History is a subject that possesses the potentialities of both a science and an art. It does the inquiry after truth, thus history is a science and is on a scientific basis. Also, it is based on the narrative account of the past; thus it is an art or a piece of literature. Physical and natural sciences are impersonal, impartial, and capable of experimentation. Whereas, absolute impartiality is impossible in history because the historian is a narrator, and he looks at the past from a certain point of view. History cannot remain at the level of knowledge only. History is a social science and art. In that lie, its flexibility, its variety, and excitement.
Let’s discuss a few major Historical events in Today’s History.
1949: President Truman announces Soviets have exploded a nuclear device
On this day in 1949, President Harry S. Truman revealed that the Soviet Union had exploded an atomic bomb, ending the American monopoly in nuclear weapons years ahead of what was then thought possible by most U.S. officials and scientists.
Some 25 days before Truman’s announcement, United States monitoring stations had recorded seismic activity within the Soviet Union that carried the hallmarks of an underground nuclear test. At first, Truman doubted that such an event had occurred. He told his scientific advisers to recheck their data.
However, once the results were confirmed, President Truman, seeking to pre-empt an announcement by the Kremlin or a news leak, seized the initiative. He released a brief statement that read, “We have evidence that in recent weeks, an atomic explosion occurred in the USSR.” Downplaying the concern that the Soviet Union test had spawned at the top levels of the government, President Truman’s statement added, “The eventual development of the new force by other nations was to be expected. The probability has always been taken into account by us.”
1846: Neptune Completes First Orbit since Its Discovery
On the night of 23rd September 1846, the German astronomer Johann Galle noticed an object in the constellation Aquarius which didn’t appear on the latest star maps. Its disc-like appearance suggested it was a new planet – a conclusion confirmed the following night by its movement relative to the distant stars.
Galle had discovered Neptune, but it was no accident. He had been asked to examine that patch of the night sky by Urbain Le Verrier, a brilliant French theoretician who had been examining strange effects in the orbit of Uranus, and concluded it was being affected by some unseen planet.
But just as Galle and Urbain Le Verrier were being hailed for their discovery, British astronomers claimed a young Cambridge mathematician, John Couch Adams, had made similar calculations, and that a British astronomer had subsequently seen Neptune three times – but failed to recognize it. This attempt to grab some of the glory sparked an international row – which intensified when American astronomers argued that the predictions were faulty, and the discovery merely a “Happy Accident”.