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|408||Theodosius II succeeds to the throne of Constantinople.|
|1308||King Albert is murdered by his nephew John, because he refused his share of the Habsburg lands.|
|1486||Christopher Columbus convinces Queen Isabella to fund expedition to the West Indies.|
|1805||The state of Virginia passes a law requiring all freed slaves to leave the state, or risk either imprisonment or deportation.|
|1863||The Battle of Chancellorsville begins as Union Gen. Joe Hooker starts his three-pronged attack against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.|
|1867||Reconstruction in the South begins with black voter registration.|
|1877||Rutherford B. Hayes withdraws all Federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction.|
|1898||The U.S. Navy under Commodore George Dewey defeats the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines.|
|1915||The luxury liner Lusitania leaves New York Harbor for a voyage to Europe.|
|1927||Adolf Hitler holds his first Nazi meeting in Berlin.|
|1931||The Empire State Building opens in New York.|
|1934||The Philippine legislature accepts a U.S. proposal for independence.|
|1937||President Franklin Roosevelt signs an act of neutrality, keeping the United States out of World War II.|
|1941||The film Citizen Kane–directed and starring Orson Welles–opens in New York.|
|1944||The Messerschmitt Me 262, the first combat jet, makes its first flight.|
|1945||Martin Bormann, private secretary to Adolf Hitler, escapes the Fuehrerbunker as the Red Army advances on Berlin.|
|1948||North Korea is established.|
|1950||Gwendolyn Brooks becomes the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry called Annie Allen.|
|1960||Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane is shot down over Russia.|
|1961||Fidel Castro announces there will be no more elections in Cuba.|
|1968||In the second day of battle, U.S. Marines, with the support of naval fire, continue their attack on a North Vietnamese Division at Dai Do.|
|1970||Students from Kent State University riot in downtown Kent, Ohio, in protest of the American invasion of Cambodia.|
|1986||The Tass News Agency reports the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident.|
|2011||Osama Bin Laden is killed in Abbottabad Pakistan by US Navy SEALS in Operation Neptune Spear.|
Advances in genetic research now make it possible to examine human traits at the molecular level. Over the past several decades, scientists have been searching for genes that contribute to intelligence, behavior, and even unique qualities like perfect pitch. In the case of intelligence, this research triggers ethical concerns about how it might be used; it is also exceedingly complex, as thousands of genes may be involved—each one with a very small effect. What about other kinds of abilities? Is there something innate in having an ear for music? Numerous accomplished musicians, including Mozart and Ella Fitzgerald, are believed to have had perfect pitch, which may have played a role in their extraordinary careers.Legendary Cyphers, a freestyle rap group, performs on Friday nights at Union Square Park in New York City. Collaboration fuels the event as artists take turns “spitting” lyrics. Like any creative undertaking, rapping requires practice. “If you do this enough, it’s like a muscle,” says Palladium Philoz, one of the group’s organizers. (Image credit: © Paulo Woods/National Geographic)
Genetic potential alone does not predict actual accomplishment. It also takes nurture to grow a genius. Social and cultural influences can provide that nourishment, creating clusters of genius at moments and places in history: Baghdad during Islam’s Golden Age, Kolkata during the Bengal Renaissance, Silicon Valley today.
Natural gifts and a nurturing environment can still fall short of producing a genius, without motivation and tenacity propelling one forward. These personality traits, which pushed Darwin to spend two decades perfecting Origin of Species and Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan to produce thousands of formulas, inspire the work of psychologist Angela Duckworth. She believes that a combination of passion and perseverance—what she calls “grit”—drives people to achieve. Duckworth, herself a MacArthur Foundation “genius” and a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, says the concept of genius is too easily cloaked in layers of magic, as if great achievement erupts spontaneously with no hard work. She believes there are differences when it comes to individual talent, but no matter how brilliant a person, fortitude and discipline are critical to success. “When you really look at somebody who accomplishes something great,” she says, “it is not effortless.”Some 10,000 pairs of identical and fraternal twins are part of geneticist Robert Plomin’s longitudinal study at King’s College London, providing clues about how genes and environment affect development. The genetics of intelligence are enormously complex. “Most geniuses,” says Plomin, “don’t come from genius parents.” Read the entire article at National Geographic. All images are from the May 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.