A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

On this date, 1943 years ago...

Credit: Vulcan Vesuvio and Pompei ruins, the Forum; Getty images

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius

On the 24th of August 79CE, the most famous volcanic eruption occurred. Mount Vesuvius in Italy ejected a cloud of stones, ashes, and volcanic gases to a height of 33 km (21 mi), erupting molten rock and pulverized pumice at the rate of 6×105 cubic meters per second. That event resulted in the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, and Stabiae, and many smaller settlements. The number of people that have died is unknown though it is believed that there are around 1000 victims. The only written account made by an eyewitness of that event that has survived are two letters from Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus.

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On this date, 1685 years ago

Credit: The head of Emperor Constantine I statue in Rome; Gettyimages

The Roman Emperor Constantine I was baptized

On this date in 337, on his deathbed, Emperor Constantine the Great became the first Roman emperor to be officially baptized in the Christian church. He practiced Christianity his whole life, supported church activities, and helped Christianity to become a worldwide spread religion. 

Some scholars argue that his conversion was should be regarded as a politically motivated act. Constantine likely foresaw the power that Christianity will bring to the Empire and decided to legalize it throughout the Empire by being baptized. He also made one of his largest contributions to the faith by summoning the Councils of Arles (314) and Nicaea (325), which guided church doctrine for centuries afterward.

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On this date, 169 years ago

Credit: Vincent van Gogh, a part of Self-Portrait, oil on board, 1887; via Wikipedia

Vincent Van Gogh was born

Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch painter considered part of the Post-impressionist movement. He created more than 2,100 artworks, including 860 oil paintings, most of which were painted in the last two years of his life. Subjects of his pictures were landscapes, still life, portrait, and self-portraits. Van Gogh's paintings are distinctive with their bold, vivid, and contrasting colors. They are characterized by expressive brushwork and a dramatic, intensive atmosphere.

He became one of the most influential figures for Modern art and Western art ever since his late posthumous recognition at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, his paintings are some of the most expensive in the world. Van Gogh's "Portrait of Dr. Gachet" sold for $82.5 million and "Irises" for $53.9 million.

Paradoxically, during his life, he wasn't commercially successful at all. He was able to indulge in painting mostly thanks to his brother Theo, who supported him and his art financially and believed in his talent despite the lack of public acceptance of Van Gogh's paintings. During his life, he struggled with poverty, suffered from severe depression, and his extravagant, even weird social appearance.
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100 years ago, Jack Kerouac was born

Credit: Jack Kerouac in front of his typewriting machine; Gettyimages

The Father of the Beat Generation

One century ago, Jack Kerouac was born to live, travel, love, suffer, write and elucidate our minds with his intense rhythmical prose. To put each word in its special place like bricks on the bridge between the East and West, between people and people. The incurable wanderer, the believer, the one who will burn, who will flare up to illuminate happiness, sorrow, life, death, everything. He who transformed himself into books and words, which are now, many years later, still circulating the minds of the readers around the world. Thank you, Jack!

Enjoy several excerpts from his books.

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On this date, 25 years ago…

Credit: Gettyimages

Kyoto Protocol

On 16 February 1997, the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty, was adopted. It was named after the Japanese city in which it was signed. The treaty aimed to reduce the increasing level of gas emissions, which are responsible for global warming. The Kyoto protocol is in effect since 2005. It called for reducing the levels of six greenhouse gases in the European Union plus 41 other countries. The goal was to decrease the emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels during the period 2008-12. It was widely regarded as the most significant environmental treaty ever negotiated, though some critics questioned its effectiveness. 

The Kyoto Protocol was later extended until 2020. At the 17th and 19th Conference of the Parties, held respectively in Durban, South Africa, 2011 and Doha, Qatar, 2012 the delegates agreed that the protocol should be replaced by a new comprehensive, legally binding climate treaty by 2015. The new treaty would require the limitation and reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by the gas-producing countries. It was planned for implementation in 2020 when it should fully replace the Kyoto Protocol.

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On this date, 18 years ago…

Credit: Gettyimages

The Web site Facebook was launched (as TheFacebook.com)

On 4 February 2004, Facebook.com was founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes. Its name derives from the face book directories, which are often given to American university students. It began as a social network only for Harvard students but since then it gradually expanded to other universities across North America and later on throughout the whole world. As of 2022, Facebook claimed to have more than 2.89 monthly active users.

Nobody could have ever expected how popular and revolutionary the platform will become. Facebook made it possible for people from all around the globe to stay connected, to freely share information, to organize and promote events of all kinds. Of course, like everything else it has its own dark side. As it is claimed in Wikipedia: "The subject of numerous controversies, Facebook has often been criticized over issues such as user privacy (as with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal), political manipulation (as with the 2016 U.S. elections), mass surveillance, psychological effects such as addiction and low self-esteem, and content such as fake news, conspiracy theories, copyright infringement, and hate speech. Commentators have accused Facebook of willingly facilitating the spread of such content, as well as exaggerating its number of users to appeal to advertisers."

