As mentioned earlier, we had an overcast, rainy, blustery day here in New Zealand, with the sun hidden behind thick clouds the entire day. As a result the Transit of Venus sadly passed by without a single sighting.
Well, what can you do? So we decided to opt for the next best thing, and created our own version of the event…
Apparently it’s Drive-In Movie Day in the US, celebrating the first drive-in movie theater opening in Camden New Jersey in 1933. Today is also the commemoration of D-Day, 1944, when Allied troops invaded the beaches of Normandy, France. Hmmm, well yes.
Perhaps most significantly, today is the Transit of Venus – a once in a lifetime (ok, twice-in-125-years, to be exact) event when Venus will be seen passing in orbit between the earth and the sun. Next time this will happen will be 2117, so it’s a pretty big deal, but unfortunately things are looking heavily overcast here in NZ, so I’m not holding my breath.
No, instead of drive-in movies, invading troops or passing planets, today I’m celebrating fresh, clean and stain-free clothes! Because today in 1907, Persil was introduced by Henkel & Cie as the first commercially available “self-activated” washing powder in the world. The term self-activated refers to the fact that it combined bleach and soap in a single powder.
Interestingly, the name Persil comes from a combination of the two main chemical components in the detergent, namely sodium perborate (a bleaching agent) and silicate (a washing agent).
Before Persil came up with this innovative combination of bleach and soap, washing powder was really nothing more than crushed soap, which cleaned clothes but had little stain-removal effect. The sodium perborate in the new product oxygenated to form small bubbles that permeated the washing, and bleached out stains, replacing the earlier-used method of laying clothes out in the sun to bleach.
So not only did it save time, but also a lot of effort, making laundry day much less of a chore. And that must be worth celebrating!