Zaal is a legendary warrior in the Persian Shahnameh, or Book of Kings. Born an albino, he is abandoned on a mountain, where he is found by a giant phoenix-like bird, the Simurgh, that takes him to her nest and raises him. Years later, his father—a king—reclaims him. The Simurgh is heartbroken at Zaal's departure and gives him three feathers for protection. He marries a princess descended from an evil king and fathers the great Persian hero Rostam. When does Zaal use the feathers?
Back in the day
The Kola Superdeep Borehole project was an attempt to dig as far as possible into the Earth's crust. It began when, in 1970, following setbacks in the Space Race, Soviet scientists looked downward. Digging on the remote Kola Peninsula for some 20 years, they reached a depth of 40,230 feet (12,262 m)—about a third of the way through the Earth's crust—before being forced to stop due to higher-than-expected temperatures of 350° F (180° C). Surprisingly, water was found at what depth?
Born on a day like today
Soon after Brodsky began writing poetry in the USSR in the 1950s, he was accused by the government of "social parasitism" and sentenced to hard labor. Exiled in 1972, he settled in New York and began writing in English. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1987 and was poet laureate of the US for a time. His poetry, with its themes of loss and exile, is highly regarded for its intensity, depth, and wit. What was his retort when a Soviet judge once asked him, "Who enrolled you in the ranks of poets?"