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Historical Anecdotes: O

Historical Anecdotes: O
by Anthony Waldstock

This is a series of articles that has grown out of the daily listings of what happened “On This Day”. Many of the events, particularly those related to science, seemed to us to need some more information than is possible in the daily listing format. Still others had amusing or informative anecdotes associated with them that we felt were worth sharing with our readers. The series is designed for browsing and dipping into and we have therefore set up a comprehensive system of links to make this as easy and as enjoyable as possible.

Historical Anecdotes: O

by Anthony Waldstock

This series of articles will present occasional anecdotal, amusing and factual notes behind the people and events on the This Day in History digests. Entries are determined by the daily posting of events in history with the first entries appearing for March 10th and are arranged alphabetically. With the steady increase of material, each letter of the alphabet now (April 17th 2002) has its own page. People are indexed according to their family or surnames whereas kings, popes, emperors etc. are listed according to their regnal names– e.g. Charles Boycott would be found under B, Pope Gregory under G and Queen Mary Tudor under M. Other items are indexed by the most significant word in the title, for example Artificial Ice will be found under I but Sad Iron will be found under S.

Links back to the monthly digests for “This Day in History” can be found at the bottom of the introductory page but each of the entries on the other pages will have a link to take you back to the specific date with which it is associated. Note that if you have come here from the Background Briefings link on the Home page, you can go back there by clicking on the site Masthead above. When appropriate, there are additional links back to other referring pages on the site such as the People of London page.

Within the series there are two sets of links. At the top of each page there will be a table of links to the other indexing letters to allow browsing by individual pages. At the bottom of each page you will also find a set of links which will allow you to scroll backward (Previous) and forward (next) through the pages. The pages are looped so the “Previous” link from A will be to Z and the “Next” link from Z will be to A. There will also be a central link back to this introduction page whose main content is an alphabetic list of the complete set of entries. From there, you will be able to browse the titles of the individual entries and jump directly to those that interest you. By definition, the number of entries will augment on a daily basis so it is worth checking back there frequently.


Links to Entries by Index Letter
[A][B][C][D][E][F][G][H][I][J][K][L][M][N][P][Q][R][S][T][U][V][W][X][Y][Z]

Ohm’s Law

What is now known as Ohm’s law is one of the basic laws of electricity. It describes the precise mathematical relationship between a voltage applied across the ends of a conductor, the electric current this causes and the resistance of the conductor to the flow of electricity. In all conductors, the ratio of the voltage to the current is equal to the resistance. The law first appeared in Georg Ohm’s famous book Die Galvanische Kette, Mathematisch bearbeitet (1827) in which he gave his complete theory of electricity. The book begins with the mathematical background necessary for an understanding of the rest of the work. Such a mathematical background was necessary for even the leading German physicists of his day to understand the work, for the emphasis at this time was on a non-mathematical approach to physics. However, he was not really successful in convincing the older German physicists that the mathematical approach was the right one. Although Ohm’s work strongly influenced theory, it was received with little enthusiasm.

His work was eventually recognised by the Royal Society in London when it awarded him the Copley Medal in 1841. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in 1842. Other academies such as those in Berlin and Turin elected him a corresponding member, and in 1845 he became a full member of the Bavarian Academy. The modern scientific unit of resistance is called the ohm, in his honour.
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England’s first inland oil well

In 1919, oil was struck at England’s first inland oil well. Since 1915, the British Government, prompted by the war effort and awareness of the importance in petroleum products had been investigin the possibility of finding oil on the mainland. On May 27th at Hardstoft, near Tibshelf, in a Derbyshire coalfield, a 3070-ft deep bore struck oil. As expected, it was struck in a sandy limestone horizon near the top of a faulted dome in the main carboniferous limestone measures. Oil began to flow from the well on June 7th and over the next eight years it delivered 2,500 tons of oil. The average production of 6 barrels a day compared favourably with the American oil wells of the period. In 1938, the well was deepened but production ceased in 1945, and the well was finally capped in 1952.Return to This Day in History

Ordovician

Charles Lapworth was an English geologist who proposed what came to be called the Ordovician period (505 to 438 million years old) of geologic strata. Lapworth is famous for his work with marine fossils called graptolites. By fastidiously collecting the tiny, colonial sea creatures, he deciphered the original order of layered rocks that had been faulted and folded in England’s Southern Uplands. This method of correlating rocks with graptolites became a model for similar research throughout the world. In 1879, Lapworth proposed a new classification of Lower Paleozoic rocks with the Ordovician, between the redefined Cambrian and Silurian periods. This proposal decisively and convincingly settled a heated dispute amongst the leading geologists of his day. He derived the name from an ancient Celtic people of western Britain, the Ordovices.
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