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Archive for December, 2010

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Mother Teresa arrives in Calcutta

Posted in Anniversary, Medicine on Sunday, 26 December 2010

picture, Mother Teresa, Calcutta, India, charity

Mother Teresa, famed for helping the poor of India. Illustration by Harry Green

6  January marks the anniversary of the arrival of Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India, in 1929. She was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Uskub (now Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia) in 1910, the youngest of an Albanian family. She joined the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary at the age of 18 and learned English in Ireland before travelling to India and learning Bengali.

She became increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta, especially the famines of 1943 and outbreaks of violence in 1946. She began charity work in 1948 and, in 1950, founded the Missionaries of Charity. Her caring for the poor, sick, orphaned and dying was the subject of a documentary and book in the 1970s which led to widespread fame. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and, by the time of her death in 1997 her Missionaries of Charity was operating 610 missions in 123 countries.

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King Henry marries Anne of Cleves

Posted in Anniversary, History, Royalty on Sunday, 26 December 2010

picture, King Henry, Anne of Cleves, portrait, Hans Holbein

King Henry admires Hans Holbein’s portrait of Anne. Illustration by Peter Jackson

6 January marks the anniversary of the marriage of King Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves in 1540. Born in Dusseldorf, she was a German noblewoman and was to become Henry’s fourth wife following the death of Jane Seymour in 1537. The marriage was being negotiated and Henry dispatched artist Hans Holbein to paint accurate portraits of Anne and her younger sister Amalia as both were under consideration.

Henry was disappointed by Anne’s looks when they met, but the two were still married. The marriage was never consummated and, after a few months, the marriage was annulled.

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Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton

Posted in Anniversary, Exploration, Travel on Saturday, 25 December 2010

picture, Antarctic, Albatross, Quest, ship, ocean

An albatross accompanied the Quest on its voyage, the final expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Illustration by C. L. Doughty

5 January marks the anniversary of the death of explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton in 1922. Born in Kilkea, Ireland, in 1874, Shackleton was one of the key figures in Antarctic Exploration. His first voyage to the region was with Captain Scott’s Discovery expedition, but he was sent home early due to ill-health. With the 1907 Nimrod expedition he established a record for reaching the farthest south latitude, around 100 miles from the South Pole. For this achievement he was knighted on his return home.

The Pole was reached in 1912 and Shackleton set himself another task: to cross the Antarctic from sea to sea via the pole. The expedition in 1914-17 was a disaster as their ship, the Endurance, was trapped in ice and crushed. Shackleton headed back to the Antarctic in 1921 with the Quest to carry out a programme of scientific and surveying activities. Before the expedition could begin its work, Shackleton died of a heart attack. He was buried at South Georgia.

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Death of Amy Johnson

Posted in Anniversary, Aviation, Transport on Saturday, 25 December 2010

picture, James Mollison, Amy Johnson, flying, aviation, aircraft

James Mollison and Amy Johnson. Illustration by James E. McConnell

5 January marks the anniversary of the death of aviator Amy Johnson in 1941. Born in Kingston upon Hull in 1903, she graduated from the University of Sheffield with a B.A. in economics before working as a solicitor’s secretary in London. Interested in flying, she earned her pilot’s license in 1929 and then went on to become the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia. She and her husband, James Mollison, set numerous long-distance and fastest time records in the 1930s.

Johnson was a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary during the war and was killed during a flight transporting aircraft from Blackpool to Oxford. Off course, she bailed out and landed in the Thames Estuary, where she died.

picture, Gypsy Moth, Jason, Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson’s Gypsy Moth (nicknamed ‘Jason’) in which she flew to Australia

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Birth of Jacob Grimm

Posted in Anniversary, Legend, Literature on Friday, 24 December 2010

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The Brothers Grimm gather old tales for their books

4 January marks the anniversary of the birth of Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm, philologist and folklorist, in 1785. Jocob, the elder of the two Brothers Grimm, studied language and how sounds in words change over time. With his brother, Wilhelm, he wrote a German dictionary, but today they are remembered for their collections of European folk tales, which include the stories of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel and Rumpelstiltskin amongst many others.