However, Facebook has made an immense impact on contemporary global media and culture. After its appearance in the sphere of communication, many other platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Youtube, Whatsup, Pinterest, and TikTok were created. It completely changed the way we communicate, how we perceive information, and even how we think and speak to each other. We are still unaware of all the consequences that social media platforms have caused but one is sure, they are here to stay.

On 28 October, the Facebook company re-branded as Meta. Facebook is now just one of the platforms, such as Instagram and Whatsup, which are owned by Meta.

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On this date, 87 years ago...

20220111-095030968px-Amelia_Earhart_standing_under_nose_of_her_Lockheed_Model_10-E_Electra_small Credit: Amelia Earhart standing under nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra. Gelatin silver print, 1937. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of George R. Rinhart, in memory of Joan Rinhart ; via Wikipedia

Credit: Amelia Earhart standing under nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra. Gelatin silver print, 1937. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of George R. Rinhart, in memory of Joan Rinhart ; via Wikipedia

The first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California

On this day, in 1935, one of the world's most celebrated aviators - Amelia Earhart - made the first successful solo flight from Hawaii to California. The distance is approximately 2,408 miles (3,875 km) long, which is longer than that from the United States to Europe.

Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviator, arguably the world's most celebrated. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California and from Los Angeles to Mexico City. She and her navigator disappeared during their fly around the world in 1937. That caused a great deal of speculation and mystery and captivated the imagination of people all around the globe.

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On this date, 183 years ago...

20220119-130222562px-Portrait_de_lartiste_par_Paul_Czanne_FWN_434 Credit: Self-portrait 1875, Musée d'Orsay; via Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Paul Cézanne was born

Paul Cézanne (born January 19, 1839, Aix-en-Provence, France—died October 22, 1906, Aix-en-Provence) was one of the most influential French artists of the Post-Impressionist era. His ideas and works were pivotal in the development of the visual aesthetics of Modernist and Avant-Garde painters of the 20th century. He laid the foundations for many artistic movements, most notably Cubism. Artists like Matisse and Picasso claimed that he "is the father of us all." However, his art was often misunderstood and discredited by the public.

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On this date, 253 years ago

Credit: Gettyimages

The first edition of Encyclopædia Britannica was published

On 10 December 1768, the first edition of Encyclopædia Britannica, the oldest continuously published and revised work in the English language, was published. It was issued in Edinburgh, Scotland by "a society of gentlemen in Scotland" for the engraver Andrew Bell and the printer Colin Macfarquhar. Since then, it became the major English-language work of references and one of the biggest encyclopedias in the world.

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On this date, 23 years ago

Credit: Gettyimages

On 20th November 1998, the first module of the International Space Station was launched

The module was called Zarya and was Russian-built and American-owned. Zarya is an FGB (Functional Cargo Block), which provided electrical power, storage, propulsion, and guidance to the ISS during the initial stage of assembly. The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project operated by 5 space agencies – the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, US's NASA, Russia's Roscosmos, and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. It is a manned artificial satellite. The brightest man-made object visible to the naked eye from Earth. ISS orbits the Earth at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour) at an average distance of 248 miles (400 kilometers) from Earth.

The station's purpose is to serve as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory where scientific research is conducted in meteorology, astronomy, astrobiology, physics, and other fields. The ISS is suited for testing the spacecraft systems and equipment required for possible future long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars.

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On this date, 86 years ago…

Photo credit: Gettyimages

Dalai Lama, leader of Tibet, is born

On the 6th of July, 1935, a boy named Tenzin Gyatso is born to a peasant family in Takster, Tibet. Only two years old, he was declared to be the future leader of Tibet – Dalai Lama. He is considered the reincarnation of the great Buddhist spiritual leader and is the 14th Dalai Lama.

Until 1950, a regency exercised his leadership rights. Later that year, Dalai Lama was forced to flee by the Chinese government but he successfully negotiated an agreement and returned to the leadership of Tibet for the next eight years. A failed Tibetan nationalist uprising in 1959 led to severe repressions by China. Dalai Lama had to flee to Punjab, India, where he managed to establish his democratic government in exile. He was honored with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 due to his determined commitment to the nonviolent liberation of Tibet.

In 1998, he published his book The Art of Happiness, a co-writing with the psychiatrist Howard Cutler. The book became a bestseller. Just a year later, he wrote and published another book - Ethics for the NewMillennium (1999). One more time, his book hit the bestseller list again, giving him two titles in the Top 10. Although based on Buddhist teaching, the book insists that spiritual faith is not necessary to live a contented, peaceful life.

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On this date, 337 years ago...

Image credit: via Wikipedia

Elena Cornaro Piscopia

On the 25th of June, 1678, the Venetian Elena Cornaro Piscopia defended a doctorate thesis of philosophy and was awarded at the University of Padua. She was a high-esteemed philosopher and musician of her time. However, she became famous as the first woman in European history to receive a university doctoral degree or Ph.D.

