1939 — The Uranium Committee meets for the first time

The first meeting of what would evolve into the Manhattan Project – at that time called the Briggs Advisory Committee on Uranium – was held in Washington DC on October 21, 1939, a little less than two months after the outbreak of World War Two (and more than two years prior to the USA actually entering the war).

The first meeting was basically a planning session. It identified four key problems that needed solving – finding a reliable source of uranium, developing better methods for extracting uranium-235, making atomic (fission) bombs and finally, exploring the use of nuclear fission as a power source. In addition, $6000 was allotted to Fermi and Szilard to continue their experiments (which promised to shed light on at least one of the four problems).

On December 18, 1941, the S1 Uranium Committee was reorganised under the leadership of Vannevar Bush and tasked with developing an atomic bomb, a mission that would reach completion on August 6, 1945, in the skies above Hiroshima.

Referenced in:
To The Teeth — Ani Di Franco

1966 – A Coal Tip falls on the Welsh village of Aberfan killing 144 people

Up until 1966, the National Coal Board had allowed the excavations from the Aberfan mine to be piled up on the hill above the village. The total volume of this debris is unknown, but the estimated volume of just the portion that broke away on October 21, 1966 is in the vicinity of 150,000 cubic metres. Safety inspectors were typically more concerned with safety issues inside the mine than outside, but even so the NCB had been warned repeatedly over the years leading up to this disaster.

The warnings went unheard until that deadly Friday, when heavy rains contributed to the slide of the debris onto the town. The debris covered a farm, twenty houses along Moy St, Aberfan, and a large portion of Pantglas Junior School. The total death toll was 144 people, including 5 teachers at the school, and 115 students aged between 7 and 10 years old. It remains one of the worst mining disasters of the modern era.

Referenced in:

Aberfan – David Ackles
Aberfan – Rhys Morgan
Palaces of Gold – Leon Rosselson
The Aberfan Coal Tip Tragedy – Thom Parrott

1992 – Madonna releases her book “Sex”

Sex is a coffee table book written by Madonna, with copious photographs taken by Siung Fat Tjia and Fabien Baron, and edited by Glenn O’Brien. The book was released by Madonna as an accompaniment to her fifth studio album ‘Erotica’, which it was released in unison with.

The book was extremely controversial – which was no doubt what Madonna intended. It featured softcore pornographic photographs which included sadomasochism and analingus. Madonna wrote the book without outside assistance, although if you’ve ever read the damned thing, you’ll know that this was probably not the best choice she ever made.

Referenced in:

Lucy Can’t Dance — David Bowie