" It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so universal as death, should ever have been designed by providence as an evil to mankind. "
Jonathan Swift

Back in the day


Topsy the Elephant is Executed by Electrocution

Topsy was a circus elephant at Coney Island's Luna Park. After killing three people—at least one of whom was mistreating her at the time—in as many years, she was deemed a threat and schedule to be put down. After hanging was deemed too cruel an execution method and ruled out, Thomas Edison suggested electrocution in an attempt to further his campaign to portray alternating current electricity as dangerous. Electrocuted with 6,600 volts, Topsy died in seconds. What was "Topsy's Revenge"?




Magnetic levitation, or maglev, is a method of supporting and propelling objects using magnets. Using the repellent force of superconductive magnets, vehicles, such as trains, may be suspended above a track or guideway. Continuously changing the polarity in alternate magnets causes a series of magnetic attractions and repulsions, which moves the vehicle along the track quickly and quietly. What is the highest recorded speed of a maglev train?

Born on a day like today


Jakob Ludwig Carl Grimm

More than just a compiler of fairy tales, Jacob Grimm was a German philologist who formulated the linguistic principle known as Grimm's law and who, along with his brother Wilhelm, began work on a vast historical dictionary of the German language that took over a century to complete. The Brothers Grimm are best known, however, for their compilation of some 200 German folk tales, known as Grimm's Fairy Tales, that helped establish the science of folklore. How did they collect the stories?

Last updated on Wednesday, 4th January 2012

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