Today in History: April 26

Every
Year
April 26 is the 116th day of the year (117th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 249 days remaining until the end of the year.
Every
Year
Confederate Memorial Day (Florida and Georgia)
Every
Year
Day of Remembrance of the Chernobyl Tragedy (Belarus)
Every
Year
World Intellectual Property Day (International)
570 Born today: Muhammad (April 26, 570–June 8, 632, age 62)

Mohammed receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. Miniature illustration on vellum from the book Jami’ al-Tawarikh (literally “Compendium of Chronicles”), by Rashid al-Din, published in Tabriz, Persia, 1307 CE.

Mohammed receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. Miniature illustration on vellum from the book Jami’ al-Tawarikh (literally “Compendium of Chronicles”), by Rashid al-Din, published in Tabriz, Persia, 1307 CE.

Muhammad, full name Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ’Abd Allāh ibn ’Abd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim (literally “Father of Qasim Muhammad son of Abd Allah son of Abdul-Muttalib son of Hashim”), is the central figure of Islam and widely regarded as its founder. He is known to Muslims as the “Holy Prophet”, considered by most to be the last prophet sent by God to mankind to restore Islam, which they believe to be the unaltered original monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. (Ahmadiyya Muslims consider Muhammad to be the “Seal of the Prophets” (Khātam an-Nabiyyīn) and the last law-bearing prophet, but not the last prophet; the Nation of Islam considers Elijah Muhammad to be a prophet; and United Submitters International consider Rashad Khalifa to be a prophet.) He united Arabia into a single Muslim state and ensured that his teachings, practices, and the Qur’an—which Muslims believe was revealed to him by God—formed the basis of Islamic religious belief.

Muhammad the Prophet

Muhammad the Prophet

Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570. His father died before he was born and his mother died when he was 6. He was raised by his paternal uncle Abu Talib. Before the age of 40, he worked as a merchant. At times he would retreat to a cave in the mountains named Hira for several nights of seclusion and prayer. At age 40, he received a visit from the archangel Gabriel and received his first revelation from God. At the age of 43 he started preaching the revelations in public, proclaiming that “God (Allah, literally Al-Ilāh ‘the God’) is One (Al-Aḥad)”, that complete “surrender” (literally islām) to him is the only acceptable way (dīn), and that he was a prophet and messenger of God. (“Islam” is always referred to in the Qur’an as a dīn, a word that means “way” or “path” in Arabic, but is usually translated in English as “religion” for the sake of convenience.)

Muhammad the Prophet

Muhammad the Prophet

Muhammad was met with hostility by some Meccan tribes. To escape persecution, he and his followers migrated from Mecca to Yathrib (/ˈjaθrib/), which he later renamed al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah (“the radiant city”, modern-day Medina) in the year 622. The migration, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar, also known as the Hijri Calendar. Day one in the Islamic calendar corresponds to July 16, 622 CE in the Julian calendar. In Medina, Muhammad united the tribes under the Ṣaḥīfat al-Madīnah (“Charter of Medina”), the first constitution of democracy in the history of constitutional rule. In December 629, after eight years of intermittent conflict with Meccan tribes, Muhammad gathered an army of 10,000 Muslim converts and attacked the city of Mecca. The attack was largely uncontested and Muhammad seized the city with little bloodshed. He destroyed 360 pagan idols at al-Ka’bah (/alˈkaʕba/, “The Cube”). Today, the Kaaba is a building at the center of Islam’s most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, al-Hejaz, Saudi Arabia; wherever they are in the world, Muslims are expected to face the Kaaba when performing salat (prayer).In 632, a few months after returning from the Farewell Pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and died. The Farewell Pilgrimage is the last and only Hajj pilgrimage Muhammad participated in—every move, every act, and every gesture of Muhammad on this occasion, and everything that he did, became a precedent for all time, to be followed by all Muslims.

The revelations (each known as Ayah, literally “Sign [of God]”) Muhammad reported receiving until his death, form the verses of the Qur’an, regarded by Muslims as the “Word of God” and around which the religion is based. Besides the Qur’an, Muhammad’s teachings and practices (sunnah), found in the Hadith and sira literature, are also upheld by Muslims and used as sources of Islamic law.

A frieze on the north wall of the U.S. Supreme Court depicts great lawgivers of the Middle Ages. Muhammad is standing second from the right between Justinian and Charlemagne, holding the Qur’an and a sword.

A frieze on the north wall of the U.S. Supreme Court depicts great lawgivers of the Middle Ages. Muhammad is standing second from the right between Justinian and Charlemagne, holding the Qur’an and a sword.

1721 The first smallpox vaccination was administered.
1900 Born today: Charles Francis Richter (April 26, 1900–September 30, 1985, age 85)

Charles Francis Richter (c. 1970)

Charles Francis Richter (c. 1970)

Richter was an American seismologist and physicist, most famous as the creator of the Richter magnitude scale (denoted as ML for local magnitude), which, until the development of the moment magnitude scale (denoted as MW) in 1979, quantified the size of earthquakes. Inspired by Kiyoo Wadati’s 1928 paper on shallow and deep earthquakes, Richter first used the scale in 1935 after developing it in collaboration with Beno Gutenberg; both worked at the California Institute of Technology.

