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Posts Tagged ‘timeline

“There’s an old saying about those who forget history. I don’t remember it, but it’s good.”*…


Matan Stauber‘s “Histography” is, if not the most complete timeline ever, certainly close…

“Histography” is interactive timeline that spans across 14 billion years of history, from the Big Bang to 2015.
The site draws historical events from Wikipedia and self-updates daily with new recorded events.
The interface allows for users to view between decades to millions of years.
The viewer can choose to watch a variety of events which have happened in a particular period or to target a specific event in time. For example you can look at the past century within the categories of war and inventions.

* Stephen Colbert


As we remember, with Churchill that, “The farther backward [we] can look, the farther forward [we] are likely to see,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1609 that “Three Blind Mice” was first published.  Appearing in Deuteromelia or The Seconde part of Musicks melodie, a book edited by Thomas Ravenscroft (who may also have authored the rhyme, though there’a case to be made that it dates back to the days of Queen Mary, and refers to her punishment of “The Oxford Martyrs“).

The original lyrics were:

Three Blinde Mice,

Three Blinde Mice,

Dame Iulian,

Dame Iulian,

the Miller and his merry olde Wife,

she scrapte her tripe licke thou the knife.

The lyrics as we’ve come to know them appeared in the mid-19th century in a children’s anthology collected by James Orchard Halliwell.



Written by LW

October 12, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Time is a game played beautifully by children”*…


Readers will recall our earlier adventures in space and scale (e.g., here).  Now, from Wait But Why, a trip through time.  Starting with the near-in (above), Tim Urban has created a series timelines, each of which nests into the next…

Until one has “traveled” all the way to the entirety of time.

See them all (and larger) at “Putting Time in Perspective.” (G-rated version here)

* Heraclitus, Fragments


As we check our watches, we might send culturally-relevant birthday greetings to James Mooney; he was born on this date in 1861.  A pioneering ethnographer, he started working in 1885 with the Bureau of American Ethnology in Washington, D.C.  He compiled a list of tribes and their members which contained 3,000 names, but quit after the US Army’s 1890 massacre of Lakota people at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Mooney did extensive work with the Cherokee and Kiowa tribes.  His most notable works were his ethnographic studies of the Ghost Dance after Sitting Bull’s death in 1890, a widespread 19th-century religious movement among various Native American culture groups, and his deciphering of the Kiowa calendar.



Written by LW

February 10, 2015 at 1:01 am

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself”*…


 click here for larger

From Lapham’s Quaterly, a timeline of time-keeping

* Andy Warhol


As we adjust our dials, we might send transcendental birthday greetings to Albert Hofmann; he was born on this date in 1906.  As a young chemist at Sandoz in Switzerland, Hofmann was searching for a respiratory and circulatory stimulant when he fabricated lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); handling it, he absorbed a bit through his fingertips and realized that the compound had psychoactive effects.  Three days later, on April 19, 1943– a day now known as “Bicycle Day”– Hofmann intentionally ingested 250 micrograms of LSD then rode home on a bike, a journey that became, pun intended, the first intentional acid trip.  Hofmann was also the first person to isolate, synthesize, and name the principal psychedelic mushroom compounds psilocybin and psilocin.

He died in 2008, at the age of 102.



Written by LW

January 11, 2015 at 1:01 am

“It’s such a fine line between stupid, and uh…”*


From the folks at Concert Hotels, “100 Years of Rock in Less Than a Minute.”  Rock’s family tree– from 1900 to 2000– unspools (as excerpted above); and each box, when clicked, plays an example of the genre.  Educational fun for all!

* David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) in This is Spinal Tap… which is fast approaching– in March– the 30th anniversary of its release


As we turn it up to 11, we might recall that this date in 1959 was “the day the music died”: the day that a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson (aka, The Big Bopper), and pilot Roger Peterson.

If Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at the age of 22, it would have changed the history of music… and of aviation.

– Tom Stoppard



Written by LW

February 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

Every picture tells a story…

… and some tell more complicated stories than others…

This [1897] chart, digitized by the Library of Congress, depicts major battles, troop losses, skirmishes, and other events in the American Civil War. (Click on the image to arrive at a zoomable version, or visit the LOC’s website.)

The “Scaife Synoptical Method,” advertised at the top of the timeline, aimed to fit as much information as possible into a single chart. Information on Arthur Hodgkin Scaife is scant, but the Comparative Synoptical Chart Company, apparently based in Toronto, also published his “Synoptical Charts” of the “Cuban Question,” English history, and the life of William Gladstone…

Read the whole story at Vault.


