Thursday, June 23, 2016

History: The Year is 1814

I've uploaded year 1814 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Oh Dolley! Washington is Burning! -- The British burn Washington D.C. Dolley Madison saves that portrait of George Washington.

The Sun, the Universe and Everything -- The spectroscope can measure speed as well as substance.

In Other News -- Napoleon is banished to Elba, Star Spangled banner and the 80-hour work week.

Oh Dolley! Washington is Burning!

To say that the British are bitter over this little war with America is an understatement. President Madison has lifted the embargo on British goods, but the British don't care. They have blockaded the East Coast so that American exports are down 90% from their pre-war numbers and imports are down 75%. The British won't risk damage from the shore batteries of major ports, so they are pummeling smaller ports into rubble. On August 18th they bottle up American gun boats near the mouth of the Patuxent River (pay-TUX-ent), and make their way over land to Washington DC. It is a punishing march in the 100 degree heat of summer. The troops are dropping like flies. They march through the night to make up for lost time. The American forces have had weeks to prepare, but they fail in their most important task. They have not burned the bridges. President Madison almost blunders into the British troops as they come over the Bladensburg Bridge. Meanwhile, Washington residents are leaving in a panic. The First Lady, Dolley Madison, has the presence of mind to save priceless historical treasures including that famous portrait of George Washington. The British advance under a flag of truce, but there is no one left in Washington to negotiate with, so they set fire to the city. Washington D.C. is burning. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The gunboats gave the British a good fight and they held as long as any man could expect, but it is clear that the American forces didn't believe they would actually have to defend Washington DC. President Madison was riding with the troops, but he was in his 60s, and he had been ill all summer. The defense failed at the Bladensburg Bridge. It was a rout. It is probably unfair to say that the American troops ran screaming like little girls, but one witness wrote, "The young ladies were very merry relating their attempt to fly on the supposed approach of the enemy to their residence and that they were out run by the militia." The rout at the bridge soon became known as the Bladensburg Races. The British said that they set fire to the city in retaliation for the American's deliberate and outrageous burning of Port Dover (Canada) a few months prior. The burning of Port Dover was due to an out-of-control lieutenant, and as bad as that was, the burning of Washington seems all out of proportion. [4] [5]

The Sun, the Universe and Everything

It may not seem like much, but without this discovery, one could not measure the Universe. Joseph von Fraunhofer has invented the spectroscope. This device allows him to view the spectrum of various substances when they are made hot enough to give off light. He notices a bright line within the spectrum of one substance. Then he uses his spectroscope to view the light from the Sun and discovers 574 darkened lines. (There are actually millions of these lines, but hey. He's just getting started.) He wonders if there is a correspondence between the bright line of his burning substances and the darkened lines in the Sun's spectrum. As a matter of fact, there is. When a particular substance is heated to the point of incandescence, the light it gives off has a distinctive signature. Combinations of substances will give off a more complicated signature but they can be untangled to the point where one can determine what substances made that particular light. One can determine the chemical makeup of a light across the room, or from the Sun, or from the light of a star in the next galaxy. [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
So what? Well... when astronomers used this tool to analyze the light of stars they noticed that some stars had completely unknown absorption lines. Their signatures didn't match with any known substance. Then someone noticed that the hydrogen line was out of place. It was shifted toward the red part of the spectrum if a star was moving away, or it was shifted toward the blue if it was coming toward us. This is known as red-shifting and blue-shifting. How far the lines were shifted determined how fast the star was moving. Some lines were shifted so far that it was unbelievable! For a better analogy think of a train blowing it's horn. As the train is coming toward you, the horn has a high pitch, but as it goes by, the pitch drops and becomes lower. Something similar happens to light. These absorption signatures allow scientists to measure the speed of the expansion of the Universe and that is simply amazing. [7]

In Other News

  • Emperor Napoleon abdicates and is banished to the island of Elba. The forces of the 6th Coalition have pushed Napoleon all the way back to France. He is forced to surrender his throne to King Louis the 18th. Napoleon will face his Waterloo, next year. [2] [8]
  • Francis Scott Key publishes the Star-Spangled Banner. Actually it is a poem entitled, "The Defense of Fort McHenry". It is about what he saw when he was held prisoner on a British ship as it attacked the fort. The poem will become the lyrics of America's National Anthem. [2]
  • The 80-Hour work week is established. A company town schedule is considered humane: a 6-day work week, wake-up at 4:40 AM, 30-minute break for breakfast, 45-minute break for lunch. Much better than slavery. Right? [9] [2]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1814, Wikipedia.

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