Baptiste Morin (composer). For the Canadian politician, see Jean-Baptiste Morin (politician).

Jean-Baptiste Morin (February 23, 1583 – November 6, 1656), also known by the Latinized name as Morinus, was a French mathematician, astrologer, and astronomer.
Life and work

Born in Villefranche-sur-Saône, in the Beaujolais, he began studying philosophy at Aix-en-Provence at the age of 16. He studied medicine at Avignon in 1611 and received his medical degree two years later. He was employed by the Bishop of Boulogne from 1613 to 1621 and was sent to Germany and Hungary during this time. He served the bishop as an astrologer and also visited mines and studied metals. He subsequently worked for the Duke of Luxembourg until 1629. Morin published a defense of Aristotle in 1624. He also worked in the field of optics, and continued to study in astrology. He worked with Pierre Gassendi on observational astronomy.

In 1630, Morin was appointed professor of mathematics at the Collège Royal, a post he held until his death.

A firm believer of the idea that the Earth remained fixed in space, Morin is best known for being an opponent of Galileo and the latter’s ideas. He continued his attacks after the Trial of Galileo. Morin seems to have been a rather contentious figure, as he also attacked Descartes’ ideas after meeting the philosopher in 1638. These disputes isolated Morin from the scientific community at large.

Morin believed that improved methods of solving spherical triangles had to be found and that better lunar tables were needed.
Morin and longitude

Morin attempted to solve the longitude problem. In 1634, he proposed his solution, based on measuring absolute time by the position of the Moon relative to the stars. His method was a variation of the lunar distance method first put forward by Johann Werner in 1514. Morin added some improvements to this method, such as better scientific instruments and taking lunar parallax into account. Morin did not believe that Gemma Frisius’ transporting clock method for calculating out longitude would work. Morin, unfailingly irascible, remarked, “I do not know if the Devil will succeed in making a longitude timekeeper but it is folly for man to try.”[1]

A prize was to be awarded, so a committee was set up by Richelieu to evaluate Morin’s proposal. Serving on this committee were Étienne Pascal, Claude Mydorge, and Pierre Hérigone. The committee remained in dispute with Morin for the five years after he made his proposal. Morin refused to listen to objections to his proposal, which was considered impractical. In his attempts to convince the committee members, Morin proposed that an observatory be set up in order to provide accurate lunar data. He wrangled with the committee for five years.

In 1645, Cardinal Mazarin, Richelieu’s successor, awarded Morin a pension of 2,000 livres for his work on the longitude problem.
Morin and astrology

Perhaps most famous for his work as an astrologer, towards the end of his life Morin completed Astrologia Gallica (“French Astrology”), a treatise which he did not live to see in print. The 26 books of intricate, complex, Latin text were published at the Hague in 1661 as one thick folio 850 pages long. The work covers natal, judicial, mundane, electional and meteorological astrology, and parts that are most concerned with astrological techniques (as compared to theological discussion on which they are based) have been translated or paraphrased into French, Spanish, German, and English.

At least among English-speaking astrologers, Morin is known as having been particularly concerned with prediction through methodical extrapolation of what is promised in the natal chart. His techniques were directions, solar and lunar return, and he regarded transits a subsidiary technique though one key to accurate timing of events nonetheless.

Morin challenged much of classical astrological theory, including the astrology of Ptolemy, in an attempt to present a solid set of tools while rendering reasons for and against particular techniques, some of which may be considered crucial to many astrologers before and during Morin’s lifetime. At the same time, Morin vested himself heavily in promoting in mundo directions, a technique largely based on the work of Regiomontanus that became available thanks to then-recent advancement in mathematics. In his work, Morin provides examples of successful delineation of events that otherwise could not be delineated with the same relative degree of certainty.

