1. Momentum

‘Momentum’ is used here to mean motion due to the force of history

Magna Carta: in 2015 this document will be 800 years old; Magna Carta was the forerunner of all modern constitutions; the barons used  the ‘Great Charter’ to force King John (reigned 1199-1216) to admit that even kings had to stay within the law and obey the rules [see Constitutions]

Diamond Jubilee: 2012 was the 60th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II [see Elizabeth II]; Britain has the greatest tradition of queens regnant of any country and the greatest tradition of monarchy [see Monarchs]; the present queen is the most travelled monarch in history and has never given an interview; Britain’s system involves a constitutional monarchy within a parliamentary democracy, which two elements taken together represent Britain’s and the world’s greatest social invention in the political sphere, as a block to tyranny [see Freedom]; when Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952 Winston Churchill was prime minister; he had led Britain through its - and the world’s - greatest trial in modern times, the Second World War, to victory [see Second World War]; Winston Churchill was the most Influential Islander in the previous era; Her Majesty the Queen, whose destiny is duty, is the most Influential Islander in the present era


London 2012: the Olympics brought home organised sport [see Sport & leisure]; London has previously hosted the summer Olympics twice, in 1908 & 1948; four centuries ago, in 1612, Robert Dover started the Cotswold Olympicks; the first modern games were held at Much Wenlock, Shropshire in 1850; it was organised by William Penny Brookes (1809-95), founding grandfather of the modern Olympic Games and inspirer of Baron de Coubertin, the father of the Olympic Games, who put on the Athens Olympiad of 1896 [see Olympics]; the Paralympics were invented in 1948 by Dr Ludwig ‘Poppa’ Guttman (1899-1980) of Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire; the earliest known wheelchair athletics ever took place at Richmond in 1923 [see Paralympics]


War in Afghanistan: 2001-present [see Empire & wars]


Firsts, present era:

[Sources: mostly Robertson/Shell & Robertson, personal communication]

National CV: the first known curriculum vitae of a country was The National CV of Britain 2012, author John Hart, Director of The National CV Group; the key concept is that a National CV is a forward-looking history of potentially inspiring effect, notably on upcoming generations [see Scholarship: The National CV of Britain]


Object rendered invisible: paperclip ‘disappeared’ by use of light-bending calcite crystal, Birmingham University, 2011 [see Science]


Artificial human sperm: developed from stem cells, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2009 [see Health]


Black motor racing champion: Lewis Hamilton, 2008; also youngest up to that time [see Motorsport]


Airline mobile phone service: Aeromobile system on Airbus A340, 2008 [see Aviation]


Armed robots used in warfare: QinetiQ’s Talan Sword robot, armed with machine guns, deployed by US Army in Iraq, 2007 [see Technology]


Stem cell bank: depository of embryonic stem cells at National Institute  for Biological Standards & Control, South Mimms, Herts, 2004 [see Health]


Oarsman to row the Pacific solo: Jim Shekhdar in Le Shark, 2000-1;  the Pacific had been previously rowed by John Fairfax & Sylvia Cook in 1971-2 [see Sport & leisure]


Circumnavigation of world non-stop by balloon: Brian Jones (UK) & Bertrand Picard (Switzerland) in Bristol-made Breitling Orbiter III, 1999 [see Ballooning]


Viagra: sildenafil citrate, trade name Viagra, for impotence; the molecule, code UK92480, started life as a potential cardiovascular drug; patented 1996 [see Health]


Bionic limb activated by brain impulses: fitted to David Gow at Princess Margaret Hospital, Edinburgh, 1998 [see Health]


Cancer preventative drug: Nolvadex (active ingredient tamoxifen citrate), AstraZeneca; used to reduce risk of breast cancer, 1998 [see Health]


Supersonic car: jet-propelled Thrust SSC, built by Richard Noble at Farnborough, Hants, piloted by Andy Green, 1997; 763 mph [see Motoring]


Clockwork radio: Trevor Baylis, 1994 [see Radio]; it led to the wind up torch


Electronic novel: Peter James, Host, published on floppy disks by Penguin, 1994 [see Language & culture]


Personal Digital Assistant: Amstrad PenPad, 1993; beat overseas competition by a day


Car tracker anti-theft device: Automobile Association, 1993 [see Motoring]


Superglue for closing wounds: Alan Roberts, BradfordUniversity, 1993 [see Health]


