Almanac – January 04

1341 – Wat Tyler born. A leader of the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.

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1900 – James Bond born.  American ornithologist, an expert on the birds of the Caribbean. His name was appropriated by writer Ian Fleming for his fictional spy, James Bond.

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1958 – Sputnik 1 fell  to Earth from orbit. The first artificial Earth satellite, it was a 585 mm (23 in) diameter shiny metal sphere, with four external radio antennae to broadcast radio pulses. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957. It burned up as it fell from orbit upon reentering Earth’s atmosphere, after travelling about 60 million km (37 million miles) and spending 3 months in orbit.

Its said that the launch of Sputnik 1 inspired U.S. writer Herb Caen to coin the term “beatnik”  (in an article about the Beat Generation in the San Francisco Chronicle on 2 April 1958.)

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1959 – Luna 1 became the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon. It became the first ever man-made object to reach the escape velocity of the Earth.  At a distance of 119,500 km from Earth, a large (1 kg) cloud of sodium gas was released by the spacecraft, thus making this probe also the first artificial comet. This glowing orange trail of gas, was visible over the Indian Ocean with the brightness of a sixth-magnitude star for a few minutes.  Luna 1 passed within 5995 km of the Moon’s surface on 4 January after 34 hours of flight. A malfunction in the ground-based control system caused an error in the rocket’s burntime, and the spacecraft missed the target and flew by the Moon, then became the first man-made object to reach heliocentric orbit and was then dubbed a “new planet” and renamed Mechta (“Dream”).

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1960 – Albert Camus died. French Pied-Noir author, journalist, and philosopher. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. He wrote in his essay “The Rebel” that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom.

Although often cited as a proponent of existentialism, the philosophy with which Camus was associated during his own lifetime, he rejected this particular label In an interview in 1945, Camus rejected any ideological associations: “No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked…”

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1969 – Daisy and Violet Hilton died. A pair of conjoined twins or Siamese Twins who toured in the U.S. sideshow circuit in the 1930s.  They left the sideshows and went into vaudeville as “The Hilton Sisters’ Revue”. Daisy dyed her hair blonde and they began to wear different outfits so they could be told apart. They had numerous affairs, failed attempts to get a marriage license and a couple of short marriages. In 1932, the twins appeared as themselves in the film Freaks. In 1951 they starred in Chained for Life, an exploitation film loosely based on their lives.

The Hiltons’ last public appearance was in 1961 at a drive-in cinema in Charlotte, North Carolina. Their tour manager abandoned them there, and with no means of transportation or income, they were forced to take a job in a nearby grocery store.

They died victims of the Hong Kong flu. According to a forensic investigation, Daisy died first; Violet died between two and four days later.

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1986 – Phil Lynott died.  Irish singer and musician who is best known for being the founding member, principal songwriter, lead vocalist and bassist of the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy.

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