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On this date, 15 years ago

Entrance to the Seed Vault during Polar Night, highlighting its illuminated artwork; Photo credit: Subet Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 4.0

Construction on Svalbard Global Seed Vault begins

Far north of Norway, on the remote island of Spitsbergen halfway between the mainland and the North Pole, the date was June 19, 2006. The prime ministers of Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden set the official "first stone" of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The storage, which nowadays has the capacity to preserve 2.25 billion seeds, and has already stored more than 1 million different samples from almost every country in the world.

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On this date, 485 years ago...

Portrait of Anne Boleyn, probably based on a contemporary portrait, which no longer survives; via Wikipedia

The execution of Anne Boleyn

The kingship of Henry VIII is a perfect example of how interwoven personal, secular, and religious power could be. The king was married to Catherine of Aragon but began courting her maid of honor – Anne Boleyn in early 1526. In 1533 he wanted to divorce his wife and marry Anne. The Catholic church refused to accept his divorce, which led to the schism between the Catholic and English Church. Hence Henry VIII broke off relations with the Pope and established an independent Church of England and took Anne as his wife.

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of the king, who famously had six in total, and was perhaps the most famous. The happy marriage was not long-lasting, however. Henry was disappointed that Anne gave birth to a daughter (Elizabeth I), and after three miscarriages they had no son. Only three years later, the king was courting the love of Jane Seymour.

 In May 1536, Anne was accused of high treason and adultery, arrested, and later found guilty in a trial by jury, in which her former fiance and her own uncle took part. She was beheaded four days later at the Tower of London. Just one day later, Henry VIII was betrothed to Jayne Seymour.

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On this date, more than six centuries ago...

Image credit: gettyimages.com

What Happened on April 17, 1387 and 1397

Geoffrey Chaucer is considered the greatest English poet before Shakespeare. He is also famous as one of the first scholars along with Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, and Desiderius Erasmus, to use vernacular language for writing his most renowned work – The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer was an important civil servant, diplomat, and courtier who was trusted by three successive kings – Edward III, Richard II, and Henry IV. However, history remembers him mostly with his poetic works, which embody a great variety of subject matter, genres, styles, and approaches towards the complex themes of the human condition, religion, and existence.

Canterbury Tales was written between 1387 and 1400. According to the scholars, the date when Chaucer's characters started their fictional pilgrimage was the 17th of April 1387. It was today, 634 years ago when one of the greatest journeys in the world of Literature began and it is still inspiring poets and artists from all around the globe. It could be a coincidence but ten years later, the same date (17.04.1397) was the first time that Geoffrey Chaucer publicly tells the Canterbury Tales at the court of King Richard II.

Sometimes fictional events could have even a greater impact upon human culture than historical ones. In that regard, factual and fictional worlds intertwine and together they influence human reality and the way our civilization progresses. Today, we celebrate one of these cases when a body of Literature changed our perception and had a great effect on our future activities.

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Happy Birthday, Internet!

Image credit: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

On this date, 52 years ago…

On the 7th of April, 1969, the first "request for comments," the so-called RFC documents, was published. This event set the scene for the appearance of the internet. It is considered a symbolic birth of the net for the reason that RFC documents opened the doors for researches, proposals, and different approaches, which often applied to the later internet technology. The engineers were now able to publicly kick around and generate new ideas for the future development of the net.

One interesting aspect of the RFC is that a unique serial number is issued for each document. An individual paper cannot be overwritten; rather, updates or corrections are submitted on a separate RFC. The result is an ongoing historical record of the evolution of internet standards.

As it usually happens with an event of such a great historical impact, there is another pretender for the birth date of the net – 1st of January, 1983. It was the day when the National Science Foundation's university network backbone became fully operational and it is also considered a forerunner of the World Wide Web.

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On this date, 214 years ago…

Image credit: Slaves cutting the sugar cane on the Island of Antigua, 1823; unsplash.com; British Library

The formal end of the slave trade in the British Empire

The Committee for Abolition of the Slave Trade, which was formed in 1787, was among the first unions in Britain that organized opposition to slavery in the Empire. Another 20 years passed before they formed a large group of supporters in the British parliament. They gathered around the idea that slavery is a despicable act against humanity and Christian morals.

One of the greatest proponents of anti-slavery ideals was William Wilberforce. More and more MPs in the House of Commons were advocating more humanistic views and expressed deep indignation against the slavery trade. Finally, on 23 February 1807, the House of Commons passed the bill with the striking vote majority of 283 to 16, and one month later, on 25 March 1807, King George III signed the bill and it became law.

However, the slave trade continued in some of the more remote countries, which were part of the Empire. It was around 1833 when British Empire completely outlawed the abhorrent practices of slavery and human trade.

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On this date, 543 years ago...

Portrait by Hans Holbein, the younger (1527)

Sir Thomas More was born on February 7, 1478

Sir Thomas More (born February 7, 1478, London, England—died July 6, 1535, London) is the most renowned English Humanist of the Renaissance epoch. Aside from being famous for his literary work - Utopia, he was an influential statesman, chancellor of England, thinker, and a great representative of Christian rhetoric. Eventually, Thomas Moore was tragically sentenced to death and beheaded for repudiating the oath, which had to admit King Henry VIII as the head of the Church of England. On May 19, 1935, he is canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

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SSA Recent Posts

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