Sunday, August 03, 2008

Nautilus 90 North

Today is Sunday, 3 August 2008.

On this date in 1492, Columbus set sail for India.

In 1958, the U.S.S. Nautilus, the first submarine to be powered by a nuclear reactor, surfaced at 90 degrees North, the North pole, the first submarine to do so.

[See here for the Wikipedia article on the Nautilus:]

The feat was, of course, primarily a propaganda stunt, of little practical value. The American political high command, having chosen to be humiliated when the Soviets, the previous 4 October, had launched Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite, needed a competitive “First”. Timing it to coincide with the Columbus anniversary was a nice touch.

The great actor and activist Martin Sheen was born on this date in 1940. The Museum of the Bourgeois extends its best wishes, sir.

The great science fiction writer Clifford D. Simak was born on this date in 1904. As I’ve said before, if you’ve not read his masterpiece, the elegiac novel Way Station, I recommend you do so. I’ve read it some dozen times since 1963, the year of publication.


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