A new history book about Lowell by Richard P. Howe Jr and Chaim Rosenberg to be published on March 11, 2013. To order a copy and to learn about local readings and book signings, check out our Legendary Locals of Lowell page.
This was an interesting year for science. But rather than stretch for a list of the top ten accomplishments or discoveries I would like to focus in on three specific feats of technological achievement that, I think, have broad implications both for the future of science and how humanity views itself.
I begin with the discovery of hundreds of exoplanet candidates in our galaxy. This does not mean that astronomers have found hundreds of exoplanets (though, with 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, it’s safe to assume that there are at least billions of planets). Rather, using indirect measurements, astronomers have found what look to be planets. As better telescopes (well, spectrographs) come online, astronomers will be able to confirm whether these are in fact planets.
There was one other very interesting find when it comes to exoplanets. In September one team of researchers was able to identify the first exoplanet known to hold liquid water. However, this discovery was contested when a second team could not find the planet. Whether the planet does exist and does contain water will remain in question; however, there is no question that somewhere out there exist other planets that do contain liquid water. Astronomers are currently looking for planets that have “biomarkers,” or the correct elements and compounds that would allow for life. Carbon. Oxygen. Water. Methane. Carbon dioxide. As well as uranium, potassium, and thorium to allow for tectonic activity. It may very well be that life exists within our solar system (Europa, Titan, Io, and Enceladus are all candidates). read more »
Plaque erected in Quebec City marking the spot of American General Richard Montgomery’s death. “Here stood the Undaunted Fifty safeguarding Canada, defeating Montgomery at the Pres de Ville Barricade on the last day of 1775, Guy Carleton commanding at Quebec.”
Two hundred and thirty-five years ago tonight, American soldiers attacked the city of Quebec during a raging blizzard in a desperate attempt to capture Canada early in the Revolutionary War. Two separate American expeditions converged in the vicinity of Quebec City in December 1775. One led by General Richard Montgomery had moved up Lake Champlain from Albany, captured Montreal, and came to Quebec from the southwest. The other force, commanded by Benedict Arnold, had originated in Cambridge from the colonial forces gathered around Boston in the aftermath of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill. George Washington had ordered Arnold to lead a force through the wilderness of Maine and approach Quebec from the southeast. Inland portions of Maine were so wild and unexplored, however, that both Washington nor Arnold grossly underestimated the distances involved. By the time they reached Canada, more than half of Arnold’s force had either died or turned back.
Because Canada had only become a British possession sixteen years earlier, the Americans hoped to recruit many French Canadian residents to their cause, but most either ignored the Americans or sided with the handful of British defenders of the city. Without a popular uprising and lacking artillery sufficient to overcome the walls of the city, Montgomery and Arnold decided that their only chance of success was to attack during a snowstorm. The opportunity arose on New Year’s Eve. Montgomery led his force from the west along the banks of the Saint Lawrence. Arnold would come in from the northeast, skirting the walls of the upper city. The Americans hoped to first capture the lower city and then move upward to the main portion of Quebec. read more »
My “celebrations” of New Year’s Eve have evolved through the years. Growing up, I always enjoyed watching the big college football bowl game that was on that night – I think it was the Orange Bowl from Miami – but that was back in the day when there were only four or five bowl games. They had names like the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Rose Bowl. Now, there are dozens of bowls and they all have names like the Draino Super-Duper Pipe Opener Bowl and aren’t very interesting. Next came trips to Boston for First Night. That started in the late 1970s and it was a lot of fun in its early stages. Back then, you could make it to maybe three venues to see various performances before it was time for the fireworks. But First Night became so big and so popular that it lost it’s allure for me. Next came Lowell’s own version of First Night. I’m guessing that was in the late 1980s-early 1990s and it centered around the Lowell Memorial Auditorium where there were a lot of kids-type activities and some performances. It only lasted a few years. For the Twenty-First Century, my traditional New Year’s Eve celebration has been a quiet, nostalgic one. I stay home and watch the Three Stooges Marathon on Channel 38. A sample follows:
Christian Bale as Dickie Eckland in “The Fighterr”
In today’s New York Times A&E writer Manolha Dargis writes in the “”Awards” section about Christian Bale’s performance as Dickie Eckland in “The Fighter.” Dargis analyzes the portrayal and the character portrayed. Is an Oscar in the wings for Christian Bale? Read the review - Christian Bale Summons a Fallen Man’s Delusions - here in the New York Times.
On her “Lowell Doughboys” blog, Eileen Loucraft recently wrote about US Army Private James F. Costello who was killed in action in France during October 1918 during the First World War. Costello is honored by by a square in the Collinsville section of Dracut and at the junction of Lakeview Ave and Mammoth Rd. Here is Eileen’s full report.
My family did a little shopping in south Nashua this afternoon. The lines were long and money was flowing. In Best Buy, 40 people waited at the registers. The exchanges line was 25 deep. We lucked out because we bought an item in the computer department, which has its own registers. In Barnes and Noble the check out line made a lengthy switchback in two lanes. Traffic on Daniel Webster Highway at about 3 p.m. jammed the roadway.
Speaking of the power of cities, after two highly successful productions in Lowell (2008-09), the Massachusetts Poetry Festival will move its tents, workshops, coffeehouse readings, and auditorium events to downtown Salem in 2011, with a packed schedule of activities set for May 13 and 14. Keep checking www.masspoetry.org for updates as the MPF takes shape. Good luck to Michael Ansara, Jacquie Malone, and the rest of the planning committee. We’ll provide updates here at rh.com also.