Supernovas and Other Birthdays

Willie+Nelsonkristen dunst

It’s my birthday today. So I was curious to see who else shared my birthday. I conducted an internet search and found a lot of saints and a whole lot of other people I’d never heard of. I guess because my search was in English, the search results were mostly American or European. So if you know of any others from around the world, let me know.

From the results, there were only three people that I recognized and who I also like. Nevertheless, the best I could come up with were a grizzled country singer, a pretty good non-fiction writer, and an actress who’s already a has-been at 27.

1933 –Willie Nelson
1945 –Annie Dillard
1982 –Kirsten Dunst

April 30 is also a big day in Northern Europe. Both Sweden and the Netherlands celebrate the birthdays of their monarchs. And it’s the official first day of Spring for all of Scandinavia.

MuddyWatersgeorge balanchine

More interesting than the birthdays are the deaths. Apart from the happy death of a genocidal maniac, I came across some truly fabulous artists: a French impressionist painter, a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer, and a great blues musician.

1883 –Édouard Manet
1945 –Adolf Hitler
1983 –George Balanchine
1983 –Muddy Waters


There is actually one other birthday that I found. April 30, 1006 was the day Supernova SN 1006 was born. According to Wikipedia, SN 1006 was the brightest stellar event in recorded history. Even though it was 7,200 light years away from Earth, it was as bright as a quarter of the full moon. And people could read at night by the light of the explosion. Here’s a picture of the 1,000 year old remains.

I thought that was cool. But maybe it’s more of an event than a birthday. So I decided to check out what other important world events have occurred. Here are four that I picked out.

1492 –Spain gives Christopher Columbus his commission of exploration.
1789 –George Washington takes the oath of office to become the first elected US President.
1975 –The Vietnam War ends with the fall of Saigon.
1993 –The World Wide Web is born at CERN.

The first three seemed to create a nice narrative arc, spanning the beginning of the European colonization of the Americas to US independence. And then to another country becoming independent from US influence.

And finally, the birth of the World Wide Web is perhaps another world altogether, becoming independent from us. And based on this schematic of the Web, maybe it was the birth of another supernova.