" A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things. "
Gilbert Chesterton

Back in the day


"Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick"

While speaking at the 1901 Minnesota State Fair, US Vice President Theodore Roosevelt used the proverb, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Four days later, President McKinley was shot, and, after McKinley died on the 14th, Roosevelt became president. The statement he made in Minnesota became forever associated with his foreign policy of backing up negotiations with implicit military might, and political cartoons often portrayed him toting the proverbial stick. What is the rest of the saying?



Plimpton 322

Plimpton 322 is a Babylonian clay tablet believed to have been created around 1,800 BCE. Approximately 5 inches (13 cm) wide and 3.5 inches (9 cm) tall, the tablet's surface is marked by four columns of cuneiform numbers. Many mathematicians believe that the ancient spreadsheet—possibly used by a teacher to assign math problems to a student—demonstrates an understanding of Pythagorean mathematics that predates Pythagoras by more than 1,200 years. What do the numbers in each column represent?

Born on a day like today


Frederick Soddy

Working with Ernest Rutherford, Soddy developed a theory of the disintegration of radioactive elements. In 1912, the British chemist was among the first to conclude that elements might exist in chemically indistinguishable forms—now known as isotopes—of different atomic weights. In his 1920 book Science and Life, he described the use of isotopes in determining geologic age. He later applied his scientific background to economic theories. What H.G. Wells novel was inspired by his work?

Last updated on Sunday, 2nd September 2012

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