Historical Anecdotes Story Of London

Historical Anecdotes: Z

Historical Anecdotes: Z
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: Z

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

Absolute Zero

This is the term which is used to describe the zero of the thermodynamic temperature – 0 degrees Kelvin. It is the lowest temperature that is theoretically possible to reach and is equivalent to minus 273.15 degrees centigrade or minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature atoms and molecules will have no kinetic energy. According to the Laws of Thermodynamics it is impossible to actually reach the absolute zero although it is possible to come very close to it. The science if cryogenics is concerned with the study of chemical reactions at these extremely low temperatures.Return to This Day in History

Zip Fastener

The first Zip fastener appeared at the Chicago Exposition in 1893. Invented by Whitcomb L Judson it was designed for boots and shoes and consisted of two metal chains which could be joined together in a single movement. It was spotted by Colonel Lewis Walker who set up the Automatic Hook & Eye Co. in Pennsylvania to manufacture the device. However, there were a number of faults in Judsons design, including the fatal flaw that it came apart easily. Walker produced an improved design in 1902 which he marketed as C-Curity but the public remained unimpressed.

Then on April 29 1913 a young Swedish engineer, Gideon Sundback from Hoboken New Jersey took out a patent for separable fasteners. It was the first zipper to work on the principle of identical units mounted on parallel tapes. Colonel Walker marketed Sundback’s invention as the Talon Slide Fastener. This is the zip as we know it however, it was not until America entered the First World War in 1917 that it became a commercial success. The Navy wanted zips for flying clothes, the Army put them on uniform pockets and the Air Corps adapted them for aeroplane fabric. After the war ex-servicemen sang the zippers praises and it began to be incorporated into a range of civilian goods.

It arrived in Britain in 1919 when it was marketed as the Ready fastener by Kynoch of Birmingham. The British public were unimpressed. The in 1924 a large zipper was displayed at the Wembley Empire Exhibition and visitors were invited to try it. At the end of the exhibition it had been zipped and unzipped more than three million times without catching. The public were persuaded and in 1927 the first articles to be fitted with zips in Britain were sports suits. It first appeared on women’s dresses in 1930 when Mme Schiaparelli introduced it in her Paris fashion house. New York’s did not delay in following her lead and Walker and Sundback quickly became millionaires. The first zip fasteners on men’s trousers appeared in 1935.Return to This Day in History