What most of us probably think about when we think about October is probably Halloween, and the month is of course largely dominated by this important date, with many important events taking place on this exact date.
What most of us probably think about when we think about October is probably Halloween, and the month is of course largely dominated by this important date, with many important events taking place on this exact date. Not least of them of course the first defeat of Lord Voldemort in 1981 which marked an end to the First Wizarding War. This event, as we all know, was brought about when Lord Voldemort attacked the Potter family in Godric's Hollow, killing James and Lily Potter, but leaving Harry Potter alive when he failed to take into account the protection left on the boy by his mother's sacrifice. Harry is the only known survivor of the Killing Curse, and because of this he became known as the Boy Who Lived.
This isn't the only interesting event in October though.
In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII instituted the calendar still used in most countries around the world today: the Gregorian Calendar. This calendar change meant that in 1582 the calendar went straight from Thursday October 4th to Friday October 15th, thus making the year 10 days shorter than it would otherwise have been. This was done to correct an error accumulated by the previous Julian calendar.
Interestingly it was also in October that Greenwich mean time was established. Greenwich is a place in Great Britain and on the 13th of October 1884 it was decided that it should be used as the standard for calculating times around the world. Greenwich mean time (GMT) is conveniently the same as HOL time and is what allows us all to plan to meet up at specific times and calculate what that will be in Local time for us.
Only five years earlier, on October 22nd 1879, Thomas Edison had successfully tested an electric incandescent lamp, which he later patented, thereby taking the first steps towards making the electrical light bulbs we know today. Before that light was usually provided by means of either gas lights, oil lamps, or candles. On this first successful test of his new invention, the lamp burned for over 13 hours straight.
It wasn't the only breakthrough in science however; October also saw the first first telegram sent across the American continent in 1861. The telegram was sent from San Francisco to Washington and the recipient was no other than Abraham Lincoln.
Fifty-four years later in 1915 another first happened when the first radio voice message was transmitted across the Atlantic Ocean, sending the signal from Virginia to Paris, France. Behind the accomplishment was the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.
It would be another 12 years before the first full-length feature film using spoken dialogue was being shown in New York in 1927. The movie was The Jazz Singer. Until this point the only movies to use dialogue had been shorts and even this technique was rather new. Interestingly critics were at first not impressed with this new ability, because they feared that the focus would shift away from the artistry of the pictures and focus on the dialogue instead. As we all know it is now almost unthinkable to have a movie with no dialogue, so it is safe to say the new fashion of having actors speak in movies won out in the end.
Another eleven years later the world got another shock when the War of the Worlds was being broadcast on the radio in 1938. The program was a dramatization of a story by H.G. Wells describing a Martian invasion. The dramatization was done with the use of simulated 'breaking news' radio bulletins, which were so realistic many listeners thought they were real and thought the story to be true.
Nineteen years later in 1957, Russia successfully launched Sputnik into orbit around earth. The satellite transmitted radio signals back to earth for 21 days. It was a groundbreaking accomplishment, which was followed by an intense race between Russia and USA to be the first to put a man on the moon. An important step in that direction was the Apollo 7 which was launched in 1968. It carried three crew members into space and was the first of the Apollo missions to do so. The mission lasted almost 11 days.
Other important frontiers were explored in the month of October; in 1492 Christopher Columbus first set foot on what he thought to be an Island of the Indies. He named the first land he sighted San Salvador and called the natives he met there Indians.
He wasn't the only important historical figure to land on an island in October however. Napoleon Bonaparte, after being defeated in the Battle of Waterloo, was exiled to the island of St. Helena. He arrived there on the 15th of October 1815, a little less than 10 years after the Battle of Trafalgar, which took place in October 1805. Napoleon also lost the battle, but continued fighting until the Battle of Waterloo finally put the final nail in the coffin and ended the Napoleonic wars.
Another important battle that took place in October was the Battle of Hastings in 1066, which is typically used to mark the ending of the Viking Age. In the battle William the Conqueror defeated the Saxon king Harold II of England, thus beginning the Norman Conquest of England and heralding a new era.
October isn't all war though. On October 24th 1945, the United Nations was founded to prevent war between its members and promote international peace and security. At the start, the UN had 51 members. That number is now 193.
On October 3rd 1990, East and West Germany were reunited to become the Germany we know today after having been parted since the end of the 2nd World War. Less than a month later England became connected to the European continent again for the first time since the Ice Age, when the tunnel under the English channel finally broke through and connected England and France.
Articles are your run of the mill submissions, with a wide range of topics. Well, minus reviews. And scientifics. And columns.