Apr. 20, 1998
It's the 102nd anniversary of the Boston Marathon, when about 15,000 runners start from the town of Hopkinton, Massachusetts and wind their way through eight cities and towns and finish 26.2 miles later near downtown Boston. The first winner of the race back in 1897 was J.J. McDermott, who ran it in two hours, fifty-five minutes.
It's the birthday in Basel, Switzerland, 1927, of ALEX MÜLLER, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1987 for his work on superconductivity: the ability to transmit electricity with no resistance and 100% efficiency. The whole concept of superconductivity had been around at least since the turn of the century, but the problem was that the materials had to be extremely cold to make it work, near what scientist call "absolute zero" or 460 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Müller found a way to raise that temperature to make superconductivity practical.
It's the birthday in Burchard, Nebraska, 1893, of silent film star HAROLD LLOYD, famous for his hair-raising stunts, all of which he did himself. He's best known for the movie, Safety Last, made in 1923, in which he climbs up the face of a 14-story building then dangles from the hands of a bank clock. He made nearly 500 movies and became the shy, sincere guy next door, always trying to do the right thing and get ahead in the world, but who always ended up in some dire straits at the top of a tall building.
The Spanish surrealist painter, JOAN MIRO, was born on this day in 1893, near Barcelona. In Europe he's best known as a painter, but in the States he made his mark as a sculptor. He started painting when he was 10 years old at an art class in school. He remembers, "That class was like a religious ceremony to me. I would wash my hands carefully before touching paper or pencils. The instruments of work were sacred objects to me."
Charles Dickens' novel A TALE OF TWO CITIES started coming out in monthly installments on this date in London, 1859; the story of London and the revolution in Paris in the late 18th century that begins with these lines: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way." It's a complex plot, but along the way Sydney Carton sacrifices his own life to save that of his friend Charles Darnay, and says: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®