More history:

In my last blog I mentioned some interesting facts that I had read on the subject of history over the years and added that I could have mentioned more. Here are some of them.

The person who is usually credited with the discovery that the Sun is at the centre of the solar system is Nicolaus Copernicus, but he believed that the planets had circular orbits and his theory fitted the observations no better than the old system. A century later Johannes Kepler showed that the theory fitted the observations much better if the orbits were elliptical. Therefore Kepler rather than Copernicus should be credited with the discovery that the Sun is at the centre of the solar system.

The first person to study the sky using a telescope was Galileo in the early seventeenth century. He increased the number of known stars from 2000 to 500,000. He discovered the four brightest satellites of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, the phases of Venus (showing that planets shone by reflected sunlight), craters on the Moon and sunspots (showing that the sun rotated). He also showed that the Milky Way was made up of a large number of faint stars as Democritus had predicted two thousand years earlier.

The first steam railway is often said to be that which ran from Stockton to Darlington and opened in 1825, but that was only the first to carry passengers. The first train to carry goods ran from Sunderland to Hetton and was opened in 1822.

Work on the ten-volume Oxford English Dictionary began in 1860. It was estimated that it would take between five and ten years, but it actually took 68 years.

In 1886 Heinrich Hertz discovered radio waves, but he couldn’t see any practical use for them.

In the 1950s and 60s Fred Hoyle worked out how the chemical elements were produced in stars. On the rare occasions when the predicted abundances differed from those already published the published value turned out to be wrong. In 1953 he told Willy Fowler that carbon could not exist unless C-12 possessed an excited energy state of 7.65 MeV, which Fowler then found at the Kellegg Radiation Lab in Pasadena, California. This is the only time that a successful prediction has ever been made from an anthropic argument.

In my last blog I mentioned that Sergei Korolyov designed the spacecraft that enabled Yuri Gagarin to become the first astronaut in 1961. Korolyov died in 1966 at the age of 59, and it is thought that if he had survived for a few more years the first person to set foot on the moon would probably have been a Russian.

I can remember when space travel was not expected to occur until the unimaginably distant future. Here are some more key events:
The first time the Moon was hit by a spacecraft was in 1959.
The first time that a spacecraft landed softly on the Moon was in 1966.
The first time that a spacecraft landed softly on another planet (Mars) was in 1976.
The outermost major planet, Neptune, was first visited in 1989.

Scrapbook photographs:

In July 2019 I uploaded some pages from my scrapbooks consisting of photographs taken between 1967 and 2002. In May 2020 I added a further 27 pages of photographs that were taken before 1967. Here are some comments on them. Note that whenever I refer to a chapter of Happy Memories the relevant passage can be found by going to ‘The Story of My Life’ in my website, then going to the chapter mentioned and searching for a key word such as ‘marguerites’.

Page 5 – The lower photograph appears on the front cover of Happy Memories.

Page 10 – The top photograph shows, from left to right, my sister Amanda, Angela Page, Vanessa Page, myself and Robert Corey. The photograph at the foot of the page on the right is featured in Chapter 2 of Happy Memories.

Page 11 – The top photograph was taken near my home. The one below it was taken in Paignton.

Pages 12 and 13 – The photographs of Much Hadham on pages 12 and 13 are featured in Chapter 3 of Happy Memories.

Page 18 – The two photographs at the foot of the page are from the same negative. At first I was disappointed with the enlargement because it didn’t show Snowdon, but later I came to prefer it to the original.

Page 22 – The photograph on the right at the foot of of the page shows me selling copies of the university newspaper Gaudie at the entrance to Marischal College.

Page 23 – The lower photograph is featured in Chapter 8 of Happy Memories and appears on page 58 of the printed book.

Page 27 – I lost these photographs in 1979 and found them again in 2018. I particularly like the one of the snow.