Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Busy Day, April 12

According tot he History Channel’s This Day in History, April 12th has been one very momentous day.

In 1633 Galileo found himself on trial for the second time on the charge of heresy. In 1616 he had faced prosecution for refusing to accept Church orthodoxy that the Earth was the immovable center of the universe. Upon conclusion of that trial he was forbidden from holding or defending his belief that the Earth revolved about the Sun, something scientist had known for centuries. During the 1633 trial, Galileo tried to claim he didn’t hold any belief in the Copernican view but that he wrote about the issue and its evidence as part of the general discussion within the scientific community. The argument didn’t work and in June he found himself pronounced guilty of heresy.
Along with the order came the following penalty: "We order that by a public edict the book of Dialogues of Galileo Galilei be prohibited, and We condemn thee to the prison of this Holy Office during Our will and pleasure; and as a salutary penance We enjoin on thee that for the space of three years thou shalt recite once a week the Seven Penitential Psalms."

Galileo agreed not to teach the heresy anymore and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It took more than 300 years for the Church to admit that Galileo was right and to clear his name of heresy.
Three hundred years to correct an error. *sigh*

In 1861 Confederate batteries bombarded Fort Sumter in Charleston Bay signaling the start of the Civil War. General P.G.T. Beauregard commanded the Confederate shore batteries that rained over 4,000 rounds upon the small isolated fort during the 34-hour bombardment. U.S. Major Robert Anderson was forced to surrender the fort on April 13.

President Franklin Roosevelt died on April 12, 1944 of a cerebral hemorrhage in Hot Springs, Arkansas. First elected in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression, Roosevelt was re-elected in 1936 on the basis of his “New Deal” legislation, in 1940 when America faced the threat of war, and again in 1944 with the US and its Allies still battling in Europe and the Pacific. He died just three months after the start of his unprecedented fourth term. With the passing of the 22nd Amendment, no president may serve more than two elected terms* in office.
(*The History Channel’s article reads: “two consecutive elected terms”, but that is NOT what the Amendment says. The wording I have in front of me is this: “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.”)

Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth in space in 1961. The 27-year old test pilot rode the Vostok 1 spacecraft around the Earth at a maximum altitude of 187 miles. Gagarin was more passenger than pilot on this flight as the entire trip was controlled automatically.

In 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida and, after completing 36 orbits, set down successfully at Edwards Air Force Base in California, thus becoming the first reusable manned spacecraft to travel into space. (The Enterprise had flown freely after being airlifted by a Boeing 747 back in 1977, so Columbia was the first shuttle to fly.)

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