Orville Wright

American Aviation Pioneer and youngest of The Wright brothers, Orville Wright sadly passed away 30 January 1948. Born 19th August 1871, he along with his elder brother Wilbur, is credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina.The Wright Brothers spent a great deal of time observing birds in flight. They noticed that birds soared into the wind and that the air flowing over the curved surface of their wings created lift. Birds change the shape of their wings to turn and maneuver. They believed that they could use this technique to obtain roll control by warping, or changing the shape, of a portion of the wing.

The Wright Brothers designed their first aircraft: a small, biplane glider flown as a kite to test their solution for controlling the craft by wing warping. Wing warping is a method of arching the wingtips slightly to control the aircraft’s rolling motion and balance.Over the next three years, Wilbur and his brother Orville would design a series of gliders which would be flown in both unmanned (as kites) and piloted flights. They read about the works of Cayley, and Langley, and the hang-gliding flights of Otto Lilienthal. They corresponded with Octave Chanute concerning some of their ideas. They recognized that control of the flying aircraft would be the most crucial and hardest problem to solve. Following a successful glider test, the Wrights built and tested a full-size glider. They selected Kitty Hawk, North Carolina as their test site because of its wind, sand, hilly terrain and remote location

.In 1900, the Wrights successfully tested their new 50-pound biplane glider with its 17-foot wingspan and wing-warping mechanism at Kitty Hawk, in both unmanned and piloted flights. In fact, it was the first piloted glider. Based upon the results, the Wright Brothers planned to refine the controls and landing gear, and build a bigger glider.In 1901, at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers flew the largest glider ever flown, with a 22-foot wingspan, a weight of nearly 100 pounds and skids for landing. However, many problems occurred: the wings did not have enough lifting power; forward elevator was not effective in controlling the pitch; and the wing-warping mechanism occasionally caused the airplane to spin out of control. In their disappointment, they predicted that man will probably not fly in their lifetime.In spite of the problems with their last attempts at flight, the Wrights reviewed their test results and determined that the calculations they had used were not reliable. They decided to build a wind tunnel to test a variety of wing shapes and their effect on lift. Based upon these tests, the inventors had a greater understanding of how an airfoil (wing) works and could calculate with greater accuracy how well a particular wing design would fly. They planned to design a new glider with a 32-foot wingspan and a tail to help stabilize it.

During 1902, the brothers flew numerous test glides using their new glider. Their studies showed that a movable tail would help balance the craft and the Wright Brothers connected a movable tail to the wing-warping wires to coordinate turns. With successful glides to verify their wind tunnel tests, the inventors planned to build a powered aircraft. After months of studying how propellers work the Wright Brothers designed a motor and a new aircraft sturdy enough to accommodate the motor’s weight and vibrations. The craft weighed 700 pounds and came to be known as the Flyer.The brothers built a movable track to help launch the Flyer. This downhill track would help the aircraft gain enough airspeed to fly. After two attempts to fly this machine, one of which resulted in a minor crash, Orville Wright took the Flyer for a 12-second, sustained flight on December 17, 1903. This was the first successful, powered, piloted flight in history.

Phil Collins

Best known as a drummer and vocalist for British progressive rock groups Genesis and Brand X, as well as being a popular solo artist, the English singer-songwriter, drummer, pianist producer and actor Phil Collins LVO celebrates his birthday on 30th January. Collins’s professional music career began as a drummer, first with Flaming Youth and then more famously with Genesis, after he answered a Melody Maker classified ad for “…a drummer sensitive to acoustic music, and acoustic twelve-string guitarist”.

The first album Nursery Cryme was released a year later. Although his role remained primarily that of drummer and backing vocalist for the next five years, he twice sang lead vocals: once on “For Absent Friends” (from Nursery Cryme) and once on “More Fool Me” (from Selling England by the Pound). In Genesis, Collins originally supplied backing vocals for front man Peter Gabriel, singing lead on only two songs: “For Absent Friends” from 1971′s Nursery Cryme album and “More Fool Me” from Selling England by the Pound, which was released in 1973.

