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History does not always move forward in

pomp and ceremony, and even seemingly unin
spiring events can change its course.
A bullet fired from 19-year-old Serbian Gavri-
10 Princip's pistol not only killed the Archduke
Franz Ferdinand, but triggered a World War
that claimed more than one million lives.
A mould, noticed by chance, in Alexander
Fleming's unclean petri dish, led to the discov
ery of penicillin, the medicine that eventually
saved millions of lives, and marked a milestone
in the history of medicine.
Inventions, discoveries, explorations... all
have contributed to the progress of mankind.
On the darker side, you see vicious battles, dev
astating epidemics, and crimes.
This issue of 'Tell Me Why,' tells you about
some such landmarks in the history of our
What makes the Colosseum a tainment for the Roman people
landmark in world history? in the Colosseum, including

mock sea battles.
Colosseum of Ancient After four centuries of active
Rome is one of the landmarks use, the magnificent arena fell
of world history, for it is a testi into neglect. Though two-thirds
monial to the greatness of the of the original Colosseum has
Roman Empire. been destroyed over time, the
This giant am phitheatre was am phitheatre remains a popu
built in the centre of Rome. lar tourist destination, as well
The construction was started as an iconic symbol of Rome.
by the Em peror Vespasian in
AD 72, and completed in AD
80 by his successor and heir,
the Emperor Titus.
The Colosseum was huge. It
could seat 50,000 people. It
covered around 2.4 hectares
of land. It took more than 1 . 1
million tonnes of marble, stone,
and bricks to com plete the
massive structure. The Roman
emperors staged gladiator
fights and other forms of enter-
Why is the Antonine Plague returning from cam paigns in the
considered a turni ng point Near East.
in the history of Rome? In AD 1 78, it caused 2,000
deaths a day in Rome, and by
I n AD 1 65, a plague called AD 1 80, it had killed thirty per
the Antonine plague hit the cent of the population. The plague
Roman Empire. The epi ram paged throughout the Empire
dem ic stole the life of a from Persia to Spain, and from
Roman em peror called Britain to Egypt.
Lucius Verus. From his fam The plague almost wiped out
ily name Antoninus, the epi the Roman army. The disease
dem ic got its name Antonine broke out again after nine years.
plague. In brief, the plague may well have
This disease was brought created the conditions for the
back to the Rome by troops decline of the Roman Empire.

Roman soldiers sacked a temple of the god

Apollo in Seleucia. The Romans believed
that the Plague was Apollo's way of punish
ing them for destroying his temple.


What is the significance of the rise of
Look! I've the Gupta Dynasty?
gradua ted from
Nal anda.
T he Gupta Empire existed at the
same time as the Roman Empire. It
covered about two thirds of modern
India, and parts of modern day Paki
stan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
The Gupta Empire lasted from about
320 AD to about 550 AD. The dynasty
was founded by Sri Gupta. Chan
dragupta I, Sam udragupta, and Chan
dragupta I I were the most notable
rulers of this dynasty. During this time,
there was peace and prosperity.

Chandragupta I was also known as Chan

dragupta the Great, and Maharajadhiraja.
Though the Gupta dynasty was established
by Sri Gupta, it was Chandragupta I who
consolidated and expanded it.

6 Tell MeWhy
Writers, artists and Why is Constantine known as a great
musicians were Emperor?

It was also an era of he Roman Emperor Constantine,
extensive i nventions who ruled from 306 to 337 AD, has left
and discoveries in sci his m ark in history as the ruler who
ence and technology. united the Western Roman Empire
Nalanda U niversity, with the Eastern Roman Empire.
which became the When Constanti ne came to the
centre for the educa throne, the Roman Empire consisted
tion, was built during of two separate empires, one in West
this time. ern Europe, and the other in Eastern
The g reat m athe Europe. Constantine was a mighty
m atician Aryabhata, general who became the sole ruler of
the famous poet Kali both the western and eastern halves,
dasa, and the revered and u nited them into one powerful
physician Dhanvan empi re.
tari all lived d u ri ng In AD 324, Constantine established
this era. a new capital of the Roman Empire.
Therefore, it is not He named it Constanti nople, and it
surprising that this became the largest city of its times.
period is considered to Constantine was converted to Christi
be the Golden Age of anity, and became the first Christian
Ancient I ndia. em peror of the Roman Em pire.

Why is the Huns' i nvasion of Horse Trappings of Huns,jrom

Europe i mportant? 4th Century AD

The H uns were a tribe from The Huns were feared and
Central Asia. They were roaming hated by other tribes, as they
herdsmen who were extremely had a reputation for cruelty. As
warlike by nature. The Huns they moved towards Europe,
were skilled horsemen who Anglo Saxon tribes like the
entered Europe from Central Goths and Visigoth fled before
Asia in AD 372. As they moved them to Europe.
westward, they absorbed Ger However, the Huns emerged
man tribal culture. victorious, and conquered
large parts of Europe, Persia,
Beware, and India. The most famous
I'm Hun King Hun is Attila. He was a great
Atti la.
m ilitary leader who led the
Huns to several victories over
the mighty Roman Empire.
The H u n s ' i nvasion of
E u rope is a sign ificant event
in world history as it m arked
the fi rst time E u rope was
invaded and conquered by
an Asian tribe .
Tell MeWhy
Why is the treatise titled 'Aryab
hatiya' important to world history?

A ryabhata was the first in the line

of great mathematician-astrono
mers from the classical age of Indi
an m athematics and Indian
astronomy. His most famous works
are the Aryabhatiya written when
he was 23 years old, and the Arya
Aryabhata was the first to deduce
that the Earth is round, and that it
rotates on its own axis, creating
day and night. He declared that the
Moon is dark and shines only
because of sunlight. Solar and
lunar eclipses, he believed,
occurred because of the shadows
cast by the Earth and the Moon.
In mathematics Aryabhata's con
tributions are invaluable. He gave
the value of pi, claim ing, for the first
time, that it was an approximation.
And he was the first mathematician
to give what later came to be called
the tables of Sines. All these formed Value of Zero
a part of his treatise titled Aryab Aryabhata lived dur
hatiya. It also dealt with other top ing the Golden Age of
ics in mathematics, like geometry, the Gupta Empire.
square root, cube root, and pro One of his most valu
gression. able contributions
Aryabhatiya is, therefore, was the concept of
undoubtedly one of the most im por 'zero'.
tant treatises ever penned.
Why was the exploration of Greenland, and Erik the Red
Greenland a significant event? colonised the southwestern

part of Greenland. He gave
reenland, which is located Greenland its name, and ush
between the Arctic and the ered in the country's Viking
Atlantic Oceans, is the world's era. The Vikings lived in
largest island. G reenland for almost 500
Almost 80 per cent of the years, and then disappeared.
land mass is covered by an ice However, Erik the Red had
cap and glaciers. Greenland made Europe aware of the
was first settled by a series of existence of this awesome
nomadic tribal peoples. land, and this has earned him
In AD 986, Norwegian-born a place in the history of the
Erik Thorvaldson, known as world.
Erik the Red, sailed west with
around 500 men and women,
This fish
domestic animals, and every may be green
thing else that was req uired to in colour.
create a new settlement in a
new country.
He came to a land with an
inviting fjord landscape and

_ _
fertile green valleys, and decid-
ed to explore it. his was _
What is the importance of the of reasons. It linked England
Norman Conquest of Britain? more closely with France and

the continent of Europe, and
he Normans were a group created one of the most pow
of people who invaded and erful monarchies of the times.
conq uered England in 1 066. The Normans brought about
They came from Northern great changes in the English
France. language and culture. The feu
The first Norman king was dal system of France was
William the Conqueror who introduced and strengthened,
claimed that the earlier ruler of with the complex institutions
England, Edward, had prom that existed in the earlier era.
ised him the throne before his This resulted in the future
death . development of a parliament,
The Norman Conquest and a protection of basic rights,
brought an important change both of which are of supreme
in English history for a number importance today.

North Men to Norman
In AD 91 1 the French rulers allowed a group
of Vikings to settle in Normandy and they
were later known as North Men or Normans.


Why does Angkor Wat represent a
landmark in world history?

A ngkO r Wat is a temple complex in

Cambodia. It is the largest religious
monument in the world, built by the
Khmer King Suryavarman II in the 1 2th
_ . . . -
century, in honour of the Hindu god
Apt Name Vishnu.
The name Angkor
Covering an area of roughly 202
Wat means 'tem hectares, its layout recreates the
ple city' or city of image of Mount Meru, a legendary
temples. 'Angkor place in Hindu mythology that is
Wat was not the believed to lie beyond the Himalayas,
original name giv and be the home of the Gods.
en to the temple Angkor Wat was shifted from H indu
when it was built to Buddhist use sometime around the
in the 12th century. late 1 3th century. The temple is used
We have little by Buddhists today. Angkor Wat is
knowledge of how depicted on Cambodia's national flag,
this temple was and is Cambodia's national monu
referred to during ment as well . The temple represents
the time of its use. one of mankind's most astonishing
architectural achievements.
12 Tell MeWhy
What was the impact of Geng mounted courier service
his Khan's Empire on world known as the 'Yam' . The
history? empire founded by Genghis

Khan modernised Mongolian
enghiS Khan founded the culture, and helped open con
Mongol Empire and became tact between East and West.
one of the most feared con Genghis Khan is now seen
querors of his time. Between as a national hero, and the
1 206 and 1 227, the Mongol founding father of Mongolia.
leader conq uered nearly 3 1
million sq uare kilometres of
territory- more than any indi
vidual in history.
Unlike many empire build
ers, Genghis Khan embraced
the diversity of his newly con
quered territories. He passed
laws declaring religious free
dom for all, and even granted
tax exemptions to places of
One of his most important
achievements as a ruler,
involved the formation of a
Why was the signing of the Mag
Wait a minute,
my signature is
na Carta a historic event?
a b i t lengthy.
The Magna Carta was a docu
ment signed by King John of Eng
land in 1 21 5.
King John of England, raised
taxes, arrested people without
cause, punished those arrested
without a trial, seized land belong
ing to the nobles, and was gener
ally very unpopular. The nobles
finally rebelled against him, and
forced him to sign a document
called the Magna Carta.

The original Magna Carta was written on a

parchment made from dried sheepskin. It
was written in Latin, and later translated
into French. The Magna Carta was issued in
English only 300 years later.

