Sons of Destiny
On March 14, 1879, Albert Einstein is born, the son of a Jewish electrical engineer in Germany. Einstein's theories of special and general relativity drastically altered man's view of the universe and his work in particle and energy theory helped make possible quantum mechanics and, ultimately, the atomic bomb. After a childhood in Germany and Italy, Einstein studied physics and mathematics at the Federal Polytechnic Academy in Switzerland. He became a Swiss citizen and in 1905 is awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich. That year, he published five theoretical papers that were to have a profound effect on the development of modern physics.
In the first of these, titled "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light," Einstein theorized that light is made up of individual quanta (photons) that demonstrate particle-like-properties while collectively behaving like a wave.
The hypothesis, an important step in the development of quantum theory, was arrived at through Einstein's examination of the photoelectric effect, a phenomenon in which some solids emit electrically charged particles when struck by light. This work would later earn him the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics. In the second paper, he devised a new method of counting and determining the size of the atoms and molecules in a given space, and in the third paper, he offered a mathematical explanation for the constant erratic movement of particles suspended in a fluid, known as Brownian motion. These two papers provided indisputable evidence of the existence of atoms, which at the time was still disputed by a few scientists.
Einstein's fourth groundbreaking scientific work of 1905 addressed what he termed his special theory of relativity. In special relativity, time and space are not absolute, but relative to the motion of the observer. Thus, two observers traveling at great speeds in regard to each other would not necessarily observe simultaneous events in time at the same moment, nor necessarily agree in their measurements of space. In Einstein's theory, the speed of light, which is the limiting speed of anybody having mass, is constant in all frames of reference. In the fifth paper that year, an exploration of the mathematics of special relativity, Einstein announced that mass and energy were equivalent and could be calculated with an equation, E=mc2.
Although the public was not quick to embrace his revolutionary science, Einstein was welcomed into the circle of Europe's most eminent physicists and given professorships in Zurich, Prague, and Berlin. In 1916, he published "The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity," which proposed that gravity, as well as motion, can affect the intervals of time and of space. According to Einstein, gravitation is not a force, as Isaac Newton had argued, but a curved field in the space-time continuum, created by the presence of mass. An object of very large gravitational mass, such as the sun, would, therefore, appear to warp space and time around it, which could be demonstrated by observing starlight on its way to the earth. In 1919, astronomers studying a solar eclipse verified predictions Einstein made in the general theory of relativity, and he became an overnight celebrity. Later, other predictions of general relativity, such as a shift in the orbit of the planet Mercury and the probable existence of black holes, were confirmed by scientists.
During the next decade, Einstein made continued contributions to quantum theory and began work on a unified field theory, which he hoped would encompass quantum mechanics and his own relativity theory as a grand explanation of the workings of the universe. As a world-renowned public figure, he became increasingly political, speaking out against militarism and rearmament. In his native Germany, this made him an unpopular figure, and after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933 Einstein renounced his German citizenship and left the country.
He later settled in the US, where he accepted a post at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. He would remain there for the rest of his life, working on his unified field theory and relaxing by sailing on a local lake or playing his violin. He became an American citizen in 1940. In 1939, despite his lifelong pacifist beliefs, he agreed to write to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on behalf of a group of scientists who were concerned with American inaction in the field of atomic-weapons research. Like the other scientists, he feared sole German possession of such a weapon. He played no role, however, in the subsequent Manhattan Project and the later deplored use of atomic bombs against Japan. After the war, he called for the establishment of a world government that would control nuclear technology and prevent future-armed conflicts.
In 1950, he published his unified field theory, which was quietly criticized as a failure. A unified explanation of gravitation, subatomic phenomena, and electromagnetism remains elusive today. Albert Einstein, one of the most creative minds in human history, died in Princeton in the year 1955. (Note: See Albert Einstein there are so many wonderful books on him)
Adolf Hitler is reviled as one of history's greatest villains. Hitler becomes Fuhrer, August 2, 1934, with the death of German President Paul von Hindenburg; Chancellor Adolf Hitler becomes absolute dictator of Germany under the title of Fuehrer, or "Leader." The German army took an oath of allegiance to its new commander-in-chief, and the last remnants of Germany's democratic government were dismantled for Hitler's Third Reich. Hitler assured people that the Third Reich would last for a thousand years, but Hitler would last just 11 years.
