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100 Fixing the Calendar 1582
CALENDARS, perhaps man's most ambitious attempt to control time, are predicated on three astronomical certainties: the earth spinning on its axis (a day); the time it takes for the moon to circle the earth (a month), and the approximate time it takes the earth to revolve around the sun (a year). In 46 B.C., Emperor Julius Caesar borrowed from Egyptian and Jewish calendars by instituting a solar year of a dozen 30-day months, with five days left over and a leap year every four years.
But Caesar miscalculated, and over time the 11-minute annual discrepancy between his calendar and the solar year had accumulated a debit of 10 days. By the 16th century, the spring equinox--and Easter, a centerpiece of the Christian religion, which was linked to it--had begun to drift backward from its March mooring into winter. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII assembled a committee, including the influential Jesuit mathematician Christopher Clavius, and issued a Papal Bull, creating our present-day Christian calendar. New Year's Day was restored to January 1 after more than 1,000 years of being celebrated in late March. There would be no leap years in centesimal years, except those divisible by 400. And, in his most extraordinary move, to anchor Easter, Gregory scissored 10 days off the Julian calendar.
On the night of October 4, 1582, people went to bed as usual; they awoke to find it was October 15--11 days later. While Roman Catholic countries adopted the modifications at once, Protestant England and the Colonies only came around in 1752. A footnote: The Gregorian calendar, one of 40 active calendars in the world, is still not entirely accurate. It runs 26 seconds fast a year, leaving a margin of error of six days every 10,000 years. So don't look back--the next millennium is gaining on us.
99 The World Rocks 1954
Elvis conquered the world. Along with him went Bill Haley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry; in their wake came the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan, the Boss, Beck. Today, rock'n'roll is a gazillion-dollar industry with a hall of fame and a global video network pushing what was already a massive cultural colonization. Rock has initiated countless trends in fashion. It has ruptured our notions of proper social behavior, promoting new attitudes toward drug use and--as Elvis-haters once warned--sex. It has given Great Britain its first r'n'r knight (Sir Paul McCartney) and the United States its first r'n'r President (Mr. Bill Clinton). Rock rules. Roll over, E.P., and tell Bill Haley the news.
98 Stone Code 1799
It took until 1822 for Jean-Francois Champollion to discover that
hieroglyphics mixed phonetic and symbolic meanings; that some texts should
be read right to left, others left to right or top to bottom; and that some
symbols had two different meanings. This breakthrough, and the translations
it produced, led to revelations both humbling and exhilarating: The Egyptians
knew medicine, astronomy, geometry. They used weights and measures and had
an organized system of government. They were passionate, too: "Your voice
is like pomegranate wine," ran one poem.
97 Reigniting the Eternal Flame 1896
Determined to rekindle the original ethic, a Parisian aristocrat named Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympic movement in 1896. His tournament has since grown into a mammoth quadrennial exhibition of money, power and sport that stands as the world's most grandiose entertainment spectacle. Even as one of de Coubertin's most wild-eyed ideals has been realized--that of uniting the world's countries, if only briefly--the Olympics' growing importance has made it a target of abuse. Hitler sought to portray the 1936 Games as proof of Aryan superiority; terrorists used the '72 Munich Games as their stage in the massacre of Israeli athletes; President Carter called a boycott of the '80 Moscow Olympics after the U.S.S.R. invaded Afghanistan, and Moscow replied in kind four years later when L.A. hosted. Just last year a murderous pipe-bomber, motive unclear, terrorized Atlanta. Great leaders and craven criminals realize that nothing focuses world attention like the Olympics.
Why? Because sometimes we glimpse the transcendent. Kerri Strug, Michael Johnson, Oksana Baiul (just to name a few from recent Games): You see them in their glory, and you smile. Little kids smile. De Coubertin smiles. The gods themselves smile (Nike, not least).
96 Man of La Mancha 1605
95 The Good, The Bad, The Beautiful 1683
94 Rule Britannia 1588
But on July 29, 1588, an English fleet of substantially smaller ships began destroying the armada. Many of these ships were of a radical new design: low, streamlined, nimble. To exploit their advantage, the English unveiled a completely new method of naval combat, making no attempt to board the enemy ships, relying instead on their long-range cannon. Only half of the Spanish ships made it home.
The armada's defeat was a portent of much to come. True, the Spanish empire declined gradually, and it would be a century before Britannia ruled the waves. But the British Lion had roared.
93 Surgery Without Pain 1846
92 The Rise of the Ottoman Empire 1453
"Inspiring of fear rather than reverence," as one Venetian visitor said of Mehmed, he nonetheless transformed Constantinople from a decrepit city into a whirling hub of trade and creativity. It became a magnet for Islam's most ambitious and talented scholars, poets, artists and architects, who wrote some of the era's finest literature and built spectacular mosques.
