1. 1979: Hollywood star Paul Newman takes 2nd place at 24 hours of Le Mans
It was on this date that famous Hollywood actor Paul Newman and his two co-drivers finished second place at the 47th running of the 24 hours of Le Mans. The famous race started mid-day on the 9th and would finish exactly 24 hrs later on the 10th; the idea is to drive as many laps as you possibly can within a 24 hr period. Newman, along with co-drivers Rolf Stommelen and Dick Barbour, drove a Porsche 935/77A a total of 299 laps, which equals out to be just over 2,000 miles while averaging speeds of over 100 mph. Newman, who was 54 at the time, would continue racing well into his 80’s, eventually making his last start at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2006.
2. 1692: First casualty from the Salem Witch Trials
In 1692, the small Puritan village in Salem, Massachusetts was plagued by what residents called witchcraft. Anyone that showed even the slightest signs of anything out of the norm were deemed “afflicted”. In June of 1692 the special court of “Oyer and Terminer” convened in the small Salem village where the Chief Justice William Stoughton judged the more than 150 cases in the area.
It was on this date that the first casualty of these horrible trials took place when Bridget Bishop, who according to local reports frequently attended taverns and dressed flamboyantly, was killed for being a witch. After pleading her innocence, she was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.
3. 1752: Benjamin Franklin does the kite and key experiment
Although the actual date is up for debate, many believe that it was on this day back in 1752 when Benjamin Franklin did his famous kite with a key experiment in a lightning storm. Franklin had theory that lightning was actually electricity and he used this experiment to prove it. The idea was to collect a charge in a Leyden jar, which would ultimately help him to understand the electrical nature of lightning. Many historians debate on whether the kite was actually struck or whether it just collected an ambient charge in the air due to an electrical storm. When you stop and think about it now it makes you wonder, had the lighting actually hit the kite wouldn’t Franklin be hit also where he was holding on to the string? That would be enough voltage to kill him quite easily, especially in those days without modern medicine. Nonetheless, Franklin was responsible for many things in regards to electricity, such as coining common the common terms used today such as conductor, battery and electrician as well as inventing the lightning rod.