Do not look back and do not dream about the future. It will neither give you back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward, your destiny, is in the present moment. ~Dag Hammarskjold
1742 – Jean Senebier, Swiss physiologist, is born.
Jean Senebier was a Swiss pastor who wrote many works on vegetable physiology.
He was born at Geneva, and is remembered for his contributions to the understanding of the influence of light on vegetation.
Though Marcello Malpighi and Stephen Hales had shown that much of the substance of plants must be obtained from the atmosphere, no progress was made until Charles Bonnet observed on leaves plunged in aerated water bubbles of gas, which Joseph Priestley recognized as oxygen. Jan Ingenhousz proved the simultaneous disappearance of carbonic acid; but it was Senebier who clearly showed that this activity was confined to the green parts, and to these only in sunlight, and first gave a connected view of the whole process of vegetable nutrition in strictly chemical terms. He was assisted in his work by François Huber. He proved that plants use carbon dioxide to grow.
1844 – The Glaciarium, the world’s first mechanically frozen ice rink, opens.
The Glaciarium was the world’s first mechanically frozen ice rink…
The rink was based on a concrete surface, with layers of earth, cow hair and timber planks. Atop these were laid oval copper pipes carrying a solution of glycerine with ether, nitrogen peroxide and water. The pipes were covered by water and the solution was pumped through, freezing the water into ice. Gamgee had discovered the process while attempting to develop a method to freeze meat for import from Australia and New Zealand, and had patented it as early as 1870.
Gamgee operated the rink on a membership-only basis and attempted to attract a wealthy clientele, experienced in open-air ice skating during winters in the Alps. He installed an orchestra gallery, which could also be used by spectators, and decorated the walls with views of the Swiss Alps.
The rink initially proved a success, and Gamgee opened two further rinks later in the year: at Rusholme in Manchester and the “Floating Glaciarium” at Charing Cross in London, this last significantly larger at 115 by 25 feet. However, the process was expensive, and mists rising from the ice deterred customers, forcing Gamgee to close the Glaciarium by the end of the year, and all his rinks had shut by mid-1878. However, the Southport Glaciarium opened in 1879, using Gamgee’s method.
1852 – Sigmund Freud, Austrian Neurologist and father of psychoanalysis, is born.
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who became known as the founding father of psychoanalysis.
Freud qualified as a doctor of medicine at the University of Vienna in 1881, and then carried out research into cerebral palsy, aphasia and microscopic neuroanatomy at the Vienna General Hospital. He was appointed a university lecturer in neuropathology in 1885 and became a professor in 1902.
In creating psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst, Freud developed therapeutic techniques such as the use of free association and discovered transference, establishing its central role in the analytic process. Freud’s redefinition of sexuality to include its infantile forms led him to formulate the Oedipus complex as the central tenet of psychoanalytical theory. His analysis of dreams as wish-fulfillments provided him with models for the clinical analysis of symptom formation and the mechanisms of repression as well as for elaboration of his theory of the unconscious as an agency disruptive of conscious states of mind. Freud postulated the existence of libido, an energy with which mental processes and structures are invested and which generates erotic attachments, and a death drive, the source of repetition, hate, aggression and neurotic guilt. In his later work Freud developed a wide-ranging interpretation and critique of religion and culture.
Psychoanalysis remains influential within psychotherapy, within some areas of psychiatry, and across the humanities. As such it continues to generate extensive and highly contested debate with regard to its therapeutic efficacy, its scientific status and as to whether it advances or is detrimental to the feminist cause. Freud’s work has, nonetheless, suffused contemporary Western thought and popular culture. In the words of W. H. Auden’s poetic tribute, by the time of his death in 1939, he had become “… a whole climate of opinion / under whom we conduct our different lives…”
1889 – The Eiffel Tower is officially opened to the public at the Universal Exposition in Paris.
The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.98 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.