Morin’s life has been that of trial and tribulation by his own testament. He died in Paris of natural causes at 73 years of age.
1868 – W. E. B. Du Bois, American sociologist, historian, and activist (d. 1963)
William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois (pronounced /duːˈbɔɪz/ doo-BOYZ; February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, and editor. Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois grew up in a relatively tolerant and integrated community. After completing graduate work at the University of Berlin and Harvard, where he was the first African American to earn a doctorate, he became a professor of history, sociology and economics at Atlanta University. Du Bois was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
Du Bois rose to national prominence as the leader of the Niagara Movement, a group of African-American activists who wanted equal rights for blacks. Du Bois and his supporters opposed the Atlanta compromise, an agreement crafted by Booker T. Washington which provided that Southern blacks would work and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic educational and economic opportunities. Instead, Du Bois insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite. He referred to this group as the Talented Tenth and believed that African Americans needed the chances for advanced education to develop its leadership.

Racism was the main target of Du Bois’s polemics, and he strongly protested against lynching, Jim Crow laws, and discrimination in education and employment. His cause included people of color everywhere, particularly Africans and Asians in colonies. He was a proponent of Pan-Africanism and helped organize several Pan-African Congresses to fight for independence of African colonies from European powers. Du Bois made several trips to Europe, Africa and Asia. After World War I, he surveyed the experiences of American black soldiers in France and documented widespread bigotry in the United States military.

Du Bois was a prolific author. His collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, was a seminal work in African-American literature; and his 1935 magnum opus Black Reconstruction in America challenged the prevailing orthodoxy that blacks were responsible for the failures of the Reconstruction Era. He wrote one of the first scientific treatises in the field of American sociology, and he published three autobiographies, each of which contains insightful essays on sociology, politics and history. In his role as editor of the NAACP’s journal The Crisis, he published many influential pieces. Du Bois believed that capitalism was a primary cause of racism, and he was generally sympathetic to socialist causes throughout his life. He was an ardent peace activist and advocated nuclear disarmament. The United States’ Civil Rights Act, embodying many of the reforms for which Du Bois had campaigned his entire life, was enacted a year after his death.



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On this day:

1632 – Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is published.
The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo) is a 1632 Italian-language book by Galileo Galilei comparing the Copernican system with the traditional Ptolemaic system. It was translated into Latin as Systema cosmicum[1] (English: Cosmic System) in 1635 by Matthias Bernegger.[2] The book was dedicated to Galileo’s patron, Ferdinando II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who received the first printed copy on February 22, 1632.[3]

In the Copernican system, the Earth and other planets orbit the Sun, while in the Ptolemaic system, everything in the Universe circles around the Earth. The Dialogue was published in Florence under a formal license from the Inquisition. In 1633, Galileo was found to be “vehemently suspect of heresy” based on the book, which was then placed on the Index of Forbidden Books, from which it was not removed until 1835 (after the theories it discussed had been permitted in print in 1822).[4] In an action that was not announced at the time, the publication of anything else he had written or ever might write was also banned in Catholic countries.[5]


While writing the book, Galileo referred to it as his Dialogue on the Tides, and when the manuscript went to the Inquisition for approval, the title was Dialogue on the Ebb and Flow of the Sea. He was ordered to remove all mention of tides from the title and to change the preface because granting approval to such a title would look like approval of his theory of the tides using the motion of the Earth as proof. As a result, the formal title on the title page is Dialogue, which is followed by Galileo’s name, academic posts, and followed by a long subtitle. The name by which the work is now known was extracted by the printer from the description on the title page when permission was given to reprint it with an approved preface by a Catholic theologian in 1744.[6] This must be kept in mind when discussing Galileo’s motives for writing the book. Although the book is presented formally as a consideration of both systems (as it needed to be in order to be published at all), there is no question that the Copernican side gets the better of the argument.[7]

The book is presented as a series of discussions, over a span of four days, among two philosophers and a layman:

