" The course of true love never did run smooth. "
William Shakespeare

Back in the day


Vasco Núñez de Balboa Reaches Pacific Ocean

Balboa was a Spanish conquistador and founder of the Panamanian colony of Darién, the first permanent European settlement on the mainland of the Americas. He was also the first European to lead an expedition known to have seen or reached the Pacific Ocean from the New World. After crossing the Isthmus of Panama in search of gold, Balboa reached the ocean, waded into the water, and laid claim to it and all of its adjoining lands. What did he call the Pacific Ocean?



The First Fatality in the Age of Flight

US Army First Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge was the first person killed in a powered airplane. The accident that caused his death occurred during a demonstration of the Wright Flyer for the US Army in September 1908. After a few successful circuits around Virginia's Fort Myer, the craft's right propeller broke, causing it to nose-dive into the ground. Selfridge, a passenger on the flight, sustained major head injuries and died that night. What happened to the pilot, Orville Wright?

Born on a day like today


Dmitri Shostakovich

Although Shostakovich was the most popular Soviet composer of his generation, he was denounced several times by the authorities and had his work banned during his lifetime. He used traditional forms in his music, which is accessibly tonal, yet distinctly 20th century. His response to life in the USSR has been the subject of much political and musical debate. What was Stalin's opinion of Shostakovich's compositions?

Last updated on Friday, 25th September 2009

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