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Good News in History, October 7



On this day, 137 years ago, the Danish physicist Niels Bohr was born. In his long and distinguished career, he made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr founded the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Copenhagen, now known as the Niels Bohr Institute, from which is still produced cutting-edge science today. READ more… (1885)

Niels Bohr

Among three papers during the 1910s, Bohr completed the foundational understanding of the structure of the atom, namely that it’s orbited by electrons in quantized “stationary states” around the atom’s nucleus in order to stabilize the it. His 1921 paper that he showed that the chemical properties of each element were largely determined by the number of electrons in the outer orbits of its atoms.

The second half of his career and life saw him caught up in the race to the nuclear bomb. During the Nazi occupation of Denmark, he fled, and helped others flee, to Britain where he would eventually make up part of the British delegation to the Manhattan Project.

More Good News from this Date:

  • The Stamp Act Congress convened in New York to draw up colonial grievances against England (1765)
  • The U.S. and British governments announced the establishment of the United Nations, the intergovernmental organization that won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for sending peace-keeping troops into conflict areas like East Timor (1942)
  • American poet Allen Ginsberg performed his poem Howl for the first time at the Six Gallery in San Francisco (1955)
  • New York’s Metropolitan Opera hired its first black performer, contralto singer Marian Anderson (1954)
  • President John F. Kennedy signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty with Britain and the Soviet Union, prohibiting all test detonations of nuclear weapons except underground (1963)
  • Cats the musical opened on Broadway, beginning its record run of 7,485 performances (1982)

On this day, 91 years ago the man who would become Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Anglican church leader of Cape Town, was born. He received the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in South Africa to end apartheid, and especially his remarkable leadership of the vital Truth and Reconciliation Commission that healed the country after Nelson Mandela, whom Tutu supported, became president.

He became a member of The Elders working for world peace, and despite his retirement in 2010, he still campaigns for human rights and climate action, and against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and inequality from poverty, racism, sexism, and homophobia (his daughter married a woman and he blessed the wedding, despite his church’s beliefs on the topic).

Dalai Lama and Tutu in 2004 by Carey Linde, CC license

In 2016, the affable and exuberant church leader co-authored a book with his good friend, the Dalai Lama entitled, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. Inspired by their best selling book now comes a new film from the religious ‘odd couple’ called Mission: Joy – Finding Happiness in Troubled Times. WATCH the trailer which shows them constantly teasing each other and laughing with abandon… (1931)

Find out more about the film at

102 years ago today, The University of Oxford in England, allowed women to become full members and study for full degrees for the first time, and the first 40 women were admitted.

Oxford University, Christ Church Dining hall – chensiyuan, CC license

Prior to that day, women could attend Oxford lectures and take exams but could not matriculate or graduate. With the passage of a new statute, women who had already attended classes and earned honors on exams were allowed to be formally admitted and receive their degree based on past performance. (1920)

Happy 67th Birthday to the brilliant cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who was born in France. The Chinese-American musician was a child prodigy, performing from the age of five, when his mother, a singer, and father, a violinist, moved to New York City.yo-yo-ma-songs-from-the-arc-of-life-cover-grab

His 90+ albums have received 18 Grammy Awards and his kindness follows him around the world on tour after tour. His fascination with other cultures and the ways their music can be blended together resulted in the nonprofit Silk Road Project. Ongoing since 1998, it is described as an “arts and educational organization that connects musicians, composers, artists, and audiences around the world.” Watch a clip below, and see Yo-Yo talk about Silk Road.


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