In an interview in the Earthquake Information Bulletin (Vol. 12, No. 1, January–February, 1980), talking about the origins of the Richter magnitude scale, Richter said:

I found a [1928] paper by Professor K. Wadati of Japan in which he compared large earthquakes by plotting the maximum ground motion against [the] distance to the epicenter. I tried a similar procedure for our stations, but the range between the largest and smallest magnitudes seemed unmanageably large. Dr. Beno Gutenberg then made the natural suggestion to plot the amplitudes logarithmically. I was lucky, because logarithmic plots are a device of the devil.

1941 Born today: Claudine Auger (April 26, 1941– )

Claudine Auger 1958 Miss France Monde

Claudine Auger
1958 Miss France Monde

Claudine Auger, born Claudine Oger, was a French actress with 80 credits to her name in the years 1958–1997, She was also the 1958 Miss France Monde and the first runner-up in the 1958 Miss World contest.

She is best known for her role as Bond girl Dominique “Domino” Derval in the James Bond film Thunderball (1965). Although she took lessons to perfect her English, her voice was eventually dubbed by Nikki van der Zyl. Her role as a Bond girl led to a semi-nude Playboy spread in November 1965.

She is also known for her roles as Isabelle de Saint-Mars in Le Masque de Fer (The Iron Mask) (1962), as Amrita in Kali Yug, la Dea Della Vendetta (Kali Yug: Goddess of Vengeance) (1963), as Isolina in Yoyo (1965), as Paulette in Triple Cross (1966), as Jacqueline Meyrand in Jeu de Massacre (The Killing Game) (1967), as Esmerelda in Le Dolci Signore (Anyone Can Play) (1968) co-starring with Bond girl Ursula Andress, as Laura in La Tarantola dal Ventre Nero (Black Belly of the Tarantula) (1971) co-starring with Bond girls Barbara Bach and Barbara Bouchet, as Renata in Reazione a Catena (A Bay of Blood) (1971), as Sybil in The Bermuda Triangle (1978), as Mme. Lenski in Credo (1983), and as Countess Veronica Rospigliosi in La Bocca (1990).

Claudine Auger

Claudine Auger

Claudine Auger

Claudine Auger

Claudine Auger

Claudine Auger

Claudine Auger in Thunderball (1965)

Claudine Auger
Thunderball (1965)

Claudine Auger in Thunderball (1965)

Claudine Auger
Thunderball (1965)

1949 Born today: John Leonard Orr (April 26, 1949– )

John Orr is a former fire captain and arson investigator for the Glendale, California Fire Department who was indicted and later convicted as a serial arsonist. He was one of the worst American serial arsonists of the twentieth century, setting almost 2,000 fires between 1984 and 1991.

During the 1980s and 1990s a series of fires broke out in the Los Angeles area that killed four people and did millions of dollars in damages. During their search for the arsonist, arson investigators gave him the nickname The Pillow Pyro. Orr set the fires by using a time-delayed device made of a lit cigarette and three matches wrapped in yellow writing paper and held together by a rubber band. He left the devices in stores while they were open and filled with customers, often in highly-flammable polyurethane pillows. To distract firefighters from the real crime scene, he set small fires in the dry grass in the surrounding hills before lighting the big fires. After Orr was arrested, the number of brush fires in the nearby foothill areas decreased by more than ninety percent.

Orr was a budding novelist, writing a manuscript titled Point of Origin about a serial arsonist who was also a fireman. Due to the similarities with fires that Orr actually set, arson investigators believe that Orr’s novel chronicles real acts of arson. Orr claims that his novel is a work of fiction and has no relation to any actual events. While defending his manuscript in an interview, Orr said, “The character of Aaron Stiles was a composite of arsonists I arrested.” However, a retired Los Angeles arson investigator pointed out that Aaron Stiles is an anagram for “I set LA arson”.

Orr is currently serving a life sentence in California State Prison, Centinela.

1956 The SS Ideal X, the world’s first commercially successful container ship, left Port Newark, New Jersey for Houston, Texas with 58 containers.

Container steamship Ideal X, built in 1944 as the tanker Potrero Hills.

Container steamship Ideal X, built in 1944 as the tanker Potrero Hills.

The Ideal X was a converted World War II T-2 oil tanker originally built as the Potrero Hills in January 1945 by the Marinship Corporation in Sausalito, California as yard number 158. It was later purchased by Malcom McLean’s Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company. In 1955, the ship was modified to carry shipping containers and rechristened Ideal X at Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore, Maryland.On April 26, 1956, during the first voyage in its new configuration, the Ideal X carried 58 containers from Port Newark, New Jersey to Port of Houston, Texas where 58 trucks waited to be loaded with the containers.

The SS Ideal X was the world’s first commercially successful container ship, but not the first container ship. The the White Pass and Yukon Route’s Clifford J. Rodgers made its first trip in 1955.

In 1959, the vessel was sold to Bulgarian owners, who rechristened it the Elemir. The Elemir suffered extensive damage during heavy weather on February 8, 1964, and was sold in turn to Japanese owners for scrap, being finally scrapped on October 20, 1964, in Hirao, Japan.

The SS Ideal X was 524 feet (160 m) long, 30 feet (9.1 m) wide in the beam, and 68 feet (21 m) high. Its gross register tonnage was 16,460 tons. It could carry 58 33-foot containers at 10,572 deadweight tonnage. It used an Elliot Company steam turbine and electric propulsion.

1970 Died today: Gypsy Rose Lee (January 8, 1911–April 26, 1970, age 59)
1973 Died today: Irene Ryan (October 17, 1902–April 26, 1973, age 70)
1980 Born today: Jordana Brewster (April 26, 1980– )
1989 Died today: Lucille Ball (August 6, 1911, 1911–April 26, 1989, age 77)

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