At noon on this date in 1938, at the site of what was to be the 1939 New York World’s Fair, a time capsule was buried with much fanfare. It is to be reopened in the year 6939, or 5000 years in the future.
People have buried time capsules for centuries, but the term “time capsule” itself was coined for this particular object, buried on this date 78 years ago, at this World’s Fair. About 35 objects of everyday importance and several microfilms (along with a handheld microfilm reader) of many documents were placed in an airtight container that was placed in a rust- and corrosion-proof metal container, especially created for this capsule to last 5000 years.
Those who placed the time capsule fifty feet underground knew that 5000 years is a long time and that cultures will change, languages will change, even the geography of the area may be dramatically different. (With climate changes, Flushing Meadows quite possibly will be several dozen feet underwater by then.) The container is made of a special non-corroding alloy called Cupaloy, and the items inside are kept separate to prevent possible contamination should any one of them start to decompose. Instructions for how to read English and other modern languages were included.
Books were sent to libraries and monasteries and other important locations around the world with the thought/hope that perhaps even just one of the libraries would last many years and the book would fall into the hands of people who would care to learn something about their distant ancestors. The Book of Record comes with the request that it be translated into new languages as they develop. In 1965, at the conclusion of the 1964 World’s Fair at the same location, a second time capsule was deposited. It, too, is to be opened in the year 6939.
Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company created both of the time capsules. Its staff researched what metals would work as containers and then created the alloys and built the containers. Its staff selected the objects and asked for comments from famous individuals to be included. In 1939, Westinghouse was so large that it probably seemed like it would be a company that might be around for 5000 years. It went out of business in 1999. (Westinghouse Electric Company, which operates half of the world’s nuclear power plants, owns the right to the name and even utilizes the old logo, but its relationship with the original company takes a flow chart and a pot of coffee to explicate. The only constant in life is change.)
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Alexander Cartwright organized the first-ever baseball team, the New York Knickerbockers, on this date in 1845. He wrote out and published a set of 20 rules, many of which still remain in baseball’s formal rule book.
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Bob Marley gave his last concert 36 years ago today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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Pablo Neruda died on this date in 1973.
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Meyer Schapiro was born in 1904 on this date. Prime Minister Aldo Moro was born 100 years ago today. Mickey Rooney was born on this date in 1920. John Coltrane was born 90 years ago today. Ray Charles was born 86 years ago today. “You Don’t Know Me”:
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Julio Iglesias is 73. Bruce Springsteen is 67 today. His autobiography has been published and he is touring bookstores. He gave the book the only title it could have:
Jason Alexander is 57. Ani DiFranco is 46. Karl Pilkington is 44.
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