March 17, 2022

#ThrowbackThursday – 17 March

In the words of author Umberto Eco, “We are dwarfs, but dwarfs who stand on the shoulders of those giants, and small though we are, we sometimes manage to see farther on the horizon than they.”

Since the dawn of time, countless men and women around the world have contributed to shaping our history with varying degrees of results. Whether it be creating something from the ground up or drawing from the teachings of others, their influence remains strong and helps to guide our daily living experiences.

On that note, take a look at these five events that went down in history on 17 March:

432 – Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Today marks the feast day of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. His story begins in fourth-century Roman Britain, where he was kidnapped by pirates at the age of 16. Fortunately, he made his escape and returned to the Emerald Isle, where he is credited for converting its citizens to Christianity.

St Patrick has been entrenched in legend for over a thousand years due to his extraordinary feats, which include supposedly driving snakes out of Ireland, and using a shamrock leaf to explain the Holy Trinity.

He is believed to have died on 17 March in 461AD, which has been celebrated as his feast day in Europe, America, and beyond!

1845 – Introducing the Rubber Band

In 1839, rubber was created. Six years later, its loopy derivative made its debut.

On this day, a British inventor named Stephen Perry received a patent for the first rubber band, which he created as a means to hold envelopes and papers together.

He created it by extruding the rubber into a long tube to provide its general shape, placing the tubes on mandrels, curing the rubber with heat, and slicing it across the tube’s width into little bands. The tube then splits into multiple sections, and voila, the rubber band is born!

Perry’s invention has been in use ever since, serving many different functions from keeping rolled-up posters in place and sealing bags, to preventing sliced apples from browning.

1898 – The Father of Modern Submarines

Yet another Irishman has made history on this day by being the first person to successfully dive and surface inside a submarine.

John Philip Holland completed his run of the 54-feet-long “Holland VI” submarine off Staten Island in New York City, New York. According to a newspaper report at the time, “those on board her had a good time … for they went down and sailed about twenty feet under water and then, best of all, came up as well and safe as they went down.” 

The submarine was sold to the American government two years later.

Holland began designing submarines in 1878, with the Fenian Society – a group of Irish republicans – providing financial support for his experiments. He also built similar ships for the navies of Japan, Great Britain and Russia.

He would later die in 1914 before the outbreak of World War I, during which submarines were used by both the Allied powers and the German Empire.

1905 – The Light Side of Physics

In 1905, theoretical physicist Albert Einstein enlightened the world.

Einstein introduced his “Quantum Theory of Light” theory: simply put, he hypothesised that light exists as tiny packets, or particles, which he called photons, and that they show wave-like properties.

Because of Einstein’s breakthrough theory, discoveries and inventions in recent years were made possible, or at least built on its foundations.

For example, liquid crystal display screens used in TVs, calculators, digital clocks and monitors combine electric fields with light energy to produce images, and hologram technology is based on the application of light’s wave-like properties. Microscopy and wave optics are scientific fields which also owe their existence to Einstein’s ideas.

1919 – Happy Birthday, Nat King Cole!

Today marks the 103rd birthday of Nat King Cole, one of America’s most influential singers of all time.

Born Nathaniel Adams Cole in 1919, he began learning how to play the piano when he was just four-years-old. When he was 15, he dropped out of school to become a jazz pianist. A few years later, he styled himself as Nat King Cole – after the famous children’s nursery rhyme – and formed the King Cole Trio, which performed around the United States.

Come the ‘50s, Cole was hugely popular thanks to his solo hits such as “Mona Lisa”, “Unforgettable”, and the beloved classic, “The Christmas Song”, all crooned in his signature baritone voice. He also dabbled in television, notably hosting his own variety show in 1956.

Sadly, Cole passed away in 1965 at the tender age of 45 after succumbing to liver cancer. Still, his legacy still endures to this very day.

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