Saturday Scenes

Thu 29 March 2012

The Great Escape

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 21:53

On the night of the 24th of March in 1943, seventy-six prisoners from Stalag Luft III escaped. Squadron Leader Roger Bushell RAF conceived the plan to dig three long tunnels 9 metres (30 feet) below the surface to allow them to escape, wearing civilian clothes and carrying maps and forged papers. Six hundred men helped to create the tunnels, even though only some 200 would be able to escape. One of the tunnels was discovered only a short time before completion. The prisoners bided their time and then finished “Harry” and planned the escape for the 24th of March: the next moonless night.

One of the escapees was Pilot Officer Jimmy James, who told the BBC his story as a part of the WAr Behind the Wire series.

Pilot Officer Jimmy James

Not long before 10pm we were all in there and the doors were shut and they started to get out, but there were four things which held up the breakout. One was icing on the trap. The trap got iced up and it took them an hour and a half to break out of it. When they got out they found that the exit hole was about 20 or 30 feet short of the woods, which meant that coming out in the snow you were quite near the guard on the wire and there was a flashlight with a guard box and all that and you would have stood out like a sore thumb if the sentry had seen you. So Roger said, “Put a man behind the bush.” A ferret bush [aka. Ferret Fence] they would call it, where the ferret used to lie and watch with a rope, and hang the rope down the exit hole and just signal to people when they can come up. The chap would give a tug on the rope, and if it was okay to go he would give one tug and if it was not he would give two tugs.

Despite numerous set-backs, 76 men crawled through the tunnel that night. The 77th was spotted by the guards. Of the escapees, 73 were re-captured.

The events were dramatised in 1950 in the blockbuster film The Great Escape although, contrary to the film, there were no Americans involved in the escape, no motorcycle chases and no exciting aircraft scenes.

James’ story of being a Prisoner of War, including a later escape attempt, is fascinating story in itself and well worth a read.

Meanwhile, on the 24th of March in 2012, thirty-eight great scenes were recorded and submitted for posterity:

Take a moment and follow those people who submitted them:

Shouldn’t you save a photograph of your day-to-day life for posterity? It’s easy!

  1. Take a photograph on a Saturday
  2. Upload the photograph
  3. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location
  4. Bookmark for future descendants to find

I’m looking forward to seeing your photograph on Saturday!

Fri 23 March 2012

Snapping that Special Moment

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 17:46

On the 17th of March in 1973, Colonel Robert L Stirm and twenty other POWs returned to the U.S. after over 5 years at a prisoner of war camp in North Vietnam. Stirm endured starvation, torture and a total of 281 days in solitary confinement. For part of his imprisonment he shared a cell with future politician John McCain. On the 14th of March, Stirm was released and given a “Dear John letter” from his wife. Three days later, he arrived at Travis Air Force Base in California, where family and press were waiting for the POWs.

The homecoming was a huge press event and Stirm gave a speech about Operation Homecoming, as the event was called. Finally, he was finished and able to greet his family.

Coming Home | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine

Associated Press photographer Slava “Sal” Veder, who’d been standing in a crowded bullpen with dozens of other journalists, noticed the sprinting family and started taking pictures. “You could feel the energy and the raw emotion in the air,” says Veder, then 46, who had spent much of the Vietnam era covering antiwar demonstrations in San Francisco and Berkeley. The day was overcast, meaning no shadows and near-perfect light. He rushed to a makeshift darkroom in a ladies’ bathroom on the base (United Press International had commandeered the men’s). In less than half an hour, Veder and his AP colleague Walt Zeboski had developed six remarkable images of that singular moment. Veder’s pick, which he instantly titled Burst of Joy, was sent out over the news-service wires, published in newspapers around the nation and went on to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1974.

Sadly, the marriage dissolved within a year and Stirm stated to a reporter that he didn’t keep a copy of the photograph as it was just too painful. It’s a beautiful image of the time, even if the long-term reality didn’t carry through on the promise.

Meanwhile, on the 17th of March in 2012, the following photographs were taken and shared with the online community as a part of Saturday scenes:

Here are the talented photographers who took them:

Shouldn’t you save a photograph of your day-to-day life for posterity? It’s easy!

  1. Take a photograph on a Saturday
  2. Upload the photograph
  3. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location
  4. Bookmark for future descendants to find

I’m looking forward to seeing your photograph in the next edition!

Thu 15 March 2012

Running Rings around the Rest

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 22:09

On the 10th of March in 1977, astronomers discovered rings around Uranus. The planet Uranus was discovered centuries earlier by William Herschel in 1781 while searching for double-stars. Funnily enough, he mentioned a ring.

