Though the gourd family technically includes cucumbers and watermelons, the name "gourd" is usually applied to fruits with hard, durable shells, such as squash and pumpkins. Colorful and oddly shaped gourds are picked for ornamental use, while others are hollowed out for use as instruments, cooking utensils, lamps, containers, and countless other purposes. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as "nature's pottery." In ancient surgery, gourds had what unusual and important use?
Back in the day
By 1870, the US population was so large that hand-counting the census was no longer feasible. Despite the invention of a counting machine, by the time the 1880 census was tabulated, it was almost 1890. Dealing with so much data remained a problem until the late 1940s, when the Census Bureau commissioned the first civilian computer. In 1951, it was used to count part of the 1950 census and was so successful that the bureau bought another. What presidential election did UNIVAC correctly predict?
Born on a day like today
The son of two ex-slaves, Johnson was the world's first African-American heavyweight champion. At the height of his career, Johnson was excoriated by the press for having twice married white women, and he offended white supremacists by defeating former champion James J. Jeffries, the "Great White Hope." In 1912, Johnson was convicted under the Mann Act for transporting his wife-to-be across state lines. Sentenced to a year in prison, he fled the country. What happened when he returned?