But the Ottoman influence was not all benign. Straddling the Bosporus
between Asia and Europe, Constantinople was a perfect springboard for the
empire's military conquests as far west as Morocco, north into Hungary and
east to Damascus, Baghdad and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The occupation
of Constantinople also forced Christian Europe to look for new trade routes
to East Asia by circumnavigating Africa. The empire eventually collapsed after
World War I, when Mustafa Kemal Atatuerk founded the modern republic of Turkey
and renamed the old imperial capital Istanbul.
90 As If On Cue: Plastics 1907
And held it and held it, for it wasn't until 1907 that Leo Baekeland, a Belgian-born inventor who'd made a bundle on quick-action photo paper, hit upon the right combo of phenols and formaldehyde. This first entirely synthetic plastic, Bakelite, was impervious to heat, electricity and acid. It was therefore a plus for pool, but also for the nascent auto and electronics industries. One great asset of plastic was versatility, and it came to be used in everything from telephones to toilets, ashtrays to airplane parts. By 1968 a young graduate looking for a surefire field was being urged to listen to "just one word--plastics"; 30 years later the miracle material has turned into a $260 billion industry that employs 1,381,000 worldwide. It's a plastic world we live in, and that's not always bad.
89 Across the Sahara 1324
Mansa Musa embarked on a holy pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 with such opulent flourish that awestruck Egyptian writers were still recounting it 200 years later. Legend has it that Musa traveled across the Sahara with about 60,000 men, including 12,000 slaves. He brought 80 camels loaded with 300 pounds of gold each, which he gave away so freely in Cairo that it took years for the price of gold to recover. Architects and poets he brought back with him from Arabia built distinctive mosques, some of which survived for centuries, and helped establish Timbuktu as a center of Islamic schooling. But Musa's brazen advertisement of riches made Africa's interior a more desirable target for European exploration and conquest.
88 Japan Opens Its Doors 1868
Sufficiently confident to challenge larger players on the world stage, Japan went to war with China in 1894 and won Taiwan, the Pescadores, southern Manchuria and free access to Korea. It went on to sink the Russian navy in 1905, annex Korea in 1910 and join the Allies against Germany in 1914. The country's successes inspired nationalist uprisings in India, Iran and Turkey during and after World War I but stirred resentment and fear in the 1930s when Japan waged bloody campaigns in China. Its military expansionism, which peaked during World War II, was stopped only by two atomic bombs.
A prolonged period of recovery, increasing productivity, prosperity and steady economic expansion have made Japan the only Asian nation counted among the world's richest industrialized powers--just 130 years after the boy emperor ascended the throne.
87 A New Way Of Seeing 1880
86 The End Of The Raj 1947
Colonial rule of the vast South Asian subcontinent didn't officially begin until 1857, after Indian soldiers led an unsuccessful revolt against the British East India Company, which had effectively controlled the country. But India's Western-style schools only fired the nationalist movement, creating a middle class that questioned its dependent, "racially inferior" status. In 1930, Mohandas Gandhi, who preached nonviolent resistance, led thousands of followers on a 200-mile march to the sea, where they made salt in defiance of British tax laws. By the mid-1940s, Britain's resources had been sapped by World War II, and the country's slogan, "The sun never sets on the British Empire," had lost its moral certainty. After India gained its independence, there was little to stop the dominoes from toppling: Palestine in 1948; Ghana, the first of Britain's African colonies to go, in 1957; and in 1997, its last significant outpost, Hong Kong.
Fifty years after winning their independence, more than 900 million Indians--many still mired in poverty--make up the world's largest parliamentary democracy.
85 Saving Aristotle 1169
Since the 6th century, the Catholic Church had neglected, ignored or locked up classical scholarship behind the bars of Holy Writ. Centers of Islamic learning, however, preserved the works of philosophers of antiquity, giving pride of place to Aristotle. In 1169, Ibn-Rushd, a polymath also known as Averroes, began translating and commenting on Aristotle's works. His surroundings were perfect for the task. For several centuries, Spain had been controlled by Muslims, whose literary and artistic culture far surpassed that of medieval Europe. Cordoba's library contained over 400,000 volumes--more, it is said, than all the other libraries of Europe combined.
For 26 years, Ibn-Rushd put his mind to bringing Aristotle back to life, translating from Greek to Arabic to Latin, then into the bloodstream of European intellectual life. Philosophy was transformed, East to West, from arid dogmatism to a robust new synthesis of reason and faith.
84 Checking Accounts 1407
83 The First Novel 1008
82 Selling The World A Coke 1886
Asa Candler bought the company for $2,300 and retooled the drink's secret formula. He spent lavishly on advertising--as much as a quarter of the company's revenue. When Robert Woodruff took the helm, he vowed to put a Coke "within an arm's reach of desire." Feeling that he'd like to buy the world a Coke, he established a foreign department in 1926. After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military footed much of the bill for Coke's bottling plants at the front lines. (At home, Pepsi was subject to sugar rationing.) Not coincidentally, millions of people in nearly 200 countries have been introduced to the pause that refreshes.