14 Tell Me Why
The Magna Carta What is the significance of the travels
was the first formal of Marco Polo?

document stating that
a king had to follow arco Polo was one of the most
the laws of the land, important and famous explorers and
and it guaranteed the writers from Europe.
rights of individuals He was born in Venice in 1 254 . In
against the wishes of 1 266, Marco's father and uncle left for
the king. China to start a trading business, leav
This meant people ing Marco behind. Marco first ventured
couldn't be arrested, to China when he was 1 7, travelling
imprisoned, or have with his father and uncle. The trip took
their possessions tak four years. He stayed for 1 7 years,
en away except by working as an advisor to Kublai Khan
the law of the land. and travelling through Asia.
The Magna Carta Marco returned to Venice, and a few
guaranteed the civil years later he was arrested when Ven
rights of the individu ice went to war with Genoa. It was dur
al. ing his jail term that the book 'The
In this respect, it Travels of Marco Polo' was written.
was a historic docu Marco's book was very successful. It
ment, and it remains proved to be an inspiration for many
to this day, a symbol other explorers, including Christopher
of liberty. Columbus.
study the classical texts of
Ancient G reece and Rome and
use this knowledge to ach ieve
new heights of excel l e nce in their
fields. This period between the
14th and the 1 7th centu ries i s con
sidered to be the bridge between

[ Rebirth
The word 'renais
sance' is a French
one which means

How did the Renais

sance rewrite world his

T he 1 4th century saw

a return to classical
ideas and culture . Art
ists , scientists, and
scholars began to
16 Tell MeWhy
the M i d d l e Ages and mod What was the Black Death?

ern times, and is known as
the R e naissance. he Black Death was one of
It started as a cultural move the worst recorded catastro
ment in Italy, and later, spread phes in world history. It was a
to all of Europe. The invention plague that swept through
of the Gutenberg printing Europe from 1 346 to 1 353, kill
press in 1 450s is a milestone ing about 200 million people.
which marks the beginning of The Black Death arrived in
the Renaissance. Europe by sea in October
Ideas were able to be 1 343, when 1 2 ships docked at
spread q u icker and farther the port of Messina after a long
because of the printing press. journey through the Black Sea,
The Renaissance was a time with many of the crew either
of great beauty and art. Art dead, or sick.
ists l i ke Leonardo da Vinci People called this disease
and Michelangelo created the Black Death, because
great works of art during this death was the inevitable result,
time. It was also a time of and the symptoms of the dis
creativity. ease included black lumps
The Renaissance impacted covering the body.
and shaped the future, and the As a result of the Black
changes that it brought about Death, the population of
led to the modern era. Europe dropped drastically.
Why is the Inca Empire lage of Cuzco, high in the Andes
i mportant in world histo Mountains of South America. Over
ry? the next 1 00 years, the Inca con

q uered, tribe after tribe u ntil they
he I ncas were a small built an empire that stretched near
tribe that lived in the vil- ly the entire length of western
South America.
The Incas are famous for having
invented terrace farming to grow
food more easily on the sharp
mountain slopes. They stored their
food, and distributed it to all the
people in times of drought.
Most of the people were farmers,
but the I ncas also had specialised
Son of the Sun professions like weavers who
The Incas called their made textiles, and musicians who
empire Tawantin created new musical instruments.
suyu, or the Land of There was an efficient central
Four Corners. Their government, a strong economy,
king, or Sapa Inca, and a well trained army. The I ncas
was considered as have left a lasting legacy, and
the Son of the Sun. many of their traditions live on in
the Andes Mountains.
18 Tell MeWhy
What is the importance of the In 1 455, Gutenberg demon
printing of the Gutenberg strated the power of the print
Bible? ing press by selling copies of a

The invention of the Guten

two-volume Bible, known as
the Gutenberg Bible. Each
berg printing press is consid page of the book had 42 lines.
ered to be one of the most The paper was handmade,
important inventions of all and each page contained a
time. watermark. At first, 1 80 copies
were made, most of them on
The Gutenberg
press wants a paper, although some were
proofreader. printed on vellum, a kind of
parchment. The printed Bible
proved quite popular, and the
stock was quickly sold out.
The Gutenberg Bible was
the first major book printed
using mass produced movable
type. This made it significantly
cheaper than a handwritten
Bible. The Gutenberg Bible
signalled the start of the G uten
berg Revolution, which led to
the Age of the Printed Books.

Why is Colu mbus' discovery m a s . H e named it S a n S a l
of the New World one of the v a d o r . H e t h o u g h t he h ad
most historic events to have reached the I n d i e s , so he
ever taken place? c a l l ed the people I nd i an s .

C o l u m b u s went o n , and
hristoP her Columbus contin ued h i s jou r n e y . He
was an Italian explorer who l a n ded on Hispaniola,
wanted to find a q u icker w h i ch i s known tod ay as
route to Asia to make it easi t h e D o m i n i can R e p u b l i c
er for E u ropeans to obtain a n d H ai t i . H e a l s o l a nded
spices, jewels, and silks for o n C u ba , which he b e l i eved
trad e . was the m a i n land of A s i a .
I n 1 4 92, K i n g Ferd i nand Columbus had actually dis
and h i s wife Q ueen Isabella covered the New World of the
of S p a i n gave Columbus Americas, though he never
ships and a crew to find realised it. The 'discovery' of
such a route. Columbus the New World by Ch risto
bel ieved that he cou ld reach pher Columbus changed the
the East more q u ickly if he history of the world complete-
set sail westward, and t h i s . Iy. This had a number of
is what he did . i mportant effects, the most
On 1 2th October 1 492, significant being the eventual
Col u m b u s l anded on a creation of the United States
s m a l l i s l a n d of the Baha- of America.
20 TeLL Me W hy
What was the impact of Vasco sailed around the tip of Africa,
da Gama's discovery of India? and because there was a mon

Vasco da Gama,
soon wind, he reached I ndia in
a Portu less than one month.
guese explorer, left Portugal The discovery of this route to
on 8th July, 1 497 to find a sea India meant that in order to
route to India. He had four reach Asia, sailors would not
ships, and 1 70 men . have to cross the Mediterrane
Earlier, thousands of sailors an or Arabia, both of which
had lost their lives in attacks were considered to be very
and shipwrecks whi le trying to dangerous at that time.
reach India, but that did not It allowed the Portuguese to
deter Vasco da Gama. He create a colonial empire in
Asia, and made it possible for
the Portuguese Empire to
improve its trade with the East.
Most important of all, Vasco
da Gama's voyage succeeded
in linking Europe and Asia for
the first time by an ocean
route. It connected the Atlantic
and the Indian Oceans, and
brought the West and the East
closer together.
What is the importance of the con Hernan Cortes' Army
quest of the Aztecs by the Span iards?

T he Aztecs were a fierce tribe of war

riors who settled in the Valley of Mexi
co in the 1 3th century AD. They fought
endless wars with neighbouring tribes
until they dominated most of Central
They established a great civilization,
and built spectacular cities. Their capi
tal Tenochtitlan lay in the middle of a
lake, and became the hub of their vast
empire. Invaders led by the Spanish
conq uistador Hernan Cortes over Education was
threw the Aztecs by force, and cap very important to
tured Tenochtitlan in 1 521. They tore the Aztecs. Par
down much of the city of Tenochtitlan, ents were sup
posed to teach
and built their own city on the site
their children
called Mexico City.
properly. and
The Spanish conquest of the Aztecs
every child had to
destroyed a great civilization. It made
attend school too.
Spain a world power, and eventually,
led to the creation of Mexico.
22 Tell MeWhy
What did Magellan's voyage age around the world provided
around the world teach us? the Europeans with far more

than just spices.
erdinand Magellan, a Por European geographic knowl
tuguese sea captain, set out edge was expanded immeas
from Spain in 1 51 9 with a fleet urably by Magellan's
of five ships to discover a west expedition.
ern sea route to the Spice Most important of all, Magel
Islands. lan's voyage proved conclu
On his way, he discovered sively that the Earth was round,
what is now known as the and not flat, as was believed
Strait of Magellan, and became earlier.
t he first European to cross the
Pacific Ocean . Reached
The voyage was long and the same pl ace.
dangerous, and only one ship A wasted
returned home three years lat
er. Although it was laden with
valuable spices from the East,
only 1 8 of the fleet's original
crew of 270 returned with the
ship. Though Magellan himself
was killed during the journey,
his daring and ambitious voy-
What was Copernican helio because of opposition from
centrism? the Church .
However, Copernicus' mod
C opernican heliocentrism is el of the universe was accept
ed because his was more
a very big term for an astro
nomical model developed by accurate. He also had a better
Nicolaus Copernicus, an formula for the calculation of
astronomer, mathematician, planet's positions at different
and scientist born in the 15th times of the year.
How many
This model changed how
yol ks are there
we viewed the positioning of in this bul l's
the S u n , Earth, and other eye?
celestial objects in space. It
has the Sun motionless at the
centre of the Universe, while
the Earth and other planets
rotate around it in circular
paths. Copernicus was not
the first astronomer to suggest
the Sun as the centre of the
But, the ideas of earlier
astronomers were rejected
24 Tell MeWhy
Many believe that the theory time it takes for the earth to
and ideas put forward by go around the Sun once is
Copernicus heralded the mod closer to 365.2425 days, or
ern era in astronomy. about 365 days, 5 hours and
49 mi nutes. This difference
Why is the Gregorian calendar is about eleven minutes each
an i mportant mi lestone? year.

The G regorian calendar was

To correct this, the calendar
was moved forward ten days in
introduced in 1 582 by Pope 1 582, and a new calendar, the
Gregory X I I I . G regorian calendar, was intro
I t replaced the Julian calen duced.
dar which had been the official The Gregorian calendar year
calendar of Europe since it differs from the solar year by
was introduced by Julius Cae only 26 seconds. This only
sar in 46 BC. But the Julian adds up to one day's differ
calendar had an error. ence every 3,323 years. The
The length of the Julian G regorian calendar is the most
year was exactly 365.25 widely used calendar in the
days . However, the actual world today.
Wow, Why were Galileo's astronomical
that pl anet observations using a telescope a sci
is a star! entific breakthrough?

G alileo Galilei was an Italian

astronomer, physicist, mathemati
cian, philosopher, and inventor who
lived during the Renaissance period.
Among his important inventions were
telescopes, a compass, and a ther
Galileo built on the work of others to
create telescopes that were far, far
more powerf ul than any of the exist-

Blind but Undeterred

Galileo was totally blind during the last
years of his life. However, that did not deter
him in any way from pursuing his passion
for science. It was while he was blind that
he designed a special mechanism for pen
dulum clocks.

