History is the study of change. The world around us is constantly changing, and understanding the role of change in society plays a pivotal role in being able to interpret the world that we see presently. Without understanding why things used to be different and how they interacted to shape one another, it is impossible to get a complete portrait of the here and now. History will give us a firm grasp on why things change, the mechanisms that drive change, the significance of the features of change to others, and the different magnitudes of that change. Conversely, by giving us an understanding of this change, history also helps us comprehend stability and the continuities that exist from ancient times. In short, History is a tool to understand the world.
Let’s discuss a few major Historical events in Today’s History.
1777: Arnold and Gates argue at First Battle of Saratoga
The Saratoga campaign began on September 19, 1777. This first encounter between the British forces of General John Burgoyne and the American forces under General Horatio Gates is also known as the Battle of Freeman’s Farm. While the British forces were able to overrun the Americans on this day they suffered significant losses. Within weeks, Gates joined forces with American General Benedict Arnold to vanquish the redcoats at the Second Battle of Saratoga. On October 17, British General John Burgoyne surrendered his troops under the Convention of Saratoga, which provided for the return of his men to Great Britain on condition that they would not serve again in North America during the war. The American victory at the Battles of Saratoga turned the tide of the war in the colonist’s favor and helped persuade the French to recognize American independence and provide military assistance outright.
1957: Nevada is the site of the first underground nuclear explosion
Operation Plumbob was a series of nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. government between May and October of the year 1957. Of these tests, one was the first nuclear explosion to be contained underground. This test was codenamed Rainier, and the device was detonated at a research facility in Nevada on this day in the year 1957.
The nuclear bomb used in the Rainer test had a 1.7 kiloton yield, relatively small by present standards, but still an extremely dangerous nuclear bomb. The weapon was a modified version of America’s W-25 warhead, weighing roughly 220 pounds and measuring about seventeen and a half inches in length and almost twenty-six inches in diameter.
The test was conducted at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), a military testing site located north of Las Vegas. The Nevada Test Site (NTS) has over a thousand miles of above-ground area for testing weapons, but the Rainier test was conducted in a fully-enclosed tunnel beneath the research center. This made it the first-ever nuclear weapon test that released no fission particles in the atmosphere. Seismologists around the world were able to detect the moment of the nuclear explosion using ordinary seismology tools.