Today, 606 million Cokes (including diet, caffeine-free and other versions) are consumed daily. A rich man can buy a better wine or beer than a peasant, but not a better Coke. The fact that they both want to is a testament to the power of advertising, and perhaps that secret formula.
81 Heigh-Ho, Silver! 1545
A 6,000 Mile Shortcut 1869
WHEN THE SUEZ CANAL opened in 1869--after a decade of excavation by 1.5 million men, thousands of whom died--it was hailed as the Eighth Wonder of the World. About 100 miles long, it shortened the sea route from Europe to India by 6,000 miles. Vessels no longer had to circumnavigate Africa, and the wealth of nations soon passed through it. Oddly, the British left development to a Franco-Egyptian consortium before realizing the canal's importance and buying out Egypt's shares. An Anglo-French commission then ran the canal until 1956, when Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser expropriated it.
79 The Rise of the Welfare State 1601
78 A Coffepot Percolates in Yemen c.1450
77 Going Up 1854
76 Unraveling the Double Helix 1953
Before even a rough topography existed, the presence of deoxyribonucleic acid in the nucleus of every living cell had been confirmed in 1869 by Swiss physician Friedrich Miescher. But science believed protein, not DNA, controlled heredity until Martha Chase and Alfred Hershey proved otherwise in 1952, setting off a race to say how DNA functions, to know what makes us who we are.
Crick and Watson, who never experimented with DNA themselves, began building models of what they thought was the acid's molecular structure. On February 21, 1953, Watson, then 24, noticed the similar shape of the two complementary pairs of basic molecules that make up DNA, requiring two helices to wrap around its core, a revelation that also suggested how DNA might replicate itself. Knowing DNA's design would eventually lead to the identification of specific genes and their functions.
75 Raising the Roofs At Chartres 1260
74 El Libertador 1821
73 Fashion Comes Forward c.1350
The change was the result of several factors. One was the return
of Crusading soldiers with a novel item: the button, which they had seen used
by Turks and Mongols. Court tailors used buttons to fasten clothes tightly,
accentuating the differences in men's and women's bodies. (Fashion's first
scandal followed, as the Catholic Church raised an eyebrow. One gown, wrote
a naysayer, was "nothing other than the devil's snare.") For knights, plate
armor imitating (however optimistically) the musculature of the wearer replaced
droopy chain mail. Another factor--the rise of mercantile capitalism--allowed
a new moneyed class to dress like nobility. The rate at which styles became
obsolete was a measure of royalty's desire to stay ahead of the bourgeoisie.
72 Solidarity Forever 1838
The changes unions have brought--the eight-hour workday, reforms in occupational safety, the minimum wage, child labor laws--have not come without pain, violence and dissent. But cries of "Solidarity" are still heard around the world.
71 Heaven On Earth c.1150
70 Saving the Planet 1962
69 The Anatomy Lesson 1543
68 Pentacostalism Catches Fire 1906
67 A Stitch in Half the Time 1851
The "iron seamstress" also led to ready-made clothing: A woman could walk down Fifth Avenue and--horrors!--run into someone wearing an identical garment. But even as ready-to-wear liberated those with spending power, it enslaved immigrant women and children in sweatshops. Despite the formation in 1900 of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, clothing today is available thanks not only to Singer but to the people around the world operating his machines for little pay.
66 Splendor of Tenochtitláán 1325
65 A Fresh Point of View 1413
64 The Long March 1934
63 Ka-Boom! 1863
62 A Blast Of Oxygen 1854
Soon steel framed tall buildings and stenciled skylines. It supported bridges over rivers, laid railroad tracks around the world and put America on wheels. And steel built fortunes as well as cities. By the turn of the century, American mills were rolling out 8.5 million tons of steel a year. Space-age alloys have tarnished steel's luster, and cars are now made of plastic. But the demand for steel remains enormous--a billion tons worldwide last year--even if it is delivered on aluminum trucks.
61 Shadows Inside Us 1895
Rööentgen announcement of his discovery two months later caused an immediate sensation. Magazines published poems about X rays. Stores in Victorian London advertised X-ray-proof clothing. Within months physicians were using the new technology to look at broken bones and bullets in wounded soldiers. Eventually, improved technology lessened side effects--burns to the skin and hair loss. By the 1970s xeroradiography reduced exposure time and cancer risk. And related technologies, from CAT scans to MRIs, have opened a window into the structure of matter and the workings of the body.
60 A Royal Flush 1596
Though Harington's WC was installed in Richmond Palace, inadequate sewage systems prevented its widespread use, and 265 years passed before British plumber Thomas Crapper made his name marketing an advanced watersaving flush system. By the 1920s the toilet had become a standard fixture in most newly built homes--though in developing nations, a staggering 2.9 billion people still don't have access to one.
