1949 – U.S. President Harry S. Truman signs the National Security Act Amendment, streamlining the defense agencies of the United States government, and replacing the Department of War with the United States Department of Defense.
The National Security Act of 1947 was a major restructuring of the United States government’s military and intelligence agencies following World War II. The majority of the provisions of the Act took effect on September 18, 1947, the day after the Senate confirmed James Forrestal as the first Secretary of Defense.
The Act merged the Department of War (renamed as the Department of the Army) and the Department of the Navy into the National Military Establishment (NME), headed by the Secretary of Defense. It also created the Department of the Air Force and the United States Air Force, which separated the Army Air Forces into its own service. It also protected the Marine Corps as an independent service, under the Department of the Navy.
Aside from the military reorganization, the act established the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S.’s first peacetime non-military intelligence agency.
The National Security Act of 1947 was a major restructuring of the United States government’s military and intelligence agencies following World War II. The act and its changes, along with the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, were major components of the Truman administration’s Cold War strategy. The bill signing took place aboard Truman’s VC-54C presidential aircraft Sacred Cow, the first aircraft used for the role of Air Force One.
The majority of the provisions of the Act took effect on September 18, 1947, the day after the Senate confirmed James Forrestal as the first Secretary of Defense. His power was initially limited and it was difficult for him to exercise the authority to make his office effective. This was later changed in the amendment to the act in 1949, creating what was to be the Department of Defense.
The Act merged the Department of War (renamed as the Department of the Army) and the Department of the Navy into the National Military Establishment (NME), headed by the Secretary of Defense. It also created the Department of the Air Force, which separated the Army Air Forces into its own service. It also protected the Marine Corps as an independent service, under the Department of the Navy. Initially, each of the three service secretaries maintained quasi-cabinet status, but the act was amended on August 10, 1949, to ensure their subordination to the Secretary of Defense. At the same time, the NME was renamed as the Department of Defense. The purpose was to unify the Army, Navy, and Air Force into a federated structure. The Joint Chiefs of Staff was officially established under Title II, Section 211 of the original National Security Act of 1947 before Sections 209–214 of Title II were repealed by the law enacting Title 10 and Title 32, United States Code (Act of August 10, 1956, 70A Stat. 676) to replace them.
Aside from the military reorganization, the act established the National Security Council, a central place of coordination for national security policy in the executive branch, and the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S.’s first peacetime intelligence agency. The council’s function was to advise the president on domestic, foreign, and military policies, and to ensure cooperation between the various military and intelligence agencies.
1856 – William Willett, English inventor, founded British Summer Time (d. 1915)
William Willett (10 August 1856 – 4 March 1915) was a British builder and a tireless promoter of British Summer Time.
Willett was born in Farnham, Surrey, in the United Kingdom, and educated at the Philological School. After some commercial experience, he entered his father’s building business, Willett Building Services. Between them they created a reputation for “Willett built” quality houses in choice parts of London and the south, including Chelsea and Hove, including Derwent House. He lived most of his life in Chislehurst, Kent, where, it is said, after riding his horse in Petts Wood near his home early one summer morning and noticing how many blinds were still down, the idea for daylight saving time first occurred to him.
This was not the first time that the idea of adapting to daylight hours had been mooted, however. It was common practice in the ancient world, and Benjamin Franklin’s light-hearted 1784 satire resulted in resurrecting the idea. Although Franklin’s facetious suggestion was simply that people should get up earlier in summer, he is often erroneously attributed as the inventor of DST while Willett is often ignored. Modern DST was first proposed by New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson, although many publications incorrectly credit Willett.
Using his own financial resources, in 1907 William published a pamphlet “The Waste of Daylight”. In it he proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in four incremental steps during April and reversed the same way during September. The evenings would then remain light for longer, increasing daylight recreation time and also saving £2.5 million in lighting costs. He suggested that the clocks should be advanced by 20 minutes at a time at 2 am on successive Sundays in April and be retarded in September.
Through vigorous campaigning, by 1908 Willett had managed to gain the support of a member of parliament (MP), Robert Pearce, who made several unsuccessful attempts to get it passed into law. A young Winston Churchill promoted it for a time, and the idea was examined again by a parliamentary select committee in 1909 but again nothing was done. The outbreak of the First World War made the issue more important primarily because of the need to save coal. Germany had already introduced the scheme when the bill was finally passed in Britain on 17 May 1916 and the clocks were advanced by an hour on the following Sunday, 21 May, enacted as a wartime production-boosting device under the Defence of the Realm Act. It was subsequently adopted in many other countries.
William Willett did not live to see daylight saving become law, as he died of influenza in 1915 at the age of 58. He is commemorated in Petts Wood by a memorial sundial, set permanently to daylight saving time. The Daylight Inn in Petts Wood is named in his honour and the road Willett Way. His house in Bromley is marked with a blue plaque. He is buried in St Nicholas’ Churchyard, Chislehurst, although a memorial to his family stands in the churchyard at St Wulfran’s Church, Ovingdean, in Brighton and Hove.
William Willett married twice:
Firstly in 1879 Sussex to Maria Mills (1858–1905), with issue:
Gertrude Maria Willett (1881–)
Constance Muriel Willett (1882–1937), married Rev Charles Inchbald Radford (1871–1944)
Herbert William M. Willett (1884–1917)
Cicely Gwendoline Willett (1887–)
Dorothy Ermyntrude Willett (1890–)
Gladys Evelyn Willett (1892–)
Basil Rupert Willett (1896–1966)
Secondly in 1910 Christchurch to Florence Mary A. Strickland (born Florence Rose Stickland [sic], Fishbourne, Isle of Wight 1883–), with issue:
Joan I. Willett (1911–)
Willett is a great-great-grandfather of Coldplay singer Chris Martin.
The most beautiful theory of all
A century ago Albert Einstein changed the way humans saw the universe. His work is still offering new insights today
“ALFRED, it’s spinning.” Roy Kerr, a New Zealand-born physicist in his late 20s, had, for half an hour, been chain-smoking his way through some fiendish mathematics. Alfred Schild, his boss at the newly built Centre for Relativity at the University of Texas, had sat and watched. Now, having broken the silence, Kerr put down his pencil. He had been searching for a new solution to Albert Einstein’s equations of general relativity, and at last he could see in his numbers and symbols a precise description of how space-time — the four-dimensional universal fabric those equations describe — could be wrapped into a spinning ball. He had found what he was looking for.
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