10:17 Birthdays & More

Sharing birthdays on October 17 are Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders (1933), daredevil Evel Knievel (1938), and Space Shuttle astronaut Mae Jemison (1956).

Those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s remember Evel Knievel, dressed in his red, white, and blue garb. He attempted to jump this, that, and the other thing, including the Snake River Canyon on a motorcycle—or rather, on a Skycycle with a steam-powered rocket engine. (See the video here.) For twenty years, he held the record for jumping 19 cars. Unlike Fonzie’s jumping of a shark in 1977, however, Knievel’s shark jump in Chicago in 1976 was thwarted by an unsuccessful rehearsal; he broke both arms, and a camera operator lost an eye. Evel Knievel died in 2007.

WikiCommons/public domainMae Jemison was the physician aboard the Space Shuttle’s 47th mission in 1992 and the first African-American woman in space. Born in Alabama, her family moved to Chicago when she was three years old. After graduating from Morgan Park High School, she started college at Stanford University when she was sixteen. In 1977, she earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and also fulfilled the requirements for a B.A. in African-American Studies. Then, she became a physician, served two years in the Peace Corps, and was accepted to the astronaut program in 1987. She appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1993, the year she retired from NASA. See her TED talk here.

On October 17, 1933, Albert Einstein moved to the United States. He became a U.S. citizen seven years later. Einstein died in 1955, after stating, “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.” But death didn’t stop his migration. Thomas Stolz Harvey removed and preserved Einstein’s brain within hours of the scientist’s death, and then kept it for decades. After a trip chronicled in Driving Mr. Albert, Einstein’s brain—or most of it—now resides once again at Princeton University. (Visit his digital archive here.)

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