FYI May 11 & 12, 2021

On This Day

868 – A copy of the Diamond Sutra is printed in China, making it the oldest known dated printed book.[2]
The Diamond Sutra (Sanskrit: वज्रच्छेदिकाप्रज्ञापारमितासूत्र, romanized: Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra) is a Mahāyāna (Buddhist) sutra from the genre of Prajñāpāramitā (‘perfection of wisdom’) sutras. Translated into a variety of languages over a broad geographic range, the Diamond Sūtra is one of the most influential Mahayana sutras in East Asia, and it is particularly prominent within the Chan (or Zen) tradition,[1] along with the Heart Sutra.

A copy of the Tang-dynasty Chinese version of the Diamond Sūtra was found among the Dunhuang manuscripts in 1900 by Daoist monk Wang Yuanlu and sold to Aurel Stein in 1907.[2] They are dated back to 11 May 868.[3] It is, in the words of the British Library, “the earliest dated printed book”.[4]

It is also the first known creative work with an explicit public-domain dedication, as its colophon at the end states that it was created “for universal free distribution”.[5]


1743 – Maria Theresa of Austria is crowned Queen of Bohemia after defeating her rival, Charles VII, Holy Roman Emperor.
Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (German: Maria Theresia; 13 May 1717 – 29 November 1780) was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions, ruling from 1740 until her death in 1780. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Transylvania, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands, and Parma. By marriage, she was Duchess of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Holy Roman Empress.

Maria Theresa started her 40-year reign when her father, Emperor Charles VI, died in October 1740. Charles VI paved the way for her accession with the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 and spent his entire reign securing it. He neglected the advice of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who believed that a strong military and a rich treasury were more important than mere signatures. Eventually, Charles VI left behind a weakened and impoverished state, particularly due to the War of the Polish Succession and the Russo-Turkish War (1735–1739). Moreover, upon his death, Saxony, Prussia, Bavaria, and France all repudiated the sanction they had recognised during his lifetime. Frederick II of Prussia (who became Maria Theresa’s greatest rival for most of her reign) promptly invaded and took the affluent Habsburg province of Silesia in the seven-year conflict known as the War of the Austrian Succession. In defiance of the grave situation, she managed to secure the vital support of the Hungarians for the war effort. During the course of the war, Maria Theresa successfully defended her rule over most of the Habsburg Monarchy, apart from the loss of Silesia and a few minor territories in Italy. Maria Theresa later unsuccessfully tried to recover Silesia during the Seven Years’ War.

Though she was expected to cede power to her husband, Emperor Francis I, and her eldest son, Emperor Joseph II, who were officially her co-rulers in Austria and Bohemia, Maria Theresa was the absolute sovereign who ruled with the counsel of her advisers. Maria Theresa promulgated institutional, financial, medical and educational reforms, with the assistance of Wenzel Anton of Kaunitz-Rietberg, Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz and Gerard van Swieten. She also promoted commerce and the development of agriculture, and reorganised Austria’s ramshackle military, all of which strengthened Austria’s international standing. However, she despised the Jews and the Protestants, and on certain occasions she ordered their expulsion to remote parts of the realm. She also advocated for the state church and refused to allow religious pluralism. Consequently, her regime was criticized as intolerant by some contemporaries.


Born On This Day

1902 – Edna Ernestine Kramer, American mathematician (d. 1984)[59]
Edna Ernestine Kramer Lassar (May 11, 1902 – July 9, 1984), born Edna Ernestine Kramer, was an American mathematician and author of mathematics books.

Kramer was born in Manhattan to Jewish immigrants.[1] She earned her B.A. summa cum laude in mathematics from Hunter College in 1922.[2] While teaching at local high schools, she earned her M.A. in 1925 and Ph.D. in 1930 in mathematics (with a minor in physics) from Columbia University with Edward Kasner as her advisor.

She married the French teacher Benedict Taxier Lassar on July 2, 1935.

Kramer died at the age of 82 in Manhattan of Parkinson’s disease.

The Main Stream of Mathematics [sic] (1951)
The Nature and Growth of Modern Mathematics (1970)

1910 – Dorothy Hodgkin, English biochemist, crystallographer, and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1994)
Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin OM FRS HonFRSC[10][11] (née Crowfoot; 12 May 1910 – 29 July 1994) was a Nobel Prize-winning British chemist who advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of biomolecules, which became an essential tool in structural biology.[10][12]

Among her most influential discoveries are the confirmation of the structure of penicillin as previously surmised by Edward Abraham and Ernst Boris Chain; and the structure of vitamin B12, for which in 1964 she became the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Hodgkin also elucidated the structure of insulin in 1969 after 35 years of work.[13]

Hodgkin used the name “Dorothy Crowfoot” until twelve years after marrying Thomas Lionel Hodgkin, when she began using “Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin”. For simplicity’s sake, Hodgkin is referred to as “Dorothy Hodgkin” by the Royal Society (when referring to its sponsorship of the Dorothy Hodgkin fellowship), and by Somerville College. The National Archives of the United Kingdom refer to her as “Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin”.



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