25 May 1925

John T. Scopes is indicted for teaching human evolution in Tennessee.

John T. Scopes, also known as the “Scopes Monkey Trial,” was a high school teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, who became involved in a legal case that became a significant event in the history of American education and the debate between evolution and creationism. The trial took place in 1925 and garnered national attention.

At that time, Tennessee had enacted the Butler Act, a law that prohibited the teaching of any theory that denied the biblical account of human creation. Scopes, a young science teacher, agreed to serve as a test case to challenge the law’s constitutionality. He taught the theory of evolution in his classroom, which was considered a violation of the Butler Act.

The trial attracted prominent lawyers and media coverage, turning it into a nationally watched event. Clarence Darrow, a renowned defense attorney, represented Scopes, while William Jennings Bryan, a three-time presidential candidate and a prominent supporter of fundamentalist Christianity, prosecuted the case.

During the trial, Darrow sought to challenge the validity of the Butler Act and argued for the importance of academic freedom and the right to teach scientific theories supported by evidence. He called expert witnesses to testify about the scientific evidence for evolution. Bryan, on the other hand, aimed to defend the literal interpretation of the Bible and argued that the teachings of evolution contradicted religious beliefs.

Ultimately, Scopes was found guilty of violating the Butler Act, and he was fined $100. However, the verdict was later overturned on a technicality, and Scopes’ conviction was voided. The trial itself sparked a national debate over the teaching of evolution in schools and the separation of church and state.

The Scopes Monkey Trial is often seen as a turning point in the public perception of the debate between evolution and creationism in the United States. While Scopes’ teaching of evolution was technically illegal under the Butler Act, the trial shed light on the tension between scientific knowledge and religious beliefs, prompting discussions about the appropriate place of each in the classroom.

Over time, court cases and legal decisions have shaped the teaching of evolution in American schools. In 1968, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Epperson v. Arkansas that laws prohibiting the teaching of evolution were unconstitutional. This decision set a precedent that has influenced subsequent cases and established the acceptance of evolution as a scientific concept in public school curricula. However, the debate over the teaching of evolution continues to be a contentious issue in some communities.

25 May 1977

Star Wars is released in theaters.

On May 25, 1977, a long time ago in a galaxy not so far away … the first film in the Star Wars series was released in movie theaters.

What has now grown into a franchise, spanning the worlds of film, books, TV, video games, toys, and more, started when the world met characters including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2, Yoda, and Darth Vader in the original Star Wars film, created by George Lucas.

Star Wars was followed by two sequels: The Empire Strikes Back, released on May 21, 1980, and Return of the Jedi, released on May 25, 1983.

More than two decades after the release of the original film, the series continued with prequels Episode I: The Phantom Menace, released on May 19, 1999; Episode II: Attack of the Clones, released on May 16, 2002; and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, released on May 19, 2005.

In 2015, a series of sequels began with Episode VII: The Force Awakens, followed by Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in 2017, and Episode IX is planned for release in 2019. There are also two Star Wars anthology films, 2016’s Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was released today, the 41st anniversary of the original premiere.

Star Wars has built a fan base larger and stronger than the Death Star itself, that celebrate the films with a fan holiday each May 4. Fans wish each other well by saying “May the 4th be with you” on what came to be known as Star Wars Day.

Many engineers can be found among those fans. The films have inspired many tech careers and analysis of devices, including blaster fire, featured in them.

25 May 1833

The Chilean Constitution of 1833 is enacted.

The Constitution of 1833 was the constitution used in Chile from 1833 to 1925 when it was replaced by the Constitution of 1925. One of the most long-lived constitutions of Latin America it was used to endorse both an authoritarian presidentialist system and from 1891 onwards an oligarchic parliamentary system.

The constitution emerged after the Chilean Civil War of 1829 in which the conservative Pelucones defeated the Pipiolos. Its main ideologues where Mariano Egaña, Manuel José Gandarillas and Diego Portales all of whom saw from a conservative point of view the necessity of a unitarian state under a strong leadership. The constitution made Catholicism the state religion and forbade the practise of other religions, both in public and private life. The first president to be elected under the constitution was the general José Joaquín Prieto. The constitution allowed for 5 year terms with the possibility of one reelection which resulted in 3 consecutive conservative presidents ruling Chile each for 10 years. Mariano Egaña had initially aimed at not putting any restriction on reelection.

Chilean liberals considered the constitution authoritarian and made attempts to overthrow the government. During the failed Revolution of 1851 liberals in La Serena declared the constitution abolished. After the first liberal 10-year-long government the constitution was amended in 1871 to eliminate reelections.

After the 1891 Chilean Civil War the constitution was amended in 1891, 1892 and 1893, and was interpreted to endorse a parliamentary system. Chilean historiography refers to this period as the “pseudo-parliamentary epoch”.

It was not until the turmoils of the 1920s that the constitution was replaced by the Constitution of 1925.

25 May 1977

Star Wars is first released in theaters.

On this day in 1977, Memorial Day weekend opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters.

The incredible success of Star Wars–it received seven Oscars, and earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide–began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie’s release date. “It wasn’t like a movie opening,” actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. “It was like an earthquake.” Beginning with–in Fisher’s words–“a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags,” the anticipation of a revolutionary movie-watching experience spread like wildfire, causing long lines in front of movie theaters across the country and around the world.

With its groundbreaking special effects, Star Wars leaped off screens and immersed audiences in “a galaxy far, far away.” By now everyone knows the story, which followed the baby-faced Luke Skywalker as he enlisted a team of allies–including hunky Han Solo and the robots C3PO and R2D2–on his mission to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia from an Evil Empire governed by Darth Vader. The film made all three of its lead actors overnight stars, turning Fisher into an object of adoration for millions of young male fans and launching Ford’s now-legendary career as an action-hero heartthrob.