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Historical Anecdotes: U

Historical Anecdotes: U
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: U

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][O][P][Q][R][S][T][V][W][X][Y][Z]

Uranus

On March 10th 1977 the rings of Uranus were discovered from earth by stellar occultation experiments made when Uranus occulted (passed in front of) a star and it was noticed that there were dips in the brightness of the star before and after it passed behind the body of Uranus. This data suggested that Uranus was surrounded by at least five rings. Four more rings were suggested by subsequent occultation measurements from the Earth, and two additional ones were found by space probe Voyager 2, bringing the total to 11. Direct observations of the rings from earth had not been possible, because the rings are lost in the planet’s glare as seen through terrestrial optical telescopes. Most of the rings are not quite circular, and most are not exactly in the plane of the equator.
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James Ussher

James Ussher (1581–1656), archbishop of Armagh, was the pre-eminent figure in the contemporary Church of Ireland, and a leading patron of scholarship at Trinity College, Dublin. He travelled widely in Britain and Europe, searching out the earliest available manuscripts, buying those he could, and copying others. A staunch defender of episcopacy, he was nevertheless respected on all sides during the religious upheavals of the 1640s and 1650s, and regarded as the person most likely to achieve an accommodation between the Presbyterians and the Church of England.After his death, his extensive and valuable library, formed the nucleus of the great library of Trinity College, Dublin.

Of his many works, his treatise on chronology, Annals of the World, has proved the most enduring. Based on a detailed correlation between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean histories and the Old Testament, it was incorporated into an authorized version of the Bible printed in 1701, and thus came to be regarded with almost as much unquestioning faith as the Bible itself. His calculations established the first day of creation as Sunday 23 October 4004 BC. In popular reference books, the time of day is also given as 09:00 and incorrectly attributed to Ussher. In fact, it was his contemporary, John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University who made that calculation. Ussher also calculated the dates of other biblical events, concluding, for example, that Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise on Monday 10 November 4004 BC, and that the ark touched down on Mt Ararat on 5 May 1491 BC ‘on a Wednesday’.

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