This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
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July 16 is the 197th day of the year (198th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 168 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one…
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Plans for the creation of a uranium bomb by the Allies were established as early as 1939, when Italian emigre physicist Enrico Fermi met with U.S. Navy department officials at Columbia University to discuss the use of fissionable materials for military purposes. That same year, Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt supporting the theory that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had great potential as a basis for a weapon of mass destruction. In February 1940, the federal government granted a total of $6,000 for research. But in early 1942, with the United States now at war with the Axis powers, and fear mounting that Germany was working on its own uranium bomb, the War Department took a more active interest, and limits on resources for the project were removed.
Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves, himself an engineer, was now in complete charge of a project to assemble the greatest minds in science and discover how to harness the power of the atom as a means of bringing the war to a decisive end. The Manhattan Project (so-called because of where the research began) would wind its way through many locations during the early period of theoretical exploration, most importantly, the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi successfully set off the first fission chain reaction. But the Project took final form in the desert of New Mexico, where, in 1943, Robert J. Oppenheimer began directing Project Y at a laboratory at Los Alamos, along with such minds as Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, and Fermi. Here theory and practice came together, as the problems of achieving critical mass-a nuclear explosion-and the construction of a deliverable bomb were worked out.
622 – The beginning of the Islamic calendar.
1054 – Three Roman legates break relations between Western and Eastern Christian Churches through the act of placing an invalidly-issued Papal Bull of Excommunication on the altar of Hagia Sophia during Saturday afternoon divine liturgy. Historians frequently describe the event as the start of the East-West Schism.
1212 – Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa: after Pope Innocent III calls European knights to a crusade, forces of Kings Alfonso VIII of Castile, Sancho VII of Navarre, Pedro II of Aragon and Afonso II of Portugal defeat those of the Berber Muslim leader Almohad, thus marking a significant turning point in the Reconquista and in the medieval history of Spain.
1377 – Coronation of Richard II of England.
1661 – The first banknotes in Europe are issued by the Swedish bank Stockholms Banco.
1683 – Manchu Qing Dynasty naval forces under traitorous commander Shi Lang defeat the Kingdom of Tungning in the Battle of Penghu near the Pescadores Islands.
1769 – Father Junipero Serra founds California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá. Over the following decades, it evolves into the city of San Diego.
1779 – American Revolutionary War: light infantry of the Continental Army seize a fortified British Army position in a midnight bayonet attack at the Battle of Stony Point.
1782 – First performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail.
1790 – The District of Columbia is established as the capital of the United States after signature of the Residence Act.
1809 – The city of La Paz, in what is today Bolivia, declares its independence from the Spanish Crown during the La Paz revolution and forms the Junta Tuitiva, the first independent government in Spanish America, led by Pedro Domingo Murillo.
1861 – American Civil War: at the order of President Abraham Lincoln, Union troops begin a 25 mile march into Virginia for what will become The First Battle of Bull Run, the first major land battle of the war.
1862 – American Civil War: David Farragut is promoted to rear admiral, becoming the first officer in United States Navy to hold an admiral rank.
1880 – Emily Stowe becomes the first female physician licensed to practice medicine in Canada.
1909 – Persian Constitutional Revolution: Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar is forced out as Shah of Persia and is replaced by his son Ahmad Shah Qajar.
1910 – John Robertson Duigan makes the first flight of the Duigan pusher biplane, the first aircraft built in Australia.
1915 – Henry James becomes a British citizen, to highlight his commitment to England during the first World War.
1927 – Augusto Céésar Sandino leads a raid on U.S. Marines and Nicaraguan Guardia Nacional that had been sent to apprehend him in the village of Ocotal, but is repulsed by one of the first dive-bombing attacks in history.
1931 – Emperor Haile Selassie I signs the first constitution of Ethiopia.
1935 – The world’s first parking meter is installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
1941 – Joe DiMaggio hits safely for the 56th consecutive game, a streak that still stands as a MLB record.
1942 – Holocaust: Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup (Rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv): the government of Vichy France orders the mass arrest of 13,152 Jews who are held at the Winter Velodrome in Paris before deportation to Auschwitz.
1945 – World War II: the leaders of the three Allied nations, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin, meet in the German city of Potsdam to decide the future of a defeated Germany.
1945 – World War II: The Heavy Cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35) leaves San Francisco with parts for the atomic bomb “Little Boy” bound for Tinian Island. This would be the last time the Indianapolis would be seen by the Mainland she would be torpedoed by the Japanese Submarine I-58 on July 30 and sink with 880 out of 1,196 crewmen.
1945 – Manhattan Project: the Atomic Age begins when the United States successfully detonates a plutonium-based test nuclear weapon at the Trinity site near Alamogordo, New Mexico.
1948 – Following token resistance, the city of Nazareth, revered by Christians as the hometown of Jesus, capitulates to Israeli troops during Operation Dekel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
1948 – The storming of the cockpit of the Miss Macao passenger seaplane, operated by a subsidiary of the Cathay Pacific Airways, marks the first aircraft hijacking of a commercial plane.
1950 – Chaplain-Medic massacre: American POWs were massacred by North Korean Army.
1951 – King Léopold III of Belgium abdicates in favor of his son, Baudouin I of Belgium.
1951 – The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is published for the first time by Little, Brown and Company.
1956 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closes its very last “Big Tent” show in Pittsburgh, due to changing economics all subsequent circus shows will be held in arenas.
1957 – United States Marine major John Glenn flies a F8U Crusader supersonic jet from California to New York in 3 hours, 23 minutes and 8 seconds, setting a new transcontinental speed record.
1960 – USS George Washington a modified Skipjack class submarine successfully test fires the first ballistic missile while submerged.
1965 – The Mont Blanc Tunnel linking France and Italy opens.
1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 11, the first manned space mission to land on the Moon, is launched from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
1973 – Watergate Scandal: former White House aide Alexander P. Butterfield informs the United States Senate that President Richard Nixon had secretly recorded potentially incriminating conversations.
1979 – Iraqi President Hasan al-Bakr resigns and is replaced by Saddam Hussein.
1981 – Mahathir bin Mohamad becomes Malaysia’s 4th Prime Minister; his 22 years in office, ending with retirement on 31 October 2003, made him Asia’s longest-serving political leader.
1983 – Sikorsky S-61 disaster: a helicopter crashes off the Isles of Scilly, causing 20 fatalities.
1990 – The Luzon Earthquake strikes in Benguet, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, La Union, Aurora, Bataan, Zambales and Tarlac, Philippines, with an intensity of 7.7.
1990 – The Parliament of the Ukrainian SSR declares state sovereignty over the territory of the Ukrainian SSR.
1993 – The Slackware operating system is first released.
1994 – Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collides with Jupiter. Impacts continue until July 22.
1999 – John F. Kennedy, Jr., piloting a Piper Saratoga aircraft, dies when his plane crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. His wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette are also killed.
2004 – Millennium Park, considered Chicago’s first and most ambitious early 21st century architectural project, is opened to the public by Mayor Richard M. Daley.
2007 – 2007 Chuetsu offshore earthquake: an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 and 6.6 aftershock occurs off the Niigata coast of Japan killing 8 people, injuring at least 800 and damaging a nuclear power plant.
2008 – Sixteen infants in Gansu Province, China, who had been fed on tainted milk powder, are diagnosed with kidney stones; in total an estimated 300,000 infants are affected.
2013 – As many as 27 children die and 25 others are hospitalized after eating lunch served at their school in eastern India.
* Christian Feast Day:
* Gondulphus of Tongeren
* Our Lady of Mount Carmel
* July 16 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)