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WEEKLY WHINE

Fly Nunavut to the Moon

There now follows a ranking of the top historical events that did not take place in Nunavut.

  1. Apollo 11: The most important thing that happened ever in the history of things happening, this was the moment when humans first stepped upon another world. Humans will no doubt step on many, many more worlds, but each time that happens in the future, it will be something that has already happened. Everyone else will be following in Neil and Buzz’s footsteps. The Moon, however, is not in Nunavut, although it was visible at the time from the territory that would eventually become Nunavut.
  2. Vostok 1: The second most important thing that happened ever in the history of things happening, this was the moment when a human first exited Earth’s atmosphere. Yuri Gagarin’s Vostok 1 capsule lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome and landed in Saratov Oblast, neither of which is in Nunavut.
  3. Publication of Newton’s Principia Mathematica: The Principia laid out the basis of classical mechanics and orbital mechanics, and it included the groundwork for modern calculus. It was written by Isaac Newton of Cambridge University, which is located in London, not Nunavut.
  4. Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution: Although the idea that “all men are created equal” had been raised previously, it was always followed by an asterisk: “* Depending upon the meaning of the words men and all”. It was not until the Fourteenth Amendment, where the equal protection clause states it unequivocally, that the United States banned discrimination outright in its constitution. Discrimination, of course, is still to be found in far too many places throughout the world, but the Fourteenth Amendment is the first to form the idea that everyone – black and white, female and male – should be treated the same under the law. The amendment went through many drafts in the House of Representatives, but none were written in Nunavut.
  5. Longitude prizes: Many European governments offered prizes for methods to determine longitude in the 16th to 18th centuries. These not only challenged the world to propose innovative solutions to one of the key problems of the day, they also introduced the idea that progress can be incentivised, leading to modern day challenges like the X Prize. Longitude prizes were awarded by many different European governments, none of which were based in Nunavut.
  6. Michelson-Morley experiment: In 1887, Albert Michelson and Edward Morley published the results of an experiment that showed no difference in the speed of light in different directions, disproving the prevailing hypothesis of the time that light travelled through some sort of æther. This eventually led to Einstein’s derivation of special and general relativity, the basis of much of modern physics. And it all started in a laboratory at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, USA, a city that is not found in Nunavut.
  7. Use of alternating current: In 1888, Galileo Ferraris and Nikola Tesla both developed a motor that would function in alternating current. This removed the last obstacle that prevented the widespread use of AC: because it supports the use of transformers, it had the advantage of voltage stepping, necessary to transmit electricity over long distances. Alternating current is currently used in Nunavut, but the critical work to make it possible took place in other parts of the world.
  8. Invention of the integrated circuit: Unless you printed this page out, you are reading this on a device that has at least one integrated circuit in it. [And if you did print it out, both the computer and the printer were likely equipped with integrated circuits.] They allow us to perform many more computations in much less time, which essentially means that we can carry around powerful computers in our pockets or strap them to our wrists. They were first proposed by British scientist Geoffrey Dummer and built by innovators such as Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce, a group that is conspicuously lacking in Nunavummiut.
  9. Wright Flyer: Aeronautics became a thing when Orville and Wilbur Wright took off from Kill Devil Hill in Kitty Hawk, NC, USA, a location that is not in Nunavut.
  10. Development of the periodic table: You will surely find a number of chemical elements in Nunavut, but Dmitri Mendeleev, who arranged the elements into a predecessor of today’s periodic table and used it to predict the existence of elements like germanium and gallium, is not known to have visited there in his lifetime. Even so, his insight has helped the world understand its chemical elements.
  11. Discovery of Galilean moons of Jupiter: When Galileo observed Jupiter through his telescope and found that it had moons, it transformed our conception of the Universe. Here was conclusive proof that objects could orbit things that were not Earth. The Copernican view of the cosmos rapidly gained traction, leading us to discover that the Universe is far more vast, far more exotic, and far more awesome than we ever could have imagined. Alas, only a small portion of the Universe is Nunavut.
  12. Discovery of the first exoplanets: Science fiction writers, some of which presumably lived in what is now Nunavut, had for decades posited the existence of planets orbiting other stars. Planets orbiting a pulsar were first detected in 1992, and planets orbiting a main sequence star were first detected in 1995.
  13. Founding of the United Nations: In 1945, the world came together to put an end to war. So... yeah. Still, though, it’s been very good at working on many other problems like dispute resolution, global warming, and disease prevention through a large variety of agencies, which are all based in places that are different from Nunavut.
  14. 1930 Men’s World Cup: In 1930, the world came together to play football against one another. This historic event took place in Montevideo, Uruguay, a location that has for centuries steadfastly refused to become part of Nunavut.
  15. Introduction of the bikini: What should women be allowed to wear? As Amber Lynn likes to say, “Whatever the fuck we want”. She argues that rather than objectifying women, it places all the power in their hands: “Putting one of these things on immediately turns 90% of men in the vicinity into drooling cretins.” It was separately introduced by two Parisian designers in 1946 and first modelled by Micheline Bernardini, although none of these people turned out to be secretly Nunavummiuq.
  16. Invention of the Dutch process: The world as we know it would be not nearly as sweet as it currently is without Casparus van Houten’s process for pressing cocoa beans into powder, or his son Coenraad’s process for treating it with alkaline salts to remove the bitterness. Together, the van Houtens gave us the gift of affordable chocolate throughout the world. And they did it all without ever, to the best of historians’ knowledge, visiting the land that is today known as Nunavut.

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