Black holes, Napoleon Bonaparte and Russian settlements in America - what could be in common?

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Black holes, Napoleon Bonaparte and Russian settlements in America - what could be in common?
Black holes, Napoleon Bonaparte and Russian settlements in America - what could be in common?

We are used to studying history by being tied to one place or one topic. But how interesting it is to travel back in time and find connections between events that, it would seem, do not have anything in common. Nothing but the time they happened, as it might seem.


1783-1784 - black holes, Napoleon Bonaparte and hot air balloons

Black holes are perhaps the most mysterious and not fully understood objects in the Universe. It is simply impossible to see a black hole directly, so it is all the more surprising that the first hypotheses about the existence of such bodies were made more than 200 years ago. For the first time the existence of black holes was suggested by the English priest and naturalist John Michell, who is considered one of the greatest, but unrecognized scientists of all time. In a letter sent in 1784 to the Royal Society for the Advancement of Natural Knowledge, Mitchell described the concept of a massive body, the gravitational attraction of which is so great that the speed required to overcome this attraction, that is, the second cosmic speed, is equal to or exceeds the speed of light … The letter contained a calculation from which it followed that for a body with a radius of 500 solar radii and the density of the Sun, the second cosmic velocity on its surface would be equal to the speed of light. Thus, light cannot leave this body and it will be invisible to the observer. The scientist suggested that in space there may be many similar objects inaccessible to observation, which he called "black stars".

His discovery, or, better to say, insight, is even more surprising if we look at the time when it overtook him. Thinking about space, when humanity was only making its first steps in aeronautics, was, in fact, a scientific feat. There were no planes then, and the first hot air balloon of the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier took off a year before Michel's letter to the Royal Society - in 1783. The first flight, which took place on June 5, 1783 in the French city of Annon, where the brothers lived, was not manned - the balloon filled with warm air was "loaded" with two hundred kilogram ballast. On September 19 of the same year, animals went to the skies over Versailles. As a "squirrel" and "arrow", a ram, a rooster and a duck were put in the basket. The flight was watched by the King of France, Louis XVI. And the first people in the sky were the French physicist Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis François Laurent d'Arland. Taking off on November 21, 1783 in the Bois de Boulogne and flying about 9 kilometers, they landed on the outskirts of Paris. The era of aeronautics has begun. The French scientist and inventor Jacques Charles breathed almost in the backs of the Montgolfier brothers. But he considered the use of hot air impractical. In flight, air cools down and loses lift, but hydrogen is initially lighter than air. His charlier balloon went on a manned flight on December 1, 1783.

1784 was the year of hot air ballooning in Europe. The first aeronauts took to the air throughout Europe - after France, balloons soared into the sky in England, Austria, Italy and Ireland. Women followed the male aeronauts into the air.

The balloons filled with warm air were called hot air balloons, and those filled with hydrogen were called charlier.But rosiers were called combined balloons, in which the upper, spherical part was filled with hydrogen, and the lower, cylindrical, heated air. As you might guess, the inventor of such balls was Pilatre de Rozier. But he did not take into account the insidiousness of hydrogen, and in 1785, while trying to cross the English Channel, his balloon caught fire and Rosier died.


1783 marks the end of the American Revolution, or the American War of Independence. With the mediation of Louis XVI in September 1783, the parties signed a number of treaties that went down in history as the Peace of Paris. As a result, the British Empire recognized its former colonies as independent states and renounced any claims to govern them. And the French volunteers who participated in the war on the side of the American separatists returned from overseas. Only after being saturated with the ideas of the American revolution, in 6 years they will become the striking force of the French revolution.

The Bastille will be taken on July 14, 1789. Four more years would pass, and the National Convention would sentence Louis XVI to death. The Great French Revolution itself will end on November 9, 1799 with the so-called coup of the 18th Brumaire, when Napoleon, with the active participation of his younger brother Lucien Bonaparte, will make a coup and become the first consul of France. But in 1784, Napoleon was still only 15 years old and he entered the Paris military school. In the same year, another brother of Napoleon was born - Jerome Bonaparte, with whom he would invade Russia in 1812.

Jérôme Bonaparte's grandson, Charles Joseph Bonaparte, will become famous for establishing the FBI in 1908 as US Attorney General.

Significant events are taking place in Russia as well. In 1783, after the abdication of the last Crimean Khan Shahin Giray, Crimea became part of the Russian Empire. And the next year, in July 1784, after a long journey, the Russian explorer and navigator Grigory Shelikhov founded the first Russian settlement in Alaska in a small bay on the southeastern side of Kodiak Island. In the same year, in connection with the transition of Georgia under the protectorate of Russia (1783), the Vladikavkaz fortress was founded in the Caucasus, which later became the city of the same name.

