" Perhaps his might be one of the natures where a wise estimate of consequences is fused in the fires of that passionate belief which determines the consequences it believes in. "
George Eliot

Back in the day


Laika the Dog Launched into Outer Space

Soviet scientists found her wandering the streets of Moscow. Nicknamed Laika, or "Barker," the little stray dog was recruited because she had already learned to withstand hunger and cold—two things she might experience in space. After intensive training, Laika became the first animal to be launched into orbit. Though she survived the launch—and even ate some food while in orbit—her capsule was not designed for a return trip. Within hours, she overheated and died. How long did the capsule orbit?



The Siku Quanshu

Compiled at the height of the Qing dynasty in the 18th century, the Siku Quanshu, or Complete Library of the Four Treasuries, is a collection of more than 3,400 works of Chinese literature in more than 36,000 volumes. Over 10,000 works had been considered for inclusion, but many were rejected as anti-Manchu and destroyed. Of the seven original copies, which were painstakingly transcribed by hand, four have survived. How were the collection's many scribes compensated for their work?

Born on a day like today


Stephen Fuller Austin

Austin was the founder of the first legal colony of English-speaking people in Mexican Texas. Following the death of his father, who had conceived the plan, Austin led 300 families to settle on the Brazos River in 1822. As his colony prospered, US immigrants poured into Mexico. Initially opposed to Texan independence, Austin tried to organize Texas as a Mexican state. He was instead imprisoned by the government for treason, after which he supported the Texas Revolution. What were his last words?

Last updated on Saturday, 3rd November 2012

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