59 Getting The News 1609
58 The Accidental Vulcan 1839
A Connecticut native not known for his financial prowess, Goodyear was determined to make rubber commercially viable. While incarcerated in debtors' prison, he began mixing raw rubber with everything from witch hazel to cream cheese. In 1839 he accidentally spilled a drop of rubber and sulfur on his burning stove. He had discovered the process of vulcanization, named for the Roman god of fire, and set the stage for the business boom spurred by the advent of cars. But Goodyear failed to secure the rights to his discovery. When he died, he left behind scores of suggestions for rubber's applications--the inflatable tire, alas, not one of them--and a $200,000 debt.
57 A Woman's Choice 1914
56 Four-Star Dining 1120
The journal of 12th century Chinese bureaucrat Meng Yuanlao--arguably the first restaurant reviewer--offers a meticulous account of an emerging restaurant culture in Kaifeng, the capital during the Northern Song dynasty (960-1126). The city of one million had plenty of adventurous eaters. Laborers slurped noodles in humble shops, shopkeepers frequented dumpling houses, and according to Meng's journal, begun around 1120, night markets served tripe with blood pasta, fried liver and goose pears to people on the late shift. In Small Sweetwater Alley many establishments specialized in southern Chinese foods, one of the first regional cuisines. The people of Kaifeng also demanded attentive service. "Even the slightest mistake," noted Meng, "was reported to the head of the restaurant, who would curse the waiter or dock his salary or, in extreme cases, drive him from the place."
55 The Invention of Childhood 1633
Picture the Europe of 1633. The Thirty Years' War was devastating villages; food was scarce; Protestants like Comenius were running for their lives. It was a difficult world, and children worked hard and died young. But Comenius was a utopian who believed the pathway to an earthly Eden was education. If children were not loved, not educated early and well, their souls could be lost.
After Comenius's death much of his work was forgotten. Then, 100 years later, Jean-Jacques Rousseau advised parents to let children savor nature. Soon Swiss reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi was running the first infants' school. By 1837, Friedrich Froebel had opened a kindergarten in Germany. Attitudes toward childrearing swing through history like a drunken pendulum, but these days we hope children are treated as children.
54 Tobacco Catches Fire 1535
53 The Coolest Invention 1834
It was 17 years before the first commercial refrigerators were installed in an Australian brewery. By the end of the century they were being used to ship beef around the world, chill wine in Paris restaurants and build skating rinks. In 1902, Willis Carrier installed the first air conditioner in a Brooklyn printing plant--it not only cooled but also controlled humidity--and before long his machines were showing up in department stores and movie theaters. The first household refrigerators appeared in the early 1920s. Less than 1 percent of the homes in America are now without one, and most contain frozen foods--thanks to a process developed by Clarence Birdseye--another marvel of the Cool Age.
52 Tick, Tock 1656
51 Liberty For All 1865
While slaves would celebrate January 1, 1863, as the Day of Jubilee, their actions had long been instrumental in advancing emancipation. They worked as spies and laborers and volunteered their lives to fight in the Union Army. By the end of the war, 179,000 African American men had served in the U.S. military, constituting almost 10 percent of the Northern armed forces. For the nation's 3.5 million slaves, for its abolitionists and for some of its politicians, the crucible of civil war would allow the U.S. to live up to its best traditions, expressed in the Declaration of Independence, as a land of liberty and equality for all. The foundation was laid for the emergence of the United States as a great world power.
50 A University Education 1088
Those 12th century campus hotheads could never have imagined what they were building. By the end of that century, the University of Paris had taken root, and not long after, Oxford was up and running. Today, throughout the world, universities are places where each generation can dis- cover their callings, and themselves.
49 The Circulation of Blood 1628
48 Store Food? Yes, we can 1812
47 Striking Oil 1859
46 Water Purification 1829
45 Red Star Over Russia 1917
The Soviet Union (as the new nation was known) modernized with terrific speed. The masses got free education and medical care. But the price was staggering: millions dead in botched economic experiments and purges; gulags full of political prisoners; a culture shackled by totalitarian ideology. The country's rivalry with the United States dominated global politics, triggered countless hot wars and threatened nuclear Armageddon. It ended in 1989, when the Soviet bloc collapsed--done in, as Marx had predicted capitalism would be, by its own "internal contradictions."
44 A New World in a Drop of Water 1674
43 Bach's Well-Tempered Scale 1722
Bach was not the first to rework the keyboard's possibilities, but he did it best: His music is gorgeous. And even though he never wrote for the piano, he opened the door to the rich tapestry of sound we associate with that instrument. By the 19th century it was a dominant force in Western music and an essential element of evening entertainment in living rooms across Europe and America. The stage was set for the pyrotechnics of Chopin and Liszt, for the crashing fortissimos and feather-soft pianissimos of Tchaikovsky--and for millions of humbler piano recitals.
