Annus mirabilis

Annus mirabilis

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Annus mirabilis is a Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 phrase meaning "wonderful year" or "year of wonders" (or "year of miracles"). It was used originally to refer to the year 1666, but is today also used to refer to different years with events of major importance. The year 1905 when Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 published his breakthrough four articles
Annus Mirabilis Papers
The Annus Mirabilis papers are the papers of Albert Einstein published in the Annalen der Physik scientific journal in 1905. These four articles contributed substantially to the foundation of modern physics and changed views on space, time, and matter...

 on physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 is acknowledged as one such.

1543 – The year of science

The beginning of the Scientific Revolution
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

  • Andreas Vesalius
    Andreas Vesalius was a Flemish anatomist, physician, and author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy, De humani corporis fabrica . Vesalius is often referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy. Vesalius is the Latinized form of Andries van Wesel...

     publishes "De humani corporis fabrica
    De humani corporis fabrica
    De humani corporis fabrica libri septem is a textbook of human anatomy written by Andreas Vesalius in 1543....

    " (On the Fabric of the Human Body), revolutionising the science of human anatomy
    Anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy , and plant anatomy...

  • Nicolaus Copernicus
    Nicolaus Copernicus
    Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance astronomer and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe....

     publishes "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
    De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
    De revolutionibus orbium coelestium is the seminal work on the heliocentric theory of the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus...

    " (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) in Nuremberg
    Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...


1666 – The year of wonders

According to the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

, the first known written usage of the Latin phrase "Annus Mirabilis
Annus Mirabilis (poem)
thumb|right|200px| The Great Fire of London, which took place on September 2, 1666, was one of the major events that affected [[England]] during Dryden's "year of miracles"....

" is as the title of a poem composed by English poet John Dryden
John Dryden
John Dryden was an influential English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden.Walter Scott called him "Glorious John." He was made Poet...

 about the events of 1666. The phrase "annus mirabilis" translates as "wonderful year" or "year of miracles". In fact, the year was beset by great calamity for England (including the Great Fire of London
Great Fire of London
The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London, from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall...

), but Dryden chose to interpret the absence of greater disaster as miraculous intervention by God, as "666" is the Number of the Beast
Number of the Beast
The Number of the Beast is a term in the Book of Revelation, of the New Testament, that is associated with the first Beast of Revelation chapter 13, the Beast of the sea. In most manuscripts of the New Testament and in English translations of the Bible, the number of the Beast is...

 and the year 1666 was expected by some to be particularly disastrous.

In addition to this, the English fleet defeated a Dutch fleet in the St James' Day Battle, for a great victory at sea. (However, in 1667 the Dutch burned much of the English fleet in the raid on the Medway
Raid on the Medway
The Raid on the Medway, sometimes called the Battle of the Medway, Raid on Chatham or the Battle of Chatham, was a successful Dutch attack on the largest English naval ships, laid up in the dockyards of their main naval base Chatham, that took place in June 1667 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War...

 and Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 was forced to sue for peace.)

Isaac Newton

In the year 1666, Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

 made revolutionary inventions and discoveries in calculus
Calculus is a branch of mathematics focused on limits, functions, derivatives, integrals, and infinite series. This subject constitutes a major part of modern mathematics education. It has two major branches, differential calculus and integral calculus, which are related by the fundamental theorem...

, motion
Motion (physics)
In physics, motion is a change in position of an object with respect to time. Change in action is the result of an unbalanced force. Motion is typically described in terms of velocity, acceleration, displacement and time . An object's velocity cannot change unless it is acted upon by a force, as...

, optics
Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light...

 and gravitation
Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

. As such, it has later been called Isaac Newton's "Annus Mirabilis." It is this year when Isaac Newton observed an apple falling from a tree, and hit upon gravitation (Newton's apple). He was afforded the time to work on his theories due to the closure of Cambridge University by an outbreak of plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

. Going to his country home, he thought about many things that, in Cambridge, he did not have the opportunity to do with such devotion.

