The Rocket Boys
In the late 1930s, a group of Caltech graduate students were booted off campus after blowing up (part of!) their building during a rocket test gone awry. Unwilling to give up on the joy of semi-controlled explosions, the students and a few of their friends headed into the San Gabriel Mountains. They picked a deserted gully — Arroyo Seco — and got testing. This was about when their classmates starting calling the gathering the Suicide Club.
1936: Rudolph Schott, Apollo Milton Olin Smith, Frank Malina, Ed Forman and Jack Parsons: Rocket Boys, or Suicide Club?
Frank Malina studied aerodynamics at Caltech. Jack Parons was a high school drop-out and a self-taught chemist. Ed Forman was an excellent mechanic. Their first round of testing in October 1936 was less-than-successful: the last test of the day, they accidentally lit their oxygen line on fire. The line whipped around, a snaking hose of fire that somehow didn’t kill anyone. Undeterred, they kept trying. By November, their tests worked.
A group of Palestinian students and their professor who visited Auschwitz in March have returned home to sharp criticism from their university, The Washington Post reports.
Dr. Mohammed Dajani, a professor at the Palestinian Al-Quds University, lead a group of 27 students on what may have been the first organized visit of Palestinian students to a Nazi concentration camp. The program — entitled Hearts of Flesh - Not Stone — came about as part of a joint program on Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution run by the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Hareetz reports.
Students from Al-Quds who went on the trip met with Israeli students to learn about one another’s heritage and the respective suffering Palestinian and Israeli communities have experienced over the years. From the project’s Facebook page:
In its prime, a massive steam locomotive known as Big Boy No. 4014 was a moving eruption of smoke and vapor, a 6,300-horsepower brute dragging heavy freight trains over the mountains of Wyoming and Utah.
It’s been silent for half a century, pushed aside by more efficient diesels, but now it’s coming back to life. The Union Pacific Railroad is embarking on a yearslong restoration project that will put No. 4014 back to work pulling special excursion trains.
“It’s sort of like going and finding the Titanic or something that’s just very elusive, nothing that we ever thought would happen,” said Jim Wrinn, editor of Trains, a magazine that covers the railroad industry.
Feldstein holds up Nina Simone, famed singer and songwriter, as a prime example. “When Simone rejected the impulse to ‘talk like a lady’ [in her song “Mississippi Goddam”] … she was saying that women should not have to behave a certain way to be recognized as deserving,” Feldstein said.
“Here and in other songs, Simone staged an assault — simultaneously on racism and on expectations of female propriety. For her, black power was about black female power.”
There is a crucial, ongoing need for this kind of work: reevaluating history and promoting those important voices that get lost or marginalized along the way. That’s why we’re proud to be an investor in Feldstein’s career, and we’re excited to see where she’ll go next. A powerful writer and academic, Feldstein has already seen praise for her book in the New York Times. Here’s to hoping that her text will soon be the norm in teaching — not the exception.
Some whites feared racial integration; others wondered what might happen to their kids when they were bused far from home. But blacks also were uncomfortable with the prospect. For many, their fight had always been more about long-denied education resources — money, teachers, books and facilities — than a desire to sit next to white children in schools way across town.
All of these fears played out in Charlotte as the nation watched. The nightly news and the newspapers led with stories of “race riots” where white and non-white students, mostly blacks back then, had suddenly been thrust together. There were bomb threats and vandalism at schools on opening day. The parents of many kids, mostly white students, chose to keep their children home.
More: The Battle for Busing
My presumptive great-grandparents, Rachel Robinson and Moncure Robinson Taylor, had several children, most of whom crossed the color line, as did Jefferson and Sally Hemings’. My grandmother did not. She moved to Washington and married Arthur Jessup on Dec. 1, 1901. They had seven children and lived comfortably and happily for many years, until tragedy destroyed their family. I’ve often thought that it was the senselessness and pain of that loss that compelled me to learn more about my grandmother, that discovering Eva’s mysterious past would mitigate my dad’s pain.