26 Tell MeWhy
ing telescopes of the times.
With these telescopes, Galileo
was able to observe the skies
in ways previously not
achieved. They enabled him to
carefully observe, analyse,
and study the solar system.
In 1 61 0 Galileo observed
four objects surrounding Jupi
ter that behaved unlike stars.
These turned out to be Jupi
ter's four largest satellite
Galileo made many impor
tant discoveries which he doc
umented in various literary
works during his lifetime. Gali the heart. He also described
leo has been called the 'father how the heart's regular con
of observational astronomy', tractions drive the flow of blood
the 'father of modern physics', around the whole body.
and the 'father of science'. Harvey was able to make his
discoveries because he
What was the impact of Wil ignored the medical text books
liam H arvey's discovery of of the time. Instead, he dis
blood circulation? sected animals, and made his

own observations and the
illiam Harvey, a 17'h cen deductions.
tury English physician, was the Harvey's theories of blood
first person to describe in detail circulation drew considerable
how blood was pumped by the criticism in the medical com
heart, and circulated through munity at that time but ulti
out the body. mately, they were proved to
He showed that arteries and be correct, and his contribu
veins form a complete circuit, tions to modern medicine were
which starts and leads back to hailed.
Why is the Taj Mahal a historical Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj
landmark? took 22 years to complete,

and has been hailed as
he Taj Mahal in Agra is consid one of the wonders of the
ered to be the finest example of world.
Mughal architecture, and a symbol This monument is made of
of I ndia's rich history. It was com gleaming white marble. It
missioned in 1 632 by Shah Jahan, has a large white dome
as a tomb for his beloved wife that is often called an
'onion dome' due to its
Hurry up! I shape, which is surround
want to build ed by four smaller domes.
a Taj here! Around 20,000 people
worked round the clock for
more than two decades to
complete this marvel. A
thousand elephants were
used to transport the con
struction materials from
different parts of I ndia,
and thirty different types of
precious and semi pre
cious stones were used to
adorn it.
28 Tell MeWhy
Is it any wonder then that
Taj Mahal was designated as
a U N ESCO World Heritage
Site in 1 983? It is truly poetry
captured in stone, and an
everlasting tribute to immortal

How did the contributions of

Sir Isaac Newton change the
world of science?

S ir Isaac Newton was a bril

liant English scientist who was
born in the 17th century. He
came up with numerous theo
ries, and contributed ideas to
many different fields including
physics, mathematics, and acting on a body to its motion.
philosophy. One of his most famous publi
These theories completely cations is the ' P hilosophiae
revolutionised the world of sci Naturalis Principia Mathemati
ence. One of his most famous ca,' or Mathematical P rinciples
theories is the law of universal of Natural P hilosophy. It
gravitation. It describes the proved to be groundbreaking,
gravitational attraction in that it laid the fou ndation for
between different bodies with classical mechanics.
mass like the Earth and the Newton was also the first
Moon. one to build a reflecting tele
Newton was known to have scope, to study the speed of
said that this theory of gravita sound, and to observe spec
tion was inspired by watching trum of colours through a
an apple fall from a tree. He p rism. The list of achieve
also formulated the three laws ments of this legendary genius
of motion that relate the forces is truly awe inspiring.
What is the significance of Samuel
Johnson's Dictionary?

S amuel Johnson was an English

writer and critic, and one of the most
famous literary figures of the 1 8th
century. H is best-known work is his
'A Dictionary of the English Lan
The dictionary took eight years to Not the Only One
complete, and was published on 1 5th
April 1 755. It was not the first such In 1 755, a new
dictionary, but was certainly the Universal Etymolog
ical Didionary
most important at that time.
compiled by
I n Johnson's lifetime, five further
Scott-Bailey was
editions were published, and a sixth
also published. So,
came out just after his death. John
Johnson's didionary
son defined 43,000 words.
was not the only one
His dictionary was path breaking
that was published
in many ways and had a great influ in that year - but it
ence on the style of later dictionar was certainly the
ies. Johnson sometimes explained most famous one.
words in his dictionary in a way that
showed his opinions too.
30 Tell Me Why
Why was the Industrial Revo the jobs and tasks that had
lution historically important? previously been done by

people -or in some cases,
he Industrial Revolution is ani m als, such as horses.
the name given to the enor There was a shift to pow
mous changes that took place ered , special-pu rpose
in technology, farming, mining, m achi nery, factories, and
manufacturing and transporta m ass production. This period
tion from the middle of the 1 8th saw the emphasis shift from
century through to the middle agriculture to industry, from
of the 1 9th century. domestic i ndustry to facto
It began in Great Britain, and ries, from water and wind
spread to Western Europe, power, to steam engi nes.
North America, and around the There was a revolution in
world. In the late 1 700s, manu transport and communication,
facturing was often done in as railways and telegraph
people's homes, and societies became more popular.
were largely rural. There was a rapid growth of
The Industrial Revolution towns, the population grew,
changed all that. The mai n and i ncomes rose. There is no
thi ng that happened d u ri n g doubt therefore, that the Indus
t h e I n d u strial Revolution was t rial Revolution marks a major
that m achi nes were devel turning point in the history of
oped that cou ld do many of mankind.

, National Hero
Rousseau gained the rec
ognition he deserved only
after his death. Sixteen
years after he passed
How did Rousseau's 'The away. he was declared a
Social Contract' bring about national hero in France.
changes in society?

" ean Jacques Rousseau pendence. His political ideas

was a great French philoso were championed by leaders
pher. His most famous work is of the French Revolution, and
'The Social Contract' , which played an important role in trig
was written in 1 762. gering the Revolutionary War.
In this book, Rousseau
argued against the prevailing Yes,
belief that kings had absolute I agree. The
peop l e are
powers by divine right. He
asserted that it is the people
who are sovereign, and that
only the people have the right
to make laws.
Rousseau's ideas about the
'social contract' were very
important to the writers of the
American Declaration of Inde-
32 Tell M eWhy
What is the importance of the mighty army. I n addition to
Fi rst Battle of Panipat? heralding the beginning of the

Mughal era in Indian history,
he First Battle of Pani pat the victory in the battle made
is a historic one, as it marks Babur the master of Delhi and
the begi n ni n g of the M ug h al Agra, the two political centres
dynasty i n India. It was of northern India. The treas
fought between the last ruler u res that Babur came to
of L od hi dynasty, I brah i m acquire from the royal treas
Lod h i , and the ruler o f Kabu l , u ry of Delhi made h i m finan
Babur. cially very strong.
By 1 526, Babur had cap Another reason for the impor
tured the whole of Punjab, and tance of this battle is the exten
then he proceeded towards sive use of gun powder,
Delhi to meet Ibrahim Lodhi. matchlocks, and field artillery
Ibrahim Lodhi had a much for the first time in the I ndian
larger army, with formidable sub-continent.
war elephants. All i n all, the first battle of
Babur's army was smaller, Panipat, pulled curtains on the
but he had guns which he already crumbling Delhi SUl
used to scare the elephants. tanate. The 300 year rule of
Thanks to Babur's skilful strat the Sultanate ended, and a
egy, his much smaller force new era in the history of medi
was able to defeat Lodhi's eval India began.
the first time in 1 698 by Thom
as Savery, but it was Watt who
improved it in the 1 800s, and
made it really useful. In Watt's
steam engine, steam output
and engine speed were con
Watt's steam engine offered
a powerful source that could
be located almost anywhere.
In the late 1 760s, Watt worked
Why was James Watt's steam with the inventor John Roe
engine a milestone in world buck, and an engineer, Mat
history? thew Boulton. They made

steam engines for canals, coal
ames Watt was a Scottish mines, and mills.
engineer and inventor, and From the mid 1 800s to the
one of the most important con early 1 900s, steam engines
tributors to the Industrial Revo powered machines, ran facto
lution. ries, trains, and even huge
He is best known for making ships.
major improvements to the Watt's steam engine domi
steam engine. The steam nated industry and transporta
engine was actually built for tion for 1 50 years.

In 1 698, Thomas Savery, an engineer and

inventor, patented a machine that could
effectively draw water from flooded mines
using stea pressure. This was the first
steam engine. In 1 7 1 2, another English
man, Thomas Newcomen, developed an improved version
that was used for the next 50 years or so, by mine owners.

34 Tell MeWhy
What was the impact of the US The Declaration of I nde
Declaration of Independence pendence laid the fou ndation
on the world? for the United States of Ameri

ca, and had great impact on
Declaration of I nde world history. It i nspired the
pendence was a document freedom movement in many
declaring the US to be inde countries that were under the
pendent of the British Crown. It colonial rule of European
was signed on July 4th, 1 776, countries.
by the representatives of the
thirteen colonies. Thomas Jef
ferson was the main architect
of this document.
These colonies had been at
war with Britain for over a year,
a nd after the document was
signed, they became the Unit
ed States of America. The Fr" The Legend
Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson died on
states that the authority to gov July 4, 1 826, the 50th
er n belongs to the people, that anniversary of the vote to
all people are created equal approve the Declaration of
and have rights to life, liberty, Independence.
and the pursuit of happiness.
How did the French Revolution change
Waiti ng
for another
revol ution . .
T he French Revolution took place
from 1 789 t0 1 799. The revolution broke
out because of the misrule of the King
Louis XVI.
By 1 787, the country was nearly bank
rupt and the poor people were dying of
starvation, while the nobles and the
king were living a life of idle lUxury. The
French Revolution began on July 1 4th,
1 789 when the people of France
stormed the Bastille in Paris - a royal
fort that had been converted to a prison.

A TaLe to Tell
One of the most famous books about the
French Revolution is 'A Tale of Two Cities'. It
was written by Charles Dickens, and is con
sidered one of the greatest literary works of
all time.

36 Tell MeWhy
The revolution lasted until 1 799,
resulting in the abolition of the
French royal family, a change in
government, further armed con
flicts with other countries in Europe,
the execution of King Louis XVI
and his Queen Marie Antoinette,
and the beginning of Napoleon
Bonaparte's reign in France.
The French Revolution profound
ly altered the course of world his
tory, and its ideals of Liberty,
Equality and Fraternity triggered
the decline of monarchies and the
rise of republics and liberal democ
racies not just in Europe but in oth
er continents as well. educate their children.
She says that an educat
Why is 'A Vindication of the Rights ed woman can also be
of Woman' considered to be a companions to their hus
milestone in world history? bands, rather than just

'A Vindication of the Rights of

uneducated wives.
Wollstonecraft did not
Woman' is a book written by Mary see women as simply
Wollstonecraft in 1 792. It is a mile ornaments to society, or
stone in that it is one the first books property to be traded in
on feminism, which is a movement marriage. She argued that
to uphold the rights of women. Till women are equal to men
then, many people believed that in every way, and deserve
here was no need to educate wom the same basic rights men
en. have.
I n this book, Mary Wollstonecraft The ideas in her book
pointed out that women's educa were truly revolutionary at
tion is of national i mportance the time, and caused tre
because it is women who usually mendous controversy.
Edward Jenner had many different interests.
He was a keen natural historian, and carried
out research on the habits of the cuckoo bird.
His findings on this subject were published in 1 788.

