SCOTT & The South-Pole

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4 - "Backgrounder"

As should be the case when it comes to reviewing any historical event, it is important to immerse one-self's into the background events of those days in which the event occurred. So too, it is necessary to remind the modern reader that the world -- not too many years ago -- was quite a different place then it is now.

Let us go through events from the earliest of the turn of the century up to 1911, in more or less chronological fashion, and certainly in a cursive manner.

In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first flight in a heavier-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

On August the 17th, 1905, the Norwegian, Roald Amundsen was the first to traverse the Northwest Passage (1903-06) when, on this date, his ship cleared the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and made it to the west.

Full Map of Antarctica

In 1906, there was formed the International Radiotelegraph Union, the principal object of which was to allot separate wavelengths for the new invention of the wireless. In that year, the first Victor Victrola, a phonographic record player, was manufactured. The first Gordon Bennett Cup in ballooning is held, starting in Paris and ending in England; the winning team, piloting the balloon, United States, landed in Yorkshire. Also, in 1906, "SOS" became an international distress signal. And the world's first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was released.

To turn to 1907: we see where in August, that Robert Baden-Powell led the first Scout camp on Brownsea Island, England. In October, Guglielmo Marconi initiated commercial transatlantic radio communications between his high power longwave wireless telegraphy stations in Clifden, Ireland and Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. So too, in that year, the Autochrome Lumiere was the first commercial color photography process.

Well the big thing for 1908, and no more need be said of the year, is that, on September 27th, Henry Ford produced his first Model T automobile.

In 1909, the women's suffrage movement in Britain took a violent turn after WSPU leader Emmeline Pankhurst marched to Parliament to present a petition to Prime Minister Asquith. When Asquith declined to receive the delegation, Mrs. Pankhurst struck a police inspector. There then followed, outside of Parliament, hundreds of suffragettes confronting police officers and smashing windows. Afterwards, 107 women and 8 men were arrested. Next year, thousands of suffragettes again marched in London to the Parliament buildings over the killing of a reform proposal. The ensuing confrontation between London police and the women, subsequently known as Black Friday, turned violent. The matter served to increase sympathy for the cause of women's suffrage. It was a fight that was only concluded, at least in Great Britain, in 1928.

These early years were ones where national heros abounded. While the suffragettes paraded around in 1909, T.E. Lawrence, immortalized as "Lawrence of Arabia", departed Britain for his first trip to the Arab world. Lawrence, a second-year undergraduate at Oxford University, traveled to Syria and Palestine for his thesis on the influence of the Crusades on European military architecture. At the time of Lawrence's departure, in July of that year, at Mineola, New York, Glenn Curtiss piloted the airplane Gold Bug for 15˝ miles earning a $10,000 prize from Scientific American magazine. In Europe, at the same time, a fellow by the name of Louis Blériot took off from France, and, 36 minutes later, landed in England.10

Productive year, this 1909: The Briggs & Stratton Company began producing its first engines. Construction began on the locks of the Panama Canal, with the pouring of concrete. A patent for the first successful method of producing synthetic rubber was applied for in Germany by a chemist, Fritz Hofmann. In the United States patent No. 942,700 was granted for Bakelite ("Condensation product of phenol and formaldehyde and method of making the same"), the first synthetic plastic. And, in December of that year: Kinemacolor, the first process for motion pictures in color, was demonstrated at Madison Square Garden; and General Electric began marketing their light bulbs which had a longer-lasting tungsten filament.

We are now brought to 1910: On January 13th, the first radio broadcast of a live musical performance took place from New York's Metropolitan Opera.On February 26th, Western Union created a forerunner of long distance telephone calling, with the inauguration of its new "telegraph-telephone" service. On the advances in medicine column, we would place Paul Ehrlich's announcement of "his discovery of '606' (also nicknamed the 'magic bullet', Salvarsan, the first medicine that could cure syphilis) in an address at the 1910 gathering of the Congress for Internal Medicine at Wiesbaden" (With thanks to wikipedia.)

On April 20th of 1910, Halley's Comet reached its perihelion. It not had been observed for 76 years and would not be seen for another 76 years. The coment and its tail was seen, in certain parts of the world, strait through the month.

On May 6th, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom died after an illness of six days. His son, Prince George Frederick, took the throne as King George V. On June 14th, in the United States, President Taft signed the Wireless Act of 1910 into law. All ships carrying at least 50 persons were required to install radio by July 1, 1911.

Next, for the year 1910, we make reference to indusrial matters: Ductile tungsten, after four years of research at General Electric, was especially made for use as a light bulb filament. Ole Evinrude, a native of Norway who settled in the United States created a "marine propulsion mechanism", the first outboard motor. That December, in Paris, a French inventor demonstrated the neon lamp, using an electrical current and a sealed tube of neon gas. A new era in signage opened up. In Europe, including cities in France, Germany and Great Britain, millions were riding electric streetcars. In Detroit, in 1910, Henry Ford turned out 10,000 automobiles.



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Peter Landry