Or maybe I was simply intrigued to learn that we are Jefferson descendants and wanted to know the truth.
These discoveries have some historical value. According to Stanton, “It bears on the sexual exploitation of servants and women of color that didn’t end when slavery ended, it speaks to the division in families because of the color line, and it’s relevant to how history is transmitted in families and what is valuable enough to remember.”
There’s still more DNA discovery ahead. Moore is looking for more scientific evidence that Moncure Robinson Taylor was indeed my grandmother’s father. That means reaching out to his white descendants for their DNA samples. Tess Taylor’s DNA has already been sampled. Meanwhile, my siblings and I are satisfied that the DNA results we have support what Aunt Peachy always said: that we are Thomas Jefferson’s descendants. Not that we ever had any doubts.
Assumptions past and present about our prehistoric behavior reflects very thin evidence. Still, this is encouraging.
Before we had sequenced the Neanderthal genome and discovered our mixed ancestry, the traditional story of how Homo sapiens came to rule the western half of Eurasia was a lot uglier. Basically, scientists believed that humans had come out of Africa and killed off every other hominin they met. Maybe they didn’t actually stab them in the face — though anthropologists like Richard Klein do believe there may have been a genocide. But as evolutionary biologist Ian Tattersall has said, a more likely scenario is that humans just out-competed the local Neanderthals, using up local resources and driving their big-boned cousins to extinction.
Now that we know about the Neanderthal ancestry in Europeans, we have a third possibility, which is that Neanderthals assimilated into Homo sapiens. Sure, there may have been competition between the two groups but they had families too.
This is where the philosophical importance of Neanderthal/Homo sapiens sex comes in. We may never know the real story of what happened between early Homo sapiens and the other hominin groups they met outside Africa. Any scientist who claims to know the truth of these events is, well, a bad scientist. Like all histories, the tale of our distant forbearers is an interpretation, based on available evidence. And the story we choose to tell ourselves about that evidence matters a great deal.
So, why does it matter that Homo sapiens had sex with Neanderthals? It matters because now we have genetic evidence that humans as a species don’t always kill and destroy what we don’t understand. Sometimes, we fall in love and settle down instead.
The United States was largely spared this medical disaster thanks to the tenacity of one woman, a young FDA reviewer named Dr. Francis Kelsey, who fought more than a year to delay the drug’s approval in the United States and ultimately prevented its release. The realization of how close America came to participating in the tragedy sweeping across Europe brought about regulatory reforms that held pharmaceutical firms far more accountable for the drugs they make.
But, as Retro Report found, this dark chapter was not the end for thalidomide. Decades later scientific inquisitiveness collided with luck to turn the once-infamous drug into a life-saving treatment for tens of thousands of patients in the throes of other painful and often deadly diseases. From leprosy to blood-born cancers, thalidomide is now a go-to drug. This salvation, however, continues to carry a human cost; the shadow of its past is being revisited today in places like Brazil, and victims say they continue to look warily toward thalidomide’s future.
This is really interesting. I also really like the cute illustrations.
Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Charles Dickens founded The Arts Club, Jules Verne published his first novel, and Gerard Adriaan Heineken planned to buy his first brewery.
THE ERA ALSO MARKED THE DAWN OF MODERN TOURISM.
the story that played out on national television was incomplete. Until the 1970s, fire policy had called for putting out every forest fire as soon as it started, creating tons of underbrush in Yellowstone — and in parks across the nation. And that underbrush had set the stage for raging wildfires. When federal officials shifted fire policy in 1972 to allow for naturally-caused fires to burn themselves out, and, hopefully, reduce potentially deadly build up of underbrush, it turned out to be too little too late. It failed to make a dent in the thousands of acres of dry underbrush that ignited in Yellowstone during the summer of 1988, the summer that gave everyone an education in fire.
More: Summer of Fire