How did Edward Jenner's dis

covery of the smallpox vaccine
Don't worry,
i t's j ust change the world?

For centuries, smallpox was a

sma l l pox
vi rus.
dreaded disease. It was Edward
Jenner who discovered a way to
prevent people from catching
smallpox. Jenner realised that
giving people a mild dose of the
disease could protect them from
.getting it in a severe form.
In 1 796, Jenner conducted his
first experiment on a boy called
James Phipps, and it was a suc
38 Tell MeWhy
Why was the Battle of Water The Duke of Wellington
loo a historic event? would have been hard pressed

to win without the timely help
he Battle of Waterloo is one of Marshal Blucher's Prus
of the world's most famous sians. Besides, two-thirds of
battles. It was fought on 1 8th his own army was made up of
June 1 8 1 5, at Waterloo, in pre allies from the rest of Europe.
sent day Belgium. It was a bloody battle, with
The overall commanders at heavy causalties on both
Waterloo were two of the sides. Waterloo was the battle
greatest generals of all time. that finally and decisively end
They were Britain's D u ke of ed the ambition of the French
Wellington who had never lost Emperor Napoleon to domi
a battle in 1 2 years of war, and nate Europe. It brought to an
the French Emperor Napole end a terrible war that had
on, who had in his time, raged on and off for more than
crushed every army in Europe 20 years, and ushered in a
except Britain's. But, Waterloo hundred years of relative
was not just a British victory. peace, until 1 91 4 .

This is how Jenner's vacci His was the first successful

nation treatment was born. vaccine ever to be developed,
Jenner's work is regarded as and remains the only effective
the foundation of immunology. preventive for smallpox.
This too was
a camera? Hard
to bel ieve.

The very first perma

nent photograph ever
taken shows the view
from the upstairs win
dow of Niepce's home.
It is rather fuzzy. The
photograph was lost
What is the significance of Nice
for almost 50 years
phore Niepce in the world of pho
before historians
rediscovered it.

The French inventor Nicephore

Niepce loved nature but was from his workroom window
unskilled at drawing. He sought a using light-sensitive chemi
way to collect images from nature. cals on a piece of metal.
In 1 826-27, he captured the view This was the first perm a-
40 Tell Me Why
nent photograph. Niepce all slaves in the British Empire
formed a partnership with Lou their freedom. The British gov
is Daguerre who helped him ernment paid compensation to
refine the process so that the the slave owners. The amount
photographs could be sharper that the plantation owners
and clearer. received, depended on the
Niepce will always be number of slaves that they
remembered in history as the had.
man who made permanent This act was an important
photographs a reality. step forward for mankind. It
paved the way for the total
Why was the abolition of slav abolition of slavery all over the
ery in the British Empire a world.
great step forward for man Slavery was an evil that had
kind? degraded humanity for centu
ries. Slaves were treated even
In 1833, slavery was abol more harshly than animals,
ished from the British Empire and they had no rights whatso
by an act called The Slavery ever.
Abolition Act. The abolition of slavery was
Slavery had existed in a a significant victory for the
number of British colonies, principle that all men are born
principally in the plantations in equal, and that no man is the
the West Indies. This act gave personal property of another.
pain. Surgeons employed all kinds
of means, from using opium to
alcohol to lessen the pain, without
much success.
L ater, the discovery and develop
ment of anaesthesia was a turning
point for the world of surgery.
Dr. Crawford Long was a pioneer
in this field. He blazed a new path
when he administered sulfuric
ether by inhalation to a man named
Dr. Crawford Long James Venable, in order to remove
a tumour from the man's neck. The
give me alcohol,
not anaes thesia.
Why is Long's introduc
tion of ether in surgery
considered a medical

I n ancient times, a patient

undergoing surgery of any
kind suffered excruciating


, ,
. ... \
C)ll1. Pain Go Away
A patient who is given general anaesthesia
. 11i : before surgery will not feel any pain during

the procedure. Anaesthesia can also cause

amnesia, so that even if the patient wakes up
during surgery, he will not remember anything about it

42 Tell MeWhy
young man did not feel any a total distance of 33 km in 57
pain, but Long did not publish minutes. Railways were devel
his findings at once, as he oped in India first by the British
wanted to be sure of his dis East India Company, and lat
covery. In 1 849, he presented er, by the British Government
his findings to the Medical Col mainly to transport troops for
lege of Georgia, and was their wars, and secondly, to
hailed for this breakthrough in transport cotton for export to
ensuring pain-free surgery. mills in UK.
Since then, the I ndian Rail
Why was 1853 a historic year way has grown to become the
for I ndia? largest rail network in Asia

A pril 1 6th , 1 853 was a histor

today. It is also the world's
second largest network oper
ic day in India. It was on this ated under a single manage
day that the first passenger ment.
train service was introduced Indian Railway has 1 1 5,000
between Bori Bunder, Bom km of track length, and runs
bay, and Thane. 1 2,617 trains to carry over 23
The train with fourteen rail million passengers daily, con
way carriages, carrying around necting more than 7, 1 1 2 sta
400 guests, left Bori Bunder at tions. It is indeed amazing to
3:30 pm that day. It was drawn think it all began as a single
by three engines, and covered train service.
Use this What is the significance of I ndia's first
l fa t-'free' war of i ndependence?
\. rifle.
India's first war of independence, has
great significance, for it marked the first
step in India's struggle for freedom from
British rule.
There was general unrest and discon
tent among the Indian people against
the policies of the English East India
Company. The last straw was the use
of ani mal grease on the cartridges of the
company's newly acquired rifles. While
loading the rifles, the soldiers had to bite
off the end of the cartridge, greased with
cow or pig fat.

Indians against Indians

During the first war of independence, many
Indian kings were on the side of the British.
They fought against the soldiers of the British
Army who were their own countrymen.

44 Tell MeWhy
This outraged both the Hin Darwin, an English natural
du and Muslim soldiers, for it ist, put forward the idea that all
went against their religious species of life have evolved
teachings. On May 1 Qth 1 857, over time from common ances
the Indian soldiers in Meerut tors.
protested. Although the upris During this process, favour
Ing was quelled by the British, able traits become more com
It set the stage for India's Free mon in successive generations
dom Movement against the of living things. At the same
British Rule. ti me unfavourable traits
become less com mon. This is
Why is the book 'On the origin known as the Theory of Natu
of Species,' a pathbreaking ral Selection.
one? D arwin presented compel

ling evidence from his
n the Origin of Species, by detai led research which
Charles Darwin is a path i ncluded a five year voyage
breaking book published in on the HMS Beagle. On this
1 859. voyage, Darwi n visited eco
D arwin changed the way logically diverse regions like
humans viewed themselves, the Galapagos Islands. This
and the world around them, book is considered to be a
through his ideas on evolution landmark i n the field of evolu
and natural selection. tionary biology.
How did Gregor Mendel's Laws of
Inheritance influence scientific

G regor Mendel was a 1 9th cen

tury monk and brilliant scientist.
He was interested in heredity, and
through his experi ments, found
that certain traits were inherited
following specific patterns.
Mendel experi mented with
peas in his garden , and discov
Wow! These ered that living thi ngs pass traits
p l a n ts are look to the next generation by some
a l i kes. thi ng which remains unchanged
i n successive generations of an
He found that traits could skip a
generation - seemi ngly lost traits
could appear agai n in another
generation - and he called these
recessive traits. Mendel identified
recessive and dominant traits
which pass from parents to off
spring. The traits that Mendel

Success B looms fro m Failure

Mendel joined a monastery when he failed
in physics at the university, and could not
study further. It was as a monk that he car
ried out his experiments on almost 30,000
pea plants over 8 years of research, to
make some pathbreaking discoveries.

46 TeLL Me Why
described are known as Edo period, the shoguns ush
genes' today. Mendel's work ered in a time of internal peace,
only made a big impact in political stability and economic
1 900, 1 6 years after his death, growth. The shog u ns imposed
and 34 years after he first pub a strict class system, with the
lished it. Today, he is hon samurai or warriors at the top,
oured as the Father of followed by farmers, artisans,
Genetics. and merchants.
Tokugawa shogunate was
Why is the end of the shogun the last shogunate in Japan.
rule i n Japan an important D u ring its final 30 years in
milestone? power, the Tokugawa shogu

nate had to contend with peas
shogun was Japan's ant uprisings and samurai
supreme military leader. He unrest, as well as with financial
was awarded the title by the problems. In addition, there
emperor. was the growing threat from
From 1 1 92 through 1 867, Western powers. As a result,
Japan was ruled by a series of many demanded the restora
shoguns. The role of the tion of direct imperial rule. The
emperor was ceremonial, simi last Shogun Yoshinobu, was
lar to the position of the Japa overthrown in 1 867. This
nese monarchy after second marked the end of the shogun
world war. Also known as the rule in Japan.
Why was the opening of the Suez
Canal a historic event?

T he Suez Canal is a man-made

canal in Egypt, connecting the Medi
terranean Sea to the Red Sea, through
the Isthmus of Suez.
Earlier, ships sailing between
Win One, Lose One Europe and South Asia had to make a
Ferdinand de long and dangerous voyage all the
lesseps was the way around the tip of Africa. The
developer of the opening of the Suez Canal in 1 869,
Suez Canal which changed all that.
proved to be a Ships could now go directly between
grand success. He the Mediterranean and Red Sea
also dreamt of through the canal. This 1 93 km long
building a canal
across the Isthmus
of Panama. Work
began in 1 881, but
Ferdinand failed to

achieve his second


waterway reduced the sea design and patent a practical
voyage distance between device for transmitti ng the
Europe and South Asia by human voice by means of an
7000 km. electric current.
The Suez is the longest The telephone is considered
canal in the world without by many to be the most impor
locks- and the safest too. To tant invention of modern times.
sum up, the Suez Canal is the It offers a fast, cheap mode of
shortest sea link between the communication. It has reduced
east and the west, due to its the concept of distances -
unique geographic location. Its when you can contact a per
opening gave a tremendous son living thousands of
boost to the maritime industry kilometres away i n just a few
and world trade. seconds, the distance does
not seem very far.
How did the invention of the The telephone has i ncreased
telephone by Alexander Gra socialization and interaction
ham Bell change the world? between people, and made

possible the introduction of the
lexander Graham Bell, is Internet.
best known as the inventor of In fact, if the world is a global
he telephone in 1 876. He will village today, it is the tele
be remembered for all time as phone that has played a major
having been the first person to role in making it so.
Thomas Edison
Why is it said that the i nvention of the elec
tric bulb lit up the world itself?

