Daily Snippet- June 19th
The Renaissance was undoubtedly one of the most influential periods in world history. Despite the fact that it was a period that is primarily associated with European Nations, the inventions, discoveries and innovations from the time paved the way for the centuries to come in the fields of science, technology, art, literature and several others. Emerging from the “Dark Era”, a period wrought with disease outbreaks, epidemics, poor standards of living and economic deterioration in Europe, there was a radical change in the mindset of citizens as the continent awoke to a “rebirth” of sorts.
While there were a number of changes and causes that fuelled the Renaissance and that have been considered triggers for this period, one of the inventions that we undoubtedly fail to give enough importance to is the printing press, invented by the German goldsmith, Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz. His first idea of a printing press used metal letters which were inked and then pressed onto books.
At the time, it was considered a massively important invention as previously all education and information was controlled by predominant authority in the region, The Roman Catholic Church, as the religion of Christianity was propagated among the masses and certain ideologies were advocated for. However, this invention brought with it a number of changes. For the first time, books and knowledge was being disseminated among the masses at cheaper prices, due to the profound ease in the process of printing as compared to hand-written books. Books were no longer a facility solely available to the creme de la creme of European society. With this simple invention, education could no longer be restricted within the four walls of the Roman Catholic Church. The spread of information among the masses had never been faster. Within 50 years of the invention, more than 7 million books had been published by printers all over Europe, making the printing press undoubtedly one of the most important inventions of the time.
Daily snippet: 18th June
Amelia Earhart, the braveheart who flew across the Atlantic
On this very day, in the year 1928, history was made as Amelia Earhart, the American Aviator became the very first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Her desire to fly began long before, when she was an eleven year old, as she watched a plane swoop past her in close proximity. She was intrigued by the adrenaline rush she felt as she watched the plane move. It was then that she knew she wanted to fly.
Today on the historic anniversary of her famous flight across the Atlantic, she is remembered for her will, passion for aviation, and her strong desire to become a pilot which fuelled her ambition in the years that followed. Despite the fact that it was uncommon at the time, she broke all norms that women were confined to. During her short lifetime, Amelia broke a number of records as “the women’s speed record for 100 kilometers with no load and with a load of 500 kilograms”, and was “the first woman to fly solo nonstop coast to coast; set women’s nonstop transcontinental speed record” and many others. She was well respected and loved by the American people.
On the first of June 1937, Earhart decided to become the first woman to circumnavigate the world for a second time. She embarked on a trip with her navigator Fred Noonan to Hawaii. The pair reached Lae, New Guinea, on June 29th for a refuelling stop. Little did the authorities and eagerly awaiting citizens following the conquest know that it would be the last time Amelia Earhart would be heard and seen. The very next day, the US coast guard lost contact with the flight. Amelia and Fred were never heard from again. Over the weeks that followed, massive operations were conducted and commissioned by the American President himself, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. However, the remains of the flight are unrecovered to this day.
Over the years, speculations of what really caused the untoward disappearance of Amelia’s flight have been frequently pondered upon by experts, aviators and aviation enthusiasts. Yet, now it seems increasingly likely that her disappearance will remain a mystery forever.
Daily snippet- 17th June
Title: The Genius of Edward Jenner
As the world awaits with bated breath for a sign of a vaccine that will give hope to the human race against COVID-19, we must spare a moment to think of remarkable work that scientists of the yesteryears have put in to eradicate diseases and epidemics.
Smallpox was a fatal disease that was known for millennia before a vaccine was found. Traces and records of it were found in ancient Indian and Chinese scriptures, as well as Egyption mummies. Having a fatality rate of almost 60%, patients infected were left with lifelong side effects such as permanent blindness and indelible scars. It was considered incurable, until 224 years ago, the very first smallpox vaccine was administered by Edward Jenner-an English doctor- to an 8 year old boy named James Phipps. Jenner was the first to analyse the effects of “the Cowpox vaccination”, and its role in curing smallpox.
Taking inspiration from the folklore suggesting that “milkmaids who suffered from cowpox were never affected by the smallpox”, Edward Jenner continued to delve deeper into what was initially believed to be a myth. It was not long before he created a vaccine that administered a small dose of the cowpox to fight the far more dangerous smallpox virus, which was the cause of a widespread epidemic at the time.
While his ideas were first mocked around England for its forwardness, the positive effects of the vaccine soon became evident as the demand for it massively grew around England. Edward Jenner rose to success, as the honor of coining the scientific term for his massive discovery was bestowed upon him. The word vaccine, that we use so frequently today was coined by Edward Jenner, and funnily enough, is derived from the Latin word “Vacca” meaning cow.