Following Gabriel’s departure in 1975, Collins became the group’s lead singer, and sang lead vocals on several chart hits in the United Kingdom and the United States between 1975 and 2010, either as a solo artist or with Genesis. He has released many great albums, either as part of Genesis or as a Solo Artist including INVISIBLE TOUCH, FOXTROT & GENESIS, His singles, sometimes dealing with lost love, ranged from the drum-heavy “In the Air Tonight”, dance pop of “Sussudio”, piano-driven “Against All Odds”, to the political statements of “Another Day in Paradise”.

Collins has won numerous music awards throughout his career, including seven Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards—winning Best British Male three times, an Academy Award, and two Golden Globes for his solo work. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010, and is one of only three recording artists (along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson) who have sold over 100 million albums worldwide both as solo artists and (separately) as principal members of a band. In 2008, Collins was ranked the 22nd most successful artist on the “The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists.

The Curse of Peladon

The first television episode of the Doctor Who story The Curse of Peladon was broadcast on 29th January 1972. It concerns The planet Peladon, which is led by its young King, and is on the verge of joining the Galactic Federation. However not everyone on Peladon is happy about this turn of events, particularly the High Priest Hepesh who does not trust Aliens and is opposed to the change, warning that the curse of Aggedor the Royal Beast of Peladon will visit doom upon them all.

The Doctor and Jo Grant arrive in The TARDIS and soon find themselves in peril. Meanwhile King Peladon asks for Hepesh’s support to join the Federation, but Hepesh refuses. The Doctor and Jo are discovered by the palace guards, and taken to the throne room, where the delegates are gathered: Alpha Centauri, Arcturus, the Ice Lord Izlyr and the Ice Warrior Ssorg. The Doctor is mistaken for the delegate from Earth. He introduces Jo as the “Princess Josephine of TARDIS”, a neutral royal observer from Earth.

Several suspicious accidents occur to the delegates, which are linked to the Ice Warriors. The Doctor also discovers a mythical beast Aggedor, lurking in the tunnels under the palace. As he tries to escape Aggedor the Doctor finds his way into the shrine of Aggedor, where he is discovered by Hepesh and Grun, the King’s Champion. Hepesh accuses the Doctor of sacrilege for daring to enter the shrine. He is sentenced to trial by combat and must duel to the death with the King’s Champion. Hepesh offers the Doctor an escape route however this proves to be equally dangerous. So Hepesh then orders that the Doctor be taken away to face Grun in combat. However This does not go to plan and Arcturus and Ssorg also become involved. Hepesh’s forces then take the throne room, and hold the king hostage and the others uncover a devious plot between Hepesh and Arcturus…..

Robots of Death

The first exciting episode of the classic Doctor Who story The Robots of Death was broadcast on 29 January 1977. It sees The Doctor (Tom Baker) and Leela (Louise Jameson) arrive on an inhospitable and Barren planet where, a huge sandminer vehicle, Storm Mine 4, is slowly scraping the surface in search of precious minerals. The sandminer is manned by a crew of nine humans led by Commander Uvanov, Dask and Poul who work alongside numerous robots – black ‘Dums’ that cannot speak, pale green ‘Vocs’, and a silver ‘Super Voc’ who control all the ‘Dums’ and ‘Vocs’ who perform all the hazardous tasks aboard the Sandminer which would be too dangerous for humans to do.

However The peace is shattered when one of the crew members is found dead. Tension mounts and Accusations fly as the two new arrivals are suspected of murdering the deceased crew member and incarcerated. However the Doctor has a completely different theory and suspects something else may be happening. Then the Mineralogist is found dead, and the Driver of the Sandminer is also found strangled. Then the controls of the Sandminer are sabotaged and it starts running out of control endangering the lives of everyone onboard.

The Doctor eventually convinces The crew that he is not responsible for the murders, and they ask Him for help, so he suggests that the robots are responsible and that somebody may be reprogramming the Robots in order to clobber people. However the disbelieving crew reject the idea citing Asimov’s first Law of Robotics which states that “No robot shall kill a human being”. So the Doctor suggests they may be malfunctioning and agrees to help before more rogue robots start running amok clobbering people.

The Doctor then discovers that One of the robots, D84. and Poul are in fact undercover agents for the mining company, who were placed on board the miner as a precaution after learning of threats of a robot revolution by a Mad scientist called Taren Capel. Taren Capel was raised by robots and dislikes the way Robots are treated as slaves and has decided to end Robot servitude and maltreatment at the hands of human beings and free them, so that they can rule the world.