Salviati argues for the Copernican position and presents some of Galileo’s views directly, calling him the “Academician” in honor of Galileo’s membership in the Accademia dei Lincei. He is named after Galileo’s friend Filippo Salviati (1582–1614).
Sagredo is an intelligent layman who is initially neutral. He is named after Galileo’s friend Giovanni Francesco Sagredo (1571–1620).
Simplicio, a dedicated follower of Ptolemy and Aristotle, presents the traditional views and the arguments against the Copernican position. He is supposedly named after Simplicius of Cilicia, a sixth-century commentator on Aristotle, but it was suspected the name was a double entendre, as the Italian for “simple” (as in “simple minded”) is “semplice”.[8] Simplicio is modeled on two contemporary conservative philosophers, Lodovico delle Colombe (Italian) (1565–1616?), Galileo’s fiercest detractor, and Cesare Cremonini (1550–1631), a Paduan colleague who had refused to look through the telescope.[9] Colombe was the leader of a group of Florentine opponents of Galileo’s, which some of the latter’s friends referred to as “the pigeon league”.[10]


The discussion is not narrowly limited to astronomical topics, but ranges over much of contemporary science. Some of this is to show what Galileo considered good science, such as the discussion of William Gilbert’s work on magnetism. Other parts are important to the debate, answering erroneous arguments against the Earth’s motion.

A classic argument against earth motion is the lack of speed sensations of the earth surface, though it moves, by the earth’s rotation, at about 1700 km/h at the equator. In this category there is a thought experiment in which a man is below decks on a ship and cannot tell whether the ship is docked or is moving smoothly through the water: he observes water dripping from a bottle, fish swimming in a tank, butterflies flying, and so on; and their behavior is just the same whether the ship is moving or not. This is a classic exposition of the Inertial frame of reference and refutes the objection that if we were moving hundreds of kilometres an hour as the Earth rotated, anything that one dropped would rapidly fall behind and drift to the west.

The bulk of Galileo’s arguments may be divided into three classes:

Rebuttals to the objections raised by traditional philosophers; for example, the thought experiment on the ship.
Observations that are incompatible with the Ptolemaic model: the phases of Venus, for instance, which simply couldn’t happen, or the apparent motions of sunspots, which could only be explained in the Ptolemaic or Tychonic systems as resulting from an implausibly complicated precession of the Sun’s axis of rotation.[11]
Arguments showing that the elegant unified theory of the Heavens that the philosophers held, which was believed to prove that the Earth was stationary, was incorrect; for instance, the mountains of the Moon, the moons of Jupiter, and the very existence of sunspots, none of which was part of the old astronomy.

Generally, these arguments have held up well in terms of the knowledge of the next four centuries. Just how convincing they ought to have been to an impartial reader in 1632 remains a contentious issue.

Galileo attempted a fourth class of argument:

Direct physical argument for the Earth’s motion, by means of an explanation of tides.

As an account of the causation of tides or a proof of the Earth’s motion, it is a failure. The fundamental argument is internally inconsistent and actually leads to the conclusion that tides do not exist. But, Galileo was fond of the argument and devoted the “Fourth Day” of the discussion to it.

The degree of its failure is—like nearly anything having to do with Galileo—a matter of controversy. On the one hand, the whole thing has recently been described in print as “cockamamie.”[12] On the other hand, Einstein used a rather different description:

It was Galileo’s longing for a mechanical proof of the motion of the earth which misled him into formulating a wrong theory of the tides. The fascinating arguments in the last conversation would hardly have been accepted as proof by Galileo, had his temperament not got the better of him. [Emphasis added][13][14]



Born on this day:

1796 – Adolphe Quetelet, Belgian mathematician, astronomer, and sociologist (d. 1874)
Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet (French: [kətlɛ]; 22 February 1796 – 17 February 1874) ForMemRS[2] was a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician and sociologist. He founded and directed the Brussels Observatory and was influential in introducing statistical methods to the social sciences. His name is sometimes spelled with an accent as Quételet.[3][4] He developed the body mass index scale.

Adolphe was born in Ghent (which, at the time was a part of the new French Republic), the son of François-Augustin-Jacques-Henri Quetelet, a Frenchman and Anne Françoise Vandervelde, a Flemish woman. His father, François, was born at Ham, Picardy, and being of a somewhat adventurous spirit, he crossed the English Channel and became both a British citizen and the secretary of a Scottish nobleman. In that capacity, he traveled with his employer on the Continent, particularly spending time in Italy. At about 31, he settled in Ghent and was employed by the city, where Adolphe was born the fifth of nine children, several of whom died in childhood.