B efore the invention of the electric bulb,

people used candles or oil lamps, which
were smoky and messy.
Though the invention of the light bulb is
associated with Thomas Edi so n , the fact
that i s Thomas Edison did not invent it.
Several designs for the light bulb had
been created before.
Sir Joseph Swan of England, and
Thomas Edison both i nvented the fi rst
electric i ncandescent lamps around the
1 870s. By creating a vacu u m i nside the
b u l b , fi ndi ng the right fi lament to use,
they were able to ach ieve a l i g ht bulb
that l asted for many hours.
Edi so n 's i nvention was the most practi
cal one. Edison also established a power
g rid system, which could generate elec
tricity, and deliver it to homes through a
network of wires. He subsequently started
the Edison Electric L ight Company in
50 Tell M eWhy
October of 1 878. F rom then inventions, and more than one
on, there was no looking person contributed to the
back, as new and better light development of television, as
ing systems appeared on the we know it today.
market, to light up not just In England, i n the 1 920s,
homes, but also offices, John Bai rd, a Scottish amateur
roads, and institutions. The scientist, successfully trans
list seems never ending. mitted the first TV picture, after
Thanks to Thomas Edison years of work.
and his electric light bulb, i n Television has been praised
every corner of the world, for its ability to transmit visual
darkness is being banished i mages with accompanying
with the glow of light. sound to entertain, educate,
and to provide a sense of truth.
Why is television considered a On the other hand, because
m ixed blessing? of television, children have wit

Television is a way of send

nessed war, murder, and vio
lence first hand, so television
ing and receiving moving can actually be considered a
i mages and sounds over wires, mixed blessing.
or through the air, by electrical In any case, television has
Impulses. sparked revolutions in enter
Television's development tainment, journalism, and social
depended upon previous behaviour that are still ongoing.
What was the impact of the movement known as the Wom
Women's Suffrage Movement en's Suffrage Movement
in New Zealand? began. The movement gained

The term women's suffrage

momentum, and finally, on 1 9th
September 1 893, women were
refers to the right of women to granted the right to vote in
vote and to hold an elected New Zealand by an electoral
office. bi ll.
Women did not always have New Zealand t h u s became
the right to vote. Up unti l the the fi rst cou ntry to take this
1 900s, most democracies bi g step forward for wom e n .
throughout history only allowed S u ffragi sts celebrated
men to vote. t h roughout the cou ntry, and
I n the l ater 1 9th centu ry, congrat u l ati o n s pou red in
some women began to chal from suffrage campaig ners
lenge thi s narrow view of i n Britai n , A u strali a, the
the world. New opportu ni U n ited States , and el se
ties were ope n i ng u p for where .
women and gi rls, and soo n , New Zealand's achievement
atte ntion was focused o n . gave new hope and life to all
wome n 's legal and political women struggling for this right,
ri g hts too . and paved the way for their
I n Europe, the British colo victory in other countries of the
nies and the United States a world too.
52 Tell Me Why
What i s the contribution of the Lumi
ere Brothers to the world of entertain

The Lumiere Brothers, Auguste and

Louis, were French inventors who are
credited with the invention of the film
, The First Film A three-in-one device that could
The Lumiere record, develop, and project motion
Brothers shot pictures, the Cinematographe as it
footage of workers was called, would go down in history
at their factory as the first viable film camera. The
leaving at the end
of the day. They
showed the result
ing film at an
industrial meeting
in Paris in March
1 895. This is con
sidered to be the
very first motion
Oops. How did Marconi change the way the world
This wireless communicated?
set is sound
l ess.
M arconi was an Italian scientist and inven
tor. He built a wireless telegraph, which sent
messages through the air for the first time. At
about the age of 20, Marconi became inter
ested in radio waves.
Radio waves are streams of energy that car
ry electric signals through the air. Marconi
thought that radio waves could be used in
communication. He experi mented with radio
waves and the telegraph.
The telegraph used at the time, could send
and receive coded messages in the form of
electric signals. However, it needed wi res to

Lumiere Brothers showed their theatre, thinking that it was a

film at private screenings real train! Thei r pioneering
throughout 1 895. At the first , motion picture camera, the
public screening, it is said that Cinematographe, will remain
when people watching the film the trailblazer for an exciting
saw a train arriving at a station, new form of art and entertain
many of them ran out of the ment called cinema!
54 Tell MeWhy
do so. Marconi created a tele nobleman, the Baron de Cou
graph that could send electric bertin, who revived the idea of
signals without wires, using the Olympic Games i n modern
radio waves. times. He managed to bring
In 1 901 , Marconi sent radio together representatives of
signals across the Atlantic different countries in Paris, in
Ocean for the fi rst ti me. Mar 1 894, and the Olympic Move
coni became known as the ment was begun.
'father of the radio,' because The first modern Olympic
his innovative work in radio Games were held in Athens in
transmissions over long dis 1 896. It was the host Greece
tances changed the way the that won the most medals in
world communicated. these Games 46 i n all.

Since then, the Games have

Why are the First Modern been held every four years.
Olympic Games considered to They have played an impor
be a landmark in the history of tant role in building a peaceful
sports? and better world by educating

youth through sport, practised
first known Olympic without discri mination of any
Games was recorded i n kind. The Olympic Games
aro und 776 BC in Olympia, promote the Olympic spirit,
Greece. They were celebrated which brings people from all
u ntil AD 396. It was a French over the world together.
What is the historic i mpor 'The Interpretation of Dreams'
tance of the book 'The Inter is a fascinating text revealing
pretation of Dreams'? Freud's unique talent as a writ

We all have dreams while

er and ambitious theorist.
The book is very important,
sleeping, but when we wake because it introduced many
up, we generally forget about key concepts that would later
them. However, in 1 899, Sig become central to the theory of
mund Freud, a psychoanalyst, psychoanalysis.
believed that our dreams have
meanings, and published a
book analysing them . Its name
was 'The Interpretation of
D reams'.
It contained some very inter
esting theories about our
dreams. Always a vivid dream
er, Freud had by this time also
noticed the i mpact of dreams
on his patients.
According to Freud, every
dream represents a wish fulfil
ment or fantasy that is not
accessible when one is awake.

Why was the flight at Kitty Hawk a his Orville Wright

toric one?

M an has always dreamt of being

able to fly, but this dream became a
reality only because of the Wright
Brothers, Orville and Wilbur. They were
the first to make a successful flight with
humans on board, in an aircraft that
was powered by an engine, and was
heavier than air.
The Wright Brothers believed that
Wilbur Wright
their fascination with flight began when
their father brought home a toy helicop
ter when they were children. Their first With this achieve
flight using an engine was on 1 7th ment, the Wright
December, 1 903 at Kitty Hawk Island, Brothers had proved
USA. that Man can fly, and
The plane had a wingspan of 40.3 successfully laid
feet. It was Orville who flew the plane. down the fundamen
The flight lasted 1 2 seconds, and the tal principles of air
plane flew for 1 20 feet. It was a historic craft design that are
moment when the aircraft landed safely still relevant to this
after this maiden flight. day.
Why did Einstein's Theory of of gravity. The theory explained
Relativity stun the world of how time and distance may
science? change due to the 'relative' or

A lbert Einstein was a scien

different speed of the object
and the observer.
tific genius who was born in It broke new ground in the
1 879 in Germany. Einstein world of science. In 1 921 , Ein
made many contributions to stein won the Nobel Prize in
the field of theoretical physics. Physics for his services to
He revised Newton's laws of Theoretical Physics.
gravity to make them more Science
accurate. has to energise
We call what he developed the mass.
the theory of relativity. It is
actually two theories. The first
is called Special Theory of Rel
ativity. This theory states that it
is impossible to determine
whether or not you are moving
unless you can look at another
The second is the General
Theory of Relativity. It is the
one which redefined the laws
58 Tell MeWhy
What was the impact of the be made into thin threads and
invention of plastic? then woven to make material

P lastic is not the i nvention

that is used to make clothing
such as raincoats and water
of one person. The fathers of proof jackets.
modern plastics were chem These plastic materials are
ists Leo Baekeland , Alexan called synthetic. Since the
der Parkes, Brandenberger, appearance of plastic more
Roy Plunkett and D aniel Fox. than 1 50 years ago, modern
Today, plastic is made in industry has grown rapidly.
factories using chemicals Plastics have played a key
found in oil and natural gas. It role in the modern way of life,
is a very versatile material . It in the creation of thousands of
can be coloured by adding new articles and technologies.
dyes. We now use about 20 times
Hot plastic can be poured more plastic than we did 50
into moulds in the shapes of years ago.
toys and other things. It can However, we must remem
also be squeezed through ber that plastics harm the envi
holes to make pipes, hoses, ronment because it is not
and bags. degradable. Therefore, it is
Because it is so light, many important that we reuse and
parts of aeroplanes and cars recycle plastic as much as
are made from plastic. It can possible.
What is the significance of the not clear how these protons
I Rutherford model of atom? and electrons were arranged

within the atom. It was believed
l e know that the atom is that they were evenly spread
th e smallest particle of an ele out, but this was proved incor
n,ent still having the same rect.
chemical properties of the ele It was Ernest Rutherford,
ll'Ient. who first presented a planetary
However, by 1 91 1 , it was model of the atom. This put all
d iscovered that the atom was the protons in the nucleus with
Ihade up of even smaller, or the electrons orbiting around
ubatomic particles called pro the nucleus, like the planets
tons and electrons. But it was revolve around the Sun.

Si r,
this is my
model of a tom.
So simple,
isn' t i t?
The Rutherford model of I n 1 91 3, Henry Ford installed
atom was simplified in a the first moving assembly line for
well known symbol that has the mass production of an entire
became popular as a sym automobile. Ford had been trying
bol for atoms and atomic to increase his factories' produc
energy i n general. tivity for years. To streamline the
Aptly dubbed the 'Father process, Ford divided the proce
of the N uclear Age', Ruther dure into 84 steps, and trained
ford received the Nobel each of his workers to do just one
Prize for Chemistry in 1 908. step.
L ater, he i nstalled moving lines
Why was Henry Ford's for bits and pieces of the manu
moving assembly line a facturing process. Finally in
revolutionary step in the December 1 91 3, he introduced
world of manufacturing? the moving-chassis assembly

rior to 1 91 3, Ford and Ford's i nnovation reduced the
virtually every other time it took to build a car from
auto maker assembled more than 1 2 hours, to two hours
whole cars with a team of and 30 minutes. This enabled
workers. Each team worked the company to bri ng out more
tog ether to complete a sin cars faster. It also cut down
g le car, usually from start to costs, so the cars could be sold
fini sh. cheaper.
What was the i mpact of World nand by a Serbian youth Gavri-
War I on the world? 10 Princip.

