It was only 81 years ago back on February 27, 1932 when Sir James Chadwick (not pictured above) published a letter announcing his discovery of the neutron. Besides giving students a new particle to memorize, Chadwick's discovery also helped lead the world into the nuclear age by allowing science to split the atom. The atomic bomb would not have been possible without Chadwick's work, so... thanks?
World War I
Last month the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) publicly posted a WWII code found with the remains of a dead messenger pigeon. They believed that the code was uncrackable without further information, and hoped that by making the code public someone could provide the missing piece of the puzzle. That's exactly what happened. A Canadian man says he was able to crack the code in 17 minutes with an inherited codebook. He even believes he knows who sent the message.
In 1917, a 16-year-old named Frank Buckles, repeatedly rejected for enlistment because he was underage, managed to convince the Army to let him fight in World War I. 94 years later, following a long life that included a stint as a POW in The Phillipines during World War II and a prominent role advocating a national World War I memorial later in life, Buckles has died at the age of 110. NPR reports:
When asked in February 2008 how it felt to be the last of his kind, he said simply, "I realized that somebody had to be, and it was me." And he told The Associated Press he would have done it all over again, "without a doubt." ... "A boy of [that age], he's not afraid of anything. He wants to get in there," Buckles said.The last known survivors of World War I, Claude Stanley Choules and Florence Green, are both British. There are no known French or German World War I survivors. (NPR, CNN via TDW)
This weekend, Germany will finally finish paying off its reparations from World War I. Following Germany's defeat in the war, the Allied Powers hit it with a steep bill in the form of the Treaty of Versailles, which mandated that it pay £23.6 billion ($393.6 billion in today's dollars). Reparations plunged postwar Germany deeply into debt, and as Wikipedia summarizes, came in the form of "coal, steel, intellectual property (eg. the trademark for Aspirin) and agricultural products" as well as money.
Resentment over reparations helped propel Hitler into power and sparked anti-Semitic propaganda like this cartoon (via); when Hitler took power, the payment of reparations ceased, although they were reinstated by West Germany in 1953.