Adolf Hitler was born in Austria, in 1889. As a young man, he aspired to be a painter, but he received little public recognition and lived in poverty in Vienna, of German descent, he came to detest Austria as a ‘patchwork nation’ of various ethnic groups, and in 1913, he moved to the German city of Munich in the state of Bavaria. After a year of drifting, he found direction as a German soldier in World War I and was decorated for his bravery on the battlefield.
The story goes, he was in a military hospital in 1918, recovering from a mustard gas attack that left him temporarily blind, when Germany surrendered. He was appalled by Germany's defeat, which he blamed on 'the enemies within' chiefly the German communists and Jews and he was enraged by the 'punitive peace settlement forced on Germany by the victorious Allies'. He remained in the German army after the war, and an intelligence agent, he was 'ordered to report on subversive activities in Munich's political parties'. He then joined the tiny German Workers Party, made up of embittered army veterans, as the group’s seventh member. Hitler was put in charge of the party's propaganda, and in 1920, he assumed leadership of the organization, changing its name to 'National Socialist German Workers' Party', which was abbreviated to 'Nazi’s. The party's socialist orientation was a ploy to attract working-class support. Nevertheless, the economic views of the party were overshadowed by the Nazis' fervent nationalism, which blamed Jews, communists, the Treaty of Versailles, and Germany's ineffectual democratic government etc., for the country's devastated economy. In 1920, the ranks of Hitler's Bavarian-based Nazi party swelled with resentful Germans.
A paramilitary organization, the Sturmabteilung (SA), was formed to protect the Nazis and intimidate their political opponents, and the party adopted the ancient symbol of the swastika as its emblem. In November 1923, after the German government resumed the payment of war reparations to Britain and France, the Nazis launched the 'Beer Hall Putsch' an attempt at seizing the German government by force. However, the uprising was immediately suppressed, and Hitler was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for treason. Imprisoned he spent his time there dictating his autobiography, (My Struggle).
Political pressure from the Nazis forced the Bavarian government to commute Hitler's sentence, and he was released after nine months. However, Hitler emerged to find his party disintegrated. An upturn in the economy further reduced popular support of the party, and for several years, Hitler was forbidden to make speeches in Bavaria and elsewhere in Germany. The onset of the Great Depression in 1929 brought a new opportunity for the Nazis to solidify their power. Hitler and his followers set about reorganizing the party as a fanatical mass movement and won financial backing from business leaders, for whom the Nazis promised an end to labor agitation. In the 1930 election, the Nazis won six million votes, making the party the second largest in Germany. Two years later, Hitler challenged Paul von Hindenburg for the presidency, but the 84-year-old president defeated Hitler.
Although the Nazis suffered a decline in votes during the November 1932 election, Hindenburg agreed to make Hitler chancellor in January 1933, 'hoping that Hitler could be brought to heel' as a member of his cabinet. However, Hindenburg underestimated Hitler, as one of the new chancellor's his first act was to exploit the burning of the Reichstag parliament building as a pretext for calling 'general elections'. The police under Nazi Hermann Goering suppressed much of the party's opposition before the election, and the Nazis won a bare majority. Shortly after, Hitler took on dictatorial power through the Enabling Acts. Chancellor Hitler immediately set about arresting and executing political opponents and even purged the Nazis' own SA paramilitary organization in a successful effort to win support from the German army. (See a history of WWII)
With the death of President Hindenburg on August 2, 1934, Hitler united the chancellorship and presidency under the new title of Fuehrer. As the economy, improved, popular support for Hitler's regime became strong, 'and a cult of Fuehrer worship was propagated by Hitler's capable propagandists'. German remilitarization and state-sanctioned anti-Jewish propaganda drew criticism from home and abroad, but the foreign powers could not 'fail to stem the rise of Nazi Germany'. In 1938, Hitler implemented his 'plans for world domination' with the annexation of Austria, and in 1939 'he seized all of Czechoslovakia'. Hitler's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, 'Germany and France are at war'. Hitler's war machine won a series of stunning victories, conquering 'the great part of continental Europe'. However, the tide turned in 1942 during Germany's invasion of the USSR.
By early 1945, 'Great Briton' and America were closing in on Germany from the west, the Soviets from the east, and Hitler was holed up in a' bunker under the chancellery in Berlin'. On April 30, with the Soviets less than a mile from his headquarters, Hitler 'committed suicide' with 'Eva Braun', whom he 'married' the night before. Hitler left Germany devastated the Allies, divided the country after that it became the 'Cold War'.