More than 65 million soldiers
orld War I was a global fought in the war in the battle
war fought in Europe. It began fields of Europe. The Allies
in 1 91 4 and lasted for four eventually won, but the price
years till 1 9 1 8. was heavy indeed.
It was fought between the It is estimated that by the
Allied Powers and the Central time the war was over, over 9
Powers. The main members million soldiers had been killed,
of the Allied Powers were and another 21 million wound
France, Russia, and Britain. ed.
The United States also fought The member countries of the
on the side of the Allies after Central Powers were forced to
1 91 7. sign armistice agreements one
The mai n members of the by one, and Germany was
Central Powers were Ger severely punished under the
many, Austria- H u ngary, the Treaty of Versailles.
Ottoman Empi re, and Bul Today, many historians
garia. believe that it was the harsh
There were many reasons treatment given to Germany
for the war, but the immediate that planted the seeds of the
cause was the assassination next World War, that is World
of Austria's Archduke Ferdi- War I I .
62 TeLL Me Why
What was the effect of the Spanish flu
A l l the way on the world?

from Spain to
attack you ... etween 1 9 1 8 and 1 91 9, a devastat
ing epidemic, the deadliest i n modern
history, infected an estimated 500 mil
lion people worldwide. It was called the
Spanish flu.
Influenza, or flu, is a virus that attacks
the respiratory system . Many believed
that the Spanish flu was caused by the
use of poison gas in World War I.
We now know it developed in ani
mals and bi rds, and then spread to
people. The 1 9 1 8 flu was fi rst observed
i n Europe.

Spanish Fi rst
Spanish Flu got its name because Spain
was one of the first countries to be report
ed as being hit by the disease.


What were the conse reaching impact on the history of the
quences of the Russian world.
Revolution? The first revolution was in Febru

ary, and the second in October of
he term Russian Rev 1 91 7. Prior to the revolution, the
olution actually refers to Russian monarchy had become pro
two separate revolutions gressively weaker, and increasingly
in 1 91 7, which had a far insensitive to the hardships of the
people. The emperor, Czar Nicolas
Move I I , used extremely severe measures
forward . . to put down resistance movements
with little effect.
Vladimir Leni n , the leader and
motivating force behind the revolu
tion, rose to prominence as the most
powerful figure in Russia. Though
the revolution was successful in
overthrowing the monarchy, the new
government, led by Vladimir Lenin,
would solidify its power only after
five years of civil war, which ended
in 1 922.
After the Russian Revolution, Rus
sia withdrew from World War I . The
64 Tell MeWh
revol ution had far reaching
consequences. It brought
about the overthrow of the
monarchy, and the transfor
mation of the Russian
Empire into the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics.
It also saw the establish
ment of the world's first com
munist state and opened the
door for Russia to fully enter
the industrial age.

Why was the Jalianwala

Bagh massacre one of the
turning points in history? crowd. The shooting conti nued

for ten minutes, and about 1 650
he Jalianwala Bagh Mas rounds were fired. According to
sacre was an important i nci the government data, about 379
dent in the history of the people were killed.
Indian freedom movement However, some private data
during the British Rule. showed that the number was
On April 1 3th 1 9 1 9, thou more than 1 000, including chil
sands of unarmed, non vio dren and women. The incident
lent protestors gathered i n stirred the whole nation.
the Jalianwala Bagh of Many more people joined the
Amritsar, to celebrate a fes I ndian freedom movement after
tival in spite of an order from the massacre. Rabi ndranath
the British forbidding them Tagore even gave up his knight
to do so. hood in protest.
A British officer, Colonel This horrific event sounded the
Reginald Dyer, came to the death knell for the British rule in
place with fifty riflemen, and India, and Jalianwala Bagh has
without any warning, become a place of national pil
ordered them to shoot at the grimage today.
What was the impact of fascism?

B enito Mussolini, the Prime Minister of

Italy from 1 922 to 1 943, was the founder of
a political system known as fascism.
In this form of government, the nation as
Nothing a whole is considered to be more impor
against the
s tate. tant than the individual, and all power rests
with the state.
Mussolini became the dictator of Italy,
and at first, many Italians were happy with
Mussolini's rise to power. Order was
restored, and the Fascists began pro
grammes of public works. Mussolini helped
landowners and industry leaders, and con
vinced the common people that the coun
try was finally being run efficiently.
However, fascism became unpopular
before long when parties that opposed it
were outlawed. Workers were forbidden to
go on strike.
Mussolini had designed his system to
cater to the needs of the state, not of indi
viduals. In the end, it served neither.
66 Tell MeWhy
Why is the Big Bang theory credited with the Big Bang theory
considered the greatest of how the U niverse began.
scientific achievement of Today, most astronomers agree
the 20th century? with this theory that the Universe

began in a Big Bang, about 1 3.8
eorges Lemaitre, a Bel billion years ago. At that time, the
gian astronomer is usually entire Universe was i nside a bub
ble that was thousands of times
smaller than a pinhead. It was
hotter and denser than anything
we can i magine.
Then, it suddenly exploded. The
U niverse that we know was born.
Time, space, and matter all began
with the Big Bang. In a fraction of
a second, the U niverse grew from
smaller than a single atom , to big
cosmic microwave ger than a galaxy. And it kept on
background radiation growing at a fantastic rate. It is
was discovered. still expanding today.
The discovery was The Big Bang theory is consid
crucial, as it supported ered to be one of the greatest sci
the Big Bang Model. entific achievements of the 20th
Fleming had worked
in battlefield hospi
tals in World War I,
where soldiers died Why was the discovery of penicil
from infected lin a giant leap forward in medi
wounds. So, he made cine?

it his goal to find anti
bacterial substances enicillin is a common antibiotic
and he succeeded, that is used to treat infections today.
with the discovery of It was discovered quite accidentally
penicillin. by the Scottish bacteriologist Alex
ander Fleming, in 1 928.
He had gone on a vacation, and
Hooray . . when he came back he found that a
Hooray . . . I t's green mould called Penicillium
a 'mouldy' notatum had contaminated the petri
hol iday. dishes i n his lab. I n addition, this
mould was killing some of the bac
teria he had been growing.
Fleming called his discovery
'mould juice'. Later, the name pen
icilli n was adopted. After much
research and experi mentation, an
i njectable, mass-produced form of
penicillin was ready by 1 942. That
was just i n time to help soldiers
wounded in World War I I.
Tell MeWhy
As a result, bacterial pneu On October 1 8th the fall began.
monia, which had killed 1 8 per Panic set in and on Tuesday,
cent of fallen soldiers in World October 29th, stock prices
War I, killed less than 1 per crashed completely. Investors
cent of soldiers in World War traded some 1 6 million shares
I I. on the New York Stock
Penicillin went on to Exchange in a single day.
change the way we treat ill Billions of dollars were lost,
nesses and wounds, and its wiping out thousands of inves
discovery proved to be a tors. In the aftermath of Black
giant leap forward i n the field Tuesday, America and the rest
of medicine. of the industrialised world spi
ralled downward into the Great
What were the economic and Depression.
social effects of the Wall Street It was the deepest and long
Crash of 1 929? est-lasting economic downturn

in the history of the Western
UeSday, October 29th 1 929, industrialised world up to that
was a Black Tuesday for Wall time.
Street. It was the day that the The after effects of the crash
Wall Street stock market included the closure of banks
crashed. Stock prices had and increasing bankruptcies,
begun to decline in September suicides, evictions, wage cuts,
and early October 1 929. and unemployment.
How did the Great Depression affect the

T he Great Depression started in 1 929. It

was sparked by the Wall Street Crash. It
was followed by large scale bank closures,
mass unemployment, homelessness, hun
ger, despai r and dejection.
Bread lines and soup kitchens were the
only form of nourishment for the hungry.
Shantytowns sprang up across the coun
try, and were the only refuge for the home
less. Unemployed men, known as hobos,
travelled the railways to different locations


Herbert Hoover was the President of the USA
when the Great Depression began. The shan
tytowns that sprang up after people lost their
regular homes were often called 'Hoover
villes' as Hoover was generally blamed for the Depression .
Sneha Rao

70 Tell MeWhy
desperately searching for his ashram to the sea coast
work. The Great Depression near the village of D andi .
had devastating effects in This march is famously
countries all over the world, known as the 'Dandi March,'
both rich and poor. The G reat and it captured the i magination
Depression lasted for ten of the world. The march contin
years, and ended only i n 1 939. ued for 24 days.
All along the way, Gandhi
How did the Dandi March cap addressed large crowds, and a
ture the imagination of the number of people joined the
world? march. By the time they

reached D andi on April 6th,
Dandi March, also Gandhi was at the head of a
known as the Salt March took crowd of tens of thousands.
place from March to April 1 930 Early the next morning,
in I ndia. Mahatma Gandhi walked down
It was an act of civil disobedi to the sea to make salt and
ence against Britain's Salt Act. showcase his defiance of an
This Act prohibited I ndians unfai r British law. His courage
from collecti ng or selling salt, a i nspired millions of people.
staple i n the I ndian diet. Mahat Civil disobedience broke out
ma Gandhi led a non-violent all across I ndia, and eventual
protest march agai nst the Salt ly, this led to the birth of inde
Act on March 1 2th, 1 930 from pendent India.
Why is World War II considered to be

" '"
the most devastating war in the history
of mankind?

