1. 1979: Two massive oil tankers collide
On this date in 1979, two massive oil tankers collided, spilling more than 280,000 tons of crude oil into the Caribbean Sea. The collision took place just off the island of Little Tobago and at the time was consider the worst oil tanker accident in history. The Atlanitc Empress took the brunt of the impact and started spewing its 275,000 ton payload as well fires breaking out all over the deck of the ship. The captain of the Agean also had fires but the crew was able to put them out fairly quickly. Most of the 200,000 tons on board the Agean was transferred to other vessels without incident, but some managed to leak out when it was towed to Trinidad. Fires on the Atlantic Express raged out of control with multiple explosions making it almost impossible for fire fighters to extinguish the blaze. Finally, after burning for almost two weeks the ship sunk to the bottom of the sea, however the oil slick left behind continued to burn well beyond that.
2. 1799: The real Rosetta Stone found in Egypt
When most people think of Rosetta Stone they think of language learning material. However, it;s actually a key piece of history. It was found by French soldiers on this date in 1799 near the small town of Rosetta, located 35 miles from Alexandria. At almost four feet long and nearly three feet wide, the stone was a black basalt slab inscribed with three different languages. There was a message written in Greek, as well as Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic, and it was later discovered that all three passages said the same thing. This allowed scholars to decipher old Egyptian text in a way they never could before. Napoleon Bonaparte was known to have interest in education and on his invasion of Egypt in 1798, he brought along a group of scholars to help collect all of the important cultural artifacts. Napoleon had intentions of keeping the stone in France, but after the British defeated him in 1801 they took possession. Since 1802 it has been on display at the British Museum in London
3. 1942: Henry Ford begins an experiment with George Washington Carver
Due to the shortage of rubber in the wartime of the early 1940’s, Henry Ford was looking into a synthetic rubber. To help come up with a natural process, he enlisted the help of well known agricultural chemist George Washington Carver. Ford and Carver had developed a relationship starting in 1934 thanks to both having interest in creating alternative crops for use in products like plastics, fuel, paint and other common products. Ford had made numerous donations to the Tuskegee Institute where Carver had been working on his experiments. Carver was the man responsible for influencing the people of the south to grow peanuts instead of cotton which significantly improved the economy of the area. It was on this date in 1942 that Carver started working on the experiment to create synthetic rubber. He worked in a laboratory that had been set up in the old water works building in Dearborn, Michigan. There, the two men eventually came up with a process to make the rubber substitute using the plant weed known as goldenrod.