" Great vices are the proper objects of our detestation, smaller faults of our pity, but affectation appears to me the only true source of the ridiculous. "
Henry Fielding

Back in the day


First Transatlantic Radio Signal Received

Marconi was the Nobel Prize-winning Italian creator of the radio telegraph system. At 21, while experimenting with a homemade apparatus, he successfully sent signals across a distance of more than a mile and set off to London with his mother to find support for his work. He patented his system, organized a company to develop its commercial applications, and, in 1901, transmitted the first transatlantic wireless signal. During what disaster did his invention play a key role in saving lives?




One of the great deities in Mesopotamian religion, Shamash was the god of the Sun, who, with his father, the Moon god Sin, and the goddess Ishtar, was part of an astral triad of divinities. As the solar god, Shamash was the heroic conqueror of night and death, and he became known as the god of justice and equity. He was said to have presented the Code of Hammurabi to the Babylonian king, and at night he served as judge of the underworld. In what Babylonian epic is Shamash mentioned?

Born on a day like today


Gustave Flaubert

Flaubert was a French writer considered one of the supreme masters of the realistic novel. At 22, he abandoned law studies to pursue a career as an author. In 1856, after five years of work, he published his masterpiece, Madame Bovary, about the frustrations and love affairs of a romantic young woman married to a dull provincial doctor. A sharply realistic portrayal of bourgeois boredom and adultery, the novel led to his prosecution on moral grounds. What was the verdict?

Last updated on Sunday, 12th December 2010

More sponsors