World War II was the world's most
devastating war ever, directly involving
: Nazism more than 1 00 million people from over
30 countries.
Nazism is a set
Lasting six years, it began on 1 st Sep
of political
tember 1 939, with the i nvasion of
beliefs associat
Poland by Germany. It was a war
ed with the
between two groups of countries - the
National Social
Allies and the Axis.
ist Party of Ger
The major Allied Powers were Britain,
many. It was a
France, USSR, China, and the US.
journalist Kon
rad Heiden who
first referred to Aryans can
the member:s of reside here.
the party as
Nazis, which
means 'simple
minded in

. .'
... :

The major Axis Powers were around the globe, and killed
Germany, Italy, and Japan. over 60 million. The world was
During the course of the war, never the same again after
German forces advanced World War I I .
through Europe. The US didn't
join the war until 1 94 1 , when
Japan attacked the U nited
States Naval Base at Pearl
In 1 944, an Allied army
crossed from Britai n to free
France from Nazi rule. One
year later, Allied armies invad
ed Germany, forcing the Ger
mans to surrender on 7'-h May,
1 945.
After nuclear attacks on
Japan's major cities Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, Japan also sur Allied Powers
rendered to Allied forces in France, Britain,
August the same year. United States of America,
Finally, World War II had Soviet Union and
ended. It had changed the China.
lives of millions of people
What were the consequences wounded, many while valiantly
of the Japanese attack on attempting to repulse the
Pearl Harbour? attack. The day after the

attack, the United States of
hile World War II was rag America declared war agai nst
ing, the Imperial Japanese Navy Japan.
launched a surprise military Three days later, Germany
strike on the US Naval Base at and Italy declared war against
Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on the the United States, and the US
morning of December 7th 1 941 . government responded in
Ninety minutes after it began, kind. The attack on Pearl Har
the attack on Pearl Harbour bour woke a sleeping giant.
was over. The United States had
The attack struck a : critical remai ned neutral in World War
blow against the US . Pacific I I till then.
fleet. Much of it was rendered Pearl Harbour changed all
useless. Four of eight battle that. It pushed the Americans
ships, three destroyers, and into the war that they were
seven other ships were sunk or avoiding for so long. The
severely damaged, and more . Americans fought a long
than 1 88 aircrafts were front in the Pacific, tryi ng to
destroyed. avenge the attack on Pearl
A total of 2,403 Americans Harbour- and were finally
were killed and 1 , 1 78 were successful .
74 Tell MeWhy
How did the Quit India Move government entered India into
ment change the course of the war without consultation
history? with the I ndian people. This

angered the Indians terribly.
he Quit India Movement On July 1 4th, 1 942, the Indian
was a civil disobedience move National Congress passed a
ment. It was launched by resolution demanding com
Mahatma Gandhi on 8th plete independence from Brit
August, 1 942. ai n and launched a civil
This historical movement disobedience movement. On
was played out in the backdrop August 8th, 1 942, the Quit India
of World War I I . The British Resolution was passed at the
Bombay session of the All
I ndia Congress Committee.
The British responded with
mass arrests. Hundreds of peo
ple were killed by the police.
Many national leaders were
arrested. The Q uit I ndia Move
ment was crushed.
However, it will always be
remembered as a major mile
stone in the history of India's
struggle for freedom.
What was the result of the bombing of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki ?

H iroshima is a port in southwest Hon

shu, Japan, on the Inland Sea west of
Osaka. The city was almost completely
destroyed in World War I I when US
dropped an atomic bomb on it on August
6th , 1 945.
The bomb, called 'Little Boy' , was the
first nuclear weapon ever used in military
ar weapons warfare. However, the Japanese did not
programme surrender. So three days later, on August
during World 9th , 1 945, another US bomber dropped a
War II. But second atomic bomb, 'Fat Man', on
because of lack Nagasaki. This broke the Japanese. On
of resources, August 1 5th , 1 945, Emperor Hirohito
they could not announced his country's surrender.
develop an The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and
atom bomb in Nagasaki brought World War II to an
time. end. The bombings killed thousands.
Ryan Thomas The suffering of the Japanese people did
not end even then, but has continued for
76 Tell Me Why
Why is ENIAC considered to began as a secret World War I I
be one of the most important military project carried out by
inventions in history? John Mauchly and John Pres

per Eckert Jr. But ENIAC, also
N IAC stands for 'Electronic called 'The Giant Brain', was
N umerical Integrator and Com not completed u ntil after the
puter'. Its importance lies in the war.
fact that it was the world's first When EN IAC was intro
general purpose computer. duced to the public in 1 946, it
EN IAC was designed and was hailed as an incredible
built for the US Army to calcu breakthrough that could com
late artillery firing tables. It pute mathematical problems
with breathtaking speed.
A big one
The machine's power and
with a small
brain. general-purpose uses fired the
imagination of the world. ENI
AC weighed 30 tonnes.
The fact that today a single
microchip, no bigger than a fin
gernail, can do more than
those 30 tonnes of hardware
does not take away from the
sense of awe that EN IAC
inspired at that time.
---- -- .-
The U N
The U N provides
food to 90 million
people in over 75
countries. It
assists over 34
Why is the formation of the UN a his million refugees,
toric event? and works with

The UN is an i nternational organisa 1 40 nations to

combat climate
tion of sovereign states, made up of change. The UN
nearly every country in the world. It protects human
was created in 1 945, in the wake of rights through 80
World War II, so as to avoid another different treaties
such terrible war. and declarations.
Fifty states signed the UN Charter,
and became the founding members of
the UN. Currently, the U N has 1 93 munity-for achieving
member states. The U N has four main these goals. The UN as
goals. The first purpose is to keep well as several of its
peace throughout the world. The sec agencies and officials
ond goal is to develop friendly rela have won the Nobel
tions between countries. The third is Peace Prize at different
to assist nations in encouraging times.
human rights, helping the poor, This humanitarian
improving literacy, and preventing organisation has an
hunger and disease. Finally, the UN i mportant influence on
aims to operate as a centre - a com- the world today.
78 Tell MeWhy
What makes 1 947 a landmark who led the nation to victory on
year in I ndian history? this road had to pay a heavy

August 1 5th , 1 947 is a date

price i n terms of the sacrifices
they had to make.
written in letters of gold in the Many of them had to face
most glorious chapter of I ndi i mprisonment and even
an history. It was on this day death. When the Indian tricol
that I ndia threw off the shack our was unfurled by Jawaha
les of British rule, and emerged rial Nehru, the fi rst Pri me
as a free and independent Minister of I ndia, on the ram
nation. parts of the Red Fort of Delhi
The road to freedom was a on August 1 5th 1 947, it sig
long and painful one. Those nalled not j ust the end of 200
years of British rule but
also the triumph of
Mahatma Gandhi's
J) peaceful revolution
based on non-violence
and non co-operation.
In addition, the fluttering
flag proudly proclai med
the birth of a new nation
and world's largest
democracy as well.
In 1 958-59 Jack Kilby
and Robert Noyce
invented the integrated How has the i nvention of the tran
circuit which is a single sistor changed the way we live?
chip with multiple tran
sistors or other com
ponents like resistors.
A transistor is an electronic
component that can be used as
The first computer
an amplifier, or as a switch. The
chips had several thou
transistor revolutionised the field
sand transistors on
of electronics, and paved the
each chip to perform
way for smaller and cheaper
radios, calculators, and comput
ers, among other things.
Three physicists were credited
with the invention of the transis
tor in 1 948. They were Walter
Brattain, John Bardeen and Wil
liam Shockley. The first transistor
was about the size of our palm,
and was made from Germanium.
Since then, transistors have
become smaller and smaller.
Introduced in 1 952, Shockley's
bipolar junction transistor, which
was made from a solid piece of
semiconductor material, dominat-

80 Tell MeWhy
ed the industry for the What is the significance of January
next 30 years. By 26th, 1 950?

1 954,Texas I nstru
ments developed the anuary 26th , 1 950 is the day India
first transistor made became a sovereign, democratic
from silicon. republic. India became independent
Today in electronic on August 1 5th, 1 947.
devices we use comput A new constitution of India was
er chip, also called chip, drafted by a committee headed by
integrated circuit or Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, and it is the long
small wafer of semicon est constitution in the world.
ductor material embed Although the draft was presented
ded with integrated on November 4, 1 947, it took 2 years,
circuitry. Chips com 1 1 months and 1 8 days for it to be
prise the processing and finalised.
memory units of modern The Constitution of I ndia formally
digital computers. came into force on 26th January 1 950.
As transistor compo The day is celebrated as Republic
nents have shrunk, the Day in I ndia every year.
number of chips have The celebrations last for three days,
doubled about every 1 8 and for every Indian this is a time
months, from a few when the heart is filled with love for
thousand to more than the motherland, and the head is held
one billion. high with patriotic pride.
Why was the discovery of the struc
ture of the DNA an important mile
stone in science?

D NA is the material that carries all

the information about how a living thing
will look and function. For instance, our
D NA determines such things as what
colour our complexion is and how tall
Recipe Book we will grow to be.
DNA, or DNA, which is found i n every cell of
deoxyribonucleic every living thing, is made of chemical
acid is a long substances that are linked together
molecule that like a chain. It has a complex structure.
contains our
unique genetic Wow . . .
code. Like a more secrets
reveal ed . . .
recipe book, it
holds the instruc
tions for making
aU the proteins in
our bodies.
Radha Nair

82 Tell M eWhy
Each piece of DNA has two
long strands, or chains that are
joined together in a shape
resembling a twisted or spiral
DNA has four different bases
and the order in which they are
arranged forms a code that
tells cells to make certain kinds
of proteins. In the early 1 950s,
scientists had learned a lot
about genetics, but they still
didn't understand the structure
of the DNA molecule. FIRST SATE LLITE
James Watson and Francis
Crick discovered the structure Sputnik 1 emitted a continu
of the DNA in 1 953. They were ous beep signal that could be
able to put together an accu heard by radio operators
rate model of the structure. around the world.
The satellite itself provided
Why was Sputnik 1 a landmark scientists with valuable infor
in space exploration? mation. Sputnik 1 orbited the

Earth for three months, after
putnik 1 was the first man which it burned itself up as it
made satellite to be launched fell from orbit and re-entered
into orbit. the Earth's atmosphere.
It was launched by the This remarkable achieve
Soviet U nion on October 4th ment is widely credited with
1 957. The tiny spacecraft starting the race between the
orbited Earth once every 90 US and USSR to dominate
minutes. space exploration.
The satellite was the size of The launch is a milestone in
a basketball and it travelled at that it ushered in a new era of
about 29,000 kilometres per political, military, technological,
hour. and scientific developments.
Today is Mary conducted the excava
not a good day. tions and was the actual finder
We found j us t of the archaeological evi
one sku l l .
dence. Her husband, Louis
Leakey interpreted and publi
cised their findings.
In 1 948, Mary found the first
perfectly preserved skull of a
hominoid, an ape-like ancestor
of humans. Mary Leakey's
most important discovery, took
place in 1 978. Her team uncov
ered the footprints of two hom
i nids in Tanzania. The
footprints were estimated to be
Why will the world always 3.5 million years old.
remember Mary and Louis This indicated that humans
Leakey? began walking upright much

earlier than scientists previ
ary and Louis Leakey will . ously thought. The Leakeys
always be remembered for the changed the way we now view
i mportant archaeological dis early humans, and made sig
coveries they made involving nificant contributions to the
early humans. understanding of our origins.
84 Tell M eWhy
What did the fal l of the Berlin The hated Berlin Wall came
Wall signify? to symbolise the ' I ron Curtain'

that separated Western
he Berlin Wall, was a wall Europe and the Eastern Bloc
built in 1 961 separating Soviet during the Cold War.
controlled East Berlin from Finally, Germany became
West Berlin, which was under one country again on October
the control of the Allies, France, 3rd , 1 990, and the Berlin Wall
Britain, and the USA. was demolished. The fall of
The wall was built to com the Berlin Wall signified the
pletely cut-off West Berlin from end of the Cold War between
East Berlin and East Germany, the superpowers of the world.
and to stop citizens from leav
ing East Germany for West Don't s i t
Germany. o n m e ! 1 ' m from
The Berlin Wall consisted of the Berl i n
1 54 kilometres of barrier Wall.
between the east and the west,
with concrete and barbed wire
barriers separating the two
sides at different stretches
along the wall. In all, 1 36 peo
ple died trying to cross the Ber
lin Wall during its existence.
Why was the Cuban Missile Cuba. For a tense 1 3 days, the
Crisis a dangerous one for the world was on the edge of a
entire world? nuclear war.

