Never one to let a good idea go to waste1, I would like to reintroduce to
h2g2 'On This Day In
History', slightly tweaked into a new,
shiny format. The lovely Italix had the presence of
mind to drop a number of pages where people could
leave their fun-filled facts. Why not pop over and
drop a suggestion. It may well find its way onto the
Greek philosopher Eratosthenes estimated the
circumference of the Earth. He had been told that on
Midsummer’s Day (June 21st) the sun reflected in
a deep well in the town of Syene in Southern
Egypt2. This means that the
sun is directly overhead the town on this day.
Eratosthenes lived in Alexandria, 5000 stadia north of
Syene (The stadia is the unit of distance used by the
Greeks and represented the size of a sports arena).
The philosopher was able to determine that the angle
the sun made at noon on Midsummer's Day was
1/50th of a circle, or 7.2o. From this he
estimated the circumference to be 250,000 stadia.
Birth date of King James VI of Scotland (1567 -
1625). Following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, he
was crowned James I of England (1603 - 1625).
James authorised the 'King James Version' (KJV) of the
General Gordon Granger landed on Galveston Island,
Texas and proclaimed the sovereignty of the United
States over the state and the freedom of all who had
been slaves3. It was made a Texas state holiday
in 1979 and is now celebrated in many communities
across the US.
Birthday of the tubby cat, Garfield. This year is his
25th birthday, and the kitten has come a long way in
that time. Although the comics remain as successful as
ever, Garfield has also starred on the small screen,
and is soon to become a movie star.
The first postage stamp was issued in Britain, the
Penny Black. It featured the face of the monarch Queen
Victoria. The stamp has grown to become one of the
most coveted stamps for philatelists worldwide.
Birth date of Errol Flynn. The grandfather of action
heroes, Flynn played many famous roles, including
Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Test flight of 1st rocket plane using liquid
Oil enters the Trans-Alaska pipeline for the first
time at Prudhoe Bay in the North Slope, Northern
Alaska. It exits the pipe 38 days later at Valdez, the
most northern port in the US which is ice-free. The
pipeline covers 800 miles.
Galileo Galilei proposed the heliocentric solar system
in 1613 through a book on sunspots. Understandably,
the Church was not too impressed by this theory, and
decreed it to be heresy. On this day, Galileo was
summoned to appear before the Roman Inquisition. He
was made to swear on the Bible that he ... abjured,
cursed, and detested the error and heresy that the Sun
is fixed and the Earth moves. He stated that he
would no longer support the idea in any manner. As a
result, he was placed under house arrest and forced to
recite the seven penitential psalms weekly for 3
Birth date of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, the
1st first lady of America
Britain celebrates the Golden Jubilee of Queen
Birth date of Jean-Paul Sartre. Born in Paris, France,
Sartre wrote a number of novels and plays. He was also
an existentialist philosopher and literary critic. He
was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1964,
but he declined the award in protest of the values of
Birth date of Giacomo Puccini in Lucco, Italy.
Puccini's best works include La Boheme, Madame
Butterfly and his unfinished Turandot, from which
Nessun Dorma is taken.
Death of Howard Staunton. The Englishman defeated
Pierre St. Amant in 1843 to become a self-proclaimed
world chess champion, an achievement no other Brit has
managed. He gave his name to a simplified design of
chess pieces. Most sets today are based closely on the
Discovery of Charon, Pluto's moon, by astronomer James
Christy. The discovery was extremely lucky, as the
moon was about to enter a plane which would have
rendered it almost impossible to recognise.
The first boat regatta was held on the River Thames,
Birthday of Alan Turing. Mathematician, breaker of the
German Enigma Code, and inventor of the computer
you're looking at.
The first 12 women graduate from Harvard Medical
School. They were admitted in 1945 due to a decrease
in male admission owing to the War.
The premiere of Batman. Starring Jack
Nicholson, Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger.
Robert the Bruce won the Battle of Bannockburn -
possibly the most famous battle in Scottish history.
The story goes that he was inspired to persevere by
watching a spider spinning its web.
Picasso's art received its first public viewing in
Greg Dyke was appointed as Director-General of the
George Speight came with a new set of demands despite
agreeing to sign the Maunikau Accords of Fiji.
A leader of the Crusades, Templar Simon de Montfort
George Armstrong Custer fell at the Battle of Little
Bighorn. Custer came 34 out of a class of 34 at West
Point and was court marshalled in 1867 for disobeying
orders and abandoning 2 men to the mercy of native
Americans. Called 'Squaw Killer' by the Natives after
the massacre of 103 Cheyenne, he had a crew-cut before
the battle in which 211 of his men died, perhaps
precognascent of his own death.
Birth date of Eric Arthur Blair, or George Orwell as
he is better known. Born in India, he went on to write
a number of classic books, including 1984 and Animal
at least not to mind too much after being told that I
am merely resurrecting a fabulous idea that Abi and Peta had over three
years ago!2This town is now known as Aswan, near a
dam on the River Nile.3This was two and a half years
after slavery had ended in other parts of the