The World Almanac E-Newsletter

Volume 3, Number 6 - June 2003



What's in this issue?

June Events
Holidays - National and International
This Day in History - June
June Birthdays
Featured Location of the Month: Indianapolis, Indiana
Obituaries - May 2003
Special Feature: The Rosenbergs Revisited
Science in the News
Chronology - Events of May 2003
Offbeat News Stories
Noted Personalities from The World Almanac: Dance Figures of the Past
Links of the Month
How to Reach Us

June Event

June is Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and National Safety Month

May 27-June 9 - Stanley Cup Finals
June 1-9 - Fredericksburg (VA) Music Festival
June 2 - 50th Anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Westminster Abbey, London
June 2-8 - PGA Seniors' Championship, Newtown Square, PA
June 4 - Dragon Boat Festival, China
June 4-11 - NBA finals
June 5-8 - LPGA Tournament, Wilmington, DE
June 6-8 - 19th Annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival, Grant Park
June 6-14 - Riverbend Festival, Chattanooga, TN
June 6-15 - Lilac Festival, Mackinac Island, MI
June 7 - Belmont Stakes, Elmont, NY
June 11-14 - NCAA Division I Men's & Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships, California State University, Sacramento, CA
June 12-15 - U.S. Open golf championship, Olympia Fields, IL
June 13 - Friday the Thirteenth
June 14-15 - 24 Hours of Le Mans, Le Mans, France
June 18-22 - Sonoma-Marin Fair, Petaluma Fairgrounds, Petaluma, CA
June 19-22 - USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
June 21 - First Day of Summer (Northern Hemisphere)
June 21-22 - Mackinaw City (MI) Kite Festival; Midnight Sun Festival, Nome, AK
June 21-29 - Special Olympics World Summer Games, Dublin, Ireland
June 23-July 6 - Wimbledon tennis tournament, England
June 23-July 10 - City of London Festival, England
June 26 - NBA draft
June 26-29 - U.S. Senior Open golf championship, Toledo, OH
June 27-July 6 - Gettysburg (PA) Civil War Heritage Days
June 29 - Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade, Chicago, IL

June Holidays

June 2 - Republic Day, Italy
June 5 - Orthodox Ascension Day; UN World Environment Day
June 6 - Shavuot (starts at sundown on June 5)
June 8 - Pentecost
June 11 - King Kamehameha I Day, Hawaii
June 14 - Flag Day, U.S.
June 15 - Father's Day
June 17 - Bunker Hill Day, Suffolk County, MA
June 19 - Juneteenth, U.S.
June 20 - UN World Refugee Day


At 3.5 million square miles, the Sahara Desert, stretching from North Africa to the Atlantic, is the world's largest.

This Day in History - June






Nepal's Crown Prince Dipendra kills 9 members of the royal family, including his parents, the king and queen, over an apparent dispute about marital arrangements.



A U.S. F-16 fighter jet piloted by Air Force Capt. Scott O'Grady is shot down over Bosnia and Herzegovina.



Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini dies.



Maximillien Robespierre is declared president of France, beginning the Reign of Terror.



Sec. of State George Marshall makes the proposals that come to be known as the Marshall Plan, to extend U.S. aid to war-torn European countries.



Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D, NY), shot the previous night, dies.



The Battle of Midway ends in victory for the Allies, who defeat the Japanese.



Kurt Waldheim is elected president of Austria.



In Japan, Crown Prince Naruhito marries Masako Owada, a commoner and former diplomat.



At 15 years, 10 months, and 11 days old, Joe Nuxhall becomes the youngest player in major league history when he pitches 2/3 of an inning for the Cincinnati Reds.



Timothy McVeigh, who had been convicted of building and delivering the bomb that killed 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995, is executed at the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, IN.



The National Baseball Hall of Fame is dedicated in Cooperstown, NY.



Thurgood Marshall is appointed to the Supreme Court, becoming the first black justice.



A TWA jet is seized by terrorists shortly after taking off from Athens; the terrorists will hold the 153 passengers and crew for 17 days.



The Continental Congress names George Washington commander in chief.



The Hawaiian government and Sec. of State John Sherman sign a treaty starting a process that leads to formal U.S. annexation of Hawaii.



Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly the Atlantic.



Golfer Tiger Woods wins the 100th U.S. Open by 15 strokes, the largest margin ever for a major golf tournament.



Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed for committing wartime espionage.



Juan Perón returns to Argentina after nearly 18 years in exile.



Race riots occur in Detroit, where 34 are killed and 700 injured, and in New York City's Harlem, where 6 are killed



Joe Louis KOs James J. Braddock to become world heavyweight champion.



Andrew Wiles, a Princeton professor, says he has solved Pierre de Fermat's "last theorem," unsolved for 350 years.



Pres. Harry Truman signs the Selective Service Act, requiring all men between the ages of 18 and 25 to register for military service.



North Korean forces cross the 38th parallel into South Korea, beginning the Korean War.



In retaliation for an alleged Iraqi plot to kill former Pres. George Bush when he visited Kuwait in March, the United States launches a missile attack on Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad.



Mormon leader Joseph Smith is killed by a mob in Carthage, IL.



The Treaty of Versailles is signed, formally ending World War I.



The UN General Assembly unanimously reelects Kofi Annan for a second term as Secretary-General.



The 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, is ratified.

June Birthdays






Andy Griffith, actor (Mount Airy, NC)



Marvin Hamlisch, composer/songwriter (New York, NY)



Chuck Barris, TV producer (Philadelphia, PA)



Angelina Jolie, actress (Los Angeles, CA)



Kenny G, musician (Seattle, WA)



Sandra Bernhard, actress/comedian (Flint, MI)



James Ivory, filmmaker (Berkeley, CA)



Julianna Margulies, actress (Spring Valley, NY)



Michael J. Fox, actor (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)



Elizabeth Hurley, model/actress (Hampshire, England)



Chad Everett, actor (South Bend, IN)



Uta Hagen, actress (Gottingen, Germany)



Tim Allen, comedian/actor (Denver, CO)



Donald Trump, real estate executive (New York, NY)



Helen Hunt, actress (Los Angeles, CA)



Joan Van Ark, actress (New York, NY)



Dan Jansen, Olympic champion speed skater (West Allis, WI)



George Mikan, basketball player (Joliet, IL)



Louis Jourdan, actor (Marseilles, France)



Cyndi Lauper, singer (New York, NY)



Prince William, son of Prince Charles and Diana (London, England)



Dianne Feinstein, CA senator (San Francisco, CA)



Frances McDormand, actress (Chicago, IL)



Sherry Stringfield, actress (Colorado Springs, CO)



Willis Reed, basketball player/coach/executive (Hico, LA)



Derek Jeter, baseball player (Pequannock, NJ)



H. Ross Perot, entrepreneur and presidential candidate (Texarkana, TX)



Don Baylor, baseball player/manager (Austin, TX)



Harmon Killebrew, baseball player (Payette, ID)



Czeslaw Milosz, writer (Seteiniai, Lithuania)


A group of kangaroos is called a "troop."


Location: Capital of Indiana and seat of Marion County, on the White River, in the central part of the state; incorporated as a city 1847. It is the largest city in Indiana. The Indianapolis 500, a world-famous automobile race, is held each year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which also has a museum of auto racing.

