The week that was: 23rd-29th May
What happened between 23rd and 29th May over the past five years? We pored over a half-decade’s worth of Delayed Gratification to find the most interesting, surprising and quirky events to have happened on these dates from 2011 to 2015.
On Thursday 23rd May 2013, Barack Obama gave his first ever major speech on the US drone programme. He defended drone warfare but admitted the US had mistakenly killed civilians. For issue #11 of Delayed Gratification, we spoke to another drone enthusiast. Here’s our long-form profile of Missy Cummings, the woman tasked with creating the US navy’s first search-and-rescue unmanned aerial vehicle.
Three days after Saturday 21st May 2011 – a day which passed without any signs of the Rapture – doomsday prophet Harold Camping adjusted his earlier prediction that the world would end that Saturday. The new date, he said, would be 21st October of the same year. Camping, like all his apocalypse-predicting predecessors, was of course wrong and apologised for his “incorrect and sinful” statements in May 2012 [he died in December of the following year]. We published this infographic in September 2011 to provide a handy overview of historical apocalypses which failed to materialise – and the ones which might still occur.
Four years ago on Wednesday, a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft successfully rendezvoused with the International Space Station, becoming the first commercial spacecraft to do so. SpaceX had been contracted by Nasa to resupply the ISS, and started regularly sending Dragon spacecraft to the station several months after it first docked, in October 2012. Today, SpaceX has completed seven commercial resupply missions and one cargo supply launch failed when the space ship disintegrated just over two minutes into its flight.
On 26th May 2015, hundreds of black cab drivers demonstrated in their cars outside the Transport for London (TfL) offices against taxi app Uber. The drivers claimed that unlicensed taxis are a threat to public safety as well as their livelihoods, and wanted TfL to do more to limit Uber’s activities. When cabbies striked in June 2014 to protest against the app, Uber said it experienced an 850 percent increase in new users as a result of the publicity it got. Today the app is downloaded and a first car ordered 30,000 times a week in London alone.
Two years ago on Friday, Google unveiled a prototype for its self-driving car: a small, near-round vehicle without a steering wheel, of which 100 would be made. By the end of last month, Google’s self-driving fleet comprised 34 of these prototype cars and 23 retrofitted Lexus RX450h SUVs which had cumulatively driven 1,564,981 miles in autonomous mode. Want to know more about the rise of the driverless car? Keep a look out for issue #22 of Delayed Gratification, which will come out in mid-June.
On 28th May 2013, it was reported that the World Health Organisation had warned that a newly-discovered virus called MERS-CoV posed “a threat to the entire world”. By then, 27 people had been killed by the disease, which was discovered in September 2012 and was most prevalent in Saudi Arabia. According to the latest WHO figures, the virus has by now killed 628 people and cases have been reported in 27 countries, with a big outbreak in South Korea in June 2015. Between 30th April and 5th May of this year, four cases were reported in Saudi Arabia, with one being fatal.
On 29th May 2013, mountaineers celebrated the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s ascent of Mount Everest. The pair became the first men to reach the summit on 29th May 1953. Back in 2013, we marked the anniversary of the feat with this infographic which shows everyone who’s ever climbed Mount Everest – or died trying.
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