It’s Back! The Large Hadron Collider is up and running again with no apparent adverse affects. If you recall, the world’s largest supercollider is located along the French-Swiss border. It was much ballyhooed as a key tool in the study of subatomic particles. It was all set and ready to go and it was fired up only to suffer a calamity 9 days later. About 50 of the magnets were damaged severely and had to be replaced. Last August, a physicist wrote a paper that supported claims the collider could create a black hole. Now, the fear isn’t a giant black hole but instead the assertion is that a small black hole could be created and then…well…I dunno what happens then especially if the created black holes are so small that they cannot easily be detected. There is still an official site for citizens against the Large Hadron Collider. But, UC Santa Barbara Professor Steve Giddings claims that, even if it did create a small black hole, it would only last for a “nano-nano-nanosecond” and wouldn’t be a big deal. I guess the professor doesn’t buy into the Barbara Streisand song from Hello Dolly, It only takes a Moment.
On This Date in History: The story goes like this. A widow, Lydia Bixby was said to have lost 5 sons fighting for the Union in the Civil War and Massachusetts Governor John Andrew asked the president to write a letter of condolence. On this date in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln composed a letter to Mrs. Bixby. The letter was published in the Boston Evening Transcript on November 25, 1864. That letter, noted for its compassion and prose, has been hailed since that time and even made its way into Stephen Spielberg’s 1998 Saving Private Ryan with General Marshall reading from the letter and using the letter as the reason why they were going to find Private Ryan.
Historians though have doubts as to the authorship. Many suspect that it was really Lincoln’s secretary, John Hay, who wrote the letter. No original letter has ever been produced. Further, Mrs. Bixby 5 sons weren’t all killed in the war. Two lost their lives in the fighting, another was honorably discharged, another was dishonorably thrown from the ranks and the fifth’s fate is unknown, though some suggest that this means that he either deserted or died in a Confederate prisoner of war camp. How they come to those to limitations is beyond my own limited comprehension.
Ironically, on November 17, 2008 a report surfaced that the original Bixby letter may have been found. But, when you read this story, you find that is not necessarily the case and even suggests that analysis reveals that the signature on the new letter is not that of Lincoln. But, could it be the handwriting of Hay? I want to know how it found its way to Texas if it is…and why do they suggest that it is the original when at the top it says “copy.”
It is interesting to me, however, that in The Living Lincoln: The Man and His Times, in His Own Words by Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, that they do not mention any question as to Lincoln being the author. They simply say, “Superbly eloquent as the letter that Lincoln wrote to Mr. Lydia Bixby of Boston. This message, published in the Boston Transcript, appealed to the heart of the nation.” I’m not sure if they are suggesting that it was written as a political piece of prose with that purpose in mind, or if its publication resulted in appealing to the heart of the nation. Either way, whoever was the author, it is quite a remarkable letter.
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,