John’s Believe It Or Not… February 13th

Fioravanti stands in front of the classroom blackboard with his hands on his hips. Picture was taken in August, 2006.

It’s Marvellous Monday! Did you know…

Calgary, Alberta hosts 15th Winter Olympics, with 1,800 athletes from 57 countries in 1988. (For the first time, the Winter Games were extended to 16 days, including three weekends.)

* Sotheby’s announced the discovery of a long-lost manuscript of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain in 1991. (The manuscript was the first half of Twain’s original version, heavily corrected in his own handwriting, which had been missing for more than a century. The manuscript surfaced when a 62-year-old Los Angeles librarian finally got around to sorting through some old papers in six trunks sent to her when an aunt from upstate New York died.)

* League of Nations recognises perpetual Swiss neutrality in 1920. (In February 1920, the League voted to recognise the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland. The League also established its headquarters in the Swiss city of Geneva, a tribute to the country’s neutrality as well as its relative economic and political stability, which has continued to the present day.)

* Allied planes begin bombing Dresden, Germany; a firestorm results in 1945. (It reduced the “Florence of the Elbe” to rubble and flames, and killing as many as 135,000 people. It was the single most destructive bombing of the war—including Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and all the more horrendous because little, if anything, was accomplished strategically since the Germans were already on the verge of surrender.)

* Galileo arrives in Rome for Inquisition in 1633. (On this day in 1633, (Italian philosopher, astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome to face charges of heresy for advocating Copernican theory, which holds that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Galileo officially faced the Roman Inquisition in April of that same year and agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. Put under house arrest indefinitely by Pope Urban VIII, Galileo spent the rest of his days at his villa in Arcetri, near Florence, before dying on January 8, 1642.)

 

Look who was born on this date!

* Joseph Banks in 1743. (He was the ship’s botanist on James Cook’s first great voyage of discovery on board the Endeavour [1768-71.])

* Thomas Malthus in 1766. (He was influential in the fields of political economy and demography and for his theories on population. His ideas about the role of famine, disease, and competition between individuals in limiting population growth were radically opposed to the ideals of the time. Malthus’ theory was an important influence on both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in their development of the theory of natural selection.)

* William Shockley in 1910. (Shockley was the manager of a research group that included John Bardeen and Walter Brattain. The three scientists invented the point-contact transistor in 1947 and were jointly awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics. Shockley’s attempts to commercialise a new transistor design in the 1950s and 1960s led to California’s “Silicon Valley” becoming a hotbed of electronics innovation.)

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Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

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