A gavel is a small ceremonial mallet made of hardwood fashioned with a handle. It is used exclusively in the United States in legislatures and courts of law, but is used worldwide for auctions, it can be used to call for attention or to punctuate rulings and proclamations and is a symbol of the authority and right to act in the capacity of a presiding officer. It is struck against a sound block, a striking surface also made of hardwood, to enhance its sounding qualities. According to tradition, Vice President John Adams used a gavel as a call to order in the first U. S. Senate in New York in the spring of 1789. Since it has remained customary to tap the gavel against a lectern or desk to indicate the opening and closing of proceedings, it is used to keep the meeting itself calm and orderly. In Medieval England, the word gavel could refer to a tribute or rent payment made with something other than cash; these agreements were set in English land-court with the sound of a gavel, a word which may come from the Old English: gafol.

Gavel would be prefixed to any non-monetary payment given to a lord and can be found as a prefix to other terms such as gavelkind, a system of partible inheritance found in parts of the UK and Ireland. A gavel may have referred to a kind of mason's tool, a setting maul that came into use as a way to maintain order in meetings. A gavel may be used in meetings of a deliberative assembly. According to Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, the gavel may be used to signify a recess or an adjournment, it may be used to signify when a member makes a slight breach of the rules. Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure states that, in addition to an optional light tap after a vote, there are three other uses of a gavel: To attract attention and call a meeting to order. In most organisations, two taps raise and one tap seats the assembly. To maintain order and restore it when breached in the course of the proceedings.. To be handed over to successors in office or to officiating officers as ceremonials, etc..

Improper uses include banging the gavel in an attempt to drown out a disorderly member. In this situation, the chair should give one vigorous tap at a time at intervals; the chair should not lean on the gavel, juggle or toy with it, or use it to challenge or threaten or to emphasize remarks. The chair should not be "gaveling through" a measure by cutting off members and putting a question to a vote before any member can get the floor; the expression passing the gavel signifies an orderly succession from one chair to another. In addition to the use above during business meetings, organizations may use the gavel during their ceremonies and may specify the number of raps of the gavel corresponding to different actions; the gavel is used in courts of law in the United States and, by metonymy, is used there to represent the entire judiciary system of judgeship. On the other hand, in the Commonwealth of Nations, gavels have never been used by judges, despite many American-influenced TV programmes depicting them.

The unique gavel of the United States Senate has no handle. In 1954, the gavel, in use since at least 1789 broke when Vice President Richard Nixon used it during a heated debate on nuclear energy, despite silver plates having been added in 1952 to strengthen it. Unable to obtain a piece of ivory large enough to replace the gavel, the Senate appealed to the Indian embassy; that year Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, vice president of India, visited the Senate and presented a replica of the original gavel to Nixon. The replica is still in use as of 2018. In contrast to the Senate's, the gavel of the United States House of Representatives is plain wood with a handle. Used more and more forcefully in the House, it has been broken and replaced many times. In both houses, the gavel is sounded, that is, once to mark the opening of the session, the adjournment, to punctuate announcements of decisions by the body. Rather than shouting “ORDER!” Like in most Westminster style parliaments, the gavel in the House of Representatives, is tapped by the presiding officer to call the assembly to order or to restore order when cross-conversation has made it too noisy to proceed.

In 1955 Icelandic sculptor Ríkarður Jónsson carved the Icelandic birch gavel and striking board used at the United Nations. Media related to gavels at Wikimedia Commons

William George Fastie

William George Fastie was an American optical physicist and spectroscopist who played a part in the Johns Hopkins University space program of the late 1950s. Fastie was one of four children of Carolyn Fastie, he attended Johns Hopkins University between 1934 and 1941 at evening classes and as a graduate student in physics, supervised by August Herman Pfund, Robert W. Wood, Gerhard Heinrich Dieke. During World War II, Fastie work in the department of physics involved the development of infrared detectors. At the end of the War he joined Leeds & Northrup as a research physicist, but was lured back to Hopkins in 1951 by the professor of physics, John D. Strong. Fastie's first publication described a new design of spectrometer. With the launch of Sputnik 1, Fastie saw the potential of spectroscopy from space, started a program at Hopkins to develop this idea. Concentrating on spectroscopic analysis of the Earth's upper atmosphere, it soon broadened into a full-fledged astronomy program, using pointed telescopes.

He contributed to the Mariner 5 flyby of Venus in 1967, the Mariner 6 and 7 flybys of Mars in 1969, as well as heading the ultraviolet spectrometer experiment on Apollo 17 in 1972 - the missions using ultraviolet spectrometers designed by Fastie in 1952. Known today as the Ebert-Fastie spectrometer, it has a design similar to that described by Hermann Ebert in the early 1900s. Fastie's interests moved to astronomy in the 1960s, he designed a number of precision-pointing telescopes whose designs are still used in sounding rockets. In 1977 NASA appointed Fastie as a member of the Hubble Space Telescope science working group. In 1979, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc suggested Hopkins as the home for the Space Telescope Science Institute. Fastie provided a detailed formulation for the proposal; the bio-luminescence of Chesapeake Bay was added to his list of interests, as was the development of new designs of spectroscope. Fastie continued to work on campus for another 15 years.

