" It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. "
Jonathan Swift

Back in the day


The British Museum Opens Its Doors

When the British Museum opened to the public in 1759, its exhibits were based largely on the collections of physician and milk chocolate inventor Sir Hans Sloane. In 1784, the museum acquired its first notable addition of antiquities, a collection of Greek and Roman artifacts belonging to the British Ambassador to Naples. Today, the museum is home to more than 13 million historical items, including the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. Why is ownership of the latter collection disputed?



Bouncing Betty

The German S-mine, nicknamed the "bouncing betty" by US troops during WWII, is the best-known example of a bounding mine. These land mines are designed to attack unshielded infantry by launching into the air, exploding at waist-height, and propelling shrapnel outward at lethal speeds. One of the definitive weapons of WWII, the S-mine often maimed rather than killed its victims and was one of the most feared devices encountered by Allied troops. How were remaining mines removed after the war?

Born on a day like today



Molière was a massively popular dramatist, director, and actor in 17th-century France. His major works include Les Précieuses Ridicules, Le Misanthrope, and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Molière's genius lay in his ability to expose the hypocrisies and follies of his society through satire, and he made several political enemies by poking fun at the traditions and institutions of his day. He collapsed onstage while playing the title role in which of his plays?

Last updated on Thursday, 15th January 2009

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