Population (2000 Census): 791,926

Mayor: Bart Peterson (Democrat)

June Temperatures: Normal high of 82.7 degrees Fahrenheit; Normal low of 61.0 degrees Fahrenheit

Colleges & Universities: Butler University; Christian Theological Seminary; Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis; Ivy Tech State College-Central Indiana; Marian College; University of Indianapolis

Events: Miracle Ride benefit for Riley Hospital for Children (June 1); NCAA Women's Rowing Championships, Eagle Creek Park (June 2); 20th Annual Italian Street Festival, Holy Rosary Church (June 6-7); Family Fun Fest, Indiana State Fairgrounds (June 6-8); Indianapolis Art Festival - Keystone at the Crossing (June 7); Vintage Indiana Wine & Food Festival, Military Park (June 7); Middle Eastern Festival, St. George Orthodox Church (June 13-14); Indy Dad's Day 5K-A Race Against Prostate Cancer, IUPUI Campus (June 14); Juneteenth Jamboree at the Children's Museum, Festival Park (June 14); 45th Annual Talbot Street Art Fair (June 14-15); Chardonnay Grand Tasting at Chateau Thomas Winery (June 18); Tour de Cure, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (June 21); Symphony of Summer Gardens 7th Annual Garden Tour (June 21); Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market (June 21-22); 9th Annual Fun Fest for Kids, 700-900 blocks of Massachusetts Avenue (June 28); Woodruff Place Stars and Stripes Home & Garden Tour (June 28-29)

Museums: The Children's Museum of Indianapolis; the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art; the Indiana State Museum; the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Sports teams: Indiana Pacers (basketball); Indianapolis Colts (football)

Places to visit: Garfield Conservatory, featuring tropical and subtropical flora; the home of President Benjamin Harrison; the home of the Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley; Indiana World War Memorial Plaza, including the American Legion national headquarters building; the Indianapolis Zoo; the J.I. Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium; the Gothic-style Scottish Rite Cathedral (1929); the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (1902), in Monument Circle, the heart of the city; the State Capitol (completed 1888); Union Station; Woodruff Place and Lockerbie Square historic districts

Tallest Building: Bank One Tower (811 feet, 49 stories)

History: Indianapolis was first settled in 1820, and given its present name the following year. The site was immediately chosen for a centrally located state capital, and the U.S. engineer Alexander Ralston, who had assisted French architect Pierre L'Enfant in planning Washington, D.C., was commissioned to lay out the community. The state capital was officially moved to Indianapolis from Corydon in 1825. In 1830 the National Road reached the settlement; since that time Indianapolis has developed as a major road, railroad, and air transport center. In the 1960s and '70s the city undertook large-scale urban redevelopment programs.

Birthplace of: physicist Philip Warren Anderson (1923); musician Babyface (1959); historian and feminist Mary Beard (1876); U.S. representative Dan Burton (1938); actress Vivica A. Fox (1964); actor Brendan Fraser (1967); architect Michael Graves (1934); TV host David Letterman (1947); U.S. senator Richard G. Lugar (1932); TV journalist Jane Pauley (1950); former U.S. vice president Dan Quayle (1947); writer Booth Tarkington (1869); author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922)


Obituaries in May

Berio, Luciano, 77, Italian modernist composer whose relatively accessible music incorporated influences ranging from folk music to Italian opera to the Beatles; Rome, Italy, May 27, 2003.

Cash, June Carter, 73, country music singer and songwriter and wife since 1968 of country legend Johnny Cash; Nashville, TN, May 15, 2003.

DeBusschere, Dave, 62, basketball Hall of Famer whose defensive prowess contributed mightily to the only two NBA championships won by the New York Knicks, in 1970 and 1973; New York, NY, May 14, 2003.

Gelber, Jack, 71, innovative U.S. playwright whose 1959 drama about drug addicts, The Connection, was particularly influential; New York, NY, May 9, 2003.

Hiller, Dame Wendy, 90, British actress who was playwright George Bernard Shaw's personal choice to play Eliza Doolittle in the 1938 film version of his play Pygmalion and the title role in the 1941 film version of his play Major Barbara; Beaconsfield, England, May 14, 2003.

Kempson, Rachel, 92, British actress and matriarch of the illustrious Redgrave acting family, which included her husband, Sir Michael Redgrave, her children, Vanessa, Lynn and Corin Redgrave, and her granddaughter Natasha Richardson; Millbrook, NY, May 24, 2003.

Long, Russell B., 84, Democratic senator from Louisiana, 1948-87, who played a key role in shaping tax legislation; he was the son of legendary Louisiana politician Huey Long; Washington, DC, May 9, 2003.

McCormack, Mark H., 72, lawyer credited with the creation of the sports marketing industry and a best-selling author of books on business management and golf; New York, NY, May 16, 2003.

Parker, Suzy, 69, model who defined glamour in the 1950s and paved the way for the "supermodels" of decades to come; Montecito, CA, May 3, 2003.

Prigogine, Ilya, 86, Russian-born Belgian chemist who won the 1977 Nobel Prize in his field for providing new ways of interpreting the second law of thermodynamics; Brussels, Belgium, May 28, 2003.

Sadruddin Aga Khan, Prince, 70, philanthropist, environmentalist and international civil servant; he was United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1965 to 1977, longer than anyone else; Boston, MA, May 12, 2003.

Scott, Martha, 88, actress who created the role of Emily in the original 1938 Broadway production of Thornton Wilder's oft-revived drama Our Town; Los Angeles, CA, May 28, 2003.

Sisulu, Walter, 90, Nelson Mandela's closest associate in the African National Congress's lengthy struggle for racial equality in apartheid-era South Africa; Johannesburg, South Africa, May 5, 2003.

Stack, Robert, 84, actor best known for his role as real-life 1930s crime fighter Eliot Ness in the U.S. television series "The Untouchables" (1959-63); Los Angeles, CA, May 14, 2003.

Wilson, Sloan, 83, novelist best known for his 1955 best-selling novel The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, about upwardly mobile suburbanites; Colonial Beach, VA, May 25, 2003.

Winsor, Kathleen, 83, novelist who pioneered the genre of best-selling romance fiction with Forever Amber (1944); New York, NY, May 26, 2003.

SPECIAL FEATURE: The Rosenbergs Revisited

By Erik Gopel

On June 19, 1953, the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg -- the husband and wife who in 1951 were convicted of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union -- concluded one of the most controversial espionage cases in United States history. They were the first people executed by the United States government for the crime of espionage, and the first married couple ever put to death in the U.S. Ethel Rosenberg was only the second woman executed by the federal government. (The first was Mary Surratt, a conspirator in Lincoln's assassination who was hanged in July 1865).

Although strong evidence was introduced during the trial that Julius Rosenberg betrayed U.S. military secrets to the Soviet Union, questions still surround the case. Were the Rosenbergs tried under the most applicable law? Did the severity of the crime and strength of the evidence used to prove it warrant the death penalty? Was Ethel Rosenberg actually guilty of atomic espionage, or simply a victim of guilt by association?


Taken within its historical and social context, the Rosenberg case could not have occurred in a more hostile climate to the defendants. It unfolded in the aftermath of World War II, when the political feeling in the United States had taken a conservative turn. The Cold War was pitting the United States and the Soviet Union -- wartime allies turned atomic superpowers -- against each other in direct economic and diplomatic struggles, and in proxy military conflicts in other countries.