42 The Laws of Heredity 1866
41 The Telegraph Goes Online 1844
Morse's telegraph, unveiled in 1838, was not the first such device--Englishmen William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone beat him by a year with a model that used needles to spell out words--but it was by far the most practical. The sender simply pressed a key in a pattern of dots and dashes, which were automatically marked on paper at the other end. Morse's machine and code became the international standard.
The telegraph spurred the growth of multinational corporations and transcontinental railways. It helped change the pace and scope of warfare. And it gave a boost to the news media. In 1848, six newspapers formed what would become the Associated Press to collect and distribute reports by telegraph. Soon news from anywhere could reach people everywhere the very day it happened.
Women Demand the Vote 1848
MANY WOMEN STILL lead lives of dependence and submission, but if one considers that women didn't publicly demand suffrage until 1848, the advances made in the recent flicker of history's eye seem remarkable. The Declaration of Sentiments, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and signed at the Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., was not the first expression of feminism. But the 12 resolutions adopted there provided an agenda broad enough to terrify many. Its defenders were pelted with rotten fruit, insulted by the press, ignored. By the end of the century, suffragists had taken to the streets, expressing a different kind of anger: "Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less!" Still, it took until 1920 for American women to win national suffrage. In the 1960s women marched again, to argue for equal pay for equal work and freedom of reproductive choice. Those arguments continue, but women can now speak with their ballots, not just their voices.
39 The Crop That Grew Europe 1537
38 Marx Meets Engles 1844
Their first great collaboration, the Communist Manifesto (1848), opened with the words, "A specter is haunting Europe." The specter was communism--and the authors made its victory seem inevitable. All history, they declared, was driven by class struggle. The bourgeoisie had superseded the nobility and called the proletariat into existence. Since capitalists exploited workers with ever-increasing ferocity, proletarians would one day realize they had "nothing to lose but their chains" and overthrow the bourgeoisie. The revolution would communalize property and production, eliminating classes. When that was done, the state--along with oppression and want--would disappear.
Within a hundred years or so, a third of humanity was living under governments that called themselves communist. But oppression and want persisted; a few decades later revolutions drove most of those regimes from power. Today, Marxism is a theory relegated mainly to intellectual debate.
37 Fixing An Image 1826
36 E=MC2 1905
But the September paper, a three-page examination of one consequence
of special relativity, had the power to change the world. Einstein's "thought
experiment" delved into the underlying connection between matter and energy,
the two basic components of the universe.
Within 40 years, research in radioactivity and physics, fueled by the desperation of a ghastly world conflict, led to the development of nuclear energy and the atomic bomb--dramatic realizations of Einstein's straightforward assertion. Einstein, a lifelong pacifist, deplored the destructive use of his ideas and regretted encouraging President Franklin D. Roosevelt to push development of nuclear weapons. Einstein was disappointed, and the world was changed inalterably.
35 To Be, Or Not 1603
34 Off With Their Heads 1789
In 1814 the monarchy was temporarily restored. But the Revolution's legacy endured. Peasants and women gained equality before the law. The nobility lost power. The ideas of socialism and nationalism were among the insurrection's exports, as were its egalitarian legal system and its Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. Even its tricolor flag became a model--hoisted, in various hues, by new republics throughout the world.
33 One Small Step for Man 1969
The Space Age began in earnest on October 4, 1957, with the Soviet launch of Sputnik I, the world's first artificial satellite to achieve orbit. The U.S. followed a few months later with Explorer I, and the race was on. An ardent commitment to exploration by President Kennedy and an equally zealous Soviet program led to a high-wire one-upmanship in the 1960s that spawned stunning technological advances, culminating in the Apollo 11 moon walk. Televisions carried the fuzzy images, the history in the making, and a global community basked in this wondrous human conquest. Fittingly, it was satellites themselves that made the broadcast possible, and the world a little smaller. Since that first trip to the moon, there have been deeper probes--Discovery, Endeavour, Galileo--into our solar system. But as space engineer Wernher von Braun observed, the journeys to the moon were like steps in human evolution, akin to the moment life emerged from the sea to establish itself on land.
32 The First Picture Show 1895
George Eastman introduced roll film in 1889, which Thomas Edison used to show movies to one person at a time with his Kinetoscope. In France two brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumiere, worked on projecting moving pictures to a group. On December 28, 1895, they premiered 10 films. At a later showing of The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station, startled viewers ducked from the locomotive.
With the technology in place, the grammar of movies rapidly developed. Audiences kept up, though many found closeups of intimate acts like kissing to be unnerving. Edison replaced an actor with a dummy to simulate the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots, and sci-fi pioneer Georges Méélièès made film magic in A Trip to the Moon (1902). Not so many years later, German expressionists would use weather to convey a character's mood and Orson Welles would sum up Charles Foster Kane's disintegrating marriage by elongating a breakfast table before the viewer's eyes. In the U.S., movies became a giant industry; never before had so few people influenced the culture of so many. The nature of film, as opposed to, say, theater, means that the same images are banked in the consciousness of generations past, future and worldwide--people who would otherwise have little culture in common. After seeing Jurassic Park, kids from Beverly Hills to Bombay could suffer the same nightmare that they, too, were being chased by a pterodactyl.
