" The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder. "
Gilbert Chesterton

Back in the day


Jens Olsen's World Clock Is Started by Danish King Frederick IX

Originally a skilled locksmith, Jens Olsen learned the trade of clock-making and, in the 1920s, designed an exceedingly intricate astronomical clock made of more than 14,000 parts. Today displayed in Copenhagen City Hall, the clock shows not only the time and date but also lunar and solar eclipses and the positions of stars and planets. The complex clock took over a decade to assemble, and Olsen died before his masterpiece was finally set in motion by King Frederick IX. Who helped him start it?



Zamyatin's We

Written in the early 1920s by Russian author Yevgeny Zamyatin, We was not published in the Soviet Union until 1988. Said to be the literary ancestor of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's 1984, it is an early dystopian novel in which humans are given numbers instead of names and individuality has been eradicated. The main character, D-503, becomes involved with a resistance group that tries to take down the totalitarian state in which they live. What happens?

Born on a day like today


Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus

Nero became emperor of Rome by murdering his mother and step-brother. His respectful treatment of the Senate made him a popular emperor in the east, but his reign was marred by unemployment and a major revolt in Britain. After a fire ravaged Rome in 64 CE, he persecuted the Christians as scapegoats. With his reign in decline, Nero went on a murderous rampage, was condemned by the Senate, and chose suicide over execution. According to legend, Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned. Is it true?

Last updated on Saturday, 15th December 2012

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