" A smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities. "
Herman Melville

Back in the day


First Ascent of the Matterhorn

English illustrator Edward Whymper developed an interest in mountaineering after being sent to sketch the mountain scenery of Switzerland in 1860. In 1865, after several failed attempts, he and his expedition party became the first to climb the Matterhorn—one of the last Alpine mountains to be ascended. Tragically, during the descent, four of his companions were killed in a fall. Whymper describes his experiences in Scrambles Amongst the Alps. What did he write about the accident?




Methamphetamine, a psychostimulant that was first synthesized in 1893, was widely used by German soldiers during WWII. Physicians prescribe it as a treatment for hyperactivity, narcolepsy, and obesity, but it is often used illegally because it produces euphoria and suppresses appetite. However, a number of negative side effects may also result from its use, including the development of obsessions with repetitive tasks, skin picking compulsions, and amphetamine psychosis. What is "meth mouth"?

Born on a day like today


Mordecai Manuel Noah

An American journalist, playwright, and diplomat, Noah was the first Jew born in the United States to reach national prominence. After finding success as a diplomat, Noah held several public offices in New York City, edited and founded many newspapers, including the New York Enquirer and The Evening Star, and wrote plays such as She Would Be a Soldier. In the 1820s, he unsuccessfully attempted to buy Grand Island in the Niagara River to use for what purpose?

Last updated on Wednesday, 14th July 2010

More sponsors