On This Day
1853 – Gadsden Purchase: The United States buys land from Mexico to facilitate railroad building in the Southwest.
The Gadsden Purchase (known in Mexico as Spanish: Venta de La Mesilla, “Sale of La Mesilla”) is a 29,670-square-mile (76,800 km2) region of present-day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico that the United States purchased via a treaty that took effect on June 8, 1854. The first draft was signed on December 30, 1853, by James Gadsden, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and by Antonio López de Santa Anna, president of Mexico. The U.S. Senate voted in favor of ratifying it with amendments on April 25, 1854, and then transmitted it to President Franklin Pierce. Mexico’s government and its General Congress or Congress of the Union took final approval action on June 8, 1854, when the treaty took effect. The purchase was the last substantial territorial acquisition in the contiguous United States. The U.S. sought the land as a better route for the construction of the southern transcontinental railway line, and the financially-strapped government of Santa Anna agreed to the sale, which netted Mexico $10 million (equivalent to $270 million in 2017). After the devastating loss of Mexican territory to the U.S. in the Mexican–American War (1846–48) and the continued filibustering by U.S. citizens, Santa Anna may have calculated it was better to yield territory by treaty and receive payment rather than have the territory simply seized by the U.S.
The purchase included lands south of the Gila River and west of the Rio Grande which the U.S. needed to build a transcontinental railroad along a deep southern route, which the Southern Pacific Railroad later completed in 1881–1883. The purchase also aimed to resolve border issues.
Born On This Day
1924 – Yvonne Brill, Canadian-American propulsion engineer (d. 2013)
Yvonne Madelaine Brill (née Claeys; December 30, 1924 – March 27, 2013) was a Canadian-American rocket and jet propulsion engineer. During her career she was involved in a broad range of national space programs in the United States, including NASA and the International Maritime Satellite Organization.
Brill was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her parents were immigrants from Belgium. She attended the University of Manitoba, but was barred from studying engineering because of her gender, so she studied chemistry and mathematics.
Brill’s work in satellite propulsion systems resulted in a number of significant developments. She developed the concept for a new rocket engine, the hydrazine resistojet, and she proposed the use of a single propellant because of the value and simplicity that it would provide. Her invention resulted in not only higher engine performance but also increased reliability of the propulsion system. The reduction in propellant weight requirements enabled either increased payload capability or extended mission life.
Brill invented the hydrazine resistojet propulsion system in 1967 for which she holds U.S. Patent No. 3,807,657. Her invention became a standard in the industry, and has translated into millions of dollars of increased revenue for commercial communications satellite owners.
Brill contributed to the propulsion systems of TIROS, the first weather satellite; Nova, a series of rocket designs that were used in American moon missions; Explorer 32, the first upper-atmosphere satellite; and the Mars Observer, which in 1992 almost entered a Mars orbit before losing communication with Earth.
Awards and honors
Brill was awarded the AIAA Wyld Propulsion Award (2002) and the American Association of Engineering Societies John Fritz Medal (2009). In 1980, Harper’s Bazaar and the DeBeers Corporation gave her their Diamond Superwoman award for returning to a successful career after starting a family. In 2001 she was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. In 2011 President Barack Obama presented her with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
She was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1987. She was named fellow of The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in 1985 and received its highest honor, the Achievement Award, the following year.
The Yvonne C. Brill Lectureship of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is named in her honor and presented annually.
A longtime resident of the Skillman section of Montgomery Township, New Jersey, United States, Brill died of complications of breast cancer in Princeton, New Jersey.
An obituary of Brill published in the March 30, 2013 issue of the New York Times originally began: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children”. The obituary was heavily criticized for leading with and overemphasizing Brill’s gender and family life, rather than her scientific and career accomplishments and was cited as an example of an article that failed the Finkbeiner test. The Times later dropped the reference to her cooking and changed the lead of the article.
Nancy Grace Roman (May 16, 1925 – December 25, 2018) was an American astronomer who was one of the first female executives at NASA. She is known to many as the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. Throughout her career, Roman was also an active public speaker and educator, and an advocate for women in the sciences.
Her breakthrough role was a lead in the radio comedy Take It from Here from 1953. Television soon followed, including appearances with Tony Hancock throughout his television career. In 1966, Whitfield played the leading role in the television sitcom Beggar My Neighbour which ran for three series. She also appeared in four Carry On films: Nurse (1959), Abroad (1972), Girls (1973) and Columbus (1992).
In 1968 June Whitfield and Terry Scott began their long television partnership, which peaked with roles as husband and wife in Happy Ever After (1974–78) and Terry and June (1979–87). From 1992 Whitfield appeared in Jennifer Saunders’s sitcom Absolutely Fabulous playing Edina Monsoon’s mother. She played a regular character in Last of the Summer Wine as well as a recurring character in The Green Green Grass. She also played Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple on BBC Radio 4 between 1993 and 2001.
Toshiko Fujita (藤田 淑子 Fujita Toshiko, April 5, 1950 – December 28, 2018) was a Japanese actress, voice actress, singer and narrator. She worked at Aoni Production.
Ringo Lam Ling-Tung (simplified Chinese: 林岭东; traditional Chinese: 林嶺東; pinyin: Lín Lǐngdōng, Cantonese: Lam Ling-tung) was a Hong Kong film director, producer, and screenwriter. Born in Hong Kong in 1955, Lam initially went to an acting school. After finding he preferred making films to acting, he went to Canada to study film. In 1983, he returned and began filming comedy films. After the commercial success of his film Aces Go Places IV, he was allowed to develop his own film. Lam directed City on Fire in 1987, which led him to winning his first Hong Kong Film Award, and has been extensively referenced as the fundamental inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s first film, Reservoir Dogs.
Lam followed up City on Fire with other similar films that shared a dark view of Hong Kong society. Many of these films starred Chow Yun Fat. In 1996, Lam made his first American film, Maximum Risk starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Lam would continue working on film productions in both Hong Kong and two more American productions with Jean-Claude Van Damme until 2003. Lam’s final directorial effort was directing one third of the portmanteau film Triangle along with Tsui Hark and Johnnie To. In 2014, it was announced that Lam was working on a new feature film. Lam died at his home on December 29, 2018.
Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Ursula K. Le Guin on creativity and integrity in a market society, John Muir on the transcendent interconnectedness of nature, and more
Open Culture Josh Jones: Public Domain Day Is Coming: On January 1st, 2019, Copyrighted Works Will Enter the Public Domain for the First Time in 21 Years
Open Culture Colin Marshall: NASA Creates Movie Parody Posters for Its Expedition Flights: Download Parodies of Metropolis, The Matrix, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and More
Widget not in any sidebars
Widget not in any sidebars
Widget not in any sidebars