" There can be no two opinions as to what a highbrow is. He is the man or woman of thoroughbred intelligence who rides his mind at a gallop across country in pursuit of an idea. "
Virginia Woolf

Back in the day


Alexander Graham Bell Awarded US Patent for Telephone

Originally an audiologist, professor, and teacher of the deaf, Bell became interested in the idea of transmitting sound waves by wire when he misread a thesis by a German physicist. He mistakenly believed that the thesis implied such a transmission was possible. It did not, but Bell's idea was sound. Later, he described his mistranslation as a "valuable blunder." Three days after receiving a patent for his device, he spoke the first sentence ever transmitted by telephone. What was it?




The original Zouaves of the early 1800s were members of elite French military units in North Africa. Usually Algerian recruits, they were recognized for their distinctive, colorful uniforms and precision drilling. They were well known in their day, and at the dawn of the American Civil War, a Zouave craze swept the US. Dozens of "Zouave" units sprang up on both sides of the conflict. Their uniforms, modeled after traditional Zouave attire, were not well suited to the conflict. Why?

Born on a day like today


Luther Burbank

The 13th child of a Massachusetts farmer, Burbank received little formal education, yet he went on to become a groundbreaking horticulturist. Influenced by Charles Darwin's writings, he began breeding plants at age 21. The rapid success of his Burbank potato, the russet variety of which is now the most widely-grown potato in the US, allowed him to move to California and establish an experimental farm, where he developed more than 800 varieties of plants. What is his spineless cactus used for?

Last updated on Wednesday, 7th March 2012

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