The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. Because of the addition of the antenna atop the Eiffel Tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 5.2 metres (17 ft). Not including broadcast antennae, it is the second-tallest structure in France, after the Millau Viaduct.
The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second. The third level observatory’s upper platform is 276 m (906 ft) above the ground, the highest accessible to the public in the European Union. Tickets can be purchased to ascend by stairs or lift (elevator) to the first and second levels. The climb from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. Although there are stairs to the third and highest level, these are usually closed to the public and it is generally only accessible by lift.
1895 – Júlio César de Mello e Souza, Brazilian mathematician and author, is born.
Júlio César de Mello e Souza was a Brazilian writer and mathematics professor. He is well known in Brazil and abroad by his books on recreational mathematics, most of them published under the pen names of Malba Tahan and Breno de Alencar Bianco.
He has been called by one biographer “the only mathematics teacher who ever became as famous as a soccer player”. He wrote 69 books of tales and 51 of mathematics and other subjects, which by 1995 had sold over two million books. His most famous work, The Man Who Counted, saw its 54th printing in 2001.
Júlio César’s most popular books, including The Man Who Counted, are collections of mathematical problems, puzzles, and curiosities, embedded in tales inspired by the Arabian Nights. He thoroughly researched his subject matters — not only the mathematics, but also the history, geography, and culture of the Islamic Empire which was the backdrop and connecting thread of his books. Yet Júlio César’s travels outside Brazil were limited to short visits to Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Lisbon: he never set foot in the deserts and cities which he so vividly described in his book.
Júlio César was very critical of the educational methods used in Brazilian classrooms, especially for mathematics. “The mathematics teacher is a sadist,” he claimed, “who loves to make everything as complicated as possible.” In education, he was decades ahead of his time, and today his proposals are still more praised than implemented.
1937 – Hindenburg disaster: The German zeppelin Hindenburg catches fire and is destroyed within a minute while attempting to dock at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Thirty-six people are killed.
The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 people on board (36 passengers and 61 crewmen), there were 35 fatalities. There was also one death of a ground crewman.
The disaster was the subject of spectacular newsreel coverage, photographs, and Herbert Morrison’s recorded radio eyewitness reports from the landing field, which was broadcast the next day. A variety of hypotheses have been put forward for both the cause of ignition and the initial fuel for the ensuing fire. The incident shattered public confidence in the giant, passenger-carrying rigid airship and marked the end of the airship era.
1949 – EDSAC, the first practical electronic digital stored-program computer, runs its first operation.
Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) was an early British computer. Inspired by John von Neumann’s seminal First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC, the machine was constructed by Maurice Wilkes and his team at the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory in England. EDSAC was the second electronic digital stored-program computer to go into regular service.
Later the project was supported by J. Lyons & Co. Ltd., a British firm, who were rewarded with the first commercially applied computer, LEO I, based on the EDSAC design. EDSAC ran its first programs on 6 May 1949, when it calculated a table of squares and a list of prime numbers. EDSAC 1 was finally shut down on 11 July 1958, having been superseded by EDSAC 2, which remained in use until 1965.
1989 – Cedar Point opens Magnum XL-200, the first roller coaster to break the 200 ft height barrier, therefore spawning what is known as the “coaster wars”.
The Magnum XL-200, also known as just Magnum, is a steel roller coaster built by Arrow Dynamics at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. When built in 1989, it was the tallest, fastest and steepest complete-circuit roller coaster in the world as well as the first hypercoaster (complete-circuit roller coaster exceeding 200 feet (61 m) in height). It is considered to have started the roller coaster wars, in which amusement parks competed to build the highest and fastest roller coasters. More than 40 million people had ridden Magnum as of 2009.
Magnum XL-200 won the Golden Ticket Award for Best Steel Roller Coaster for three consecutive years from 1998 to 2000, until Millennium Force – the first roller coaster to exceed 300 feet (91 m) – moved into the top spot in 2001. Magnum, which has never been ranked lower than tenth, is currently ranked ninth.
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