In the United States, the first Soviet atomic bomb explosion and the communist takeover in China, both in 1949, did nothing to lessen the "Red Scare." McCarthyism was prompting employers, politicians and the media to search for communist infiltrators in every corner of the country. In the years since their deaths, the Rosenbergs have come to be seen as striking examples of individuals who became the focus of social hysteria on a national scale.

Communism had gained a worldwide following during the Depression years of the 1930s and early 1940s, when millions of people were unemployed and impoverished. Soviet-inspired communists in many countries recruited as many people as possible -- fueled by what many saw as the economic failure of the capitalist system. The Soviets had been wartime allies, and communism's ideological opposite, fascism, had been the wartime enemy. Thus Americans with communist sympathies tended to retain them in the 1940s, even after the war. With the onset of the nuclear age, some believed that the U.S. alone should not have sole possession of such a destructive force. The conviction that this new, omnipotent power needed to be counterbalanced led some to facilitate the Soviet nuclear program by stealing and passing along U.S. atomic secrets.

Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Greenglass were born in New York City of Jewish immigrant parents from Russia and Poland, and grew up only blocks away from each other on Manhattan's Lower East Side. They did not meet until they were adults. Ethel was about two years older than Julius. Born in 1915, she graduated from high school at age 15 and worked as a clerk in a shipping company, where working conditions were poor. She soon joined the labor cause and helped organize a strike. She was a member of the Young Communist League. Although Julius, born in 1918, graduated with an electrical engineering degree from the City College of New York, his real passion was politics, and he had also been a member of Young Communist League as a teenager. He and Ethel were married in 1939, and had two children, Michael and Robert. Shortly after their marriage, they both joined the Communist Party. Ethel's younger brother, David Greenglass, though not a member of any communist organization, was influenced by their ideas.

According to testimony and documents, Julius was hired as a civilian employee in the Army Signal Corps in the fall of 1940. David Greenglass was drafted into the Army around the same time. By 1943, Julius and Ethel had ceased their communist activities. However, when the Army discovered his past membership in the party, Julius was dismissed from the Signal Corps in early 1945, despite having risen to the position of inspector. Around that time, he was recruited by the KGB spymaster Aleksandr Feklisov to spy for the Soviet Union, and began sending U.S. plans for radar technology and proximity fuses to the Russians shortly thereafter.

In 1945, David was selected to work as a machinist for the Manhattan Project, in Los Alamos, New Mexico. When Julius found out that David was working on the atomic bomb, he had Ethel and David's wife, Ruth, ask David to provide him with atomic secrets. David agreed, and sent him several sketches of machinery used in the project. This information was then passed to a staff member of the Soviet consulate, Anatoli Yakovlev, through Harry Gold, a biochemist at Los Alamos. Greenglass and Gold identified one another by using two halves of a Jell-O box. After David left the service in 1946, the two opened a machine shop in Manhattan, but it failed within a few years, causing some strife between them. Meanwhile, Julius continued his espionage work, and by the late 1940s, he had microfilm machines set up in two separate apartments in New York City, and controlled a significant spy ring.

Breaking the Case

The atomic espionage case that led to the arrest of the Rosenbergs began February 3, 1950, when Dr. Klaus Fuchs, a German-born nuclear physicist who had worked as a top scientist for the Manhattan Project, was arrested in London, and charged with being a Soviet spy. He had worked at Los Alamos and had extensive knowledge of the atomic bomb design. The son of a socialist Quaker, Fuchs joined the communist party in Germany as a student in 1932. According to the FBI, he began forwarding atomic secrets to Soviet spies while working in England in 1942, and continued to do so over the next seven years, including those related to his work on the atomic bomb project in the U.S. He stopped in 1949, reportedly because he had reservations about the direction Soviet communism was taking. Following his arrest, he confessed and was sentenced to 14 years in prison by the British court.

Fuchs led authorities to Harry Gold, who was arrested on May 23, 1950. Gold was born in Switzerland, of Russian parents, and at the time of his arrest was a senior biochemist at Philadelphia General Hospital. He had been recruited into a Soviet spy ring in 1943, and met Fuchs in 1944. He served mainly as an intermediary between Fuchs and the Soviets, and justified passing the secrets so that the Russians would not be at a technological disadvantage. Gold pleaded guilty to passing these secrets in Philadelphia on July 20. Gold's confession led the FBI to David Greenglass.

Greenglass had passed atomic secrets to Yakovlev, who had since returned to his country. Shortly after his arrest on June 16, 1950, Greenglass stated, "I felt it was gross negligence on the part of the U.S. not to give Russia the information about the atom bomb because she was an ally." He was indicted on atomic espionage charges July 6.

Julius Rosenberg was arrested in New York City on July 17, 1950, and Ethel on August 11. Julius and David were indicted on August 17 (David on new charges). Julius, Ethel, David Greenglass, Harry Gold, and Morton Sobell -- a friend of Julius' whom he recruited into the spy ring -- were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage. When faced with the prospect of life imprisonment or a possible death sentence, David Greenglass had decided to cooperate with the government as a witness, and he implicated the Rosenbergs in exchange for immunity for his wife, Ruth. He pleaded guilty October 18.

The Trial

The Rosenbergs' trial began in New York in March 1951, at the height of fears of communist infiltration in government and in society at large. American communist Alger Hiss had lost an appeal against his perjury conviction earlier that month. The Korean War was at its peak, and Senator Joseph McCarthy was at the height of his influence.

United States vs. Julius Rosenberg, Ethel Rosenberg, and Morton Sobell lasted less than a month. The prosecutor was Irving Saypol who had successfully tried Hiss and many other communists. The Rosenbergs' defense lawyer was Emanuel Bloch. During the trial, Gold and the Greenglasses all cooperated with the federal prosecutors, and testified against Julius and Ethel. Ruth Greenglass testified that Ethel Rosenberg had typed the notes containing the secret information provided by David. On March 29, all three defendants were convicted. Judge Irving Kaufman sentenced the Rosenbergs to death on April 5. Sobell received 30 years in prison. (Gold and Greenglass, for their cooperation, received only 15 years.) At the sentencing, Judge Irving R. Kaufman told the Rosenbergs, "I consider your crime worse than murder. Plain deliberate contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed... I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason."

Bloch was not a criminal trial lawyer. His defense methodology, which primarily attempted to enlist jurors' sympathy, was widely questioned. Over the next two years he continued fighting for his clients' lives, filing several appeals as high as the Supreme Court, to no avail. The High Court refused three times to review the case. Bloch even asked President Eisenhower to grant the Rosenbergs clemency. Eisenhower twice declined.

On June 15, 1953, with the execution date set for three days later, the Supreme Court declined for the third time to review the case. However, two days later, after hearing petitions from two lawyers who had defended other communists, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas unexpectedly issued an indefinite stay on the executions. Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr. protested, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson called a special session of the Court on June 18. Douglas' stay was vacated by the Court on June 19, in a 6-2 (eventually 6-3) decision.

Douglas' decision to issue the stay was based on a technicality that had not been argued previously, which questioned whether Judge Kaufman had acted legally in imposing the death sentences without jury recommendation. The argument was whether the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 should have superseded the Espionage Act of 1917, under which the Rosenbergs were sentenced. The Atomic Energy Act provided that death or life imprisonment for atomic espionage "may be imposed only upon recommendation of the jury and only in cases where the offense was committed with intent to injure the United States;" no such provision was included in the older Espionage Act.

