" The past, the present and the future are really one: they are today. "
Harriet Beecher Stowe

Back in the day


End of the Holy Roman Empire: Francis II Abdicates

Francis II, last of the Holy Roman Emperors, came to power shortly before the outbreak of war with Napoleon's France. His armies were defeated, and he ceded the left bank of the Rhine to France in exchange for Venetia and Dalmatia. In 1798, he joined the Second Coalition against France, but he was again defeated and eventually consented to the virtual dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. Who was his famous aunt, a woman executed by guillotine at the beginning of his reign?



Robot Combat

Though no longer the televised spectacle it was around the turn of the century, robot combat continues to be the focus of numerous tournaments in which two or more radio-controlled machines are pitted against one another and directed to destroy or disable their opponents. Such robots range from tiny "fleaweight" devices to sophisticated contraptions weighing more than 300 pounds and equipped with weapons such as rammers, flippers, and overhead axes. What weapons have been banned in competition?

Born on a day like today


Alexander Fleming

Motivated by the devastating infection he saw in battlefield hospitals during World War I, Fleming, a Scottish bacteriologist, set about searching for an effective antiseptic. In 1922, he discovered lysozyme, an antibacterial enzyme present in saliva, nasal secretions, and tears. In 1928, he isolated the antibiotic substance penicillin, a finding that earned him a Nobel Prize and has forever changed modern medicine. In what accidental way did Fleming discover penicillin?

Last updated on Friday, 7th August 2009

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