In 1964, Prometheus, a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, was the oldest known non-clonal organism on Earth. That year, a graduate student cut down the 5,000- year-old tree to examine its ring growth patterns and derive information about the climate. It is unclear who suggested that Prometheus be cut down, why the action was deemed necessary, and whether its impact was fully understood at the time. Methuselah is currently the oldest known living tree; how old is it?
John F. Kennedy
Back in the day
This Pacific island nation, comprised of 9 small coral atolls, lies roughly midway between Hawaii and Australia. In 2005, its population was estimated to be about 11,600, making it the least populous member of the United Nations. First sighted by the Europeans in 1568, Tuvalu fell under British administration as part of a protectorate in 1892 and gained its independence from the UK in 1978. What threat has prompted plans for evacuating Tuvalu?
Born on a day like today
Known as the "Sun King," Louis XIV ruled France for 72 years, longer than any other major European monarch. He became the archetype of the absolute monarch, reigning over a highly centralized state. He fought three wars, built one of Europe's most elaborate palaces at Versailles, and was a great supporter of the arts. What influential French philosopher compared Louis XIV to Caesar Augustus and called his reign an "eternally memorable age?"