1759 – William Pitt

A series of victories by the British military in 1759 in North America, Europe, India, and in various naval engagements, is occasionally referred to as William Pitt
William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham
William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham PC was a British Whig statesman who led Britain during the Seven Years' War...

's annus mirabilis, and was the decisive year of the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...


1905 – Albert Einstein

The year 1905 has very much been linked to the term "annus mirabilis," as Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 made important discoveries concerning the photoelectric effect
Photoelectric effect
In the photoelectric effect, electrons are emitted from matter as a consequence of their absorption of energy from electromagnetic radiation of very short wavelength, such as visible or ultraviolet light. Electrons emitted in this manner may be referred to as photoelectrons...

, Brownian motion
Brownian motion
Brownian motion or pedesis is the presumably random drifting of particles suspended in a fluid or the mathematical model used to describe such random movements, which is often called a particle theory.The mathematical model of Brownian motion has several real-world applications...

 and the special theory of relativity. These articles were published in Annalen der Physik
Annalen der Physik
Annalen der Physik is one of the oldest physics journals worldwide. The journal publishes original, peer-reviewed papers in the areas of experimental, theoretical, applied and mathematical physics and related areas...



This phrase has since been used to refer to other years. The examples here are primarily from the English-speaking world.
  • 1922 – In the English-speaking world, 1922 has been described as the annus mirabilis of Modernism
    Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

    , due to the publication of many major literary works, including James Joyce
    James Joyce
    James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

    's Ulysses
    Ulysses (novel)
    Ulysses is a novel by the Irish author James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, in Paris. One of the most important works of Modernist literature,...

     and TS Eliot's The Wasteland.
  • 1939 – This phrase has also been used to describe 1939 Hollywood because of all the classic films produced this year.
  • 1963 – The phrase "Annus Mirabilis" was also used by Philip Larkin
    Philip Larkin
    Philip Arthur Larkin, CH, CBE, FRSL is widely regarded as one of the great English poets of the latter half of the twentieth century...

     as the title for one of his best-known poems, published in 1967 in High Windows, which celebrated the onset of more relaxed sexual mores in 1960s Britain, specifically mentioning the year 1963 as a sort of personal "annus mirabilis".
  • 1989 – Annus Mirabilis has been used to describe 1989 and the political events which took place in Eastern Europe, which saw the end of communist governments in several countries (See: Revolutions of 1989
    Revolutions of 1989
    The Revolutions of 1989 were the revolutions which overthrew the communist regimes in various Central and Eastern European countries.The events began in Poland in 1989, and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and...

    ) including Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    , East Germany and Czechoslovakia
    Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

  • 1666 – In Roman numerals, the year 1666 contains all the numerals in order: MDCLXVI.
  • 1946 – The British Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Dalton
    Hugh Dalton
    Edward Hugh John Neale Dalton, Baron Dalton PC was a British Labour Party politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1945 to 1947, when he was implicated in a political scandal involving budget leaks....

     described 1946 as the then Labour Government's 'Annus mirabilis'
  • 1644–45 – The string of victories by the Scottish general, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose
    James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose
    James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose was a Scottish nobleman and soldier, who initially joined the Covenanters in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, but subsequently supported King Charles I as the English Civil War developed...

    , in 1644–45 during the English or British (?) Civil War is sometimes called the "Year of Miracles".
  • mid-1970s
    File:1970s decade montage.png|From left, clockwise: US President Richard Nixon doing the V for Victory sign after his resignation from office after the Watergate scandal in 1974; Refugees aboard a US naval boat after the Fall of Saigon, leading to the end of the Vietnam War in 1975; The 1973 oil...

     – The phrase was used to describe the mid-1970s uptick in sugar prices which skyrocketed Cuban sugar-based earning.
  • 2011 – The year 2011 has been described as an annus mirabilis by political commentators referring to the revolutions and revolts in the Arabic world against dictatorships and repression and in favour of democracy and freedom.