Edward Lear

Renowned for humourous poetry, prose and limericks, the British artist, illustrator, author, and poet Edward Lear sadly died 29 January 1888. He was born 12 May 1812  in the village of Holloway, and was raised by his eldest sister, 21 years his senior. Due to the family’s failing financial fortune, at age four he and his sister had to leave the family home and set up house together. Ann doted on Edward and continued to mother him until her death, when he was almost 50 years of age. Lear suffered from health problems. From the age of six he suffered frequent grand mal epileptic seizures, and bronchitis, asthma, and in later life, partial blindness. Lear experienced his first seizure at a fair near Highgate with his father this event scared and embarrassed him. Lear felt lifelong guilt and shame for his epileptic condition. His adult diaries indicate that he always sensed the onset of a seizure in time to remove himself from public view. How Lear was able to anticipate them is not known, but many people with epilepsy report a ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or an aura before the onset of a seizure. In Lear’s time epilepsy was believed to be associated with demonic possession, which contributed to his feelings of guilt and loneliness. When Lear was about seven he began to show signs of depression, possibly due to the constant instability of his childhood. He suffered from periods of severe depression which he referred to as “the Morbids.

Lear was already drawing by the time he was aged 16 and soon developed into a serious “ornithological draughtsman” employed by the Zoological Society and then from 1832 to 1836 by the Earl of Derby, who kept a private menagerie at his estate Knowsley Hall. Lear’s first publication, published when he was 19 years old, was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots in 1830.His paintings were well received and he was compared favourably with the naturalist John James Audubon.He was also widely travelled and visited Greece and Egypt during 1848–49, and toured India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) during 1873–75. While travelling he produced large quantities of coloured wash drawings in a distinctive style, which he converted later in his studio into oil and watercolour paintings, as well as prints for his books.His landscape style often shows views with strong sunlight, with intense contrasts of colour. Throughout his life he continued to paint seriously. He had a lifelong ambition to illustrate Tennyson’s poems; near the end of his life a volume with a small number of illustrations was published

In 1846 Lear published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks that went through three editions and helped popularize the form. In 1865 The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple-Popple was published, and in 1867 his most famous piece of nonsense, The Owl and the Pussycat, which he wrote for the children of his patron Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby. Many other works followed. Lear’s nonsense books were quite popular during his lifetime, but a rumor developed that “Edward Lear” was merely a pseudonym, and the books’ true author was the man to whom Lear had dedicated the works, his patron the Earl of Derby. Promoters of this rumour offered as evidence the facts that both men were named Edward, and that “Lear” is an anagram of “Earl.” Lear travelled widely throughout his life and eventually settled in Sanremo, on his beloved Mediterranean coast, in the 1870s, at a villa he named “Villa Tennyson.” The closest he came to marriage was two proposals, both to the same woman 46 years his junior, which were not accepted. For companions he relied instead on a circle of friends and correspondents, and especially, in later life, on his Albanian Souliote chef, Giorgis, a faithful friend and, as Lear complained, a thoroughly unsatisfactory chef. Another trusted companion in Sanremo was his cat, Foss, who died in 1886 and was buried with some ceremony in a garden at Villa Tennyson.

Lear’s most fervent and painful friendship involved Franklin Lushington. He met the young barrister in Malta in 1849 and then toured southern Greece with him. Lear developed an undoubtedly homosexual passion for him that Lushington did not reciprocate. Although they remained friends for almost forty years, until Lear’s death, the disparity of their feelings for one another constantly tormented Lear. Indeed, none of Lear’s attempts at male companionship were successful; the very intensity of Lear’s affections seemingly doomed the relationships. The closest he came to marriage with a woman was two proposals, both to the same person 46 years his junior, which were not accepted. For companions he relied instead on friends and correspondents, and especially, during later life, on his Albanian Souliote chef, Giorgis, a faithful friend and, as Lear complained, a thoroughly unsatisfactory chef. Another trusted companion in Sanremo was his cat, Foss, who died in 1886 and was buried with some ceremony in a garden at Villa Tennyson. Lear eventually settled in San Remo, on his beloved Mediterranean coast, in the 1870s, at a villa he named “Villa Tennyson.” Lear was known to introduce himself with a long pseudonym: “Mr Abebika kratoponoko Prizzikalo Kattefello Ablegorabalus Ableborinto phashyph” or “Chakonoton the Cozovex Dossi Fossi Sini Tomentilla Coronilla Polentilla Battledore & Shuttlecock Derry down Derry Dumps” which he based on Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos.

