How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? -Dr. Seuss
1838 – Alfred Vail demonstrates a telegraph system using dots and dashes (this is the forerunner of Morse code).
Alfred attended public schools before taking a job as a machinist at the iron works. He enrolled in New York University to study theology in 1832, where he was an active and successful student and a member of the Eucleian Society, graduating in 1836. Visiting his alma mater on September 2, 1837, he happened to witness one of Samuel F. B. Morse’s early telegraph experiments. He became fascinated by the technology and negotiated an arrangement with Morse to develop the technology at Speedwell at his own expense in return for 25% of the proceeds. Alfred split his share with his brother George Vail. When Morse took on Francis O. J. Smith, a congressman from Maine, as a partner, he reduced the Vails’ share to one-eighth. Morse retained patent rights to everything Vail developed.
After having secured his father’s financial backing, Vail refined Morse’s crude prototype to make it suitable for public demonstration and commercial operation. The first successful completion of a transmission with this system was at the Speedwell Iron Works on January 6, 1838, across two miles (3 km) of wiring. The message read “A patient waiter is no loser.” Over the next few months Morse and Vail demonstrated the telegraph to Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, members of Congress, and President Martin Van Buren and his cabinet. Demonstrations such as these were crucial to Morse’s obtaining a Congressional appropriation of $30,000 to build his first line in 1844 from Washington to Baltimore.
1912 – German geophysicist Alfred Wegener first presents his theory of continental drift.
Continental drift is the movement of the Earth’s continents relative to each other, thus appearing to drift across the ocean bed. The speculation that continents might have ‘drifted’ was first put forward by Abraham Ortelius in 1596. The concept was independently and more fully developed by Alfred Wegener in 1912, but his theory was rejected by some for lack of a mechanism (though this was supplied later by Holmes) and others because of prior theoretical commitments. The idea of continental drift has been subsumed by the theory of plate tectonics, which explains how the continents move.
In 1858 Antonio Snider-Pellegrini created two maps demonstrating how America and Africa continents may have once fit together, then separated.
1941 – United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his Four Freedoms speech in the State of the Union address.
The Four Freedoms were goals articulated by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941. In an address known as the Four Freedoms speech (technically the 1941 State of the Union address), he proposed four fundamental freedoms that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy:
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of worship
- Freedom from want
- Freedom from fear
Roosevelt delivered his speech 11 months before the United States declared war on Japan, December 8, 1941. The State of the Union speech before Congress was largely about the national security of the United States and the threat to other democracies from world war that was being waged across the continents in the eastern hemisphere. In the speech, he made a break with the tradition of United States non-interventionism that had long been held in the United States. He outlined the U.S. role in helping allies already engaged in warfare.
1947 – Pan American Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to schedule a flight around the world.
Pan Am pioneered a new air route across Western and Central Africa to Iran, and in early 1942 the airline became the first to operate a route circumnavigating the globe. Another first occurred in January 1943, when Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to fly abroad, in the Dixie Clipper. During this period Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was a Clipper pilot; he was aboard the Clipper Eclipse when it crashed in Syria on June 19, 1947.
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