Neither Eisenhower nor the Supreme Court prevented the executions. On June 19, Julius Rosenberg was executed by electrocution at 8:06 pm at the Sing Sing Prison, in Ossining, New York. Ethel was executed at 8:16. Both maintained their innocence of all charges to the end. They left behind their two sons, aged ten and six. Emanuel Bloch died of a heart attack the following year at age 52. Large protests of the executions were held in several countries, and some 400-500 protesters were arrested in Paris.

Many believe the trial was prejudiced, and even manufactured by the federal government. Judge Kaufman was an ardent anti-communist, as shown in many documents later obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. These reveal that he told the prosecution he would seek the death penalty if the Rosenbergs were convicted. In the sentencing statement quoted above, his use of the word "treason" points to what some believe to be the greatest flaw in the case, namely, a capital sentence imposed to punish a non-capital crime. The Rosenbergs were not convicted of treason, but of conspiracy to commit espionage.

The question raised by Justice Douglas has not been legally resolved since. Because of the nature of the material transmitted to the Russians, many felt the Rosenbergs should have been tried under the Atomic Energy Act, rather than the Espionage Act. The case never was reviewed by the Supreme Court. As Justice Hugo Black noted in his dissenting opinion on June 19, 1953: "It is not amiss to point out that this Court has never reviewed this record and has never affirmed the fairness of the trial. Without an affirmance of the fairness of the trial by the highest court of the land, there may always be questions as to whether these executions were legally and rightfully carried out."

Files from the "Venona" project, which decoded encrypted Soviet messages in the 1940s, were released in 1995. Their release reignited the controversy about the Rosenbergs' actions and their fate. Fifty years after the executions, there is still an active National Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case.


How Many Ways Can You Lace Your Shoes? 43,200

Believe it or not, a mathematician at Monash University in Victoria, Australia actually took the time to figure out how many ways there are to lace an everyday shoe. "Instead of counting sheep," Burkard Polster told the New York Times, "I might count lacings.... To relax from mathematics, you do more mathematics.

It turns out that the question of how many possible lacings there are is a legitimate mathematical problem, requiring "standard combinatorial techniques," according to Polster. The journal Nature saw fit to publish the mathematical reasoning and results, which Rosalind Cotter, editor of Nature's "Brief Communications" section, noted were scientifically rigorous and peer reviewed just like all other papers published in the journal.

The solution for "dense" lacings can be stated as a mathematical formula:

n!(n-1)! / 2

where n is the number of pairs of eyelets and "dense" lacings are ones in which the laces zigzag in some fashion between a shoe's two flaps of eyelets. The exclamation points (!) in the formula indicate factorials, which are simply the products of all the positive integers from 1 to a given number n (if n=4, for instance, 4! is 1x2x3x4, or 24). For the typical shoe of six eyelet pairs, there are apparently 43,200 dense lacing combinations. (Another way to define dense lacing is to say that each eyelet must contribute to cinching the two halves of the shoe together. In other words, dense lacing rules out any combination in which the shoelace passes in a straight line through three consecutive eyelets on the same flap, because the middle of the three would not actively help draw the shoe halves together.)

As Polster began to muse more seriously about the number of shoelacing combinations, he got curious about which ones are strongest, which are shortest and which are most efficient. Shoe tying is generally not an extravagant endeavor. Two lacings dominate the scene. The most popular, by far, is the simple crisscross, each end laced through the bottom eyelet and then alternately strung though the eyelet opposite and above. Another common way is to draw one end from the bottom eyelet through the top eyelet on the opposite flap and then zigzag the other end in an N pattern through the eyelets. (See illustrations.) Polster performed some simple calculations and found that these two lacings are the strongest, though the strength of each depends on the configuration of the eyelets and flaps.

When the eyelets are close together and the flaps widely separated, as in smaller, wider shoe sizes, the crisscross lacing is strongest. The X's in this lacing are broad and squat, so the tension in the shoelace is mostly horizontal, the direction that draws the flaps together. If the eyelets are separated greatly, as in larger size shoes, then the zigzagging N pattern is tightest.

Although Polster claims that most of the 43,198 other lacing combinations are aesthetically unappealing, he says certain of them leave open a multitude of trendy shoe fashion possibilities. For a formal look, one might consider the lacing Polster calls the bowtie (because its crisscrosses resemble untied bowties). In this lacing pattern, the two lace ends pass through consecutive eyelets on the same flap then crisscross and pass through two consecutive eyelets on the opposing flap (see illustration). This pattern isn't only dapper, it's efficient. It requires the shortest amount of lace while still cinching at every eyelet. Perhaps it will catch on after this news gets out. "I've only seen it twice in the shoe store," Polster told the New York Times.

Polster's mathematically-backed shoelace advice doesn't stop at lacing patterns. In his Nature report, he includes suggestions for tying tougher knots, too. The common shoe-tying knot, often called the granny knot, involves layering two half-knots on top of each other. One way to tie this knot is to wrap the left end of the lace over and around the right one and pull it through, then loop the right end and wrap the left piece over and around the loop and pull a second loop through. This, says Polster, is an unstable knot. The better choice is the square knot, which involves wrapping the left piece of lace under the right one and pulling though.

The project was inspired by a 1999 study by two Cambridge University physicists who figured out that there are 85 ways to knot a necktie. Polster, who has previously worked on the mathematics of origami and juggling, found his own fashion math problem in his shoes. He told the Times that to find routine activities suitable for mathematical problem solving, often just a look in the mirror would do.


The Moroccan currency unit is the Dirham.

CHRONOLOGY - Events of May 2003


Court Rules on Campaign Finance Law - A 3-judge panel of a U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, May 2, struck down parts of the campaign finance reform law approved by Congress in 2002. The judges eased the ban on so-called soft money, saying it could be raised for party-building efforts such as registering voters, though it still could not be used by groups indirectly attacking or endorsing candidates, Both supporters and opponents of the law prepared appeals.

Democrats Debate Issues - Nine Democrats seeking their party's nomination for president in 2004 debated each other in Columbia, SC, May 3. South Carolina would conduct one of the first primaries in 2004. U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt proposed scrapping Pres. George W. Bush's tax cuts and using the money to finance tax credits to help companies pay for employee health insurance. Other candidates, including Sen. Joseph Lieberman (CT), dismissed this proposal as reminiscent of big-spending Democratic ideas of past years. Sen. John Kerry (MA) criticized former Gov. Howard Dean (VT) for his opposition to the war in Iraq. Sen. Bob Graham (FL), who had already been campaigning, formally declared his candidacy May 6. A former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he was expected to make national security a major issue.

Pres. Bush formally filed re-election papers May 16.

Democrats Flee Texas to Kill Redistricting Bill - More than 50 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives crossed the boundary into Oklahoma May 11-12 to leave the House without a quorum and thus prevent action on a redistricting bill unfavorable to their party.

Heat Kills 19 Packed Into Truck - Nineteen among 70 to 100 people packed into a truck operated by smugglers of illegal aliens were found dead from the heat, or died later, after sheriff's deputies opened the door of the truck, parked on the outskirts of Victoria, TX; the occupants included illegals from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador. On May 15, the driver and 3 others were charged with conspiracy to smuggle, transport, and conceal undocumented immigrants.

