Good News in History, April 20

Good News in History, April 20

Secchi disk150 years ago on this day, the Secchi disk, created by Italian astronomer Angelo Secchi, was first demonstrated as an inexpensive and straightforward method of measuring water clarity. The white frisbee-sized disk is lowered into the water and measurements taken at the depth it first disappears. Though first used aboard Pope Pius IX’s yacht in the Mediterranean Sea, the Secchi disk–sometimes with black and white quadrants– is still widely used to measure transparency in lakes across the US and world. (1865)

MORE Good News on this Day in History:

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1871 became law, protecting blacks from the Ku Klux Klan by providing a civil remedy for abuses then being committed in the South (1871)
  • Fenway Park opened as the home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team (1912)
  • The Chicago Cubs played their first game at Wrigley Field (1916)
  • Billie Holiday recorded what is thought to be the first Civil Rights song, “Strange Fruit” (1939)
  • Apollo 16‘s lunar module landed on the moon (1972)
  • Professional basketball player Michael Jordan set an all-time record for points in an NBA playoff game with 63 against the Boston Celtics (1986)
  • Vladimir Horowitz, one of the world’s greatest pianists, returned to his Russian homeland after 61 years to perform for an emotional audience in his hometown of Moscow* (1986)
  • China removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses (2001)
  • Danica Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 becoming the first female driver ever to win an Indy car race (2008)

Horowitz in Moscow with Charles Kuralt (DVD)

*At age 82, Horowitz gave one of the most emotionally astonishing and riveting performances of his life. I remember watching Charles Kuralt present the historic recital on his Sunday Morning TV show, along with footage of Horowitz’s return to his native Soviet Union. To say that this concert was an emotional experience is an understatement, and I, who knew nothing about the man or his work, wept with joy at his performance. A lesser pianist might have wilted under the pressure, and many expected Horowitz would cancel. But he seemed ecstatically inspired playing for his fellow Moscovites. (Audio CD)