On May 14, 1948, in Tel Aviv, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaims the State of Israel, establishing the first Jewish state. Ben-Gurion pronounced the words "We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel.” 'Weapons could be heard from fighting that broke out between Jews and Arabs immediately following the British army withdrawal earlier that day'. 'Egypt launched an air assault against Israel that evening'. Despite a blackout in Tel-Aviv and the expected Arab invasion, Jews joyously celebrated the birth of their new nation, especially after word was received that the United States had recognized the Jewish state. At midnight, the State of Israel officially came into being upon termination of the British mandate in Palestine. Ottoman-controlled Palestine was chosen as the most desirable location for a Jewish state, and Herzl unsuccessfully petitioned the Ottoman government for a Charter. After the failed Russian Revolution of 1905, growing numbers of Eastern European and Russian Jews began to immigrate to Palestine, joining the few thousand Jews who had arrived earlier. The Jewish settlers insisted on the use of Hebrew as their spoken language. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Britain took over Palestine. In 1917, Britain issued the "Balfour Declaration. Although protested by the Arab states, the Balfour Declaration was included in the British mandate over Palestine, which was authorized by the League of Nations in 1922. Because of Arab opposition to the establishment of any Jewish state in Palestine, British rule continued from 1920 thru 1930. Beginning in 1929, Arabs and Jews openly fought in Palestine, and Britain attempted to limit Jewish immigration.
Jewish groups employed terrorism against British forces in Palestine, which they thought had 'betrayed the Zionist cause'. At the end of World War II, in 1945, the United States took up the 'Zionist' cause. Britain, unable to find a practical solution, referred the problem to the United Nations, which in November 1947 'voted to partition Palestine'. The Jews were to possess some of Palestine; they made up about half of Palestine's population. The Palestinian Arabs, aided by volunteers from other countries, fought with the Jewish forces, by May 14, 1948, the Jewish forces had secured full control of their U.N. allocated share of Palestine and also some Arab territory. On May 14, Britain withdrew with the expiration of its mandate, and the State of Israel was proclaimed. The next day, forces from Egypt, Tran Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded.
The Israelis managed to fight off the Arabs and then seize key territories, such as Galilee, the Palestinian coast, and a strip of territory connecting the coastal region to the western section of Jerusalem. In 1949, U.N. brokered cease-fires left the State of Israel in permanent control of this conquered territory. The departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel during the war left the country with a substantial Jewish majority.
During the third Arab/Israeli conflict, the Six-Day War of 1967 Israel greatly increased its borders, capturing from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria the Old City of Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a historic peace agreement in which Israel returned the Sinai in exchange for Egyptian recognition and peace. Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a major peace accord in 1993, which envisioned the gradual implementation of Palestinian self-government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process moved slowly, however, and in 2000 major fighting between Israelis and Palestinians resumed in Israel and the occupied territories. Until this day, this conflict has not been resolved. (People of earth, 'need to learn to love and not hate')
After 17 months and many miles of travel, Brigham Young leads 148 Mormon pioneers into Utah's Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Gazing over the parched earth of the remote location, Young declared, "This is the place," and the pioneers began preparations for the thousands of Mormon migrants who would follow. Seeking religious and political freedom, the Mormons began planning their great migration from the east after the murder of Joseph Smith, the Christian sect's founder, and first leader. Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont, in 1805. In 1827, he declared that a Christian angel named Moroni, who showed him an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1,500 years, had visited him.
The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American prophet named Mormon in the fifth century A.D., told the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. During the next few years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830 ace The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ--later known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--in Fayette, New York.
The religion rapidly gained converts, and Smith set up Mormon communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, the Christian sect was also heavily criticized for its unorthodox practices, which included polygamy. In 1844, the threat of mob violence prompted Smith to call out a militia in the Mormon town of Nauvoo, Illinois. He was charged with treason by Illinois authorities and imprisoned with his brother Hyrum in the Carthage city jail. On June 27, 1844, an anti-Mormon mob with blackened faces stormed in and murdered the brothers. Two years later, Smith's successor, Brigham Young, led an exodus of persecuted Mormons from Nauvoo along the western wagon trails in search of a sanctuary in ‘a place on this earth that nobody else wants’. The expedition, more than 10,000 pioneers strong, set up camp in present-day western Iowa while Young led a vanguard company across the Rocky Mountains to investigate Utah's Great Salt Lake Valley, an arid and isolated spot devoid of human presence.