31 The Interpretations
of Dreams 1900
In it and later works, Freud claimed that dreams were ordered clues to our unconscious self--the part of our mind containing repressed wishes, traumas and desires too frightening to acknowledge. Though Nietzsche and others had hypothesized about the unconscious, Freud pioneered a systematic way to access it. He saw the human psyche as a battleground for the primitive, aggressive, sexually driven beast and the socialized adult self within us. (Children were complicated beings with urges--including sexual ones--at predictable stages.) Through a "talking cure," a patient could gain insight into and control over his unconscious drives.
Today, those practicing quicker therapies and psychopharmacology outnumber psychoanalysts, but Dr. Freud is indisputably with us, informing the very way we think about being human.
30 The Transistor Age Begins 1947
The triode vacuum tube, the original electronic amplifier, powered the development of radio, TV and early digital computers. But tubes were bulky and power-hungry, a drag on the development of complicated electronic machines; engineers needed a reliable, small, cheap device. The likely building blocks? Semiconductors, crystals of nearly pure germanium or silicon that could selectively allow or deny the transmission of electricity. A team of scientists at Bell Labs in New Jersey demonstrated the first semiconductor amplifier, a primitive transistor, on December 23, 1947. First used in telephone equipment and hearing aids, the devices found their way into everything with a plug or battery. Integrated circuits--a silicon chip etched with microscopic transistors--were developed in the late 1950s; chip-based computers invaded the kitchen, the car, the office, the den. Today, most Americans are usually within a few feet of one.
29 Genghis Khan Builds an Empire 1211
In 1175, at the age of 13, he became chief of a small tribe of Mongol herdsmen. He used his position to unite a constellation of tribes under his rule, then converted those tribesmen into an army so formidable none could stand against it. The Mongols rode in hordes, sweeping away everything in their path. In 1211 they began their conquest of China. Later, they overran Persia and the Arab civilization of present-day Iraq to the west, and parts of Korea, Burma and Vietnam to the east and south. Nearly all of Russia fell before them too. Everywhere they rode, the Mongols left devastation, sometimes slaughtering entire cities. After Genghis's death in 1227, his successor, Ogadai, stormed through Poland and Hungary, reaching the banks of the Danube River.
The Mongols subdued more territory than anyone in history. Their
influence on human development was overwhelmingly destructive, though as a
result of their depredations, East met West. Mongols--in particular, Genghis's
grandson Kublai Khan, who completed the conquest of China in 1279--brought
foreigners into their realm to serve as administrators over vanquished masses.
An Italian named Marco Polo later astounded Europe with news of such Asian
innovations as money made of paper and a stone called "coal" that could be
used for fuel.
28 The Drink That Launched a Thousand Ships 1610
On the other side of the world, American colonists refused to pay a threepence-a-pound tax on tea imports "without representation." They seized control of three British tea-bearing vessels docked at Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773, and hurled the contents of 342 chests overboard. Similar protests in Charleston, S.C., Philadelphia and other cities fomented the American Revolution.
27 The Wright Stuff 1903
26 The War to End All Wars 1914
The war's ill effects resonated for decades: Russia's sufferings led to the triumph of communism, Germany's helped produce Nazism. In two decades the embers of conflict would ignite a second world war that--incomprehensible as it seems--would prove more horrible still.
25 The Wireless 1901
24 The Iron Racehorse 1830
Other rail lines existed at the time, but all used horse-drawn cars along parts of their routes. And none could sustain the 30-mph clip of the Liverpool & Manchester's engines. Those machines, and the roadway they ran on, were designed by George Stephenson--a former coal-mine mechanic who hadn't learned to read until he was 18--and his university-educated son, Robert. The older man was already known for innovations that had transformed the locomotive (introduced by Englishman Richard Trevithick in 1804) from a balky contraption into a long-distance workhorse. Now, with Robert's help, he had created an iron racehorse.
Despite the death of a member of Parliament who was run down at the opening ceremony, the Liverpool & Manchester inspired a rash of track-laying around the world. The railroads sent the industrial revolution into overdrive, stimulated trade, built cities from Chicago to Nairobi. In the U.S. they ferried settlers westward, uprooted Native Americans and attracted thousands of Chinese and Irish laborers who stayed on after the spikes were driven. Wherever the engines ran, they brought their lonesome whistle, the distillation in sound of that most modern of blessings and curses--mobility.
23 Heavy Thinking 1666
But his eccentricities pale next to the grandeur of his great discovery, the law of gravitation. For decades, Europe's best minds had been trying to explain the force that held celestial bodies in orbit. In 1666 inspiration struck the 23-year-old Newton when he saw an apple fall from a tree in his mother's yard. The same force pulling the apple earthward, he realized, was also tugging steadily at the moon.
