World History 1896

About the history of the world in 1896, the IQ test is invented, Becquerel discovers radioactivity, gold is found in the Yukon.

TWO CENTURIES OF WORLD HISTORY: 1778-1978

1896

* Alfred Binet, 39, director of the psychology laboratory at the Sorbonne in Paris, devised the IQ test to determine the intelligence of children.

* French physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel, 44, discovered radioactivity, the invisible emissions given off by uranium.

Mar. 1 In one of the worst defeats ever suffered by a European power in colonial warfare, a 20,000-man Italian invasion of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) crumpled at Aduwa at the hands of 80,000 Abyssinian troops personally commanded by King of Kings Menelik II. The debacle brought down the ruling government in Rome, and so wounded Italian pride that four decades later Mussolini sent forces back into Ethiopia, at least partly to avenge the slaughter at Aduwa.

Aug. 17 George Carmack and his two Indian brothers-in-law, Skookum Jim and Tagish Charlie, dipped their pans into the shallow waters of Rabbit (now Bonanza) Creek south of the Klondike River in the Yukon and came up with gold. When news of the strike hit the U.S. the following year, the great Klondike gold rush was on. By 1898 some 18,000 prospectors clogged the Klondike to stake their claims, and more than 100,000 would pass through before century's end, despite near-famine conditions in the remote region. In 1897 the first ships from the area docked at San Francisco, and dozens of scruffy miners marched onto the pier toting sackfuls of nuggets and dust. Klondike fever proved irresistible to many. Seattle lost half its police and firemen to the Yukon. Fathers abandoned their families, soldiers deserted their units, shopkeepers left their counters. Everyone, it seemed, was heading north to Alaska. Whether one struck it rich or returned south hungry often depended more on luck than on skill. Charlie Anderson, later known as the Lucky Swede, bought Claim 29 for $800 while drunk. Later sober and pressed for cash, he tried to sell it off but found no takers. So he went ahead and worked the mine. In four years he carried out $1.2 million in gold. Alec McDonald of Nova Scotia gave a hungry Russian prospector a sack of flour in return for Claim 30. McDonald hit pay dirt and parlayed his load into $20 million to earn the nickname King of the Klondike. But most were not so lucky. Barely 4% of those who survived the rigors of the North actually struck gold.

Dec. 10 Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor of dynamite, died at his villa in San Remo, Italy, leaving behind a last will that established financial prizes for human achievements in five fields of endeavor. (See "Inside the Nobel Prize Awards," Chap. 22.)

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