" Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal aims of humanity. "
Leo Tolstoy

Back in the day


Nellie Bly Goes Around the World

Elizabeth Jane Cochran, better known by her pen name, Nellie Bly, was a pioneering investigative reporter who feigned insanity in order to be committed to the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island and expose the institution's horrific and abusive treatment methods. In 1888, she embarked on a 24,899-mi (40,071-km) journey around the world inspired by the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Her trip, however, was somewhat shorter. How long did it take?



Speed Skating

Although the first organized speed skating competitions were held around the 1860s, the fast-paced sport was not added to the Olympics until the early 20th century. Today, two types of tracks are used in international competition: the long track, on which two skaters race simultaneously, and the short track, on which four to six skaters race during a heat. Top skaters can reach speeds of 37 mph (60 km/h) over short distances. What are clap skates and how did their introduction impact the sport?

Born on a day like today


Virginia Woolf

Woolf is considered one of the most important writers of the 20th century. Foremost in the Bloomsbury Group of writers, she explored issues such as feminism, sexuality, and class struggle. Her novels include Mrs. Dalloway, Jacob's Room, and To the Lighthouse. Woolf struggled with bouts of depression and, fearing the onset of a mental breakdown, drowned herself in 1941. In 1910, Woolf and her Bloomsbury Group compatriots gained notoriety for devising what elaborate hoax?

Last updated on Monday, 25th January 2010

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