Newton figured out the mathematical formula defining the gravitational pull between two objects. But there were other discoveries as well that would have secured his undying fame. His three basic laws of motion created a foundation for modern physics. He was the first to prove that white light is a mixture of all colors. And calculus, an advanced form of mathematics Newton invented to make calculations of change, is now an essential tool in fields as diverse as economics and space exploration.
22 The Mold That Saved Millions 1928
21 The Black Plague 1348
20 Talking Down a Two-Way Street 1876
For businesses, governments and ordinary people, the telephone represented a quantum leap in efficiency. Instead of composing a letter or telegram and waiting for a reply, one had only to get on the horn. But the phone altered human relations on a deeper level, too. Millions isolated by circumstance could reach out and touch someone, if only figuratively. No longer requiring physical proximity, intimacy became both easier and less intimate.
Today, there are some 750 million telephone subscribers worldwide. Computers, including 10.7 million Internet hosts, share the circuits. And letter-writing is staging a surprise comeback--this time over the phone lines, via E-mail.
19 Seeds of Democracy 1215
Most of the document simply held the monarch to his feudal obligations. But it also contained seeds of democracy. No free man was to be imprisoned without "the lawful judgment of his peers." Justice was not to be sold or impeded. No property was to be seized without compensation. Should the king renege on the charter, the barons had the right to revolt. John reneged, and died fighting in 1216. The Magna Carta lived on. Its promise of due process came to cover all social classes. Its requirement that the king consult the barons on decisions was used to justify parliamentary limits on the monarchy. It influenced Locke and Rousseau, who preached that governments must protect citizens' rights or perish--a notion central to the American and French revolutions. Its echoes persist in many constitutions. And when the U.N. adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, coauthor Eleanor Roosevelt called it the "Magna Carta of all mankind."
18 The Crusaders Were Here 1095
Purported relics from the era of Jesus, unearthed in Jerusalem (the Holy Lance, John the Baptist's remains), proved to Western Christians that the city belonged to them. Almost from the moment Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade in 1095, zealots plundered their way toward Palestine, slaughtering unbelievers--including thousands of European Jews.
In 1099 the Christians took Jerusalem. But battles continued there and throughout the Middle East, and in 1244 the Muslims regained the city. Still, Europe won much from the Crusades. They helped revive mining and manufacturing. New trade routes opened, conduits for Eastern imports that enriched the West: silk, spices, gunpowder, algebra. A less popular novelty was the income tax--instituted to help pay for the holy wars.
17 Ford Rolls Out the Model T 1908
16 The Day That Time Stood Still 1945
15 How Did We Get Here 1859
14 Live From Schenectady
Ever since the launch of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s, the race had been on to combine and transmit sound with moving images. Two years before Alexanderson's demonstration, Scotsman John Logie Baird used a mechanical scanner to transmit a flickering image of a human head. But GE surpassed Baird's efforts. Four months after Alexanderson's transmission, the company was broadcasting images three times a week, and the basic elements of television were in place. Then in 1937 an electronic system employing the more sophisticated cathode-ray tube was adopted by the BBC in England. The broadcast of the 1947 World Series clinched television's growing importance. By the end of the 1950s, nearly 90 percent of U.S. homes could boast at least one TV set. The world no longer needed to be imagined--now it could be seen and heard. America had a new communal fireplace.
13 A Shot in the Arm 1796
Enter Edward Jenner, a general practitioner from rural England. Trusting in the popular belief that cowpox built one's immunity to smallpox, Jenner extracted cowpox-infected lymph from pustules on a Gloucestershire milkmaid on May 14, 1796, and inserted a small amount into an 8-year-old boy. Seven weeks later, Jenner injected the boy with smallpox. His immune system held its ground; the science of immunology had become a possibility. Vaccinations for hepatitis, diphtheria, polio and measles revolutionized public health--and created one of the first battle wounds of childhood, a word derived from the Latin vaccinus, meaning "of the cow," a nod to an anonymous English animal to whose stature Mrs. O'Leary's can only aspire.
12 Of Human Bondage 1509
11 The Wizard of Menlo Park 1876
In 1903 Edison produced an important early motion picture, The Great Train Robbery, to accompany his many other advances, such as his telephone transmitter, stock ticker, fluoroscope, storage battery and the "Edison effect" lamp (it would lead to the tubes used in radio and television). In all, he held more than 2,000 patents, many of them from Menlo Park. It is difficult to overestimate their significance. The can-do intelligence in that little lab let us see and let us hear.
