" Life altogether is but a crumbling ruin when we turn to look behind. "
Jerome K. Jerome

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Gossamer Condor Wins First Kremer Prize

British industrialist Henry Kremer set up the Kremer Prize in 1959, offering £50,000 to the first group that could fly a human-powered aircraft over a 1-mile (1.6-km) figure-eight course. The aircraft also had to clear a 10-foot (3-m) pole at the start and finish line. Early attempts with heavy aircraft failed, so engineer Paul MacCready took a radically different approach in designing the Gossamer Condor, and his team won the first Kremer Prize in 1977. What was their inspiration?

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Czech Hedgehogs

Early in World War II, Germany relied heavily on the great striking power of its fast-moving tank formations. To defend against the threat, the Czechs lined their borders with large iron obstacles shaped like toy jacks. Though not immovable, they cause tanks to get stuck after driving over them. While the Nazis went on to annex Czech territory in the Sudetenland, these obstacles, known as "Czech hedgehogs," caught on with other combatants and were later employed in what famous battle?

Born on a day like today

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Henry Lee Lucas

Lucas had an abusive upbringing and began exhibiting violent behavior at an early age—even killing his own mother when he was 23. Little did officers know when they arrested him in 1983 on a weapons charge that they were taking a serial killer—perhaps the most prolific one in US history—off the streets. Lucas eventually claimed responsibility for over 600 murders, but many of his confessions are suspect, and the true number of his victims remains a mystery. Who spared him from execution and why?

Last updated on Friday, 23rd August 2013

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