Daily Update: Friday, January 27th, 2017

Angela Merici and 01-27 - International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Angela Merici, Virgin (died 1540). Today is also International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and today is also the birthday of Callie’s mother Lisa, who is also, of course, my son’s mother-in-law (and my sympathera), and the other grandmother of my granddaughter (1962).

Born in 1474 in Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy, today’s Saint became a Franciscan tertiary at the age of fifteeen and received a vision telling her she would inspire devout women in their vocation. In Crete, during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she was struck blind. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going on, visiting the shrines in the Holy Land with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place in Crete where it had been lost. In 1535 she gathered a group of girl students and began what would become the Institute of Saint Ursula (the Ursuline Sisters); her first schools were in Desenzano and Brescia. Towards the beginning of the 18th century, the period of its greatest prosperity, the Ursuline order embraced some 20 congregations, with 350 convents and from 15,000 to 20,000 nuns. Saint Angela is the Patron Saint of handicapped people, of those suffering from sickness, and of those suffering from loss of parents. Turning to the secular world, United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 on November 1st, 2005 mandated that January 27th of each year would be International Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember and never forget the annihilation of 6 million Jews, 2 million Gypsies (Roma and Sinti), 15,000 homosexual people, and millions of others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. This date was chosen because January 27th is the date, in 1945, when the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops. And today is also the birthday of Callie’s mother Lisa, who is also, of course, my son’s mother-in-law (and my sympathera) and the other grandmother of my granddaughter (1962).

On waking up to get ready for work today, I did my Book Devotional Reading, and posted to Facebook that today was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, and said the Third Day of my Novena to Saint Blaise. Once we clocked in, Richard was on Pai Gow, and I was on a Blackjack table. On my breaks I started reading Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry via Overdrive on my tablet.

After we clocked out at 11:00 am, Richard picked up his prescription at the pharmacy. On our way home we stopped at Crispy Cajun so that Richard could get some fried chicken for his lunch. Once home I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad; I then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update, as I will go to bed for the duration once I am done with the computer. The New Moon will arrive at 6:08 pm, and our New Orleans Pelicans (18-28, 1-6) will be playing a home NBA game with the San Antonio Spurs (36-9, 6-1); I will record the score of the game in Saturday’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor (died 1274); it is also the beginning of the Year of the Rooster, our 33rd Wedding Anniversary (according to the Hallmark Anniversary Guide, the 33rd Anniversary gift is Iron (Okay….)), and National Data Privacy Day. We will be working our eight hours at the casino, and on my breaks I will continue reading Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry via Overdrive on my tablet. In the afternoon I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, and at 4:00 pm I will go to the Mass for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our LSU Tigers (9-10, 1-7) will be playing an Away College Basketball game with the Texas Tech Red Raiders (14-6, 3-5).

Our Friday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Charles Hard Townes, American physicist and inventor. Born in 1915 in Greenville, South Carolina, his father was an attorney. He earned his B.S. / B.A. at Furman University. Townes completed work for the Master of Arts degree in Physics at Duke University in 1937, and then entered graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, from where he received a Ph.D. degree in 1939. During World War II he worked on radar bombing systems at Bell Labs; he married in 1941, and was a religious man and a member of the United Church of Christ. Townes was appointed Professor in 1950 at Columbia University. He served as Executive Director of the Columbia Radiation Laboratory from 1950 to 1952, and was the Chairman of the Physics Department from 1952 to 1955. On April 26th, 1951, while in Washington DC for a meeting of the Navy Millimeter Committee, he rose early and at 6:00 am sat on a park bench in Washington DC’s Franklin Park. While watching the azaleas in full bloom, he mused over his committee work and conceived a new way to apply the laws of physics to create intense, precise beams of coherent radiation. He coined the term “maser” for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, and when the same principle was applied to higher frequencies the term “laser” was used as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.  Theorists like Niels Bohr and John von Neumann doubted whether it was possible to create such a thing as a laser. Nobel laureates Isidor Isaac Rabi and Polykarp Kusch received the budget for their research from the same source as Townes. Three months before the first successful experiment, they tried to stop him: “Look, you should stop the work you are doing. It isn’t going to work. You know it’s not going to work, we know it’s not going to work. You’re wasting money, Just stop!” In 1953 Townes, James P. Gordon, and H. J. Zeiger built the first ammonia maser at Columbia University. This device used stimulated emission in a stream of energized ammonia molecules to produce amplification of microwaves at a frequency of about 24.0 gigahertz. From 1959 to 1961 Townes was on leave of absence from Columbia University to serve as Vice President and Director of Research of the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit organization which advised the U.S. government and was operated by eleven universities. Between 1961 and 1967 Townes served as both Provost and Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For his creation of the maser, Townes along with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov received the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics. Townes also pioneered the use of masers and lasers in astronomy, was part of a team that first discovered complex molecules in space, and determined the mass of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy.Between 1966 and 1970, he was chairman of the NASA Science Advisory Committee for the Apollo lunar landing program. Then, in 1967, he was appointed as a Professor of Physics at the University of California at Berkeley, where he remained for almost fifty years; his status was as professor emeritus by the time of his death in 2015. His work was published widely in books and peer-reviewed journal articles; he also published How the Laser Happened: Adventures Of a Scientist in 1999. In recent years Townes served as a Karl Schwarzschild Lecturer in Germany and the Birla Lecturer and Schroedinger Lecturer in India (died 2015): “Science tries to understand what our universe is like and how it works, including us humans. Religion is aimed at understanding the purpose and meaning of our universe, including our own lives. If the universe has a purpose or meaning, this must be reflected in its structure and functioning, and hence in science.”

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