Bagless vacuum cleaner: James Dyson, 1992; the first robot vacuum cleaner for domestic use was the bagless Dyson DC06; the vacuum cleaner itself was invented in 1901 by Hubert Booth


Trans-Pacific hot-air balloon flight: Richard Branson & Per Lindstrand in Virgin Otsuka Pacific Flyer, 1991[see Ballooning]


World Wide Web: Tim Berners-Lee, 1989 [see Internet]


Microlight aircraft with parachute wing: Peter Flynn, 1988 [see Aviation]

Dolly the sheep: 1996-2003; grown up from an adult cell; first mammal to be a clone (copy) of another adult; history’s most famous sheep, Dolly, was British [see Science]


DNA: 31% of the human genome was decoded in Britain (2001), where the double helix structure of DNA was determined (1953); the world’s first national DNA database was established in Britain (1995); this was in the context of criminal justice and followed the invention of DNA profiling by Alex Jeffreys in 1984, the greatest breakthrough in criminology since fingerprinting (also developed in Britain, around 1900) [see DNA forensice profiling & Fingerprinting]


Privatisation: 1980s; a reduced role for the state was an idea associated with prime minister Margaret Thatcher that swept the world; capitalism’s revival contributed to the collapse of the Soviet empire (1989)[see Freedom]


Fermat’s Last Theorem: proved by Andrew Wiles in 1995 [see Scholarship]


Red Nose Day: 1988; organised by Comic Relief [see Famine relief]


Fun: Harry Potter, Wallace & Gromit, James Bond 007 [see Language & culture]


Rugby & cricket: England, the inventor of these games, won the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and cricket’s ICC World Twenty20 tournament in 2010, becoming the No 1 ranked cricketing nation in 2011 [see Sport & leisure]


Prince William: b1982; 1000th member (2008) of the Order of the Garter, which was founded in 1348 to commemorate victory over the French at the Battle of Crécy two years before; the Order came into being at the high point of the Age of Chivalry, inspired by the tales of King Arthur; there are 24 members at any one time, the same number as the knights who sat with Arthur at his Round Table; the Order is the world’s premier and oldest surviving order of chivalry [see Edward III]; 1348 was also the year the Black Death entered Britain, killing 30-50% of the population; this is the greatest calamity ever to hit the island


Birthdays:Rolls-Royce Aerospace, an engineering great, was 100 in 2004; BT, the world’s oldest telecommunications company, was 160 in 2006; the Royal Society, whose founding was the birth of modern science,was 350 in 2010 [see Royal Society]; Louise Brown, the world’s first test-tube baby (In Vitro Fertilisation, IVF; invented in Britain), was 40 in 2008


British values: a new value is inclusiveness (giving everyone a chance); traditional values include freedom (e.g. of speech & markets), democracy, tolerance, sense offair play, practicality (‘What works is best, regardless of theory’), individualism (being your own person, with the self-belief to be original), civility (e.g. queuing), seeing the funny side of things and looking outwards to the world (global destiny) [see Freedom]


Anniversaries in 2012

100 years ago: stainless steel is invented by Henry Brearley in 1912, when he added chromium to reduce staining and corrosion [see Iron]; death of Scott of the Antarctic - Britain has the greatest history of exploration and discovery of any nation [see Exploration]; birth of Alan Turing (1912-54), the father of computer science and artificial intelligence [see Alan Turing]; his work helped Britain develop the world’s first functional electronic computer in 1943, for wartime code breaking [see Computer]


200 years ago: the first commercial use of steam railway locomotives is by Mathew Murray & John Blenkinsop at a colliery in 1812 [see Railway]


300 years ago: Thomas Newcomen improves the steam engine, 1712 [see Steam engine]; in the same year John Arbuthnot invents a national personification, bluff country squire John Bull, who came to feature a Union Jack waistcoat [see Union Flag]


350 years ago: sparkling wine is invented by Christopher Merret in 1662 (Dom Perignon’s own activities in this line in France date to 1668 at the earliest)[see Food & drink]


400 years ago:Cotswold Olympicks is started in 1612 by Robert Dover [see Olympics]


500 years ago: the world’s first modern navy is founded by Henry VIII, where his warships are dedicated gun platforms rather than conveyances for armies to have battles afloat; Henry uses his new navy in 1512 to beat the French at the Battle of Brest [see Henry VIII]


1000 years ago: Archbishop of Canterbury St Alphege (954-1012) is murdered by Vikings [see Archbishops]

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