As we concentrate on consolidation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1863 that Union Generals Alexander M. McCook and Thomas Crittenden were relieved of their commands and ordered to Indianapolis, Indiana, to face a court of inquiry following the Federal defeat at the battle of Chickamauga in Georgia (c.f., the chart above).  As History. com explains

Eight days before, the Union Army of the Cumberland, commanded by General William Rosecrans, had retreated from the Chickamauga battlefield in disarray. On the battle’s second day, Rosecrans mistakenly ordered a division to move into a gap in the Federal line that did not exist, creating a real gap through which the Confederates charged, thus splitting the Union army. One wing collapsed, and a frantic retreat back to Chattanooga,Tennessee, ensued. The other wing, led by General George Thomas, remained on the battlefield and held its position until it was nearly overrun by Confederates.

The search for scapegoats began immediately, and fingers soon pointed to McCook and Crittenden. Their corps had been part of the collapsed flank, so Rosecrans removed them from command. Crittenden’s removal stirred anger in his native Kentucky, and the state legislature sent a letter to President Abraham Lincoln demanding a reexamination of the firing. In February 1864, a military court cleared McCook and Crittenden, but their careers as field commanders were over. By quickly removing McCook and Crittenden, Rosecrans had been trying to save his own job. Within weeks after firing the generals, Rosecrans was himself replaced by Thomas.

lithograph by Kurz and Allison, 1890


Written by LW

September 28, 2013 at 1:01 am

A matter of perspective…


Visit Here Is Today and, in a few brief clicks, put everything (and I do mean everything) into perspective…


As we realize that we’re late for the Mad Hatter’s tea party, we might recall that it was on this date in 1961, before a joint session of Congress, that President John F. Kennedy introduced the NASA Apollo Program, vowing to land an American astronaut safely on the moon before the end of the decade.  The mission was accomplished on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong left the Lunar Module and set foot on the surface of the Moon.



Written by LW

May 25, 2013 at 1:01 am

The Ages of Data…

It’s said that there’s a kind of hierarchy of knowing:  data can be assembled into knowledge, which (with experience and empathy) can become understanding, then with grace, wisdom… but it all starts with data.

Happily for us, Stephen Wolfram, the creator of the indispensable Mathematica and more recently of Wolfram|Alpha, takes data very seriously…

The precursors of what we’re trying to do with computable data in Wolfram|Alpha in many ways stretch back to the very dawn of human history—and in fact their development has been fascinatingly tied to the whole progress of civilization.

Last year we invited the leaders of today’s great data repositories to our Wolfram Data Summit—and as a conversation piece we assembled a timeline of the historical development of systematic data and computable knowledge.

This year, as we approach the Wolfram Data Summit 2011, we’ve taken the comments and suggestions we got, and we’re making available a five-feet-long (1.5 meters) printed poster of the timeline—as well as having the basic content on the web.

Wolfram’s explanatory blog post, “Advance of the Data Civilization: A Timeline,” is fascinating– both an unpacking of the events collected and an analysis of the patterns they form…

The story the timeline tells is a fascinating one: of how, in a multitude of steps, our civilization has systematized more and more areas of knowledge—collected the data associated with them, and gradually made them amenable to automation.

The usual telling of history makes scant mention of most of these developments—though so many of them are so obvious in our lives today. Weights and measures. The calendar. Alphabetical lists. Plots of data. Dictionaries. Maps. Music notation. Stock charts. Timetables. Public records. ZIP codes. Weather reports. All the things that help us describe and organize our world…  the timeline is not about technology or science, it’s about data and knowledge. When you look at the timeline, you might ask: ”Where’s Einstein? Where’s Darwin? Where’s the space program?” Well, they’re not there. Because despite their importance in the history of science and technology, they’re not really part of the particular story the timeline is telling: of how systematic data and knowledge came to be the way it is in our world. And as I said above, much of this is “back room history”, not really told in today’s history books.

…when I first looked at the completed timeline, the first thing that struck me was how much two entities stood out in their contributions: ancient Babylon, and the United States government. For Babylon—as the first great civilization—brought us such things as the first known census, standardized measures, the calendar, land registration, codes of laws and the first known mathematical tables. In the United States, perhaps it was the spirit of building a country from scratch, or perhaps the notion of “government for the people”, but starting as early as 1785 (with the formation of the US Land Ordinance), the US government began an impressive series of firsts in systematic data collection.

Read the full post— it’s an eminently-worthy guided walk from data to understanding.

[Thanks to Curiosity Counts for the pointer]

As we fondly recall counting on our fingers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1986 that Howard Stern became a national radio personality when WYSP in Philadelphia first simulcast his show.  By the time that he moved to satellite radio in 2004, Stern had won Billboard‘s Nationally Syndicated Air Personality of the Year award eight times; his show had the distinction of being the most-fined radio program (the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] issued fines of $2.5 million to station licensees for broadcasting allegedly indecent material on Stern’s show).


Interestingly, it was also on that same date– August 18, 1986– that the Anti-Howard, John Tesh, became a national broadcast personality with his first appearance on Entertainment Tonight.



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