News Displays: Watson and Crick Decipher DNA, Wednesday, 2/28Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check the news postings on Learning at the Library, where you can delve into history.
Leading University of Cambridge scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick announce their discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes, on February 28, 1953. They found that DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) replicated itself in being a spiral structure in which two DNA strands, each containing a long chain of monomer nucleotides, separated. This amazing break through led to further advances in science and technology: pre-natal screening of disease; identification of human remains; treatments for other diseases; genetically engineered foods -- rather, how genes determine living bodies and are passed between generations.
Did you know that Navy Captain Bruce McCandless became the first astronaut to fly without a rope or chain, in space? On February 7, 1984, McCandless exited the U.S. space shuttle, The Challenger, then on its fourth orbital mission, wearing a self-designed, white, jet-powered backpack that allowed him to see Earth most freely. He re-entered the craft some 90 minutes later, paving the way for future developments in space travel.
February 12, 1924 marks the debut of Rhapsody in Blue, played masterfully by the composer and pianist George Gershwin, largely known for his work on Broadway songs. With a packed audience at Aeolian Hall in New York City, Gershwin performed his brand new piece as part of an educational event called "Experiment in Modern Music" -- which served to introduce jazz as an exciting and new intricate art form. Rhapsody became one of the most important musical works of the twentieth century -- immediately recognizable by opening by an "outrageous clarinet".
On February 23, 1954, children at Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania received he first injections of the polio vaccine, developed by New York born medical researcher and virologist Jonas Salk who campaigned for mandatory vaccinations. Poliomyelitis was a highly contagious disease that attacked the nerve cells, caused muscle deterioration, paralysis, and sometimes death, but the new vaccine was highly successful in combatting it even after a faulty batch was administered, leading to the deaths of 200 people.
While traces of the deadly virus still exist in a few countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria Syria), it largely has been eliminated, thanks to continuing world-wide efforts to inoculate.