Congress Approves Big Tax Cut Urged by Bush - Congress completed action on the tax-reduction bill supported by Pres. Bush, though it had drifted far from his original proposal. Bush had called for $726 billion in cuts, but the final total, approved by a Senate-House conference committee May 21, provided just $318 billion over 10 years. The House (231-200) and the Senate (51-50 on Vice Pres. Dick Cheney's tie-breaking vote) approved the conference report May 23. The law lowered the tax rates for capital gains and dividends to 15% for most taxpayers-but only for 5 years, after which the current rates would be reinstated, unless Congress acted again. It immediately lowered tax rates for upper- and middle-income taxpayers not previously scheduled to kick in until 2006. For the next 2 years, it gave a tax break to married couples and increased the tax credit for children. As Pres. Bush signed the bill into law May 28 Democrats criticized a conference-committee decision to drop a provision from the bill that would have extended the benefits of the child tax credit to low-income families.

In other economic news, the U.S. dollar was declining sharply against major world currencies, and reports from the Dept. of Labor, May 15-16, showed a decline in wholesale and consumer prices, suggesting the possible onset of a rare period of deflation.

Congress Supports More AIDS Funding - In legislative action completed May 21, Congress, as urged by Pres. Bush, authorized the expenditure of $15 bil over 5 years to combat AIDS, especially in Africa and the Caribbean. The money would go to prevention and treatment programs, care for patients and those orphaned, life-prolonging drugs, and research on a vaccine.

Whitman Resigns as EPA Administrator - Former NJ Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced May 21 that she would resign in June. More of an environmentalist than other members of the administration, she had mixed success in promoting her agenda.

Judges Void $145 Bil Award to Smokers - A 3-judge panel of a Florida district court May 21 threw out a record $145 bil punitive damage award against cigarette manufacturers by a jury in 2000. The judges ruled that the trial judge should not have allowed an estimated 300,000 smokers to file a class-action suit.

Microsoft, AOL Time Warner Reach Pact - Under a legal settlement agreed May 29, Microsoft would pay AOL Time Warner $750 million to end a private antitrust suit brought by Netscape (a unit of AOL). Microsoft also would give AOL access to some of its key software. The accord, described as ending a long-running war between the giant companies, called for cooperation on new technology and joint efforts against electronic piracy.

Stock Market Continues Rise - The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 8,850 points on May 30, the last trading day in May, up 4.4% since May 1. The end of the Iraq war and good prospects for some companies had helped buoy the stock market to its 3rd straight month of gains.

Bush Trip Begins - Pres. Bush visited Poland, May 31, in the first leg of a European and Mideast trip aimed at improving relations with Europe and promoting a "road map" toward Palestinian-Israeli peace.


Bush Declares an End to Combat in Iraq - Pres. George W. Bush, speaking to the nation from the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, declared May 1 that combat operations had ended in Iraq. He called the "liberation of Iraq . . . a crucial advance in the campaign against terror." Bush, sharing the piloting responsibilities, had flown in a Navy jet to the carrier, off the coast of California.

As the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq continued, U.S. officials said May 6 that a tractor-trailer found in northern Iraq in April might have been used as a mobile lab for chemical or biological weapons. Officials said May 12 that they had custody of Rihab Rashjid Taha, a microbiologist nicknamed Dr. Germ who had played a major role in Iraq's biological weapons program; the chief of staff of Iraq's army was also in custody as of May 13. On May 28, Bush administration officials concluded that 2 tractor-trailer units, including the one found in April, were designed to produce deadly biological weapons, although there was no evidence that they had been used for that purpose.

As civil disorder continued in Iraq, Pres. Bush May 6, in an apparent shakeup, named L. Paul Bremer III, a retired diplomat, as his envoy in Iraq, with authority over the chief military figure in the reconstruction, Lt. Gen. Jay Garner (ret.). Gen. Tommy Franks, U.S. military commander in Iraq, said May 11 that the former ruling Baath Party had been dissolved, and on May 16 Bremer banned 15,000 to 30,000 senior Baath leaders from holding government jobs. Some 10,000 Shiite Muslims demonstrated in Baghdad May 19 against the U.S presence.

In northern Iraq, clashes between Kurds and Arabs began May 15 and continued several days; 9 people were killed in Kirkuk.

A UN Security Council resolution, adopted 14-0 May 22, lifted sanctions imposed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War. It put the United States and Britain in control of Iraq "until an internationally recognized representative government is established." The 2 members of the victorious coalition would administer the sale of oil and the disbursement of oil income to rebuild Iraq.

Sec. of State Colin Powell, in Syria May 3, asked Pres. Bashar al-Assad to detain any former Iraqi leaders who had entered Syria and to prevent Iraqi weapons from being brought into Syria. He called upon Syria to stop supporting militant organizations that opposed Israel.

On May 28, after 4 U.S. soldiers had been killed in a few days, U.S. officials said that a larger military force than previously planned would be kept in Iraq.

Rumsfeld Announces End of Major Afghan Combat - Meeting with Pres. Hamid Karzai in Kabul Afghanistan, May 1, Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared that U.S. military forces had concluded major combat operations there. The Taliban regime, which had sheltered the al-Qaeda terrorists, had been ousted more than a year earlier. Some 8,000 U.S. soldiers and a 5,500-member International Security Assistance Force remained. A plane crash in Turkey, May 26, killed all 74 aboard, including 62 Spanish soldiers returning from peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan.

India, Pakistan Resume Diplomatic Ties - Prime Min. Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India announced May 2 that India was restoring diplomatic relations and transportation connections with Pakistan. Prime Min. Zafarullah Khan Jamali of Pakistan reciprocated, May 6, and said Pakistan would reduce tariffs on 70 Indian imports. However, Pakistan's May 5 offer to eliminate its nuclear weapons if India did the same was rejected by Vajpayee 2 days later.

Mideast Adversaries Support "Road Map" to Peace - A so-called road map, designed to point the way to peace and a Palestinian state by 2005, got the support of both Israel and the Palestinians. Sec. of State Colin Powell met separately May 11 with Israeli Prime Min. Ariel Sharon and new Palestinian Prime Min. Mahmoud Abbas. Sharon said his government would not support the plan until the Palestinian Authority stopped anti-Israeli violence, but he did back the plan's ultimate goal, a Palestinian state. Abbas promptly accepted the plan; Powell urged him to act decisively to disarm militant groups. Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia also backed the plan.

Violence continued to distract attention from the peace efforts. In the 2 weeks after the Apr. 30 presentation of the plan, Israeli forces killed 29 Palestinians. Then, 5 suicide attacks May 17-19 killed 12 Israelis and 5 bombers. Sharon postponed a planned U.S. trip. Continuing Israeli military operations resulted in 11 more Palestinian deaths May 15-21.

Sharon and Abbas met for 3 hours May 17. Sharon, May 23, gave qualified support for the road map, after the Bush administration agreed to address Israeli concerns. The Israeli cabinet May 25 officially, for the first time, accepted the Palestinian claim to eventual statehood.