1812-1814 - burnt capitals and "overseas" Russia

On the night of June 23-24, 1812, Napoleon's Great Army crossed the Niemen. This is how the Patriotic War of 1812 began. Bonaparte marched as far as Moscow and on September 14 occupied the city on fire. Although Moscow was already the former capital at that time, Napoleon chose it as the target of his strike. But on the whole, the entire Russian campaign for Napoleon ended in failure. Already on December 16 of the same year, the remnants of his army on the way back crossed the Memel River - at that time the border of the Russian Empire and East Prussia. Of the 400,000 soldiers with whom Napoleon came to Russia, only 18,000 remained. Two years later, in April 1814, Emperor Napoleon I of France would sign his abdication and go into exile on the island of Elba in the Mediterranean Sea.


But in 1812, on the other side of the planet, another "war of 1812" began, about which little is known in our country. In June 1812, US President James Madison declared war on England. In order to free the Canadians from the "British yoke", and at the same time to expand the territory of the United States, American troops crossed the American-Canadian border and invaded the British colony. In America, this war will be called the "Second War of Independence", as it will confirm the status of the United States as a sovereign power.

In the early years, the war was fought with varying degrees of success. Britain had to fight on two fronts, because in Europe there was a war with Napoleon. But as soon as Bonaparte was defeated and renounced power, the British threw all their strength into the war in the New World. Using Bermuda as an intermediate base, the British landed troops on the eastern and then only coast of the United States.On August 24, 1814, after the Battle of Bladensberg, British forces under the command of Major General Robert Ross occupied the US capital, Washington. The British purposefully burned down government buildings. The White House and the Capitol were burned down. For the British, the attack on Washington was of particular importance. It was retaliation for Port Dover and Toronto (then called York), previously burned by American troops. In the history of the United States, this is the only case when the capital of the country was captured by the enemy. President Madison, the government and all military commanders fled the city. Of all the public buildings, only the Patent Office remained the only one that was not burned. The Americans themselves, retreating, set fire to a naval shipyard with unfinished ships. The destruction was so great that the possibility of moving the capital was seriously considered in Congress. But the capital was restored and remained in the same place. The walls of the presidential residence, which were soaked by fire, were painted white, and it is believed that the White House acquired its name after this event.


The last major episode of this war was the Battle of New Orleans. The battle, which lasted from December 24, 1814 to January 8, 1815, ended not in favor of the British. True, the Anglo-American war by this time had already ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814. But since there was no telegraph at that time, it was impossible to immediately inform the belligerent armies about the signing of a peace treaty.

It is noteworthy that Emperor Alexander I also wanted to participate in the reconciliation of the two warring parties. Russia at that time was successfully expanding its possessions in the North American continent, and the desire to participate in American affairs was not surprising. But the proposal accepted by the United States was stubbornly rejected by Britain. By that time, the Russian Empire owned Alaska, and in 1812, it was entrenched in California. In the spring of 1812, Russian explorer Ivan Kuskov founded a fortified settlement in Rumyantsev Bay (now Bodega Bay), now known as Fort Ross. The Russian fortress from the moment of its foundation became a bone in the throat of the Spanish colonialists who considered California their territory. The Russian-American company, engaged in the development of America, did not recognize the rights of the Spanish crown to land north of San Francisco. It was a bid for a portion of the Pacific coast of North America. The Spaniards wanted to expel the Russians from these lands, but the proclamation of Mexico's independence put the Spaniards out of the game. The desire to press out the Russian settlers passed to Mexico. But it was useless for them to butt the Russians. In the 1830s, Russian settlers moved south from the Ross Fortress. Three more ranch farms were created: the Chernykh ranch, the Khlebnikov plains ranch and the village of Kostromitinovskoe.


The Russian Empire expanded its presence not only in America, but also in the Pacific Ocean, though not so successfully. Less famous than Fort Ross, the Russian fortress of Fort Elizabeth on the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian archipelago, built in 1816-1817, was abandoned almost immediately after its construction.

In 1848, Mexico in the war with the United States will lose Upper California (the future American state of California). But by this time Fort Ross will already be sold. In 1841, the American businessman John Sutter became the owner of the settlement. After a series of agreements on the settlement of borders with the United States (1824) and Great Britain (1825), the borders of Russian America will be definitively determined and Russia will lose the possibility of further expanding its territories in the New World. And on March 30, 1867, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands of the United States for $ 7.2 million.

The acquisition of Alaska was perhaps the most profitable land acquisition deal for the United States. The revolutions engulfed in flames and much smaller in the territory of the Philippines cost $ 20 million (1898).A total of $ 28.25 million was spent on expanding the territory at the expense of Mexico in 1846-48, in the form of compensation, settlement of private claims and direct payment.

As for black holes, then 100 years later, in 1967, this term will be first introduced into scientific circulation. It will be invented and used for the first time by the American theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler, who will also introduce the concept of a "wormhole" into physics. But now the concept of black holes ("black stars" by John Michell) will be based not on Newton's theory of gravitation, but on Einstein's theory of gravity.


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