Herschel was the King’s Astronomer and he called the new planet the “Georgian star” in honour of King George III. French astronomers were not in favour of this reference to the British King and called the planet “Herschel” instead. The name Uranus (after Ouranos, the Greek god of the sky) was universally adopted in 1850.

Twenty years later, Herschel said he stated that he saw a ring around the planet and even drew a sketch; however astronomers did not find evidence of the rings for almost two hundred years. Herschel’s claim was dismissed as a mistake.

After the rings were confirmed in 1977, Herschel’s sighting continued to be dismissed as he did not have the equipment necessary: the rings were too faint to see.

However, Dr Stuart Eves, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, thinks Herschel may have seen something after all.

Did William Herschel Discover The Rings Of Uranus In The 18th Century?

“Herschel got a lot of things right”, notes Dr Eves, “He has a ring of roughly the correct size relative to the planet, and he also has the orientation of this ring in the right direction. In addition, he accurately describes the way the appearance of the ring changes as Uranus moves around the Sun, and he even gets its colour right. Uranus’s Epsilon ring is somewhat red in colour, a fact only recently confirmed by the Keck telescope, and Herschel mentions this in his paper.”

Meanwhile, on the 10th of March in 2011, many photographers looked to the skies for inspiration and then took these astronomically amazing examples of Saturday Scenes:

And here are the super stars that took them:

Would you like to share their fame and fortune? Join us on Saturday: it’s easy!

  1. Take a photograph (on Saturday!)
  2. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location

I’m looking forward to seeing your photograph in the next edition!

Fri 9 March 2012

Leave a Message After the Tone

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 20:21

On the 3rd of March in 1847, Alexander Bell was born in Edinburgh. His mother, who lost her hearing during his childhood, strongly influenced his interest in hearing devices leading to the invention of the telephone. In a remarkable coincidence, his first successful telephone attempt also falls on a Saturday! On the 10th of March in 1876, he phoned his assistant who was in the next room, and said “Mr Watson – Come here!” He later rigged a telephone from his home to Brantford, stringing wire for 4 miles / 6 km in order to prove that the telephone could work over long distances.

Alexander Graham Bell – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bell and his partners, Hubbard and Sanders, offered to sell the patent outright to Western Union for $100,000. The president of Western Union balked, countering that the telephone was nothing but a toy.

Two years later, he told colleagues that if he could get the patent for $25 million he would consider it a bargain.

Alexander Graham Bell went on to create many more innovations, including inventing a metal detector, a phonograph, indoor air conditioning and, shortly before his death, he expressed the idea that solar panels could be used to heat houses. However, the technology for which he was most famous had its downside. “In retrospect, Bell considered his most famous invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study.”

I think we all know how that feels.

But stop what you are doing right now: this is not an intrusion. Or maybe it is but it’s worth it.

On the 3rd of March in 2012, many photographs were taken and quite a few of them were taken on telephones! Take a look:

And here are the brilliant people who took them:

Would you like to see your photograph featured here?

Simply take a photo on a Saturday and tweet it to @SatScenes! Every week I retweet the Saturday Scenes and then collect them all for a special post here. We’d love to see yours.

Thu 1 March 2012

Alas, Poor Yorick

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 21:51

On the 25th of of February in 1866, a skull was discovered in a mine at a depth of 130 feet, beneath a layer of lava known to be over a million years old. The “Calaveras Skull” was just what geologist Josiah Whitney was looking for. A year previously, he published a paper that humans, mastadons and elephants coexisted and the skull gave him the evidence he was looking for. He announced that it was the oldest known record of humans on the American continent at the California Academy of Sciences in July 1866.

However, there was immediate controversy. The shape and form was said to be modern and suspiciously similar to Native American skulls dug up in a nearby burial site. One of the miners admitted to a minister that the skull had been planted in the mine as a practical joke. Whitney stood behind the skull but Smithsonian archaeologist William Holmes stated that the human remains did not share the great geological age of its supposed surroundings. It was clear to Holmes that the skull had been placed in the mine.

Calaveras Skull – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The miners of the Sierra Nevada apparently did not care much for Whitney (“being an Easterner of very reserved demeanor”) and were “delighted” to have played such a joke on him. Furthermore, John C. Scribner, a local shopkeeper, claimed to have planted it, and the story was revealed by his sister after his death. Radiocarbon dating in 1992 established the age of the skull at about 1,000 years, placing it in the late Holocene age.

Meanwhile, these photographs of Saturday were discovered on Twitter and every single one has been carbon dated and is authentically from the 25th of February in 2012:

Take a moment to say hello to the people who made history by taking a photograph:

Shouldn’t you save a photograph of your day-to-day life for posterity? It’s easy!

  1. Take a photograph on a Saturday
  2. Upload the photograph
  3. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location
  4. Bookmark for future descendants to find

I’m looking forward to seeing your photograph in the next edition!

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