Sadly After a long decline in his health, Lear died at his villa in 1888, of heart disease. Lear’s funeral was said to be a sad, lonely affair by the wife of Dr. Hassall, Lear’s physician, with none of Lear’s many lifelong friends being able to attend. Lear is buried in the Cemetery Foce in San Remo. The centenary of his death was marked in Britain with a set of Royal Mail stamps in 1988 and an exhibition at the Royal Academy. Lear’s birthplace area is now marked with a plaque at Bowman’s Mews, Islington, in London.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

The classic poem “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe was published in the New York Evening Mirror, on 29 January 1845, the first publication with the name of the author, Edgar Allan Poe. The Raven tells of a talking raven’s mysterious visit to a distraught lover, who is lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore and it traces the man’s slow descent into madness, which the raven seems to further instigate with its constant repetition of the word “Nevermore”. The poem has a supernatural atmosphere and also makes use of a number of folk and classical references and became a huge success.

Poe claimed to have written the poem very logically and methodically, intending to create a poem that would appeal to both critical and popular tastes, as he explained in his 1846 follow-up essay “The Philosophy of Composition”. The poem was inspired in part by a talking raven in the novel Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ‘Eighty by Charles Dickens. Its publication made Poe widely popular in his lifetime, although it did not bring him much financial success. Soon reprinted, parodied, and illustrated, critical opinion is divided as to the poem’s status, but it nevertheless remains one of the most famous poems ever written.

Poe also produced his own journal, The Penn (which was later renamed The Stylus), and is considered part of the American Romantic Movement and is remembered for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.and his works influenced literature in the United States and around the world, as well as in specialized fields, such as cosmology and cryptography. Poe and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today. The Mystery Writers of America present an annual award known as the Edgar Award for distinguished work in the mystery genre. The award is named after this author.

The Miniaturist

I would like to watch this enjoyably atmospheric BBC Television adaptation of the novel The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton which is out on DVD. It concerns Petronella (Nella) Oortman, the poor, eighteen-year-old daughter of an impoverished and recently deceased country gentleman whose Mother advises her to marry a wealthy merchant named Johannes Brandt, who is rich and in his late thirties. Following the wedding Nella moves to Johannes Brandt’s luxurious home in Amsterdam where she meets his aloof cold sister Marin, who is in her twenties, and the servants Cornelia and Otto. However Nothing is as Nella expects. Marin and Johannes behave suspiciously, Then when Johannes, eventually does come home from his busy work he seems curiously uninterested in Nella, treating her more like a friend than a wife.

Brandt gives Nella a wedding present of a dollhouse designed to look like their nine-story home in miniature, Which Marin considers a waste of money. Nella asks a miniaturist to add realistic furnishings to it. These are delivered by a young chap named Jack Philips. Nella notices that the three items she ordered are suspiciously lifelike. including models of Johannes’ two dogs, a chair and a cradle. Gradually The miniaturist, whom she never meets, begins sending her more lifelike dolls and furnishings which are eerily accurate giving Otto serious misgivings about the miniaturist and soon Nella also starts to feel uncomfortable.

Meanwhile Johannes continues working for the Meermanses whose wealth consists of a large store of sugar from Surinam. Agnes is the overdressed and bling-laden wife, Frans the indulgent husband. Agnes loves to play status games, and flaunt their supposed wealth . So Nella decides she’s going to visit Johannes at his place of work however upon arrival she gets a bit of a shock.

Nella discovers many other secrets from Cornelia and encounters a mysterious woman in town. Agnes also suspects that Johannes is up to no good when she witnesses something shocking which could get Johannes executed. Then Otto and Johannes disappear and Gradually Nella discovers a world of secrets, lies and religious hypocrisy, whose pious façade disguises a convoluted web of illicit passion, Murder and Jealousy involving Johannes, Otto, Cornelia, Jack, Frans, Agnes and Marin, who is also hiding a rather large secret of her own regarding Frans Meermans. Meanwhile The Miniaturist continues sending miniatures together with cryptic messages. These start taking on an ever more symbolic nature, and seem to forshadow reality until it appears as if the Miniaturist herself actually has the power to influence the events in peoples lives through her miniatures…