He contributed to the design of the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope, used on the Space shuttle in December 1990 and March 1995. The'Fastie Finger', a device in the Advanced Camera for Surveys used for masking unwanted bright astronomical light sources used, is named after him. Fastie and his wife Frances raised a daughter. Fastie died in Baltimore of pneumonia on July 14, 2000

Moses Fleetwood Walker

Moses Fleetwood Walker was an American professional baseball catcher, credited with being one of the first black men to play in Major League Baseball. A native of Mount Pleasant, a star athlete at Oberlin College as well as the University of Michigan, Walker played for semi-professional and minor league baseball clubs before joining the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association for the 1884 season. Though research by the Society for American Baseball Research indicates William Edward White was the first African-American baseball player in the major leagues, unlike White, was open about his black heritage, faced racial bigotry so prevalent in the late 19th century United States, his brother, became the second black athlete to do so in the same year for the Toledo ball club. Walker played 42 games total, for Toledo before injuries entailed his release. Walker played in the minor leagues until 1889, was the last African-American to participate on the major league level before Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color line in 1947.

After his baseball career, he became a successful inventor. As an advocate of Black nationalism, Walker jointly edited a newspaper, The Equator, with his brother, he published Our Home Colony, to explore ideas about emigrating back to Africa. He died in 1924 at the age of 67. Moses Fleetwood Walker was born in 1856 in Mount Pleasant, a working-class town in Eastern Ohio that had served as a sanctuary for runaway slaves since 1815, its population included a unique collective of former Virginian slaves. Walker's parents, Moses W. Walker and Caroline O' Harra, were both mulattos. According to Walker's biographer David W. Zang, his father came to Ohio from Pennsylvania a beneficiary of Quaker patronage, married O' Harra, a native to the state, on June 11, 1843; when Walker was three years old, the family moved 20 miles northeast to Steubenville where Moses W. became one of the first black physicians of Ohio and a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. There, Walker's fifth or sixth sibling, his younger brother Weldy, was born the same year.

Walker and Weldy attended Steubenville High School in the early 1870s, just as the community passed legislation for racial integration. As an adult, Walker enrolled at Oberlin College in 1878, where he majored in philosophy and the arts. At Oberlin, Walker proved himself to be an excellent student in mechanics and rhetoric, but by his sophomore year he was attending classes. How Walker first came to play baseball is uncertain: according to Zang, the game was popular among Steubenville children, while in Oberlin's preparatory program Walker became the prep team's catcher and leadoff hitter. Oberlin men played baseball as early as 1865—including a “jet black” first baseman whose presence meant Walker was not the college's first black baseball player—with organized clubs that engaged in intense matchups. Walker gained stardom and mentions in the school newspaper, The Oberlin Review, for his ball handling and ability to hit long home runs. In 1881, Oberlin lifted their ban on off-campus competition.

Walker, joined by Weldy who enrolled in the class of 1885, played on the baseball club's first inter-collegiate team. By Oberlin pitcher Harlan Burket's account, Walker's performance in the season finale persuaded the University of Michigan to recruit him to their own program. Accompanying him was Walker's pregnant girlfriend, Arbella Taylor, whom he married a year later. Michigan's baseball club had been weakest behind the plate. With Walker, the team performed well, finishing with a 10–3 record in 1882, he hit second in the lineup and is credited with a.308 batting average. During his time at Michigan, Walker was paid by the White Sewing Machine Company of Cleveland to play for their semi-professional ball club in August 1881. Walker's presence was controversial when the team arrived for a game in Louisville, the first place to have a major issue with his race; as the team arrived in the early morning of the game, Walker was turned away from the Saint Cloud Hotel. More issues arose during game time: members of the Louisville Eclipse protested Walker's participation.

After one inning, his substitute claimed his hands were too badly bruised to continue, Walker hesitantly walked on to the field for warm-ups. Louisville again protested and refused to resume play until Cleveland's third baseman volunteered to go behind the plate. In mid-1883, Walker left his studies at Michigan and was signed to his first professional baseball contract by William Voltz, manager of the major league Toledo Blue Stockings, a Northwestern League team; as a former sportswriter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Voltz watched. Though Walker hit in decent numbers, recording a.251 BA, he became revered for his play behind the plate and his durability during an era where catchers wore little to no protective equipment. The Blue Stockings' ball boy recalled Walker “occasionally wore ordinary lambskin gloves with the fingers slit and padded in the palm. Nonetheless, he played in 60 of Toledo's 84 games during their championship season. At the core of the team's success, one sportswriter at Sporting Life pointed out, were Walker and pitcher Hank O'Day, which he considered “one of the most remarkable batteries in the country”.

Walker's entrance into professional baseball caused immediate friction in the league. Before he