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Birth of Louis Braille

Posted in Anniversary, Communications, Language on Friday, 24 December 2010

picture, Louis Braille, Braille system

Louis Braille and his embossed alphabet. Illustration by Harry Green

4 January marks the anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille in 1809. Born in Coupvray, France, Braille invented a system by which blind and visually impaired people can read by passing their fingers over a series of raised characters made up in arrangements to create unique embossed letters. Braille, blind from the age of 3, created the system in 1824, later expanding it to include arrangements for mathematics and musics. The first book in Braille, entitled Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them was published in 1829.

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The Siege of Sidney Street

Posted in Anniversary, Famous battles on Thursday, 23 December 2010

picture, Siege of Sidney Street, Churchill, Peter the Painter

The Siege of Sidney Street with, inset, Churchill and Peter the Painter, reputed leader of the anarchists. Illustration by Leo Davy

3 January marks the anniversary of the Siege of Sidney Street in 1911. A gang of Latvian revolutionaries attempted to break into a jeweller’s shop in Houndsditch, London, in December 1910 but were heard; when the police went to investigate the burglary, two constables died in a shoot-out.

On 2 January, the police were informed that some of the gang were hiding out at 100 Sidney Street in Stepney and Churchill authorised the Scots Guards to assist the 200 police officers sent to cordon off the area. A lengthy gun battle ensued and eventually the house caught fire, killing two members of the gang. Eventually seven gang members were arrested and tried, although all were acquitted or had their convictions overturned.

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Brooklyn Bridge

Posted in Anniversary, Architecture, Technology on Thursday, 23 December 2010

picture, Brooklyn Bridge, New York, East River, Manhattan

The story of Brooklyn Bridge told in comic strip form

3 January marks the anniversary of the beginning of work on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1870. Designed by John Augustus Roebling, who had previously constructed suspension bridges in Pennsylvania and Ohio, this was to be the longest suspension bridge in the world, spanning New York’s East River and connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan. After sustaining an injury, Roebling passed on the job of overseeing the building to his son, Washington, who suffered a paralyzing injury shortly after construction began. His wife, Emily Warren Roebling then became the link between the engineers on-site and her husband.

The bridge took 13 years to build and was opened for use on 24 May 1883.

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Birth of Sir James Wolfe

Posted in Anniversary, Famous battles, History on Wednesday, 22 December 2010

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James Wolfe is sent to Nova Scotia by Prime Minister William Pitt. Illustration by Severino Baraldi

2 January marks the anniversary of the birth of Major General James Wolfe in 1727. Born in Westerham, Kent, the son of veteran soldier Colonel Edward Wolfe, and, from an early age, was destined for a career in the military. He came to attention for his actions at the Battle of Dettington in Bavaria during the War of the Austrian Succession. Although he was involved in many battles in Europe and Scotland (during the Jacobite Uprising), he is today remembered for his victories over the French in Canada, particularly the taking of Quebec, although Wolfe did not live to see the victory he helped create: at the height of the battle he was killed by a French cannon shot.

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Photographing the Moon

Posted in Anniversary, History, Space on Wednesday, 22 December 2010

picture, Moon, luna, lunar, astronomy

A guide to the Moon, presented for young readers

2 January marks the anniversary of the first ever photograph of the Moon, taken by French artist and chemist Louis Daguerre in 1839. Daguerre was the inventor of the Diorama, a popular entertainment in France in the 1820s in which an audience could look at scenes hand-painted on linin that, by using turntables, transparency and light, could be made to subtly alter so that audiences could imagine they were looking at a natural scene.

Daguerre was also involved in early photography, creating one of the first processes to create permanent photographs, the Daguerrotype. The patent was bought by the French government who made it freely available to all as “a gift free to the world”.

The first rocket to pass near the Moon, the Russian Luna 1, was also launched on this day in 1959.

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