Today is the birthday of 25th President William McKinley and actor W.C. Fields. Some say McKinley was the inspiration behind the Wizard of Oz. Fields was orginally offered the part, but he turned it down.
Russian writer and physician Anton Chekov, was born today in 1860. Random quote from Chekov : Only entropy comes easy.
Entropy is a state function in thermodynamics, a measure of energy in versus energy out, or whether or not a process can occur spontaneously. Simplified, the energy of the universe is always moving toward disorder. There are far more ways to be disorganized than organized. Don’t bother making the bed today.
The founder of lunar topography, Johannes Hevelius was born today in 1611. He died on his birthday in 1687, but before he discovered 10 new constellations and 4 comets. Czech opera singer Ema Destinn died today, as well as Henry the 8th, writer Joseph Brodsky. German racecar driver Bernd Rosemeyer, in 1938, and poet William Butler Yeats, in 1939.
“What should I say about life? That it’s long and abhors transparence.” - Joseph Brodsky
Inventer, physicist, and explorer Auguste Piccard was born today, in 1932. French writer Colette was born in 1873.
Also William Seward Burroughs the first, inventor, grandfather of the writer, was born in 1857. He invented an adding machine, and founded the American Arithmometer Company, which became the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, which became the Burroughs Corp, which became Unisys in 1986 after a merger with Sperry. Let’s sing a counting song, shall we? I’ve always liked 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, but we can start with This Old Man if you prefer.
27 is the atomic number of cobalt. In the 1960’s they used cobalt compounds to stabilize beer foam, until it was linked to heart disease, known formerly as beer drinker’s cardiomyopathy.
Mathematician Richard Courant died today in 1972. He cowrote a textbook called Methods of Mathematical Physics, which is still used eighty years later. JJ Audubon died today in 1851. Lets go look at the sky and ponder his life’s achievement.
Giordano Bruno’s trial started today at the Vatican in 1593. His studies, influenced by Arabian and Persian astrology and Copernicus, lead him to theorize that the earth moved around the sun, and the sun was one of an infinite number of independent spinning bodies. His trial lasted 7 years and ended in him being burned at the stake for heresy.
Apollo 1 caught fire on its launchpad during a training exercise today in 1967, killing three astronauts, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffe. Not at all related, Michael Jackson caught on fire in 1984.
Andre the giant died today in 1993. He suffered from acromegaly, where the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone. Thomas P Crapper died in 1910. He didn’t invent the toilet, contrary to popular belief, but he did have several patents on such wondrous items as the ballcock and a valveless water waste preventer patent #4,990.
The National Geographic Society was founded today in 1888.
Its historical mission is “to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical, and natural resources.” Maybe you should brush up.
Mozart shares the spotlight with Donna Reed, Lewis Carroll, and Ross Bagdasarian. His stage name was David Seville and his cohorts were Alvin, Simon and Theodore (who are named after record executives).
Thomas Willis 1621 English doctor, coined tern mellitus as in diabetes mellitus, noting that the urine of such patients is sweet. No notes on how he observed this.