2nd British Cabinet Minister Resigns - Clare Short, first secretary for international development in the cabinet of British Prime Min. Tony Blair and an opponent of the war, resigned May 12. She criticized his support for what she considered an insufficient role for the UN in the reconstruction of Iraq. Blair named Baroness Valerie Amos as her successor; she was the first black woman to serve in a British cabinet.

Suicide Bombers Kill 34 in Saudi Capital - Four bomb attacks, initiated almost simultaneously at night May 12-13 in Riyadh, killed 9 attackers and 25 others, 9 of them Americans. Three of the targets were residential compounds where foreigners lived. The attackers got past guards, rammed their vehicles through gates, and set off explosives. Employees of the Virginia-based Vinnell Corp., a subsidiary of the Northrop Grumman Corp., which trained the Saudi National Guard, resided in one compound. Many Muslims had long objected to the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, home of Islam's most sacred shrines. The Saudi government said May 13 that it believed that Khaled al-Jehani, a member of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, had masterminded the attacks. U.S. officials said May 15 that the Saudis had ignored appeals for more security at potential Western targets. U.S. and Saudi officials said May 19 that al-Qaeda was planning more Saudi and U.S. attacks, and U.S., British, and German embassies in Riyadh were closed May 20.

75 Killed in Chechnya in 2 Suicide Bombings - At least 75 people were killed and hundreds injured in 2 explosions in Chechnya, where a revolt against Russia continued. Explosives detonated from a truck in Znamenskoye May 12 killed at least 59 and destroyed 6 apartment buildings and 3 government buildings. On May 14 in Iliskhan-Yurt a woman detonated explosives apparently intended to kill Akhmed Kadyrov, the Russian administrator in Chechnya. He survived but 16 others, including 4 of his bodyguards, died.

Argentina Gets a President After Rival Quits Race - The contest for president of Argentina ended abruptly May 14 when former Pres. Carlos Saul Menem, who was trailing badly in public opinion polls, dropped out of the race. This left Nestor Kirchner, governor of Santa Cruz province, as winner by default. Both are members of the Peronist party. In the first round of voting, Apr. 27, Menem had actually run slightly ahead of Kirchner. The latter, who had been governor for 12 years, was the first president from Patagonia. He was sworn in May 25.

Terror Bombings Claim 41 Lives in Morocco - On May 16, Morocco joined the list of countries targeted by suicidal terrorists. Five nearly simultaneous explosions in Casablanca killed 29 innocent people, in addition to 12 of the 14 bombers. About 100 were injured. Most victims died at the Casa de Espana, a social club and restaurant. In an audiotape released in February, a speaker thought to be terrorist leader Osama bin Laden had warned that Morocco and Saudi Arabia were "ready for liberation." Moroccan security forces arrested scores of suspected Islamic militants in the days after the bombings.


Record Number of Tornadoes Kill 48 - Storms transporting tornadoes rolled through the Midwest and South in early May, bringing death to 48, injuring hundreds, and leveling hundreds of buildings. The total of 400 tornadoes between May 4 and 11 was twice the previous weekly U.S. record. Pres. George W. Bush, who declared disaster areas in 6 states, visited the devastated town of Pierce City, MO, May 13. The death tolls were highest in Missouri (18), Tennessee (15), and Kansas (7).

SARS Deaths - The World Health Organization (WHO) reported May 8 that the recently identified severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) had been found in 31 countries, with a total of 7,053 cases so far, and 506 deaths. The United States May 6 reported 63 cases of the disease so far, with no deaths. The WHO May 8 added Taiwan's capital, Taipei, and 2 new Chinese areas to the list of places travelers should avoid. In Beijing, China, 16,436 people had been quarantined as of May 6. On May 2 the Univ. of California at Berkeley barred 500 Asian students from attending its summer session.

Russia May 8 identified its first likely SARS case and closed some border crossings with China. Responding to criticism that news of the disease had been suppressed, China May 13 ordered local officials to promptly and accurately report threats to public health. At least 120 officials had been fired or disciplined for failing to respond properly to the disease. Taiwanese officials May 12 fired the head of a hospital for failing to deal with the epidemic properly. Taiwan quarantined 2 hospitals and said May 15 that it had 264 probable cases and 30 deaths. WHO's worldwide total of cases rose to 7,699 May 15, with 598 deaths.

The WHO May 14 dropped Toronto from the list of places where SARS was spreading, but a cluster of new cases was reported, and a WHO travel alert was reinstated. At a Toronto school, 2,000 students, teachers, and staff members were quarantined May 28 after a student showed SARS symptoms.

In Hong Kong, WHO scientists in Hong Kong announced May 23 that they had found traces of the SARS virus in 6 masked palm civets, a badger, and a raccoon. (Civets are eaten by humans in China.)

Plane Door Opens, Scores Fall to Their Deaths - The main cargo door of a cargo jet opened at a height of 33,000 feet over the Congo, May 8, and an unknown number of people were sucked out of the plane to their deaths. The Russian-built Ilyushin 76 was flying from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi. There were no records to indicate the number aboard, but it was estimated at 200, with the number of victims between 60 and 170. Survivors held on to ropes and netting inside the plane.

Times Documents Reporter's Deceptions - The New York Times May 11 devoted more than 4 full pages to a story documenting deceptions and inaccuracies by one of its reporters, Jayson Blair. He had resigned from the staff May 1,after the Washington Post reported allegations that he had plagiarized an Apr. 18 San Antonio Express-News article in a Times piece published Apr. 26.

The Times conducted an investigation after Blair resigned. In its May 11 report, it provided corrections for nearly half of the 73 national articles Blair had written since October. According to the report, in a number of cases he had misquoted other people or made up quotations altogether and lifted accounts and information from other news organizations. He also included a dateline for many articles falsely indicating he had been to places he never went to.

Jonathan Landman, the Times metropolitan editor, had warned in an email in April 2002, "We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now." The U.S. attorney for Maryland, Thomas DiBiagio, charged publicly on Oct. 30, 2002, that a Times article by Blair on the sniper shootings contained false information. Blair's Dec. 22 article on the sniper killings was denounced Dec. 23 as "dead wrong" by Robert Horan, Jr., commonwealth's attorney for Fairfax County, VA.

After the 27-year-old Blair resigned, debate ensued inside and outside the Times company about whether he had been advanced quickly and avoided close scrutiny because he was black.

In another incident, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the Times, Rick Bragg, resigned from the paper May 28 after questions were raised about his reliance on a freelance journalist whom he did not credit.

Students in Hazing Incident Suspended, Charged - A Chicago suburban high school suspended several seniors May 12 because of a May 4 hazing incident that left several juniors injured and requiring hospital treatment The hazing took place after the annual powder puff football game between junior and senior girls from Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, played in the Cook County Forest Preserve. On May 16, 12 students, including 3 boys, were charged with battery, a misdemeanor. On May 21, 2 parents were charged with supplying alcohol to underage teenagers involved in the incident.

Earthquake in Algeria Takes Heavy Toll - A magnitude-6.8 earthquake shook the vicinity of Algiers, Algeria, May 21, claiming more than 2,200 lives and leaving more than 9,000 people injured.

