" I have the conviction that excessive literary production is a social offense. "
George Eliot

Back in the day


Diego Marín Aguilera Makes Early Attempt at Flight

Inspired by the eagles he saw while out in the fields, Spanish inventor and aviation pioneer Diego Marín Aguilera built a flying machine from wood, iron, cloth, and feathers whose design was based on his observations of birds of prey. His attempt to fly the vehicle was somewhat successful—he reportedly reached a height of about 20 ft (6 m) and glided some distance—but he crash-landed when the device suffered a structural failure. What did the locals do when they learned of his invention?



Samuel Hopkins

Hopkins was an American inventor who was granted the first US patent in 1790—just months after President George Washington signed the new patent statute into law—for an improved process for making potash and pearl ash, substances used in the manufacture of glass, soap, and fertilizer. There was no Patent Office at the time, so his petition was approved by a committee that included the US president, secretary of state, and attorney general. What other US patents were issued that year?

Born on a day like today


Wavy Gravy

Born Hugh Nanton Romney, Wavy Gravy is a peace activist known for his whimsical hippie appearance and clown persona. After being repeatedly arrested at political demonstrations, he adopted his flamboyant look in the hopes that police officers would be less likely to arrest someone dressed as a clown. Gravy was a master of ceremonies during the first Woodstock Festival and the two subsequent events and is now the official clown of the Grateful Dead. Who gave him his unusual moniker?

Last updated on Saturday, 15th May 2010

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