Francois died when Adolphe was only seven years old. Adolphe studied at the Ghent lycée, where he started teaching mathematics in 1815 at the age of 19. In 1819 he moved to the Athenaeum in Brussels and in the same year he completed his dissertation (De quibusdam locis geometricis, necnon de curva focal – Of some new properties of the focal distance and some other curves).

Quetelet received a doctorate in mathematics in 1819 from the University of Ghent. Shortly thereafter, the young man set out to convince government officials and private donors to build an astronomical observatory in Brussels; he succeeded in 1828. He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1820. He lectured at the museum for sciences and letters and at the Belgian Military School. In 1825 he became correspondent of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands, in 1827 he became member. From 1841 to 1851 he was supernumerair’ associate in the Institute, and when it became Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences he became foreign member.[5] In 1850, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Quetelet also founded several statistical journals and societies, and was especially interested in creating international cooperation among statisticians. He encouraged the creation of a statistical section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA), which later became the Royal Statistical Society, of which he became the first overseas member.

In 1855 Quetelet suffered from apoplexy, which diminished but did not end his scientific activity. He died in Brussels on 17 February 1874, and is buried in the Brussels Cemetery.

His scientific research encompassed a wide range of different scientific disciplines: meteorology, astronomy, mathematics, statistics, demography, sociology, criminology and history of science. He made significant contributions to scientific development, but he also wrote several monographs directed to the general public. He founded the Royal Observatory of Belgium, founded or co-founded several national and international statistical societies and scientific journals, and presided over the first series of the International Statistical Congresses. Quetelet was a liberal and an anticlerical, but not an atheist or materialist nor a socialist.
Social physics

The new science of probability and statistics was mainly used in astronomy at the time, where it was essential to account for measurement errors around means. This was done using the method of least squares. Quetelet was among the first to apply statistics to social science, planning what he called “social physics”. He was keenly aware of the overwhelming complexity of social phenomena, and the many variables that needed measurement. His goal was to understand the statistical laws underlying such phenomena as crime rates, marriage rates or suicide rates. He wanted to explain the values of these variables by other social factors. These ideas were rather controversial among other scientists at the time who held that it contradicted the concept of freedom of choice.

His most influential book was Sur l’homme et le développement de ses facultés, ou Essai de physique sociale, published in 1835 (In English translation, it is titled Treatise on Man, but a literal translation would be “On Man and the Development of his Faculties, or Essays on Social Physics”). In it, he outlines the project of a social physics and describes his concept of the “average man” (l’homme moyen) who is characterized by the mean values of measured variables that follow a normal distribution. He collected data about many such variables.

When Auguste Comte discovered that Quetelet had appropriated the term ‘social physics’, which Comte had originally introduced, Comte found it necessary to invent the term ‘sociologie’ (sociology) because he disagreed with Quetelet’s collection of statistics.

Quetelet was an influential figure in criminology. Along with Andre-Michel Guerry, he helped to establish the cartographic school and positivist schools of criminology which made extensive use of statistical techniques. Through statistical analysis, Quetelet gained insight into the relationships between crime and other social factors. Among his findings were strong relationships between age and crime, as well as gender and crime. Other influential factors he found included climate, poverty, education, and alcohol consumption, with his research findings published in Of the Development of the Propensity to Crime.[6]

In his 1835 text on social physics, in which he presented his theory of human variance around the average, with human traits being distributed according to a normal curve, he proposed that normal variation provided a basis for the idea that populations produce sufficient variation for artificial or natural selection to operate.[7]

In terms of influence over later public health agendas, one of Quetelet’s lasting legacies was the establishment of a simple measure for classifying people’s weight relative to an ideal for their height. His proposal, the body mass index (or Quetelet index), has endured with minor variations to the present day.[8] Anthropometric data is used in modern applications and referenced in the development of every consumer-based product.




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