Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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There are 3 entries for this date: Simon Singh , Frances Farmer and Jean Baptiste Delambre
Simon Singh

Simon Singh

On this date in 1964, Simon Singh was born in Somerset, England, after his parents immigrated to Britain from the Punjab region of India. He majored in physics at the Imperial College London and received his PhD in 1991 in particle physics from Cambridge University and at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva. He eventually became a writer with a focus on math and science. BBC's Science Department hired Singh in 1990. He directed the 1996 BAFTA award-winning documentary on a math theorem titled, "Fermat's Last Theorem." NOVA showed the documentary in the United States under the title, "The Proof," which received an Emmy nomination. Singh turned the documentary into his first book, called "Fermat's Last Theorem" in Britain and "Fermat's Enigma," in the United States. In 1999 he published his second book, "The Code Book: The Evolution Of Secrecy From Mary, Queen Of Scots To Quantum Cryptography," which tells the history of codes. His also wrote "Big Bang: The most important scientific discovery of all time and why you need to know about it," (2004). His article in April 2008 criticizing chiropractic, an alternative medicine that uses manual therapy resulted in the British Chiropractic Association suing Singh for libel in a case that Singh won after two years. Singh has become an advocate for more just libel law via the Libel Reform Campaign in Britain. He went on to co-author a book, "Trick Or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial," in 2008, which discusses the legitimacy of alternative medicine such as chiropractic. Singh frequently gives lectures and is active in the skeptic community. Singh has one son with his wife, journalist Anita Anand, whom he married in 2007.

“For tens of thousands of years, humans have stared up into the heavens and wondered about the origin of the universe. Up until now every culture, society, and religion has had nothing else to turn to except its creation myths, fables, or religious scriptures. Today, by contrast, we have the extraordinary privilege of being the first generation of our species to have access to a scientific theory of the universe that explains its origin and evolution.”

—--Simon Singh in an opinion piece for CNN titled, “Why I'm dreaming of a white-noise Christmas” (December 24, 2010).

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Frances Farmer

Frances Farmer

On this date in 1913, Frances Farmer was born in Seattle, Washington. As a high school junior at age 16, Frances won a creative writing contest with her essay, "God Dies," resulting in a national wire story: "Seattle girl denies God and wins prize." In the conclusion of the brief essay about becoming an atheist, Frances wrote: "I felt rather proud to think that I had found the truth myself, without help from anyone. It puzzled me that other people hadn't found out, too." She attended the University of Washington, switching her major from journalism to drama after starring in some college plays. Discovered by a talent scout, Frances moved to Hollywood and signed a contract with Paramount Pictures in 1936, the same year she married Leif Erickson. Her first film was "Too Many Parents." She starred opposite Bing Crosby in "Rhythm on the Range," and achieved starring-role status playing the lead in "Come and Get It," a film based on a novel by Edna Ferber. Constrained by studio control, Frances took the lead in Clifford Odets' play, "Golden Boy" in 1937, playing in New York City. A love affair with Odets ended badly, and she returned to Hollywood, where she was relegated to supporting actress roles. In 1942, her life took a downward spiral. Frances, who struggled with alcoholism much of her life, was arrested for drunk driving without a license. She was sentenced to 180 days and given probation. In 1943, she was arrested for assault and violating probation. Declared mentally ill by a court, she was placed in a sanitarium by her mother, who was appointed her legal guardian. She was institutionalized for eight years, undergoing shock treatment and an apparent lobotomy. She was released to her mother in 1950. Her fortunes improved when a reporter spotted her working as a receptionist in 1953, and wrote a sympathetic profile. She remarried in 1954, and hosted an afternoon TV show in Indianapolis from 1958-1964. Her autobiography, Will There Really Be a Morning?, whose title came from a line by Emily Dickinson, contained horrific details of her long confinement. Frances Farmer died of cancer of the esophagus. In 1982, actress Jessica Lange gave a tour-de-force portrayal of the actress in the film Frances. D. 1970.

“I wondered a little why God was such a useless thing. It seemed a waste of time to have him. After that he became less and less, until he was . . . nothingness.”
"

—Frances Farmer, "God Dies," essay at 16

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Jean Baptiste Delambre

Jean Baptiste Delambre

On this date in 1749, Jean Baptiste Delambre was born in France. Delambre made huge contributions to astronomy despite losing most of his vision to smallpox as a toddler. He was educated at a Jesuit College in Amiens until the Jesuits were expelled from France in 1764. Although originally contemplating a life as a priest, Delambre became a rationalist. He tutored, then studied in Paris under the eminent atheist and astronomer Joseph Lalande, becoming his assistant. In 1789, Delambre recorded the transit of Mercury across the Sun, and corrected the existing tables. In 1789, Delambre won the Grand Prix by the Academy of Sciences for calculating the precise orbit of Uranus. He was given his own observatory in 1789. In 1792, he published tables on the Sun, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and the satellites of Jupiter. Delambre wrote the first of three volumes containing the measurement of the earth in 1806. In 1809, Napoleon, his admirer, asked the Academy to award a "best scientific publication of the decade," which went to Delambre. Delambre's multi-volume History of Astronomy became a science classic. Mathematician Jean Fourier, in his obituary of Delambre, said the scientific world was indebted to Delambre for the geodetic operation. The United States was indebted to Delambre for his role in freeing a Mr. M. Smithson, a political prisoner of war. In 1809, Delambre wrote the French Ministry of War requesting his release. Smithson later bequeathed his extensive estate to the United States to found the establishment that became the Smithsonian Institution. D. 1822.

“Conquests will come and go but this work will endure.”
 

—Napoleon, speaking about Delambre's work, c. 1806

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


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