10 The Compass Goes to Sea 1117
9 Hitler Comes to Power 1933
Promising salvation from the chaos of the Depression, Hitler swept aside German democracy. A hypnotic orator, he preached a sort of crank Darwinism: At evolution's pinnacle were the so-called Aryans (Germans and other Nordic peoples), destined to subdue or destroy all "inferior" races--particularly the Jews, whom Hitler blamed for most of humanity's ills. Linking ancient prejudice to wild dreams of glory, this mad ideology galvanized the nation. Herded into lockstep by the propaganda and police forces of a totalitarian state, Germans prepared to conquer the earth.
World War II began in 1939. Six years later, the Axis countries were vanquished; some 17 million combatants and 60 million civilians were dead. And within that horror lay a new benchmark of evil: six million Jews and nearly as many other "undesirables" (Gypsies, homosexuals, leftists, Slavs) systematically slaughtered.
8 A Declaration to the World 1776
Penned by 33-year-old Virginia delegate Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration was meant to explain, after a year of war, the American colonies' break with Britain. The document listed the offenses of King George III, ranging from restriction of trade to the use of foreign mercenaries. (A passage denouncing the king's promotion of slavery was cut to placate some delegates.) More important, it laid out the concept of natural rights--borrowed largely from British philosopher John Locke--that would form, in the words of Congress president John Hancock (one of 56 signatories), "the Ground & Foundation" of the U.S. government.
The Declaration was more than just one country's manifesto. It spurred Latin Americans to sever ties with Spain and the French to overthrow a king. Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh paraphrased it when he defied France. And its avowal that all men are born equal moved more than males: When the U.S. women's suffrage movement was launched in 1848, its founders modeled their declaration on Jefferson's.
7 China Develops Gunpowder Weapons c.1100
6 The Germ Theory of Disease 1882
5 Galileo Sees the Moons of Jupiter and The Earth Moves 1610
With its armies facing Protestant forces to the north, the Catholic Church was in no mood to accept any questioning of its authority. Pope Urban VIII, convinced that Galileo had mocked him, felt compelled to call the astronomer before the Inquisition. Under threat of torture, at the age of 69, Galileo recanted and was placed under house arrest until his death nine years later. To this day, the world remembers him for an exchange that may in fact be fiction. After recant- ing, Galileo is said to have muttered, "And yet it [the earth] does move." Whether true or not, it took more than 300 years for the Church, under Pope John Paul II, to do its own recanting.
4 The Machine Age Gears Up 1796
A mathematical instrument maker at Glasgow University triggered the change by tinkering with a model of the Newcomen steam engine, built in 1712 to pump water out of mines. James Watt patented a version in 1769 that saved 75 percent in fuel costs. Soon his superior engines powered coal mines and textile mills, plus the railroads and ships that carried the new technologies to the Continent and the New World. Before, Britons had been agrarian; by 1870, 70 percent of them had moved to cities, living mostly in slums, where overcrowding, poor sanitation and outbreaks of typhus, cholera and dysentery were common. Factories producing iron belched smoke. Mines and quarries scarred the earth.
The landscape of the postrevolution family also changed. Women and children as young as six were exploited by factory bosses. For the upper classes, the result was an elevated quality of life. Rapidly expanding prosperity, combined with the new cost-efficiency of machines, gave bankers, entrepreneurs and merchants wealth on an unprecedented scale. A middle class of managers grew more educated, enjoying better health, more leisure time and greater mobility. Even the lower class could afford better, cheaper products. Despite Luddite attacks on machinery, the revolution kept gathering steam.
3 Luther Knocks Down the Door 1517
When the Edict of Worms declared Luther a political outlaw, his anticlerical message was taken up by others. As the laity moved against monasteries and their landholdings; as priests began to marry; as princes and other powers allied against the Holy Roman Empire; and as bishops came to be appointed by secular authorities, the Reformation was begun in earnest. Political authority would never again be fully subject to the dictates of a distant clergy, and the map of Europe would be determined by the nationalism that still dominates world politics today.
2 A Global Civilization 1492
Columbus lifted sail in August 1492--and got lost. Only shouts of "Tierra,tierra!" on October 12 ended threats of mutiny. The island the natives called Guanahani, and renamed San Salvador by Columbus, is believed to have been his first landfall. He thought the native people simple and naturally good, "easy to conquer," until they resisted. Then things got ugly. His governorship of Hispaniola was the low point, an outburst of gold fever accompanied by the enslavement and slaughter of the native people. In December 1500, Columbus was arrested for his mismanagement and sent home in chains. Ideas, goods, deadly microbes and African slaves followed in the wake of his crossing. He may have stumbled on a "new world," but his adventurous spirit played no small role in creating a new, global, civilization.
1 Gutenberg Prints the Bible 1455
Gutenberg designed a new kind of press, based on those used to squeeze
olives. He came up with an alloy of lead, tin and antimony, and a precisely
calibrated type-mold to pour it into. He concocted a smudge-resistant ink
of lampblack, turpentine and linseed oil. Each page of his Bible probably
took a worker a day to set, but once the type was in place, the rest was