The Cuban Missile Crisis is

Finally Khrushchev and Ken
nedy came to an agreement.
regarded as the closest the The Soviets agreed to disman
world has ever come to nucle tle their missiles in Cuba. I n
ar war. It was a major confron turn, the US agreed to disman
tation during the Cold War tle US missile bases in Turkey
between the United States and and also agreed never to
the Soviet Union. invade Cuba without direct
The crisis was triggered provocation. The Cuban Mis
when Soviet leader Nikita sile Crisis ended on October
Khrushchev agreed to Cuba's 28th, 1 962. A nuclear war was
request to place nuclear mis avoided in the history of the
siles in Cuba to prevent future world.
harassment of Cuba by the
US. A number of missile Why do we say that history
launching facilities were set up was made on July 20th 1 969?

in Cuba in the summer of 1 962.
President Kennedy of the US n July 20th 1 969, American
then decided to establish a mil astronauts Neil Armstrong and
itary blockade to prevent fur Edwin Aldrin became the first
ther missiles from entering humans ever to land on the
86 Tell MeWhy
Neil Armstrong became the first man to
walk on the Moon. Armstrong said,
'That's one small step for a man, one
giant leap for mankind'l

Moon. Four days earlier, on the Sea of Tranquility! As Arm

July 1 6th, with the world watch strong made his way down the
ing, the Apollo 1 1 spacecraft lunar module's ladder, a televi
had taken off from Kennedy sion camera recorded his pro
Space Centre with astronauts gress, and beamed the signal
Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, back to Earth, where millions
and Michael Collins aboard. watched in great anticipation.
After traveling 76 hours,
Apollo 1 1 entered into a lunar
orbit on July 1 9th The next
day,the lunar module Eagle,
manned by Armstrong and
Aldrin, separated from the
command module, where Col
lins remained. Two hours later,
the Eagle touched down on
Why was the satellite Aryab was built by the Indian Space
hata a landmark in I ndian Research Organisation or
space research? ISRO.

The purpose of Aryabhata
n April 1 9, 1 975, India was to conduct experiments in
entered the space age. On this X-ray astronomy and solar
historic day, I ndia launched its physics. A lot of useful infor
first-ever satellite. It was mation was collected by the
named the Aryabhata after the satellite before it burnt up as it
great 5th century astronomer re-entered the Earth's atmos
and mathematician. phere on 1 1 th February 1 992.
Aryabhata was actually Aryabhata was the turning
launched from within the Sovi point for Indian space research
et Union by a Russian-made for it proved to the world that
rocket, under an agreement India has the capacity to make
signed by the two countries. It and operate satellites.

Currency Notes
Indian two rupee notes had a new design on
them between 1 976 and 1 997. They carried
an image of the satellite Aryabhata on the

88 Tell MeWhy


Why is the i nvention of dynamite


The invention of dynamite was a

milestone in human history as it cat
alysed the rapid development of
Alfred Nobel infrastructure in many nations. Alfred
Nobel, a Swedish industrialist, invent
ed dynamite, and endowed the Nobel
Prize. The impact of dynamite was
huge. Railways, roads, tunnels and
canals were created, demolished
and rebuilt with the help of dynamite.
Nobel invented dynamite in 1 866
by combining volatile nitroglycerine
with silica. Before he passed away
in 1 896, he left a will dedicating his
fortune to create a unique prize
Marie Curie was the rewarding the outstanding contribu
only person who tions in various fields. Prizes were
won Nobel Prizes in instituted in the fields of physics,
both physics and chemistry, medicine, peace, and lit
chemistry. erature. Thus, the Nobel Prize was
What was the consequence of Soviet U nion, the free trade
the revolution of 1 989? union, Solidarity had won the
national elections making
I n December 1 989, a week Poland the first Soviet satellite
long series of violent uprisings state to have a non communist
took place in Romania. Roma government.
nia's communist leader Nico With the increasing protests,
lae Ceausescu was overthrown the Communist Party of Czech
in a violent revolution, and fled oslovakia too announced on
from the capital, Bucharest. November 28th that it would
This marked the last of the relinquish power.
popular uprisings against com In Bulgaria and Hungary too,
munist rule in Eastern Europe the Communists were ousted,
that year. and 1 989 became the year
In Poland, the largest Com that changed the face of
munist country apart from the Europe.

iii! A Tough Regime

Nicolae Ceausescu was the country's head of
the state from 1 967 to 1 989. He was also
Romania's second and last Communist lead
er. Ceausescu's regime was oppressive.

90 Tell MeWhy
What was the result of the This freedom encouraged
breakup of the Soviet U nion? some of the Soviet states to

The breakup of the Soviet

demand their freedom . Soon,
more states joined them in
Union started in the late 1 980s demanding independence and
and was complete when the in December 1 99 1 , the Soviet
country broke up into 1 5 inde U nion was dissolved. It was
pendent states on December replaced by 1 5 new independ
26th, 1 99 1 . ent nations. The collapse of
When Mikhail Gorbachev the Soviet U nion changed the
took over as General Secre world's balance of power and
tary of the Soviet Union in ended an era of competing
1 985, the economy was in bad
shape. Gorbachev introduced
two important reforms to deal
with the situation. The first he
called Glasnost. Glasnost
allowed more freedom of
speech and openness in gov
ernment. The other reform
was called Perestroika. This
released some of the tight con
trol the government had on the
Why was the abolition of apart carry 'pass books' with their
heid a victory for humanity? fingerprints, photo, and infor

Apartheid refers to a political

mation if they wanted to enter
into areas that were considered
system of government that 'non-black'.
existed in South Africa between This was a very unfair sys
1 948 and 1 994. tem , and the blacks, led by a
Under this system, the races great leader named Nelson
were separated. The Europe Mandela rebelled against it.
ans or whites, who were in the The rest of the world also sup
minority, ruled the country. ported the struggle by the
The majority of the population blacks for equality and finally
consisted of native Africans, in 1 994, the system of apart
who were the original inhabit heid was withdrawn. It was a
ants of the country. They were great victory, not just for the
termed 'blacks', and were kept blacks of South Africa, but for
apart from the whites. humanity itself.
In fact, the term apartheid is
an Afrikaans word that means Why was Chandrayaan-1 a tri
'separateness'. The whites . umph for India's space pro
determined where a person gramme?

might live; go to school, and
what jobs he or she might hold. handrayaan-1 , the I ndian
Black people were forced to spacecraft, was India's first
92 Tell MeW hy
mission to the Moon. It successful
ly reached the lunar surface on
November 1 4, 2008 and became
the first I ndian-built object to reach
the surface of the Moon.
The flight was launched from
the Satish D hawan Space Cen
tre, Sriharikota on October 22nd ,
2008. The Polar Satellite Launch Chandrayaan-2 will
Vehicle , PSLV-XL C 1 1 , suc be ISRO's second mis
cessfully lau nched Chan sion to the moon. A
d rayaan- 1 spacecraft into orbit. moon rover will be
Excellent quality pictures of the sent up. Moving on
lunar su rface were taken and wheels on the lunar
surface, the rover will
relayed back to Eart h . Chan
pick up samples of
drayaan- 1 was i n operation till
rocks, analyse them
August 2009. With the success
and relay the data to
of the mission, India joined a
an orbiting spacecraft.
select band of countries who
have u ndertaken lunar m i ssions.
Chandrayaan-1 has success way for u ndertaking fur
fully demonstrated India's ability ther missions not just to
in carrying out highly complex the Moon but beyond it as
space missions. It has paved the well.
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from the photos given here.

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with the proper number.

PHOTO You are also welcome to send your answers by post.

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Winners of the Photo Quiz-4
.PHof(f aulz -4 WINNERS held in the April issue of
....... '". ' ,. Tell Me Why.
1. Aadya Singh 6. Gopi Kannan T
1 044(B). 2nd Floor.C2-Block.Palam Vihar. Gurgaon. 7-5-12/1. S5. Sri Sai Datta Arcade. Veterinary Hospi
Haryana. tal Road. Ramaraopeta. Kakinada. Andhra Pradesh.
2. Srushti Lolusare 7. Aaron John Joezac
Flat 3. Block 1. Sahyadri Apartments. Plot 5. P468. Sector-21. Jal Vayu Vihar. Noida. UP.
Sector 12. Owarka. New Delhi. 8. Adithya GalipeUi
3. Aastha Narayan Flat No.l02. Maruthi Residency. Prashanth Nagar.
4/59. ESIC Nagar. New Link Road. Near D.N. Nagar Kapra. Hyderabad.
Police Station. Andheri (West). Mumbai. 9. Aditi Singh
4. Aastha Patodi 201 Dasmesh Apartment. Behind AG Office.
13 Chatrapati Nagar. Near Airport Road. Indore. MP. N.O.P. Doranda. Ranchi.
5. Sailaja Priyadarshini 10. Goutam Aji
C/o Dr. Abhaya Kumar Samal. Plot No: 366/5. C/o Aji Jayachandran. Pezhunilkunnathil House.
Alakapuri Housing Complex. Bhubaneswar. Odisha. Ullannoor. Pathanamthitta.


1. Rani Lakshmi Sai. 2. Sarojini Naidu. 3. Indira Gandhi.

4. Mother Teresa. 5. M.S. Subbulakshmi.

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96 Tell MeWhy
Why is plaster of Paris so called?
Plaster of Paris, or simply plaster, is
the common name for calcium sulphate
hemihydrate. It is made by heating the
mineral gypsum.
There is an interesting story behind its
curious name. In 1 666, a fire that raged
across the city of London destroyed
many buildings. Keeping this catastro
phe in mind, the King of France ordered
that all walls made of wood in Paris be
immediately covered with plaster, as a
protection against such fires.
Paris had a lot of gypsum deposits at
that time, and the king's order resulted in
the large-scale mining of the mineral.
Thus, the city of Paris became the cen
Question sent by:
Aditi Gupta, on e-mail.
tre of plaster production, and hence the
material came to be known as plaster of
Send us your questions Paris.
E mail: tellmewhy@mmp.in Indhu Thomas


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