May 23, 2000
What's for Dreamer
Poem: "Whatís for Dreamer?" by Todd Colby, from Riot in the Charm Factory (Soft Skull Press).
Itís the birthday of American physicist John Bardeen, born in Madison, Wisconsin (1908). He shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of transistors. At that time, electrical circuits were controlled by electrodes in vacuum tubes: bulky, fragile glass cylinders that consumed a lot of power and didn't last very long. Bardeen changed all that with the invention of the transistor, an abbreviation of transfer and resistor. He later shared a second Nobel Prize for helping explain how any substance could achieve perfect conductivity.
Itís the birthday of British poet and memoirist Sheila Wingfield, born in Hampshire, England (1906). Her most acclaimed volume, Beat Drum, Beat Heart (1946), is actually a single, long poem that grapples with the causes and effects of World War Two. A volume of prose memoirs called Real People (1952) describes, in precise detail, everything from the local postman and constable to tourists in her small Irish village.
Itís the birthday of writer Scott OíDell, born in Los Angeles (1898). Heís best known as the author of historical fiction for children, notably his Newberry Award winning, The Island Of The Blue Dolphin (1960), which tells the true story of a Native American girl who survived alone on an island off the coast of California for 18 years.
Itís the birthday of engineer James B. Eads, born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana (1820), whose job as purser on a Mississippi riverboat inspired him to design a salvage boat with a diving bell. The diving bell enabled him to walk the river bottom and recover lost cargo from the frequent riverboat disasters, and made him a wealthy man. His supreme achievement, however, was the design of a steel, triple-arch bridge over the Mississippi at St. Louis: the largest bridge in the world when it opened in 1874.
Itís the birthday of writer, critic, and feminist, Margaret Fuller, born in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts (1810). When she was 29, she sponsored a series of Conversations with the wives of famous men like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Theodore Parkerthat formed the basis of her book, Woman In The Nineteenth Century (1845). She was a founder of the Transcendentalist journal The Dial, which marked a turning point in American literary development. She said, "I now know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own."
Itís the birthday of American actor, playwright and
diplomat John Howard Payne, born in New York City
(1791). He wrote his first play at 15, and made his stage
debut at 18; but he's best known for the song "Home
Sweet Home," from the libretto of his opera Clari:
or, The Maid of Milan (1823):
'Mid pleasures and palaces
Though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble,
There's no place like home.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®