One of the most revolutionary theories of physics of all time, Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity turned the celestial mechanics of Isaac Newton on its head, and set the stage for the quantum mechanical revolution in physics that characterised the Twentieth Century. Along with Heisenberg, Bohr, Schrodinger, Feynmann and others, Einstein’s work changed the way we understand our world, but even in that august company, Einstein is a titan among giants, a man whose name has become a byword for genius.
The General Theory of Relativity resists easy summation. It was created to reconcile various anomalies in Newton’s theory of Universal Gravitation, as well as between Newton and Einstein’s earlier Special Theory of Relativity, and forms an important part of our current understanding of physics, gravitation and cosmology – the Big Bang Theory draws upon it, for example.
Perhaps even more than the shooting itself, two days earlier, President Kennedy’s funeral marked the official end of the ‘Camelot’ era. With him were buried a lot of hopes. The future seemed filled with naught but uncertainty. Lyndon Johnson had taken over the job he coveted, albeit in a way he would never have wished for, but his first steps as a leader were hesitant. The one thing he had done with sureness was to declare November 25, 1963 a National Day of Mourning, when only essential personnel would be required to work.
After his death in Dallas, President Kennedy’s body was flown back to Washington, where it was autopsied at Bethesda Naval Hospital on the same day. The following day, he lay in repose, and then in state, in the East Room of the White House, and the day after that, in the Rotunda. His funeral mass was held at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, after which his funeral procession carried him to his final resting place in Arlington Cemetary.
Other than William Taft, Kennedy is only United States President to be buried at Arlington.
These things happen on Thanksgiving, especially in the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts where this all happened. It’s the kind of town where littering could be the biggest crime of the last twenty years – or at least, it was on November 25, 1965, when Arlo Guthrie and his friend Richard Robbins were arrested for illegal dumping of garbage.
Two days later, the case came to court, where the judge, one James Hannon, was blind. Unfortunately for the prosecution, this meant that he was unable to see the “27 8-by-10 color glossy pictures, with the circles and arrows, and a paragraph on the back of each one, explaining what each one was, to be used as evidence against us“. Nonetheless, Guthrie and Robbins were each fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow.
Later, Guthrie learned that his criminal record (consisting solely of this incident) disqualified him from military service in Vietnam on the grounds that he was not sufficiently moral to be drafted.
Standing nearly ten feet tall – as is only appropriate for such a larger than life figure – Irena Sedlecka’s sculpture of Freddie Mercury was unveiled five years and one day after his death on the shores of Lake Geneva, in Montreux, Switzerland. It shows Mercury in one of his more iconic images, his cut off mike stand in one hand, and the other thrust into the air, while his face wears an expression of sheer exultation familiar to anyone who ever saw Queen play.
The ceremony was attended by the sculptor, Mercury’s father, his bandmates from Queen Roger Taylor and Brian May, and Montserrat Caballé, with whom he had worked in the last years of his life. The statue stands there still, a tribute to a champion, a man whom even death could not stop.