The H1 and the H4 built by John Harrison. In 1714 the Longitude Prize was established which would award significant sums of money to the person who could devise a way to determine longitude within a certain distance. Determining longitude was essential for accurate navigation, and there was no reliable way of doing that. There were some great tragedies as a result of improper navigation—in 1707 for example an entire British fleet was sunk with the loss of 4 large ships and 1400 sailors because the navigators didn’t know where they were.
John Harrison was the first person to develop a clock accurate enough to be able to determine longitude anywhere in the world. His first clock was built between 1730-1735, and the last one was finished in 1761. The time trial was undertaken with a voyage to Jamaica and when his watch was tested it was found to be only 5.1 seconds behind (after a journey of two months).
The second trial of H4 was done in 1764. Due to some internal politics within the scientific community and delays by Parliament John Harrison wasn’t awarded the remainder of his prize money until 1773!
Cook took a copy of H4 on his journey and said that it was “. . our faithful guide through all the vicissitudes of climates.
There some excellent resources to learn more about the Longitude Problem. Dana Sobel’s Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time is a great book about the subject. PBS NOVA did a documentary on the subject called Lost at Sea: The Search for Longitude
This rifle is believed to have been presented to Nelson together with a scimitar and canteen by the Sultan of Turkey after the Battle of the Nile. Ivory stocked, the rifle is decorated with silver and gilt studs and with bands of gilt brass and mother of pearl. The lock is a Turkish variant of the Spanish miquelet lock on which is gold koftgari decoration (an ornamental work produced by inlaying steel with gold)
That is an amazingly beautiful rifle.
"Nature forging a baby"
Forget conception or little homunculi, just make your babies in a forge.
But when Nature, sweet and compassionate, sees that envious Death and Corruption come together to put to destruction whatever they find within her forge, she continues always to hammer and forge and always to renew the individuals by means of new generation.
[Guillame de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Roman de la Rose. From Bruges c.1490-1500.]
1/6 Women » Wu Zetian (c.625 – 705)
Empress Wu, was a Chinese sovereign, who ruled officially under the name of her self-proclaimed “Zhou Dynasty”, from 690 to 705; however, she had previous imperial positions under both Emperor Taizong of Tang and his son Emperor Gaozong of Tang, of the Tang Dynasty of China. Wu was a concubine of Emperor Taizong; after his death she married his successor and 9th son, Emperor Gaozong, officially becoming Gaozong’s furen (variously translated as “empress”, “wife”, or “first consort”) in 655, although having considerable political power previous to this. After Gaozong’s debilitating stroke in 660, Wu Zetian ruled as effective sovereign until 705. She is the only woman to rule China in her own right. [X] [X]
6 February 1952 ○ King George VI died in his sleep at Sandringham. His eldest daughter Princess Elizabeth is proclaimed Queen. The young Queen aged of 25, is shown flying back to Britain from Kenya after the anoucement of her father’s death. Charteris would later recall how, just before they left for the plane, he saw the Queen sitting at her desk, pencil in hand, absorbing the news. She was "sitting erect, no tears, colour up a little, fully accepting her destiny," .
February 4, 1861: The Confederate States of America is formed.
In November of 1860, Abraham Lincoln, a one-term U.S. representative and candidate for the newly-formed Republican Party, was elected President of the United States with just under 40% of the popular vote. Rather than remain in a union whose president had won the election with a party promising “free labor, free land, free men”, seven southern slaveholding states seceded. The first was South Carolina, birthplace of John C. Calhoun and historical hotbed of states’ rights sentiment, and the last of the original seven was Texas, which seceded in February, a little over a month before Lincoln took office.
Six delegates convened in Montgomery, Alabama in the chambers of the state senate on February 4, 1861. Their first meeting marked the founding of the Confederate States of America, and in the coming months the Montgomery Convention drafted a Constitution and appointed former Secretary of War and veteran congressman Jefferson Davis president opposite the comparatively inexperienced Abraham Lincoln. In his Cornerstone Speech (March 21, 1861), the Confederate States’ vice president Alexander Stephens asserted that “our peculiar institution African slavery" was the "immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution”. He also declared that the founding principle of the new Confederate state, for which hundreds of thousands of lives would soon be spent, should be the principle of black racial inferiority:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
Abraham Lincoln says, “Thanks, but no thanks” for the Elephants
On February 3, 1862, Abraham Lincoln wrote to King Mongkut, the King of Siam, accepting, on behalf of the American people, gifts of “…a sword of costly materials and exquisite workmanship; a photographic likeness of Your Majesty and of Your Majesty’s beloved daughter; and also two elephants’ tusks of length and magnitude such as indicate that they could have belonged only to an animal which was a native of Siam.”
President Lincoln also politely declined King Mongkut’s offer to send elephants to the U.S. to be used for transportation and as beasts of burden saying, “I appreciate most highly Your Majesty’s tender of good offices in forwarding to this Government a stock from which a supply of elephants might be raised on our own soil. This Government would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the object were one which could be made practically useful in the present condition of the United States.”
King Mongkut is possibly more well known for being portrayed as “The King” in the novel and film “Anna and the King,” in the 1940’s and the musical and film, “The King and I” in the 1950’s.
Bizarre Victorian fact of the day…
Horse racing was an extremely popular sport in the Victorian era and races attracted huge numbers of spectators. As a result of the large crowds, many such events resulted in fighting as the day went on. These incidents were usually confined to minor brawling. However in 1855 a race at Aston Park near Birmingham erupted into unprecedented levels of violence when a group of 11,000 men divided into two gangs of ‘British’ and ‘Russians’ to re-enact battles of the Crimean War using ripped up fence-posts as weapons. The action spread into a neighbouring village and 16 locals were hospitalised.
This is a grave from the Victorian age when a fear of zombies and vampires was prevalent. The cage was intended to trap the undead just in case the corpse reanimated.
Or…. It was intended to stop people from stealing fresh corpses to sell to medical schools for dissection. See also, Burke & Hare.
This is also where the term “graveyard shift” comes from. If you weren’t wealthy enough to afford a mort safe, the thing pictured above, family members of the deceased would guard the bodies in shifts for two weeks (the time it takes for bodies to decompose enough that they were undesirable for the medical schools) to make sure that their loved one’s bodies were not dug up and sold.