Sports Highlights

On May 3, at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, Funny Cide (13-1) became the first gelding since 1929 to win the Kentucky Derby. Funny Cide ran the mile and a quarter in 2:01.19. Empire Maker, the 5-2 favorite, finished 2nd by 1 and three-quarter lengths. Peace Rules (6-1) finished 3rd. Funny Cide (9-5) won the 128th Preakness Stakes May 17 at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Funny Cide won the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown convincingly, finishing 9 and three-quarter lengths ahead of runner-up Midway Road (20-1). The Preakness record for winning margin is 10 lengths, set by Survivor in 1873. Funny Cide ran the mile and three-sixteenths in 1:55.61. Scrimshaw (9-2) finished 3rd.

Forward Tim Duncan, who led the San Antonio Spurs to the NBA's best record (60-24) in the 2002-2003 season, won his 2nd consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player Award on May 4. Not since Chicago's Michael Jordan in 1991-1992 has a player been MVP 2 straight years. On May 1, Gilbert Arenas of the Golden State Warriors, was named the NBA's Most Improved Player. In earlier announcements, the NBA named Spurs coach Gregg Popovich as Coach of the Year, Sacramento's Bobby Jackson as Sixth Man of the Year, Houston's Amaré Stoudemire as Rookie of the Year, and Detroit's Ben Wallace as Defensive Player of the Year.

Jimmie Johnson took home a record purse of $1 million for winning The Winston, NASCAR's all-star race, at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, on May 17. Running on the same track, Johnson followed his success with a win in the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 on May 26. The 600-mile race was called off by NASCAR officials after 186 miles (276 laps).

Sweden's Annika Sorenstam became the 1st woman in 58 years to play in a PGA event when she teed off at the Colonial PGA Tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 22. (Babe Zaharias played in the Los Angeles Open in 1945.) Sorenstam shot a 1-over-par 71 on Thursday. On Friday, Sorenstam slipped to 5 over par and missed the cut for the final 2 rounds by 4 strokes. Kenny Perry won the Colonial with final score of 261, a tournament record 19-under-par. Justin Leonard finished 2nd at -13.

On May 25, Brazilian Gil de Ferran foiled Penske teammate Helio Castroneves's bid for a 3rd straight win in the Indianapolis 500. Runner-up to Castroneves at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2002, de Ferran took the lead on lap 170 (of 200) and won by 0.299 seconds-about 5 car-lengths.

FIFA, soccer's world governing body, announced May 26 that the 2003 Women's World Cup would be held in the U.S. Earlier in May, FIFA had decided to move the World Cup, which had been scheduled to be held in China from September 23 through October 11, because of concerns about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The U.S. venues had yet to be determined, and the dates were subject to change depending on stadium availability.


An elk (top speed 45 miles per hour) can outrun a greyhound (top speed 39.35 mph).


- Kevin Seabrooke

PORTABLE STRUCTURES, PART I: An internet-ready portable toilet was-and then wasn't-in the works from the MSN division of Microsoft Corp. in Britain in early May. Plans for iLoo ("loo" is British slang for toilet) included a high-speed wireless keyboard and an adjustable plasma screen in front of the seat. A keyboard and screen were to be mounted on the outside for users waiting in line. MSN officials were said to be negotiating with manufacturers for toilet paper with Web addresses printed on it. MSN UK planned to test the iLoo at festivals in Britain in the summer of 2003 as a way of advertising the MSN Internet service. The plans generated a lot of publicity-much of it negative-and Microsoft announced May 12 that the iLoo had been an April Fool's Day joke, though the press release announcing iLoo had been dated April 30. A day later the software giant reversed itself and admitted that the iLoo wasn't a hoax, but had been a real promotional idea in Britain. The iLoo was part of a PR campaign to promote the faltering MSN Internet service by emphasizing internet use in unexpected places. Earlier phases of the campaign had included Web access from London park benches and beach chairs in France.

PORTABLE STRUCTURES, PART II: A temporary building with much higher aspirations fared a lot better. British businessman Michael Gill introduced a novel way to take religion out into the community-an inflatable church. The Gothic-arched polyvinyl chloride structure, launched in May, comes complete with inflatable pews, candles, "stained glass," organ, and altar. It has a capacity of about 60 people, with seating in the pews for only 12. It takes about 3 hours to inflate the church, which is 47 feet long, 25 feet wide, and 47 feet from floor to steeple. The church costs about U.S. $35,000 to purchase, or it can be rented for $3,200 a day. Its most likely use would be for weddings or christenings. Gill has received inquiries from 20 countries about renting or buying the church and has plans for more inflatable churches, as well as inflatable nightclubs and pubs, synagogues, and mosques. For more information, go to

