January monthly mini-read



The Challenger lifts off on January 28, 1986, shortly before the in-air explosion.

January is the month where people can refresh and have a new start. It is also known for New Years Day and MLK Jr. Day. But, here are some events January has held in the past that might not be so well known. 

January 15th, 1891 – The invention of basketball 

Everybody knows the story about the peach baskets and Dr. James Naismith of Springfield, Massachusetts. He had wanted to keep athletes in shape during times of cold weather and had his students throw soccer balls into the peach baskets. 

According to Wikipedia, Naismith had condensed the game into thirteen rules originally, including the facts that the ball could be batted at and three consecutive fouls for a team would count as a goal for the other team. There was to be a referee and an umpire who had specific roles in judgment. Funnily enough, an early change from the original game was made when the bottom of the baskets were removed. Previously, the games had to be paused once a point was scored so a janitor could come with a ladder to retrieve the ball. Nets, metal hoops, and backboards were introduced fifteen years later.

Not too shortly afterwards, the YMCA and World War I began contributing to the growth of basketball. The YMCA spread the sport and started games in France, China, Japan, Persia, and India. During the First World War, the American Expeditionary Force took basketball along with them. Hundreds of P.E teachers also knew about the sport by this time, spreading it to the younger generations. Leagues were created starting in 1898, with no success found until the NBA in 1946, which continues to be run to this day. (Wikipedia)

January 28th, 1986 –  The Challenger explosion

73 seconds after the launching of the space shuttle Challenger, disaster struck as it engulfed in flames and created an endless stream of smoke. Afterwards, it was learned that the hot pressurized gas from the solid rocket boosters had leaked, causing the spacecraft to move uncontrollably with aerodynamic forces tearing it apart. 

According to Wikipedia, the crew consisted of a pilot (Michael Smith), a commander (Dick Scobee), two payload specialists (Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe), and three mission specialists (Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Ronald McNair). McAuliffe was a school teacher, and this drew the attention of many schools across the country that watched the tragedy unfold. Media attention was much higher than usual.

President Ronald Reagan wished to investigate the situation and created the Rogers Commission. In this investigation of NASA, many startling facts were made known. Ever since 1977, testing had shown various potential flaws in one of the components, the O-rings, but nothing was done to address the issue. Additionally, managers had ignored warnings from engineers about launching during cold temperatures, failing to report them to their supervisors. Eventually, the shuttle was launched at a dangerous 36° Fahrenheit.

This was such a terrible thing to happen, but it made way for improvements within NASA.

January 9th, 2007 – Introduction of the iPhone 

At a Macworld convention, Steve Jobs clearly had some plans for something new and fresh,  something that was about to change the world. As he said it, “Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” Apple, with its first smartphone, the iPhone, joined Nokia E62, Palm Treo, BlackBerry, and Moto Q in this new industry. He then proceeded to talk about how revolutionary the iPhone will be, comparing the ease of use and intelligence to the smartphones already out there. The real aspect that would shake up the normal was the lack of a built-in keyboard, and as Jobs remarked, “And what happens if you think of a great idea six months from now? You can’t run around and add a button to these things” (YouTube). The invention of the iPhone, which was said by Jobs to be five years ahead of any smartphone, made way for LG, Samsung, and Android a couple years later. 

“And one more thing…”

Additional Facts

In 2023, the Lunar New Year falls on the 22nd, celebrating the year of the rabbit. The Lunar New Year is celebrated for about fourteen days, in several East and Southeast Asian countries. 

January is named after the Roman god Janus, which also happens to be the word for doors. Afterall, he was the god of gates and doors. Janus was double faced so that he could look back on the previous year and towards the upcoming one, similar to the position of January. 

Speaking of cool facts, did you know that 55 MPH Speed Limit Day, National Buffet Day, Blame Someone Else Day, National Cheesy Socks Day, and Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day exist?