On July 22, 1947, most of the party reached the Great Salt Lake, but Young, delayed by illness, did not arrive until July 24. Upon viewing the land, he immediately confirmed the valley to be the new homeland of the Latter-day Saints. Within days, Young and his companions began building the future Salt Lake City at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. Later that year, Young rejoined the main body of pioneers in Iowa, who named him president and prophet of the church. Having formally inherited the authority of Joseph Smith, he led thousands of more Mormons to the Great Salt Lake in 1848. Other large waves of Mormon pioneers followed. By 1852, 16,000 Mormons had come to the valley, some in wagons and some dragging handcarts. After early difficulties, Salt Lake City began to flourish.
By 1869, 80,000 Mormons had made the trek to their promised land. In 1850, President Millard Fillmore named Brigham Young the first governor of the U.S. territory of Utah, and the territory enjoyed relative autonomy for several years. Relations became strained, however, when reports reached Washington that Mormon leaders were disregarding federal law and had publicly sanctioned the practice of polygamy. In 1857, President James Buchanan removed Young, who had 20 wives, from his position as governor and sent U.S. Army troops to Utah to establish federal authority. Young died in Salt Lake City in 1877 and was succeeded by John Taylor as president of the church. Tensions between the territory of Utah and the federal government continued until Wilford Woodruff, the new president of the Mormon Church, issued his Manifesto in 1890, renouncing the traditional practice of polygamy and reducing the domination of the church over Utah communities. Six years later, the territory of Utah entered the Union as the 45th state.
On this day, Buddhists celebrate the commemoration of the birth of Gautama Buddha, thought to have lived in India from 563 BC to 483 BC Actually, the Buddhist tradition that celebrates his birthday on April 8th originally placed his birth in the 11th century BC, and it was not until the modern era that scholars determined that he was more likely born in the sixth century BC, and possibly in May rather than April according to the Tripitaka, Gautama Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha, the son of the king of the Sakya people. The kingdom of the Sakyas was situated on the borders of present-day Nepal and India. Siddhartha's family was of the Gautama clan. His mother, Queen Mahamaya, gave birth to him in the park of Lumbini, in what is now southern Nepal. A pillar placed there in commemoration of the event by an Indian emperor in the third century BC still stands. At his birth, it was predicted that the prince would become either a great world monarch or a Buddha (a supremely enlightened teacher). The Brahmans told his father, King-Suddhodana, that Siddhartha would become a ruler if he were kept isolated from the outside world. The king took pains to shelter his son from misery and anything else that might influence him toward the religious life. Siddhartha was brought up in great luxury, and he married and fathered a son. At age 29, he decided to see more of the world and began excursions off the palace grounds in his chariot. In successive trips, he saw an old man, a sick man, and a corpse, and since he had been protected from the miseries of aging, sickness, and death, his charioteer had to explain what they were.
Finally, Siddhartha saw a monk, and, impressed with the man's peaceful demeanor, he decided to go into the world to discover how the man could be so serene in the midst of such suffering. Siddhartha secretly left the palace and became a wandering ascetic. He traveled south, where the centers of learning were and studied meditation under the teachers Alara Kalama and Udraka Ramaputra. He soon mastered their systems, reaching high states of mystical realization, but was unsatisfied and went out again in search of nirvana, the highest level of enlightenment. For nearly six years, he undertook fasting and other austerities, but these techniques proved ineffectual and he abandoned them. After regaining his strength, he seated himself under a tree at what is now in west-central India and promised not to rise until he had attained the supreme enlightenment.
After fighting off Mara, an evil spirit who tempted him with worldly comforts and desires, Siddhartha reached enlightenment, becoming a Buddha at the age of 35. The Gautama Buddha then traveled to the deer park near Benares, India, where he gave his first sermon and outlined the basic doctrines of Buddhism.
According to Buddhism, there are "four noble truths", existence is suffering; this suffering is caused by human craving; there is a cessation of the suffering, which is nirvana; and nirvana can be achieved, in this or future lives, though the "eight-fold path" of right views, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
For the rest of his life, the Buddha taught and gathered disciples to his Sangha, or community of monks. He died at age 80, telling his monks to continue working for their spiritual liberation by following his teachings. Gautama’s form of Buddhism eventually spread from India to Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, Japan, and, in the 20th century, to the West.