NOTED PERSONALITIES: Dance Figures of the Past

Alvin Ailey, 1931-89, (U.S.) modern dancer, choreographer; melded modern dance and Afro-Caribbean techniques.
Frederick Ashton, 1904-88, (Br.) ballet choreographer; director of Great Britain's Royal Ballet, 1963-70.
Fred Astaire, 1899-1987, (U.S.) dancer, actor; teamed with dancer/actress Ginger Rogers (1911-95) in movie musicals.
George Balanchine, 1904-83, (Russ.-U.S.) ballet choreographer, teacher; most influential exponent of the neoclassical style; founded, with Lincoln Kirstein, School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet.
Carlo Blasis, 1803-78, (It.) ballet dancer, choreographer, writer; his teaching methods are standards of classical dance.
August Bournonville, 1805-79, (Dan.) ballet dancer, choreographer, teacher; exuberant, light style.
Gisella Caccialanza, 1914-97, (U.S.) ballerina, charter member of Balanchine's American Ballet.
Enrico Cecchetti, 1850-1928, (It.) ballet dancer, leading dancer of Russia's Imperial Ballet; his technique was basis for Britain's Imperial Soc. of Teachers of Dancing.
Gower Champion, 1921-80, (U.S.) dancer, choreographer, director; with his wife Marge, b 1923, (U.S.) choreographed, danced in Broadway musicals and films.
John Cranko, 1927-73, (S. African) choreographer; created narrative ballets based on literary works.
Agnes de Mille, 1909-93, (U.S.) ballerina, choreographer; known for using American themes, she choreographed the ballet Rodeo and the musical Oklahoma.
Dame Ninette DeValois, 1898-2001, (Br.) choreographer, founding director London's Royal Ballet; The Rake's Progress.
Sergei Diaghilev, 1872-1929, (Russ.) impresario; founded Les Ballet Russes; saw ballet as an art unifying dance, drama, music, and decor.
Alexandra Danilova, 1903-97, (Russ.) ballerina; noted teacher at the School of American Ballet.
Isadora Duncan, 1877-1927, (U.S.) expressive dancer who united free movement with serious music; one of the founders of modern dance.
Fanny Elssler, 1810-84, (Austrian) ballerina of the Romantic era; known for dramatic skill, sensual style.
Michel Fokine, 1880-1942, (Russ.) ballet dancer, choreographer, teacher; rejected strict classicism in favor of dramatically expressive style.
Margot Fonteyn, 1919-91, (Br.) prima ballerina, Royal Ballet of Great Britain; famed performance partner of Rudolf Nureyev.
Bob Fosse, 1927-87, (U.S.) jazz dancer, choreographer, director; Broadway musicals and film.
Serge Golovine, 1924-98, (Fr.) ballet dancer with Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas; choreographer.
Martha Graham, 1893-1991, (U.S.) modern dancer, choreographer; created and codified her own dramatic technique.
Martha Hill, 1901-95, (U.S.) educator; leading figure in modern dance; founded American Dance Festival.
Doris Humphrey, 1895-1958 , (U.S.) modern dancer, choreographer, writer, teacher.
Robert Joffrey, 1930-88, (U.S.) ballet dancer, choreographer; cofounded with Gerald Arpino, b 1928, (U.S.), the Joffrey Ballet.
Kurt Jooss, 1901-79, (Ger.) choreographer, teacher; created expressionist works using modern and classical techniques.
Tamara Karsavina, 1885-1978, (Russ.) prima ballerina of Russia's Imperial Ballet and Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; partner of Nijinsky.
Nora Kaye, 1920-87, (U.S.) ballerina with Metropolitan Opera Ballet and Ballet Theater (now American Ballet Theatre).
Lincoln Kirstein, 1907-96 (U.S.) brought ballet as an art form to U.S.; founded, with George Balanchine, School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet.
Serge Lifar, 1905-86, (Russ.-Fr.) prem. danseur, choreographer; director of dance at Paris Opera, 1930-45, 1947-58.
José Limón, 1908-72, (Mex.-U.S.) modern dancer, choreographer, teacher; developed technique based on Humphrey.
Catherine Littlefield, 1908-51, (U.S.) ballerina, choreographer, teacher; pioneer of American ballet.
Léonide Massine, 1896-1979, (Russ.-U.S.) ballet dancer, choreographer; his "symphonic ballet" used concert music previously thought unsuitable for dance.
Kenneth MacMillan, 1929-92, (Br.) dancer, choreographer; directed Royal Ballet of Great Britain 1970-77.
Vaslav Nijinsky, 1890-50, (Russ.) prem. danseur, choreographer; leading member of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; his ballets were revolutionary for their time.
Alwin Nikolais, 1910-93, (U.S.) modern choreographer; created dance theater utilizing mixed media effects.
Jean-George Noverre, 1727-1810, (Fr.) ballet choreographer, teacher, writer; "Shakespeare of the Dance."
Rudolf Nureyev,1938-93, (Russ.) prem. danseur, choreographer; leading male dancer of his generation; director of dance at Paris Opera, 1983-89.
Ruth Page, 1903-91, (U.S.) ballerina, choreographer; danced and directed ballet at Chicago Lyric Opera.
Anna Pavlova, 1881-1931, (Russ.) prima ballerina; toured with her own company to world acclaim.
Marius Petipa, 1818-1910, (Fr.) ballet dancer, choreographer; ballet master of the Imperial Ballet; established Russian classicism as leading style of late 19th cent.
Pearl Primus, 1919-95, (Trinidad-U.S.) modern dancer, choreographer, scholar; combined African, Caribbean, and African-American styles.
Jerome Robbins, 1918-98, (U.S.) choreographer, director, dancer; The King and I; West Side Story; Fiddler on the Roof; Gypsy.
Bill (Bojangles) Robinson, 1878-1949, (U.S.) famed tap dancer; called King of Tapology on stage and screen.
Ruth St. Denis, 1877-1968, (U.S.) influential interpretive dancer, choreographer, teacher.
Ted Shawn, 1891-1972, (U.S.) modern dancer, choreographer; formed dance company and school with Ruth St. Denis; established Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
Marie Taglioni, 1804-84, (It.) ballerina, teacher; in title role of La Sylphide established image of the ethereal ballerina.
Antony Tudor, 1908-87, (Br.) choreographer, teacher; exponent of the "psychological ballet."
Galina Ulanova, 1910-98, (Rus.) revered ballerina with Bolshoi Ballet.
Agrippina Vaganova, 1879-1951, (Russ.) ballet teacher, director; codified Soviet ballet technique that developed virtuosity; called "queen of variations."
Mary Wigman, 1886-1973, (Ger.) modern dancer, choreographer, teacher; influenced European expressionist dance.

Links of the Month

Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

In its efforts to create a "master Aryan race," Adolf Hitler's Nazi (National Socialist government) party, between 1933 and 1945, targeted many groups for persecution, including homosexuals. Deemed "antisocial parasites," and "enemies of the state," over 50,000 homosexuals were arrested during this period, with as many as 5,000 to 15,000 imprisoned in concentration camps. To learn more about this lesser known aspect of the holocaust visit the United States Holocaust website at:

In my twenties, I was an avid autograph collector. My interest in silent movies, and movies from the golden age of Hollywood, prompted me to send letters to the stars of those eras; I had correspondence with Lillian Gish, letters from Katharine Hepburn, and received autograph photographs from greats like Gloria Swanson and Jimmy Stewart. I often sent self-addressed-stamped envelopes with photographs to sign, but it's not always necessary. Here is just one of many sites listing addresses (I'm not promising that they all will work); its Chip's Celebrity Home and E-Mail Addresses at The site also includes tips on writing letters, a sample letter, as well as postal information. Let me know if you have any success.

Despite predictions to the contrary, disco music never died. I was recently in the audience of the show "Mamma Mia," and at its conclusion, everyone in the theatre was up singing and dancing to the tunes of ABBA. If you long ago sold off your albums in garage sales, and didn't think the music was worthy of buying on cassette, or cd, the Seventies Music Page at will let you listen to audio clips from such hits as the Village People's "Y.M.C.A," to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."

Many people recognize the name George Washington Carver, the agricultural chemist who discovered hundreds of new uses for crops like peanuts. Born a slave, in the mid 1860s, Carver was an African-American scientist who won international fame for his research. The names Benjamin Banneker, Ernest Everett Just, and Granville T. Woods may not be so easily identifiable names, however, these three people, an astronomer, a biologist, and an inventor, respectively, made important contributions to science and technology. These are all covered in The World Almanac feature African-Americans of the Past, but they are just a few African-Americans who have had an impact in this field. To learn more, visit The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences

It's said that a person should consume at least 8 glasses of water a day. However, when you are away from home or work, this becomes more of a challenge, when you don't know where a free restroom is. At the Bathroom Diaries, you can find international bathrooms, that are rated for cleanliness, safety, handicap access, style, and directions within the location. There are additional comments that can be helpful, like that in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, you have to pay for toilet paper, so it's advised that you bring your own.

A recent headline in a national paper caught my eye, "The most famous athlete in the world (except in the USA)." I knew whom they were talking about; it's David Beckham, the English soccer (or football, as it is referred to everyplace but in the USA) star. The adulation for Beckham, ranges from a golden statue erected in his honor in Thailand, to thousands of websites devoted to him. Known for his spectacular goals, and celebrity lifestyle (he is married to Victoria Adams (the former Spice Girl, Posh), Beckham has even inspired a recent English film, "Bend It Like Beckham," which captures the life of a girl who plays soccer against her parents wishes. To learn more about Beckham, visit For a history of soccer, and information about international teams, visit By the way, the term "bend it like Beckham," refers to the trademark way he kicks the ball so it seems to bend into the goal.

Oddest Website of the Month: Modern Moist Towelette Collecting at

© World Almanac Education Group

World Almanac E-Newsletter
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

Newsletter Contributors:
Louise Bloomfield, Erik Gopel, Walter Kronenberg, Chris Larson, Bill McGeveran, Kevin Seabrooke and Lori Wiesenfeld

Comments and suggestions can be sent to:

If you have enjoyed this newsletter, and would like your family and friends to subscribe for free, have them send an e-mail to:

Change of e-mail address? Send to