May 11 – May 17 2020 /Week in History/
868 – First printed book debuts
In 1900, one of the surviving copies of the “Diamond Sutra” was found in one of the Danhuan caves (western China). This copy dates back to 868 AD, which is hundreds of years before the advent of font printing technology in Europe. Paper and printing were already used in China before the advent of the Diamond Sutra, but this is the first known publication that has a clearly defined date of publication.
The Diamond Sutra is the oldest surviving accurately dated printed document, and it now lives in the British Library in London. Its figurative name is “The Sutra of Perfect Wisdom, Dissecting (the Darkness of Ignorance) as a Lightning Bolt”. The sutra describes the behavior, speech and way of thinking of “entering the path of bodhisattvas”, i.e. those who are fully committed to spiritual perfection. The sutra recommends accumulating virtues, of which the most valuable are memorizing this gospel, meditating on it and disseminating knowledge about it.
The sutra enjoys exceptional authority; translated into almost all languages of “northern Buddhism”.
The book teaches us about the art and cultural traditions of the famous Silk Road – the ancient trade route connecting the east and west of Eurasia. The book is a scroll of gray paper with hieroglyphs wrapped around a wooden base. As archaeologists have established, the printing technique was used to make the book so that several copies could be made. The production of multi-copy copies gave the Buddhists certain advantages in spreading their religion, and therefore they widely used the printing technique.
1941 – The world’s first programmable computer debuts
The model was called Z3 and was demonstrated by German engineer Conrad Zuse in Berlin.
In the 1930s, Zuse designed airplanes at Henschel Aircraft. In the course of work, he had to carry out huge volumes of routine calculations. Then there were only mechanical calculators with a decimal number system, and Zuse was interested in the problem of automating the calculation process. So the German engineer invented the computer, first of all, in order to facilitate his work.
1950 – the first Formula 1 championship race takes place.
The International Association of Recognized Automobile Clubs AIACR was created at the beginning of the 20th century, which was later renamed the International Automobile Federation FIA.
Before WWII, the federation held several racing championships that became the prototype of the modern Grand Prix (a series of competitions for the International Cup 1900-1905, world championships for manufacturers of racing cars 1925-1927 and European championships 1931-1939).
The popularity of motorsport exploded in the 1930s. In fact, the sport gained a reputation as one of the most prestigious and spectacular sports; however, during WWII, many routes were destroyed and factories were closed. But the sport rallied quickly: On September 9, 1945, the first post-war race took place in the Bois de Boulogne near Paris, and in 1946 15 races took place – in France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain.
The first post-war races welcomed any cars that fit the category of sports. In 1949, the International Federation of Automobile Sports made a historic decision – to establish a world championship among drivers, including the most prestigious national Grand Prix.
The first Formula One championship was held a year later, on May 13, 1950, on the Silverstone track (Great Britain), laid along the runways of the former military airfield.
44-year-old Italian racer Giuseppe Nino Farina, who started at Alfa Romeo, led the entire race from start to finish and won.
The first race was held in the presence of members of the British royal family and included some of the strongest racers of the world of that time – Juan Manuel Fangio, Luigi Fagioli, Louis Rosier, Reg Parnell, Prince Bira and others.
1948 – New State Proclaimed – Israel
Only one-third of the nearly nine million Jewish communities in Europe survived WWII, but for them the trials were not yet over. After the war, the British imposed even greater restrictions on Jewish repatriation to Palestine.
The answer was the creation of the Jewish Resistance Movement, which aimed at fighting the British authorities for free entry into the country. Despite the sea blockade imposed by the British and patrolling the borders, from 1944 to 1948 about 85,000 people were transported by secret, often dangerous routes to Palestine. The situation in the country was extremely unstable, and the British government was forced to transfer the solution to the Palestinian problem into the hands of the United Nations. On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly, by a majority vote – 33 against 13 – adopted a resolution on the division of Palestine into two states.
May 14, 1948, the day the British mandate expired, David Ben Gurion at a meeting in the Tel Aviv Museum read out the Declaration of Independence of the new state, officially named Medinat Israel (state of Israel).
The following year, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed a law on a national holiday on the 5th day of the month of Iyar, called Yom Ha’atzmaut – Independence Day.
1930 – American Ellen Church became the first stewardess in the world.
American Ellen Church (1904-1965), a nurse from Iowa, is considered the first stewardess in the world.
Ellen Church was very interested in aviation and wanted to become a pilot. She approached Boeing Air Transport with a question: if she entered training, would she have the opportunity to become a pilot? He replied that he considered her other idea much more promising – to introduce a new position on aircraft that is similar to the position of the conductor on the railway.
The company’s management approved this proposal for commercial reasons. Showing a plane of young girls who were not afraid to fly would reassure potential passengers that flying is safe. In addition, the skills of a nurse could be useful in flight, especially when you consider that the then low-flying aircraft shook and rocked, and many passengers did not feel too well.
Ellen Church was asked to recruit a group of seven nurses no older than 25 years old and no heavier than 115 pounds (about 52 kg), ready to become stewardesses for a decent fee of $ 125 per month.
After several months of training, the group, led by Church herself, flew for the first time on May 15, 1930 on the San Francisco-Cheyenne flight. In the next three years, almost all American airlines acquired stewardess units, and their appearance really contributed to the popularization of passenger aircraft.
During World War II, Ellen Church served as a nurse on a medical plane transporting wounded soldiers from North Africa and Italy, and then on a medical train in France. She was awarded a number of medals. Church Cresco airfield in its hometown of Cresco is named after the world’s first flight attendant – Ellen Church.
1985 – The beginning of USSR’s anti-alcohol campaign
In 1985, in the USSR, the country’s leadership decided to “sober up” the population and instill in it a desire for a healthy lifestyle. With great fanfare, the All-Union Sobriety Society was created. Members pledged not to drink alcohol at all. They began to “voluntarily-forcibly” write down those who held a position in society and who had something to lose. Television and radio promoted non-alcoholic weddings and New Year’s feasts with lemonade. It was discussed whether alcoholic scenes should be cut from old films. The newspapers of those years were full of scary figures of the number of premature deaths associated with drunkenness, divorce, lost jobs and criminal offenses.
Instead, the rules of trade were sharply violated, moonshine flourished, consumption of substitute substances increased, huge lines appeared in liquor stores, and drug stores containing alcohol disappeared in pharmacies. In a country accustomed to living in conditions of a shortage of everything and everything, a new severe deficit arose. A bottle of vodka has become the equivalent of hard currency. The production of hard liquors decreased by 25%, the vineyard area – by a third. A large number of distilleries and wineries were closed or redesigned.
The anti-alcohol campaign ended in nothing, bringing the budget billions of dollars in losses. The sobriety society last recalled its existence in the spring of 1989, when, according to the quota of public organizations, it got one seat at the Congress of People’s Deputies.
1861 – the first color photograph debuts
The first color photograph made its appearance at London Kings College on May 17, 1861. It was created by Scottish physicist James Maxwell (1831–1879). The photo is of a plaid bow made of black velvet.
The essence of the method was as follows: three glass positives were projected onto the screen simultaneously through glass vessels filled with red, green and blue liquids, each of which was imprinted through an appropriate filter. The role of the filter in this experiment was played by the vessel. Then the images were superimposed on each other, and the photo was obtained.
Opinions of Maxwell’s contemporaries regarding his demonstration were mixed. But we can say for sure that it was another step in the development of photography.
Today it is known that the red colors on the removable checkered tape reflected ultraviolet rays, which were recorded by the photographic plate during the shooting process, and the green filter was not strictly zonal and transmitted blue rays.